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HairyScaryMark

G8 funds eaten by Vultures

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Not quick in posting this but thought it important enough to do so anyhow.

Vulture Funds

In summar: Vulture Funds is the term used to describe when US buisnessmen buy the debt of some of the worlds poorest countries then sue the governments for many times the value of debt.

One of the biggest vultures is also the largest donor to the US Republican Party. Sueing foriegn governments is illegal in the US without permission from the President so it could easily be stopped.

Gordon Brown has described the vultures as 'perverse' and 'immoral'.

Report on BBC news page

Article on Greg Palast Page

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Okay, first of all, this is all from the BBC, so take it with a VERY large pinch of salt. Objective reporting went out the window a long long time ago with these guys. Unsurprisingly, they try to pin all the blame on George Bush, while this sort of thing's been going on for decades, under both Republican and Democrat administrations.

They also make the ludicrous statement that the "only way" Paul Singer, CEO of Elliott Associates makes his money is by suing foreign governments for debt racked up by failed administrations. They have a huge portfolio of property and other investments. Given that the company is worth around $5.6 billion, and that the BBC stated that "vultures" have together recovered $1 billion from the people who owe them money, it seems that this Greg Palast guy has his sums a bit wrong.

As a last point, can someone please explain to me why making people, governments and organisations responsible and accountable for their debts is a bad thing? Many of the creditors to the corrupt regimes were private individuals and businesses whose only chance of seeing some of their money back was to sell it to companies such as Elliott. They have the financial and legal muscle that the small creditors lack necessary to achieve a result. Yes, they make a profit, but they're a business, not a charity.

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As a last point, can someone please explain to me why making people, governments and organisations responsible and accountable for their debts is a bad thing? Many of the creditors to the corrupt regimes were private individuals and businesses whose only chance of seeing some of their money back was to sell it to companies such as Elliott. They have the financial and legal muscle that the small creditors lack necessary to achieve a result. Yes, they make a profit, but they're a business, not a charity.

If you really can't see why this is wrong, then that is very worrying.

For example the Zambia debt was originally to buy tractors. They were repaying the debt for 20 years, and now they still have to pay back at least $40m. How is that fair? Do you really think Zambia ever received anything close to $40m? This has nothing to do with repaying what they were given. This is being held over a barrel and squeezed dry just because they can. Global loan sharks.

Surely you can see that's wrong?

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If you really can't see why this is wrong, then that is very worrying.

For example the Zambia debt was originally to buy tractors. They were repaying the debt for 20 years, and now they still have to pay back at least $40m. How is that fair? Do you really think Zambia ever received anything close to $40m? This has nothing to do with repaying what they were given. This is being held over a barrel and squeezed dry just because they can. Global loan sharks.

Surely you can see that's wrong?

Isn't that the same deal home owners get every time they apply for a mortgage? Okay, I can see that they maybe didn't get the best deal, but the fact is their government was still responsible for the debt. Neither the original creditors nor the ones now in possession of the debt ever made any claims towards philanthropy, so why should they liquidate an asset worth millions of pounds?

I'm not saying I would do what they're doing, but I can see why they're doing it.

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Isn't that the same deal home owners get every time they apply for a mortgage? Okay, I can see that they maybe didn't get the best deal, but the fact is their government was still responsible for the debt. Neither the original creditors nor the ones now in possession of the debt ever made any claims towards philanthropy, so why should they liquidate an asset worth millions of pounds?

I'm not saying I would do what they're doing, but I can see why they're doing it.

It's just another way America use their extreme capitalism to control the world. Suppress developing countries, extort those with no money, all the while building up power and claiming divine right to kill anything that doesn't conform or appears to be a threat. That is not democracy. Democracy has an equal degree of compassion associated with it.

Why let people grow rich from the misfortune of others? Not just one or two people either, whole countries.

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It's just another way America use their extreme capitalism to control the world. Suppress developing countries, extort those with no money, all the while building up power and claiming divine right to kill anything that doesn't conform or appears to be a threat.

Don't confuse private individuals and companies with "America". There are plenty of people using "extreme capitalism" in a philanthropic and generous manner to the people of Africa (Bill Gates, anyone?). Anyway, the people who loaned the money and provided the services didn't do so to be good democrats, they did it to earn a living.

Why let people grow rich from the misfortune of others? Not just one or two people either, whole countries.

That is not democracy. Democracy has an equal degree of compassion associated with it.

Look at the countries that racked up these debts-Peru, Zambia, Argentina, Democratic Republic of Congo/Zaire...hardly bastions of democracy at the time these debts were created, were they? The government of America does what's right and fair for its own people (or at least it's supposed to). They are not answerable to or beholden to any other nation. Why should they be?

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Isn't that the same deal home owners get every time they apply for a mortgage? Okay, I can see that they maybe didn't get the best deal, but the fact is their government was still responsible for the debt. Neither the original creditors nor the ones now in possession of the debt ever made any claims towards philanthropy, so why should they liquidate an asset worth millions of pounds?

I'm not saying I would do what they're doing, but I can see why they're doing it.

This is not like Zambia (or whoever) just fancied building a conservatory though is it? This is money that they needed at the time, and if they had simply been allowed to pay it back when they could, albeit with a bit of interest as incentive there wouldn't be a problem. But this is simply (legal) extortion. And however 'technically legal' it may be, I'm afraid if you can't bring yourself to condemn the practice then you have very different morals to mine.

If you're a bit skint one day and need money for your lunch, I could lend you twenty quid. But then I would demand you give me all of your next pay packet in return. score...

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If you're a bit skint one day and need money for your lunch, I could lend you twenty quid. But then I would demand you give me all of your next pay packet in return. score...

and in the case of this, your friend would buy the debt from Dave then sue him for many times it's value.

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Don't confuse private individuals and companies with "America". There are plenty of people using "extreme capitalism" in a philanthropic and generous manner to the people of Africa (Bill Gates, anyone?). Anyway, the people who loaned the money and provided the services didn't do so to be good democrats, they did it to earn a living.

Where does this particular company originate and who do they supply money too again? I'm not so ignorant as to separate the two, one perpetuates the other. It is built into their "American dream" and the reality of their society to allow maximum power and wealth to very few. Fine, some people give away money they amass but at an equal and opposite rate there is always someone else taking it away. They even allow that to happen to poorest of their own people.

Look at the countries that racked up these debts-Peru, Zambia, Argentina, Democratic Republic of Congo/Zaire...hardly bastions of democracy at the time these debts were created, were they?

There are huge amounts of politics involved in these situations that would take a long time to discuss. Having said that, why give a loan to a country you know will either never be able to pay the money back, is not "democratic" and will more than likely spend the money on arms? It's so you can make more money from them and to have a power over them.

The government of America does what's right and fair for its own people (or at least it's supposed to). They are not answerable to or beholden to any other nation. Why should they be?

Again, they even let their own people suffer, not only in monetary terms but socially and in isolated ignorance.

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and in the case of this, your friend would buy the debt from Frosty Jack then sue him for many times it's value.

And they'd be within their rights to do so, provided I had defaulted on the payments and shown no sign of paying the original debt. This is just the way the world works.

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Where does this particular company originate and who do they supply money too again?

What, Elliott Associates? They're a privately owned hedge fund based in New York. They make money for their shareholders, as any good company does.

I'm not so ignorant as to separate the two, one perpetuates the other. It is built into their "American dream" and the reality of their society to allow maximum power and wealth to very few.

*edit* Sorry, now I get what you're getting at. Yes, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans is the goal. What's wrong with that? I can think of quite a few countries who, had they followed the American template and embraced democracy and the free market wouldn't be in the situation now where they have to pay vast sums to foreign debt collectors.

Fine, some people give away money they amass but at an equal and opposite rate there is always someone else taking it away. They even allow that to happen to poorest of their own people.

Ummm, yup. So?

There are huge amounts of politics involved in these situations that would take a long time to discuss. Having said that, why give a loan to a country you know will either never be able to pay the money back, is not "democratic" and will more than likely spend the money on arms? It's so you can make more money from them and to have a power over them.

There's no reason why any of these countries, being rich enough in minerals and natural wealth, as well as having an indigenous population capable of improving the economy, should have had any trouble paying off the debt. It wasn't so long ago that Britain was going down the same path as these countries, but good management of the economy during the 80's and 90's reversed that trend. Sadly too few countries followed our example.

Democracy is system of choosing a government. It should not be mistaken for a set of hard and fast moral strictures. Democracy gave us George Bush, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, why should they sacrifice what is best for the people they represent in order to help people from whom they will see no tangible benefits?

Again, they even let their own people suffer, not only in monetary terms but socially and in isolated ignorance.

Nah, you're thinking of Cuba. I'd rather be "poor" in America than "rich" there.

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Dave, do you have a soul?

Do you honestly view it as acceptable to buy the debt of one of the worlds poorest countries then sue them for many times the valule? Is this just part of capitalism, I think not.

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Guest Jake Wifebeater
Dave, do you have a soul?

He's fanatically pro-Israel, draw your own conclusions...

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Dave, do you have a soul?

I think so. But that's a whole different kettle of fish. Sure I have compassion for the people this hurts, and I condemn the people in authority in these countries who put them in this situation, but if I was missing out on millions of pounds due to an unpaid debt I would seek recourse by any means necessary.

Put it this way; I felt sorry for Shylock at the end of "The Merchant of Venice".

Do you honestly view it as acceptable to buy the debt of one of the worlds poorest countries then sue them for many times the valule? Is this just part of capitalism, I think not.

I know it's bad form to answer a question with a question, but do you think it's acceptable to take out a loan, or to receive a service, in the knowledge you would be unable to, or unwilling to repay?

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Dave, do you have a soul?

Do you honestly view it as acceptable to buy the debt of one of the worlds poorest countries then sue them for many times the valule? Is this just part of capitalism, I think not.

there is having a soul and accepting that we live in a capitalist world. people will always prey on others misfortune. condemn it all you like. it will still happen. I dont like it, im sure Dave doesnt like it, but thats the way it is, and I am ignorant/happy enough to accept it and get on with my life

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I know it's bad form to answer a question with a question, but do you think it's acceptable to take out a loan, or to receive a service, in the knowledge you would be unable to, or unwilling to repay?

I don't view it as acceptable for myself to loan anyone money with intent of gaining interest out of it.

I also don't view it as acceptable to loan a country money with the knowledge they would probably not be able to pay it back. A regular bank would generally not do this to a person.

Anyhow, that is not what is being debated here. Vulture funds are when someone buys the debt of the country then sues the country they bought it from for many times the value of the original loan. To my sense of morality, ethics or whatever this is entirely unacceptable. It is as simple as rich people expoiting the poorest in the world through any legal loophole or politican that will allow them to do so.

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I don't view it as acceptable for myself to loan anyone money with intent of gaining interest out of it.

I also don't view it as acceptable to loan a country money with the knowledge they would probably not be able to pay it back. A regular bank would generally not do this to a person.

A bank wouldn't do that to a person? Have you seen some of the things banks have done *in this country* to people? We're seeing banks hand out huge 100% mortgages to people, fully aware that a whole percentage rise in interest rates would ruin the people that they're lending money to. Look at the amount of people affected by bank charges - with banks "lending" them a pound to pay a Direct Debit, only to then nail them with huge charges as a result.

Out of curiosity, if you're against loaning money to people to gain interest, does that mean that you don't gain interest in your bank account or have any intention of having a pension?

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There's no reason why any of these countries, being rich enough in minerals and natural wealth, as well as having an indigenous population capable of improving the economy, should have had any trouble paying off the debt. It wasn't so long ago that Britain was going down the same path as these countries, but good management of the economy during the 80's and 90's reversed that trend. Sadly too few countries followed our example.

Are you serious? If you are taking Zambia as an example, then the fact that 70% of its population live in poverty and the nation has an average life expectancy of under 40 probably makes "paying off the debt" a trifle difficult - regardless of how rich they are in natural resources (which incidentally, Zambia actually isn't). You can't possibly compare Britain's wavering economy of decades ago with a third-world country ravaged by disease and war.

Yes, lots of money that has been lent to some (probably most) of these countries has been squandered away by various corrupt governments and military dictators of past and present, rather than being put to proper use. However, it also worth remembering that many of these same corrupt governments have been put in power and are actively propped up by Western governments and international corporations to help do their bidding (i.e. let them get at their natural resources).

And I don't know about you, but when I go to a bank and ask them to lend me money they check to see how much money I'm actually making and whether or not I'll be able to actually pay of the debt before giving me a single penny. It's called responsible lending.

These countries should never have been given these huge loans in the first place. They should have been given aid, food and assistance by charitable organisations. Corporations should be playing no part whatsoever. Once the country is back on its own two feet then fine start doing business with them, but until then help them - don’t burden them further with debts they can never hope to repay.

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A bank wouldn't do that to a person? Have you seen some of the things banks have done *in this country* to people? We're seeing banks hand out huge 100% mortgages to people, fully aware that a whole percentage rise in interest rates would ruin the people that they're lending money to. Look at the amount of people affected by bank charges - with banks "lending" them a pound to pay a Direct Debit, only to then nail them with huge charges as a result.

As Neil pointed out, banks check information about your job, income etc. and assess the likelyhood of your being able to pay it back. Sometimes they may be irresponsible but usually they get the money back through relatively legitimate means.

Out of curiosity, if you're against loaning money to people to gain interest, does that mean that you don't gain interest in your bank account or have any intention of having a pension?

I think this is not quite the same thing. You keep money in a bank account becuase there really isn't anywhere else sensible to keep it. If you gain interest it is becuase the money has been invested and you get a proportion of it back. The chances of you losing your money is very slim (when the economy is stable at least).

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To be honest, my theory is either way we're fucked.

Help the third world countries to get a better economy and it'll contribute to climate change etc.

Don't help them, and they're still in the shit and war and disease. I know my point has little value but still.

viciouscircle.jpg

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As Neil pointed out, banks check information about your job, income etc. and assess the likelyhood of your being able to pay it back. Sometimes they may be irresponsible but usually they get the money back through relatively legitimate means.

Legitmate means, including taking huge chunks of your cash for "fees" the second you pay it in? Banks also aggressively persue people who owe them money - some of the inflexibiility surrounding repossessions is ridiculous for such an established country as hours. They're also well known for harrassing people constantly until they get their money - and they have no problem with destroying people's credit ratings. What's the difference, really?

I think this is not quite the same thing. You keep money in a bank account becuase there really isn't anywhere else sensible to keep it. If you gain interest it is becuase the money has been invested and you get a proportion of it back. The chances of you losing your money is very slim (when the economy is stable at least).

That makes no sense - how can you be against loaning someone money to gain interest, but not to have a problem with the bank paying you it?

Thing is, it's hardly nothing new - East Germany was in a huge mess with foreign loans by the time the Berlin Wall fell, as was a lot of 20th Century communist countries. Heck, even the USA today is in a bit of a mess, with the dollar's use as a reserve currency essentially propping up the dollar today.

As for the argument about irresponsible lending - well, the general rule is that if you aren't sure about getting your cash back, then you hike up the interest rate - a common tactic used by credit cards such as Capital One. And when you fail to meet those payments, another common tactic is to sell the debt to specialist companies who will go in and stick on ridiculous fees in order to essentially force the person owning money into submission. Ethical? No, biut it gives the rest of us cheaper access to money.

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I cant believe some of the shite i've read in this post...

say what you like about capitalism, economics, business or anything else. The fact of the matter is that there are people living in absolute poverty with no prospects for a better life yet others are still profiting from their misery. Regardless wether or not their governments knew what they were getting the country into these innocent people should not be forced to suffer more as a result of some legislation that allows bullshit like this to go on.

I don't give two fucks if it's "how the world is" or "how capitalism works", it's a fucking disgrace and anyone attempting to justify it obviously has quite a warped view of the world.

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I don't give two fucks if it's "how the world is" or "how capitalism works", it's a fucking disgrace and anyone attempting to justify it obviously has quite a warped view of the world.

No, just realistic.

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Legitmate means, including taking huge chunks of your cash for "fees" the second you pay it in? Banks also aggressively persue people who owe them money - some of the inflexibiility surrounding repossessions is ridiculous for such an established country as hours. They're also well known for harrassing people constantly until they get their money - and they have no problem with destroying people's credit ratings. What's the difference, really?

There's a massive difference in both principles and morals.

An irresponsible individual taking loans out beyond their own means gets fuck all sympathy from me. Its a completely different situation from condemning a nation of people who have no hope in hell of getting anywhere due to their corrupt leaders in the past.

There is a difference between the responsibility of an individual and the fate of a nation.

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