[A-List] Special Preview from Michel Chossudovsky: From Bush to Obama - America's Fiscal Collapse

Suzanne de Kuyper suzannedk at gmail.com
Thu Dec 23 05:15:12 MST 2010


All the serious senarios describing, cataloguing, parsing, the fiscal
depression may be mistaking it by a wide margin by simply the words that are
being used, such as 'Collapse'.   What if it was carefully planned and it's
happening as it is is a sucess?   An interesting possibility that may never
be glimpsed without looking very very closely if not microscopicly.  Devil's
Advocate, maybe, maybe not.  Suzanne

On Thu, Dec 23, 2010 at 1:07 PM, Global Research E-Newsletter <
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> From Bush to Obama - America's Fiscal Collapse
> BOOK PREVIEW: Excerpt from "The Global Economic Crisis: The Great
> Depression of the XXI Century."
>
> By Michel Chossudovsky
>
> URL of this article: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21969
>
> Global Research, December 18, 2010
>
> The following is an excerpt from a chapter by Michel Chossudovsky in Global
> Research's new book entitled:
>
> "The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century."
> Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall, editors, Global Research,
> Montreal, 2010
>
> Order your copy directly from Global Research
> For more details click below:
> The Global Economic Crisis
>
>
>
>
> What has been implemented under Obama is strong economic medicine with a
> “human face”. “Promise amid peril”. The stated priorities of the Obama
> economic package are health, education, renewable energy, investment in
> infrastructure and transporta­tion. “Quality education” is at the forefront.
> Obama has also promised to “make health care more affordable and accessible”
> for every American.
>
> At first sight, the budget proposal had all the appearances of an
> expansionary program, a demand-oriented “Second New Deal” geared towards
> creating employment, rebuilding shattered social programs and reviving the
> real economy.
>
> The realities are otherwise. Obama’s promise is based on a mammoth
> austerity program. The entire fiscal structure is shat­tered, turned upside
> down. To reach these stated objectives, a significant hike in public
> spending on social programs (health, education, housing, social security)
> would be required, as well as the implementation of a large-scale public
> investment program. Major shifts in the composition of public expenditure
> would also be required, i.e. a move out of a war economy, requiring a shift
> out of military-related spending in favor of civilian programs.
>
> In actuality, what we are dealing with is the most drastic cur­tailment in
> public spending in American history, leading to social havoc and the
> potential impoverishment of millions of people. The Obama promise largely
> serves the interests of Wall Street, the defense contractors, the oil
> conglomerates and Big Pharma. In turn, the Bush-Obama bank “bailouts” have
> led America into a spiraling public debt crisis. The economic and social
> dislocations are potentially devastating.
>
> War and the Economic Crisis
>
> The worldwide meltdown of financial markets occurs at the crossroads of a
> major military adventure. The global financial crisis is intimately related
> to the war. (For further analysis, see chapters 9-12). A spiraling defense
> budget backlashes on the civilian sectors of economic activity. The war
> economy has a direct bearing on fiscal and monetary policy. Defense
> appropria­tions are in excess of 700 billion dollars (for the 2010 fiscal
> year). An impending fiscal crisis is looming which threatens to under­mine
> the entire structure of public spending.
>
> “War is Good for Business”: the powerful financial groups which routinely
> manipulate stock markets, currency and com­modity markets, are also
> promoting the continuation and esca­lation of the Middle East war. The
> financial crisis is related to the structure of U.S. public investment in
> the war economy versus the funding, through tax dollars, of civilian social
> programs. “More broadly, this also raises the issue of the role of the US
> Treasury and the US monetary system, in relentlessly financing  the military
> industrial complex and the Middle East war at the expense of most sectors of
> civilian economic activity.”
>
> The war is profit-driven, financed through the massive worldwide expansion
> of dollar denominated debt. War and globalization go hand in hand. Wall
> Street, the oil companies and the defense contractors have concurrent and
> overlapping interests. The oil companies were behind the 2008 speculative
> surge in crude oil prices on the London energy market, which preceded the
> collapse of the stock market in September-October of 2008. In turn,
> resulting from the military agenda, the U.S. civilian economy is in crisis
> as the nation’s resources, including tax dollars, are diverted into funding
> a multibillion dollar Middle East war.
>
> Defense Outlays for the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
>
> This is a “war budget”. The austerity measures hit all major fed­eral
> spending programs with the exception of defense and the Middle East Central
> Asian War, the Wall Street bank bailout and interest payments on a
> staggering public debt. The nation’s bud­get diverts tax revenues into
> financing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the set-up of new
> military bases in Colombia. It legitimizes the fraudulent transfers of tax
> dollars to the financial elites under the bank bailouts.
>
> The pattern of deficit spending is not expansionary. We are not dealing
> with a Keynesian-style deficit which stimulates investment and consumer
> demand, leading to an expansion of production and employment. The bank
> bailouts (involving sev­eral initiatives financed by tax dollars) constitute
> a component of government expenditure. Both the Bush and Obama bank
> bail­outs were handouts to major financial institutions. They did not result
> in a positive spending injection into the real economy. In fact, the
> opposite is true. The bailouts have contributed to financ­ing the
> restructuring of the banking system, leading to a massive concentration of
> wealth and centralization of banking power.
>
> A large part of the bailout money granted by the U.S. government has
> already been transferred electronically to various affili­ated accounts
> including the hedge funds. The largest banks in the U.S. are also using this
> windfall cash to buy out their weaker competitors, thereby consolidating
> their position. The tendency, therefore, is towards a new wave of corporate
> buyouts, mergers and acquisitions in the financial services industry.
>
> In turn, the financial elites will use these large amounts of liq­uid
> assets (paper wealth), together with the hundreds of billions acquired
> through speculative trade, to buy out real economy cor­porations (airlines,
> the automobile industry, telecoms, media, etc.), whose quoted value on the
> stock markets has tumbled. In essence, a budget deficit (combined with
> massive cuts in social programs) was required to fund the handouts to the
> banks, as well as finance defense spending and the military surge in both
> Iraq and Afghanistan.
>
> Obama’s 2010 Budget
>
> Obama’s budget for the 2010 fiscal year was of the order of 3.94 trillion
> dollars, an increase of 32 percent. Total government rev­enues for the 2010
> fiscal year, according to estimates by the Bureau of Budget, were quoted at
> 2.381 trillion dollars. This puts the predicted budget deficit at 1.75
> trillion dollars, equaling almost twelve percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic
> Product.
>
> 1. Defense spending of 534 billion dollars for 2010, a supple­mental 130
> billion dollars appropriation for fiscal 2010 for the wars in Afghanistan
> and Iraq, and a supplemental 75.5 billion dollars emergency war funding for
> the rest of the 2009 fiscal year. Defense spending and the Middle East war,
> with various supplemental budgets, was (offi­cially) of the order of 739.5
> billion dollars. Some estimates placed aggregate defense and military
> related spending at over one trillion dollars.
>
> 2. A bank bailout of 750 billion dollars announced by Obama, which was
> added on to the 700 billion dollars in bailout money already allocated by
> the outgoing Bush administration under the Troubled Assets Relief Program
> (TARP). The total of both programs is a staggering 1.45 trillion dollars, to
> be financed by the Treasury. (See Table 1.3 next page). It should be
> understood that the actual amount of cash financial “aid” to the banks is
> significantly larger than 1.45 trillion dollars.
>
> 3. Net interest on the outstanding public debt was estimated by the Bureau
> of the Budget at 164 billion dollars in 2010.
>
> The magnitude of these allocations is staggering. Under a “balanced budget”
> criterion – which has been a priority of gov­ernment economic policy since
> the Reagan era – almost all the revenues of the federal government amounting
> to 2.381 trillion dollars would be used to finance the bank bailout (1.45
> trillion), the war (739.5 billion) and interest payments on the public debt
> (164 billion). In other words, no money would be left over for other
> categories of public expenditure.
>
> The Budget Deficit
>
> Three categories of expenditure, namely defense, the bank bail­out and
> interest on the public debt, had virtually swallowed up the entire 2010
> federal government revenue of 2381.0 billion dollars.
>
> Moreover, as a basis of comparison, all the revenue accruing from
> individual federal income taxes (1.061 trillion dollars in fis­cal 2010),
> that is, all the money households across America paid annually in the form
> of federal taxes, did not suffice to finance the handouts to the banks,
> which officially amounted to 1.45 trillion dollars. This amount includes the
> 700 billion dollars granted during fiscal year 2009 under the TARP, program
> plus the proposed 750 billion dollars granted by the Obama administration.
>
> Bush’s Troubled Assets Relief Program and Obama’s 750 bil­lion dollar bank
> bailout – although disbursed over more than one fiscal year – nonetheless
> represented almost half of total gov­ernment expenditure (half of Obama’s
> 3.94 trillion dollar budget for fiscal 2010), which was financed by regular
> sources of revenue (2381 billion dollars), plus a staggering 1.75 trillion
> dollar bud­get deficit, which ultimately required the issuing of Treasury
> Bills and government bonds. The feasibility of a large short-term expansion
> of the public debt at a time of crisis was yet another matter, particularly
> with interest rates at abysmally low levels.
>
> The budget deficit was 1.58 trillion dollars according to offi­cial
> sources. Obama acknowledged a 1.3 trillion dollar budget deficit, inherited
> from the Bush administration. In actuality, the budget deficit was much
> larger. The official figures tended to underestimate the seriousness of the
> budgetary predicament. The 1.58 trillion dollar budget deficit figure was
> questionable because the various amounts disbursed under TARP and other
> related bank bailouts including Obama’s 750 billion dollar aid program to
> financial institutions were not acknowledged in the government’s expenditure
> accounts.
>
> The aid hasn’t been requested formally, but appears in a line item “for
> potential additional financial stabilization efforts,” ac­cording to the
> budget overview. The budget office calculated a $250 billion net cost to
> taxpayers this year, because it anticipates it would eventually recoup some,
> though not all, of the money expended to help financial companies.
>
> The funds would come on top of the $700 billion rescue package approved
> last October by Congress. The White House budgets no money for fiscal 2010
> and beyond for such aid.
>
> Fiscal Collapse
>
> A major crisis of the federal fiscal structure was in the making. The
> multibillion dollar allocations to the war budget and to the Wall Street
> bank bailout program backlash on all other catego­ries of public
> expenditure. In November 2008, the federal govern­ment’s bank rescue program
> was estimated at a staggering 8.5 trillion dollars, an amount equivalent to
> more than sixty percent of the U.S. public debt estimated at fourteen
> trillion dollars (2007). Meanwhile, under the Obama budget proposal, 634
> bil­lion dollars were allocated to a reserve fund to finance universal
> health care.
>
> At first glance, it appears to be a large amount. But it is to be spent
> over a ten year period, i.e. a modest annual commitment of 63.4 billion.
> Thus public spending will be slashed with a view to curtailing a spiraling
> budget deficit. Health and education pro­grams will not only remain heavily
> underfunded, they will be cut, revamped and privatized.
>
> The likely outcome is the outright privatization of public ser­vices and
> the sale of state assets, including public infrastructure, urban services,
> highways and national parks. Fiscal collapse leads to the privatization of
> the state. The fiscal crisis is further exacer­bated by the compression of
> tax revenues resulting from decline of the real economy. Unemployed workers
> do not pay taxes, nor do bankrupt firms. The process is cumulative. The
> solution to the fiscal crisis becomes the cause of further collapse.
>
> The Structure of the Public Debt
>
> This large-scale appropriation of liquid money assets under the bank
> bailouts by a handful of financial institutions serves to increase the
> public debt overnight. When the U.S. Treasury under the Bush administration
> allocates 700 billion dollars to the Troubled Assets Relief Program, it
> constitutes a budgetary out­lay which inevitably must be financed from
> within the structure of government revenues and expenditures. A similar
> reasoning applies to the bank bailouts under the Obama presidency.
>
> Unless all other categories of public expenditure including health,
> education and social services are slashed, the various out­lays under the
> bank bailouts will require running a massive bud­get deficit, which in turn
> will increase the U.S. public debt. Bear in mind, this budget deficit is not
> expansionary (in the Keynesian context). It does revive investment and
> consumer spending. It has no direct bearing on the real economy. It is a
> money transfer from U.S. tax payers into the coffers of a handful of
> financial institutions.
>
> America is the most indebted country on earth. The United States (federal
> government) gross public debt is currently of the order of fourteen trillion
> dollars. This does not include mount­ing public debts at the state and
> municipal levels.
>
> This U.S. dollar denominated (federal) debt is composed of outstanding
> treasury bills and government bonds. The public debt, also called “the
> national debt” is the amount of money owed by the federal government to
> holders of U.S. debt instru­ments. These are held by American residents (as
> part of their savings portfolios), companies and financial institutions,
> U.S. government agencies, foreign governments and individuals in foreign
> countries, but does not include intergovernmental debt obligations or debt
> held in the Social Security Trust Fund. Types of securities held by the
> public include, but are not limited to, Treasury Bills, Notes, Bonds, TIPS,
> United States Savings Bonds, and State and Local Government Series
> securities.
>
> The proposed solution becomes the cause of the crisis. The 700 billion
> dollar bailout under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, combined with
> Obama’s 750 billion dollar aid package to the financial services industry,
> is but the tip of the iceberg. A panoply of bailout allocations in addition
> to the 700 billion dollars have been decided upon. Moreover, an additional
> budget­ary overrun was implemented under Obama’s stimulus package of 787
> billion dollars launched in February 2009 under The American Recovery and
> Reinvestment Act of 2009. The stimulus package, as distinct from Obama’s
> bank bailout program, is in part directed towards the real economy.
>
> Spiraling Public Debt Crisis
>
> Is the Treasury in a position to finance this mounting budget deficit
> officially tagged at 1.58 trillion dollars through the emis­sion of Treasury
> bills and government bonds? The actual bud­get deficit is much higher.
>
> We are facing the largest ever budget deficit coupled with the lowest
> interest rates in U.S. history. With the Fed’s “near zero” percent discount
> rate, the markets for U.S. dollar denominated government bonds and Treasury
> bills are in a straightjacket. Moreover, the essential functions of savings
> (which are central to the functioning of a national economy) are in crisis.
>
> Who wants to invest in U.S. government debt? What is the demand for
> Treasury bills at exceedingly low interest rates? The market for U.S. dollar
> denominated debt instruments is poten­tially at a standstill, which means
> that the Treasury lacks the ability to finance its mammoth budget deficit
> through public debt operations, leading the entire budgetary process into a
> quandary. The question is whether China and Japan will contin­ue to purchase
> U.S. dollar denominated debt instruments. Washington is running a public
> relations campaign to lure Asian investors into buying T-bills and U.S.
> government bonds.
>
> With the markets for U.S. dollar denominated debt (both domestically and
> internationally) in crisis, further pressure will be exerted on the Treasury
> to slash (civilian) public expenditure to the bone, exact user fees for
> public services and sell off public assets, including state infrastructure
> and institutions. In all like­lihood, this crisis is leading us to the
> privatization of the state, where activities hitherto under government
> jurisdiction will be transferred into private hands.
>
> Who will be buying state assets at rock bottom prices? The financial
> elites, who are also the recipients of the bank bailout.
>
> Consolidation of the Banks
>
> A massive amount of liquidity has been injected into the finan­cial system,
> from the bailouts but also from pension funds, individual savings, etc. The
> stated objective of the bank bailout programs is to alleviate the banks’
> burden of bad debts and non-performing loans. In actuality what is happening
> is that these massive amounts of money are being used by a handful of
> institutions to consolidate their position in global banking. The exposure
> of the banks, largely the result of derivative trade, is estimated in the
> tens of trillions of dollars, to the extent that the amounts and guarantees
> granted by the Treasury and the Fed will not resolve the crisis. Nor are
> they intended to resolve the crisis.
>
> The mainstream media suggests that the banks are being nationalized as a
> result of TARP. In fact, it is exactly the opposite: the state is being
> taken over by the banks, the state is being priva­tized. The establishment
> of a worldwide unipolar financial system is part of the broader project of
> the Wall Street financial elites to establish the contours of a world
> government.
>
> In a bitter irony, the recipients of the bailout under TARP and Obama’s
> proposed 750 billion dollar aid to financial institutions are the creditors
> of the federal government. The Wall Street banks are the brokers and
> underwriters of the U.S. public debt. Although they hold only a portion of
> the debt, they transact and trade in U.S. dollar denominated public debt
> instruments world­wide. They act as creditors of the U.S. State; they
> evaluate the creditworthiness of the U.S. government; they rank the public
> debt through Moody’s and Standard and Poor; they control the U.S. Treasury,
> the Federal Reserve Board and the U.S. Congress; they oversee and dictate
> fiscal and monetary policy, ensuring that the state acts in their interest.
> The government hands mon­ey to assist the banks under the bank bailout. As a
> result, its cred­it rating established by Wall Street is affected.
>
> The U.S. Government Finances its Own Indebtedness: Circular and
> Contradictory Relationship
>
> Since the Reagan era, Wall Street dominates most areas of eco­nomic and
> social policy. It sets the budgetary agenda, ensuring the curtailment of
> social expenditures. Wall Street preaches bal­anced budgets but the practice
> has been to lobby for the elimina­tion of corporate taxes, grant handouts to
> corporations and tax write-offs in mergers and acquisitions, all of which
> lead to a spi­raling public debt. It oversees the U.S. public debt and the
> banks are involved in the sale of treasury bills and government bonds on
> financial markets in the U.S. and around the world. They also hold part of
> the public debt and are the creditors of the U.S. government.
>
> In a bitter irony, the massive increase in the public debt (2009-2010)
> required to “rescue the banks” was financed and brokered by the financial
> institutions which were the direct beneficiaries of the Bush and Obama bank
> bailouts.
>
> The Federal Reserve System is a privately owned central bank. While the
> Federal Reserve Board is a government body, the pro­cess of money creation
> is controlled by the twelve Federal Reserve banks, which are privately
> owned. The shareholders of the Federal Reserve banks (with the New York
> Federal Reserve Bank playing a dominant role) are among America’s most
> powerful financial institutions.
>
> The increase in the U.S. public debt in 2009-2010 was a direct result of
> the bailout monies transferred to the banks. To finance the bank bailouts,
> the Treasury was obliged to run up a massive budget deficit. While the
> Federal Reserve creates money out of thin air, the multibillion dollar
> outlays of the Treasury (includ­ing the Bush and Obama bank bailouts)
> required a massive emis­sion of public debt in the form of Treasury Bills
> and government bonds. Only part of these T-Bills are held by the Fed.
>
> We are dealing with a pernicious circular relationship. When the banks
> pressured the Treasury to assist them in the form of a major bank rescue
> operation, it was understood from the outset in September 2008 that the
> banks as creditors would in turn “assist” the Treasury in coping with a
> skyrocketing public debt.
>
> Public opinion had been misled. A diabolical circular process had been set
> in motion. The U.S. government is in a sense financ­ing its own
> indebtedness: the money granted to the banks is in part financed by
> borrowing from the banks. To finance the 1.45 trillion dollar bailout, the
> government needs to borrow, through the emission of public debt. Where does
> the government go? To the banks. In other words, with the money the banks
> lend to the government, the Treasury finances the bailout in favor of the
> banks.
>
> In turn, the banks impose conditionalities on the management of the U.S.
> public debt. They dictate how the money should be spent. After having cashed
> in on their bailout money, they impose “fiscal responsibility” on the U.S.
> Treasury; they demand massive cuts in public spending, which eventually
> results in the collapse and/or privatization of public services; they impose
> the privatization of urban infrastructure, roads, sewer and water systems,
> public recreational areas – everything is up for privatization.
>
> This public debt crisis triggered by Wall Street is all the more serious
> because the U.S. federal government does not control monetary policy. All
> public debt operations go through the Federal Reserve, which is in charge of
> monetary policy, acting on behalf of private financial interests. The
> government as such has no authority over money creation. This means that
> public debt operations essentially serve the interests of the banks.
>
> Where is the Money Going?
>
> The Obama economic stimulus program constitutes a continua­tion of the Bush
> administration’s bank bailout packages. The proposed policy solution to the
> crisis becomes the cause, ulti­mately resulting in further real economy
> bankruptcies and a cor­responding collapse of the standard of living of
> Americans. Both the Bush and Obama bank bailouts are intended to come to the
> rescue of troubled financial institutions, to ensure the payment of
> “inter-bank” debt operations. In practice, large amounts of money transit
> through the banking system, from the banks to the hedge funds, to offshore
> banking havens and back to the banks.
>
> The government and the media tend to focus on the ambigu­ous notion of
> “inter-bank debts”. The identity of the ultimate creditors is rarely
> mentioned. The legitimacy of the creditors is never questioned. Multibillion
> dollar transfers are conducted electronically from one financial entity to
> another. Where is the money going? Who is collecting these multibillion
> debts, which are in large part the consequence of financial manipulation and
> derivative trade?
>
> There are indications that the financial institutions are trans­ferring
> billions of dollars into their affiliated financial entities and hedge
> funds. From these hedge funds, money is also being used to acquire real
> economy assets. Through what circuitous financial mechanisms were these
> debts created? Where is the bailout money going? Who is cashing in on the
> multibillion dol­lar government bailout money? This process is contributing
> to an unprecedented concentration of private wealth.
>
> Financial manipulation is an integral part of the New World Order. It
> constitutes a powerful means to accumulate wealth. It has contributed to
> destabilizing the U.S. fiscal structure. Under the present political
> arrangement, those responsible for mone­tary policy are quite deliberately
> serving the interests of the financiers, to the detriment of working people,
> leading to eco­nomic dislocation, unemployment and mass poverty.
>
> More generally, this restructuring of global financial markets and
> institutions (alongside the pillage of national economies) has enabled the
> accumulation of vast amounts of private wealth, a large portion of which has
> been amassed as a result of strictly speculative transactions. This critical
> drain of billions of dollars of household savings and state tax revenues
> paralyzes the func­tions of government spending and spurs the accumulation
> of a public debt, which can no longer be financed through the emis­sion of
> U.S. dollar denominated debt instruments.
>
> What we are dealing with is the fraudulent confiscation of life­long
> savings and pension funds and the appropriation of tax rev­enues to finance
> the bank bailouts. To understand what has hap­pened, follow the money trail
> of electronic transfers with a view to establishing where the money has
> gone. What is at stake is the outright criminalization of the financial
> system, financial theft on an unprecedented scale.
>
> The monetary system, which is integrated into the state bud­getary process,
> has been destabilized. The fundamental relation­ship between the monetary
> system and the real economy is in crisis. The creation of money “out of thin
> air” threatens the value of the U.S. dollar as an international currency.
> Similarly, the financing of a mammoth U.S. budget deficit through dollar
> denominated debt instruments is impaired as a result of exceed­ingly low
> interest rates. Moreover, the process of household sav­ings is undermined
> with interest rates close to zero.
>
> What we have dealt with in this chapter is one central aspect of an
> evolving process of global financial collapse. While the finan­cial
> apparatus has not collapsed, the Great Depression of the 21st century is by
> no means over. We can expect a renewed wave of bank failures, mergers and
> acquisitions in the years to come.
>
> Financial Disarmament
>
> The complexity of this crisis is overwhelming. While specific ad hoc
> measures including the freeze of speculative trade can be envisaged, there
> are no ready solutions under the prevailing global financial architecture.
> What is at stake is the power con­figuration behind these measures. Economic
> policy quite deliberately serves the interests of the financial elites, who
> in turn control the political process. Meaningful policies cannot be
> achieved without radically reforming the workings of the inter­national
> banking system.
>
> What is required is an overhaul of the monetary system includ­ing the
> functions and ownership of the central bank, the arrest and prosecution of
> those involved in financial fraud both in the financial system and in
> governmental agencies, the freeze of all accounts where fraudulent transfers
> have been deposited and the cancellation of debts resulting from fraudulent
> trade and/or market manipulation.
>
> People across the land, nationally and internationally, must mobilize. This
> struggle to democratize the financial and fiscal apparatus must be
> broad-based and democratic, encompassing all sectors of society at all
> levels, in all countries. What is ulti­mately required is to disarm the
> financial establishment:
>
> – confiscate those assets which were obtained through fraud and financial
> manipulation
>
> – restore the savings of households through reverse transfers
>
> – restore home ownership to those who lost their homes through the process
> of foreclosures
>
> – return the bailout money to the Treasury
>
> – freeze the activities of the hedge funds
>
> – freeze the gamut of speculative transactions including short-selling and
> derivative trade
>
>
> For the full text of the chapter excerpt above, with all citations and
> sources, click here.
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