Argentina, UN approve a radical move on the “vulture capitalists”

Photo: National Bank of Argentina. Jurist.org

Photo: National Bank of Argentina. Jurist.org

By: Emile Schepers

Published by the People’s World

September 17, 2014

 

The Argentine Congress voted last week to take the function of paying off the country’s sovereign bonds away from the private Mellon Bank of New York and transfer it to the National Bank of Argentina, a state enterprise.  And the U.N. General Assembly passed a supportive resolution calling for a reworking of the entire system of dealing with the restructuring of sovereign debt.

The actions came as a sequel to a long running controversy over the efforts of U.S. hedge funds to make a large profit at the expense of the Argentine people.

From 1976 to 1983, Argentines suffered under the brutal U.S.-supported military dictatorship of General Jorge Videla and his colleagues, who stifled all dissent by methods that included murder of some 30,000 members of the opposition.

During this time of unaccountable rule by fear, the military rulers incurred sovereign debt for the country, through bonds organized through New York financial institutions. This pattern did not stop when the military left power in 1983, but continued in the chaotic period that followed, with Argentina under heavy pressure to implement neo-liberal policies of privatization, austerity and free trade.

By 2001, Argentina was broke and the enraged populace was in the streets. A new left-wing president, Nestor Kirchner, had to preside over a default. His government and that of his wife, current President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who succeeded him, managed to restore their country’s finances without the usual method of balancing the budget on the backs of the poor, by persuading the vast majority of creditors to accept new bonds at 30 cents on the dollar.

However, a small minority of the creditors held out, demanding that they be paid 100% of the original value. These include Elliot Management, whose major investor is Paul Singer, a heavy contributor to Republican Party candidates in the United States, and Aurelius Capital Management. These are not even the original bondholders: They bought these bonds from the original bondholders at fire sale prices when Argentina defaulted, and now they want not just to recuperate their original cost plus a profit, but to receive the entire value of the original bonds, pocketing an immense profit.

The way the bonds were originally set up stipulates, according to U.S. Federal Judge Thomas Griesa, that until Argentina pays off Singer and his allies in full, at the original price they demand, it cannot continue to pay a penny to the majority of bondholders who agreed to the bond swap. And if it agrees to pay the holdouts what they demand, it also has to offer those creditors who accepted the swap the same full payment as to the holdouts. So Griesa froze a payment Argentina had made to an account for the majority bondholders in Mellon Bank New York, to the tune of $539 million dollars, forcing Argentina to miss a July 30 deadline on those payments.

Thus, Griesa says, Argentina is in default again, which Argentina denies. The Argentine government took out ads in U.S. and Argentine newspapers declaring that they are not in default and referring to the hedge funds as “vulture funds.” Griesa has threatened to find Argentina “in contempt of court” for doing this.

Singer is well known for this kind of tactic, which he has employed to the detriment of the people of Peru and of Congo (Brazzaville). The precedent set if Argentina loses would represent a danger to all efforts at restructuring the debts of poor countries. The winners would be wealthy hedge funds in the rich countries, and their political allies.

So it is not surprising that President Kirchner has been getting strong support from other Latin American countries, from the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), and from the Group of 77 developing countries.

Bolstered by this support, Kirchner asked her legislature to support a measure whereby the control of the payments of sovereign bonds would be moved away from Mellon Bank New York to the government-controlled National Bank in Buenos Aires. That way, the bondholders who agreed to the swap will get their payment in Argentina, and U.S. courts will not be able to interfere. Both houses gave this proposal a solid majority last week.

China, the Group of 77, and Bolivia brought the Argentine case to the U.N. General Assembly.  The proposal was to move forward on changing the framework for the restructuring of debt. There were 124 votes in favor, including almost all poorer countries. Only 11 countries voted “no,” including the United States, Britain, Germany, Japan, France, and other wealthy states. There were 41 abstentions.

The U.S., which had earlier filed an amicus brief in Griesa’s court favoring Argentina, says that it voted against the U.N. Resolution out of fear that it would create instability in financial markets.

 

 

Kindness (Adam Bainbridge): ‘World, You need a change of mind’

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In an ideal world, this bio would be about two lines long. Ninety-five per cent of everything you should want to know about a new artist should be in the record.   ~Adam Bainbridge (Kindness)

Kindness – World, You Need a Change of Mind

Kindness is the solo project of British singer and musician Adam Bainbridge. He released his first single, a cover of  The Replacements’  “Swingin’ Party” in August 2009.  Kindness’ debut album, ‘World, You Need a Change of Mind’ was co-produced, recorded and mixed with the Grammy Award winning Phillipe Zdar (Cassius / Cut Copy / Phoenix / The Rapture / Kanye West) at Zdar’s studio in Paris and was released through Modular on March 23.  He has performed at South by Southwest  and Latitude Festival.

Kindness’ recorded work bears the fingerprints of no specific scene, no particular country, no certain era. It’s pop music but it’s slippery and enigmatic, sounds slick yet underground.  The New York Times  calls his music “moody and sexy”.

Touted by NME as the next big thing, his sound has recognizable reference points. From the leftfield disco of Walter Gibbons, the cosmopolitan rhythms of Grace Jones and Tom Tom Club, to the frictionless 80s R&B of Alexander O’Neal, all swirled around with the blurry Polaroid pop of Ariel Pink.

The emergence of indie dance music is the most recent step in a long progression of reconciliation between generally divergent worlds. Largely, indie scenes have flirted with dance music as a byproduct of, or in mixtures with, rock — take the post-punk/dance-punk revival of a decade ago. By design or not, they’ve been sonically segregated, and any engagement by the indie rock world with dance-floor culture has felt almost apologetic.

“Hive Mind” is an impressive achievement, fluent in a range of dance styles: Ital nails spacey techno on “Floridian Void,” and broken-down house music on “Israel.” You get the sense that in Britain, an album like this would get far more attention.

That’s why the Kindness album is potentially even more radical, even though it’s more pop-friendly. Kindness — born Adam Bainbridge — arrives at the same musical solution as Ital, but from a different direction. His album was produced with Philippe Zdar, of Cassius, the king-size French disco nostalgists. For the album, all the songs — both those Kindness released independently, and also the new ones — were rerecorded with Mr. Zdar’s assistance.

The album’s high point is “Cyan,” which is elegiacally pretty and slinky smooth. Kindness sings wistfully and woozily and beneath him the music is moving purposefully, with robust snares and hazy synthesizers. It is thoughtful disco homage, replacing only the genre’s high gloss with a layer of D.I.Y. indifference.

But even though the Kindness album feels deliberately small, it fits neatly with the broader tides of British pop. It’s at home alongside the streak of gothic electro-pop now coursing through British music, bubbling up from below, and it intersects cleanly with the longstanding heavy presence of dance music — the tackier sort, but still — on the British charts.

Adam Bainbridge lives and works in London.

Watch: Kindness – House
Be prepared for an onslaught of slinky smooth, wistful and woozy sounds as he hits the road with label-mates Tom Vek and Jonathan Boulet. In the meantime, get to know Kindness a little more with this video directed by Partizan’s Dan Brereton.

World, You Need a Change of Mind – Album tracks
01. SEOD
02. Swingin Party
03. Anyone Can Fall In Love
04. Gee Wiz
05. Gee Up
06. House
07. That’s Alright
08. Cyan
09. Bombastic
10. Doigsong

Studio albums

  • World, You Need a Change of Mind (16 March 2012)

Singles

  • Swingin’ Party (28 September 2009)
  • Cyan (26 October 2011)
  • SEOD (8 February 2012)
  • Gee Up (16 March 2012)
  • House (15 June 2012)
  • That’s Alright (21 September 2012)

Videos

Song Directed by Date
Gee Up Jack Latham 2009
Cyan Ben Fries 2011
Gee Up Adam Bainbridge 2012
House Daniel Brereton & Adam Bainbridge 2012
That’s Alright Adam Bainbridge 2012

Sources: YouTube, Wikipedia, Google (photos), New York Times