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Revolving Doors: From Goldman Sachs to Gikas Hardouvelis

The passage of Gikas Hardouvelis [the new Greek Minister of Finance] from Eurobank to the Presidential Office, back again to Eurobank and after that to the Ministry of Finance, is one of the most characteristic phenomenon of what the Anglo-Saxons call "revolving door". The difference is that, in Greece, some people have stopped even to preserve the pretexts

by Aris Chatzistefanou

Tür ohne Luftzug - A door without airstreams. This is the name used by the German H. Bockhacker in 1881 to patent the construction of the known revolving door. A few decades later, the specific mechanism which allowed people to enter a high building without the powerful airstreams, became a characteristic of the skyscrapers that started to appear in the urban scenery of the American cities. In such a skyscraper in Manhattan or Washington, the term "revolving door" was used for the first time to describe the passage of big private companies' executives to government positions and vice versa.

The term will appear later in English dictionaries of the 70s, but the phenomenon is as old as capitalism and urban democracy. The bankers and big businessmen were entering European governments, without being elected, during 20th century - they were either technocrats in the Weimar Republic, or funders of Hitler who later became executives in Hitler's governmental mechanism.

In modern Germany, the example of Gerhard Schröder, who came out of the German Chancellor "revolving door" and went to the offices of the Russian natural gas company Gazprom, is considered one of the most characteristic cases of conflict interests - together of course with the "green" Minister of Foreign Affairs Joschka Fischer, who after he left the Schröder administration, he was hired as a consultant in the consortium for the construction of the natural gas pipe Nabucco.

In the US, the "revolving door" phenomenon is lost during the last two centuries, but will take its current shape after the end of the WWII, when the president Eisenhower placed Charles Erwin Wilson, CEO of General Motors, in the position of Secretary of Defense (be careful, not to confuse him with Charles Edward Wilson, which was the CEO of General Electric and served Truman administration [!]).

The fact that General Motors played a crucial role for the armament of nazi Germany and specifically, for the military technology used for the Blitzkrieg against Poland, seems that didn't bother the "General of Victory" who opened the doors of the White House to the representatives of the American automobile industry and when a Congress committee asked Charles Erwin Wilson what would happen if the national interest of the United States was opposite to that of his company, he gave the historic answer "What's good for General Motors is good for the country".

Thankfully for the "revolving doors" of the American multinationals, Congress committees has stopped a long time ago to make such an annoying questions when the Secretary of Defence Dick Cheney, became CEO of Halliburton and returned as vice-president. In his first governmental term, he offered to the company contracts of millions of dollars to handle the fires in oil rigs in Kuwait, while when he became vice-president, he literally delivered Iraq to Halliburton and its partners. Similarly, the Chevron executive and later Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, served her position in such a remarkable success that the company gave her name to a tanker of 120,000 tonnes.

However, the company that would literally occupy the American government was the banking giant Goldman Sachs. From the four latest CEOs of the bank, Henry Paulson became Secretary of the Treasury, Stephen Friedman became a key consultant of president Bush for the economy, and Robert Rubin was a key consultant of president Clinton while he also became later Secretary of the Treasury. Even the head of the Bush presidential office came from this bank. The European course of the specific financial institution is quite known as Goldman Sachs started to put its employees in the ECB, Commission and even in the Italian presidential office, while no one can forget that the former top executive of the Greek Public Debt Management Agency, Petros Christodoulou, was also Goldman Sachs' employee prior to his term in National Bank of Greece.

Many governments voted for laws to treat corruption and conflict interests that come from "revolving doors", like for example, the fact that governmental officials are not allowed to take positions in companies right after the end of their term, or the opposite. Japan is trying to limit the Amakudari (descent from heaven) phenomenon, that is, the unwritten law according to which all governmental officials are hired immediately by big multinationals after the end of their term.

The only country that truly managed to break the "revolving doors" is Greece with the Gikas Hardouvelis case. As George Vassalos, former member of the Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) had once explained on Infowar, Hardouvelis entered Megaro Maximou, the official seat of the Prime Minister of Greece, as consultant of Lucas Papademos without being retired from his position in Latsis' Eurobank, as he received a simple unpaid leave. Further than this, he was negotiating with international banking lobby IIF, for the future of the Greek banks, with Eurobank being member of this lobby.

Who needs a "revolving door" in a presidential office or a ministry when the companies and the banks are already inside?


To summarize: The Greek government is just exchanging banking puppets in key positions


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