When someone says ‘nymph’, this is not what you think. You don’t think upper arms that bulk from the broadness of their shoulders or bodies so heavy with muscle that the earth trembles beneath their feet. You don’t think chlorine hair or five-thousand-calorie diets. You certainly don’t think sweat dripping onto the floor where a puddle has already formed as they settle yet another twenty-kilo weight onto the machine. You think skinny; elegant; desirable. But these women — The Naiads of Greece, Team Iara from Brazil, the Russian Rusalkas — they are not the delicate, fragile flowers of the myths. To them, it’s the feeling of perfecting an inch of a stroke; of that tenth-of-a-second cut off their times after half a year of sweat, tears and vomit; of watching the sun rise over the pool as they finish their first practice of the day… It’s power, not elegance or femininity. They don’t care about the attentions of men. All they care about is winning.
Jasmine Tea : If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I’m really content where I am but I want a snazzy answer lol. I’ve honestly been wanting to go to Africa for a while now. I think it’s absolutely beautiful. I watch a lot of documentaries on it and I’m just in love. It’s so rich with culture and I feel like I need to get there to embrace that culture.
I’m gonna get John in on this action sooo here’s his answer. Lol.
New York to see the Yankees play and to be able to root for the home team or Greece or Barcelona because they look sooo beautiful.
Old English : You’re stranded on an island, who do you bring with you?
Asia: I say, John, Baby Alina and Beyoncé! Because why not Beyoncé right?!?
John: Asia and Baby Alina. We’d be kicking on the island just like we do now and we’d be straight.
How Goldman Sachs Profited from the Greek Debt Crisis
The Greek debt crisis offers another
illustration of Wall Street’s powers of persuasion and predation, although the
Street is missing from most accounts.
The crisis was exacerbated years ago
by a deal with Goldman Sachs, engineered by Goldman’s current CEO, Lloyd
Blankfein and his Goldman team helped Greece hide the true extent of
its debt, and in the process almost doubled it. And just as with the American
subprime crisis, and the current plight of many American cities, Wall Street’s
predatory lending played an important although little-recognized role.
In 2001, Greece was looking for ways
to disguise its mounting financial troubles. The Maastricht Treaty required all
eurozone member states to show improvement in their public finances, but Greece
was heading in the wrong direction.
Then Goldman Sachs came to the rescue,
arranging a secret loan of 2.8 billion euros for Greece, disguised as an
off-the-books “cross-currency swap”—a complicated transaction in which Greece’s
foreign-currency debt was converted into a domestic-currency obligation using a
fictitious market exchange rate.
As a result, about 2 percent of Greece’s
debt magically disappeared from its national accounts. Christoforos Sardelis,
then head of Greece’s Public Debt Management Agency, later described the deal
to Bloomberg Business as “a very sexy story between two sinners.”
services, Goldman received a whopping 600 million euros ($793 million),
according to Spyros Papanicolaou, who took over from Sardelis in 2005. That
came to about 12 percent of Goldman’s revenue from its giant trading and
principal-investments unit in 2001—which posted record sales that year. The
unit was run by Blankfein.
Then the deal turned sour. After the
9/11 attacks, bond yields plunged, resulting in a big loss for Greece because
of the formula Goldman had used to compute the country’s debt repayments under the
swap. By 2005, Greece owed almost double what it had put into the deal, pushing
its off-the-books debt from 2.8 billion euros to 5.1 billion.
In 2005, the deal
was restructured and that 5.1 billion euros in debt locked in. Perhaps not
incidentally, Mario Draghi, now head of the European Central Bank and a major
player in the current Greek drama, was then managing director of Goldman’s
Greece wasn’t the only sinner. Until
2008, European Union accounting rules allowed member nations to manage their
debt with so-called off-market rates in swaps, pushed by Goldman and other Wall
Street banks. In the late 1990s, JPMorgan enabled Italy to hide its debt by
swapping currency at a favorable exchange rate, thereby committing Italy to
future payments that didn’t appear on its national accounts as future
But Greece was in the worst shape,
and Goldman was the biggest enabler. Undoubtedly, Greece suffers from years of
corruption and tax avoidance by its wealthy. But Goldman wasn’t an innocent
bystander: It padded its profits by leveraging Greece to the hilt—along with
much of the rest of the global economy. Other Wall Street banks did the same.
When the bubble burst, all that leveraging pulled the world economy to its
Even with the global economy reeling
from Wall Street’s excesses, Goldman offered Greece another gimmick. In early
November 2009, three months before the country’s debt crisis became global
news, a Goldman team proposed a financial instrument that would push the debt
from Greece’s healthcare system far into the future. This time, though, Greece
As we know, Wall Street got bailed
out by American taxpayers. And in subsequent years, the banks became profitable
again and repaid their bailout loans. Bank shares have gone through the roof.
Goldman’s were trading at $53 a share in November 2008; they’re now worth over
$200. Executives at Goldman and other Wall Street banks have enjoyed huge pay
packages and promotions. Blankfein, now Goldman’s CEO, raked in $24 million
last year alone.
Meanwhile, the people of Greece
struggle to buy medicine and food.
There are analogies here in America,
beginning with the predatory loans made by Goldman, other big banks, and the
financial companies they were allied with in the years leading up to the bust.
Today, even as the bankers vacation in the Hamptons, millions of Americans
continue to struggle with the aftershock of the financial crisis in terms of
lost jobs, savings, and homes.
Meanwhile, cities and states across
America have been forced to cut essential services because they’re trapped in
similar deals sold to them by Wall Street banks. Many of these deals have
involved swaps analogous to the ones Goldman sold the Greek government.
like the assurances it made to the Greek government, Goldman and other banks
assured the municipalities that the swaps would let them borrow more cheaply
than if they relied on traditional fixed-rate bonds—while downplaying the risks
they faced. Then, as interest rates plunged and the swaps turned out to cost
far more, Goldman and the other banks refused to let the municipalities
refinance without paying hefty fees to terminate the deals.
Three years ago, the Detroit Water
Department had to pay Goldman and other banks penalties totaling $547 million
to terminate costly interest-rate swaps. Forty percent of Detroit’s water bills
still go to paying off the penalty. Residents of Detroit whose water has been
shut off because they can’t pay have no idea that Goldman and other big banks
Likewise, the Chicago school system—whose budget is already
cut to the bone—must pay over $200 million in termination penalties on a Wall
Street deal that had Chicago schools paying $36 million a year in interest-rate
A deal involving interest-rate swaps
that Goldman struck with Oakland, California, more than a decade ago has ended
up costing the city about $4 million a year, but Goldman has refused to allow
Oakland out of the contract unless it ponies up a $16 million termination
fee—prompting the city council to pass a resolution to boycott Goldman. When
confronted at a shareholder meeting about it, Blankfein explained that it was
against shareholder interests to tear up a valid contract.
Goldman Sachs and the other giant
Wall Street banks are masterful at selling complex deals by exaggerating their
benefits and minimizing their costs and risks. That’s how they earn giant fees.
When a client gets into trouble—whether that client is an American homeowner, a
US city, or Greece—Goldman ducks and hides behind legal formalities and
Borrowers that get into trouble are
rarely blameless, of course: They spent too much, and were gullible or stupid
enough to buy Goldman’s pitches. Greece brought on its own problems, as did
many American homeowners and municipalities.
But in all of these cases, Goldman knew very well what it
was doing. It knew more about the real risks and costs of the deals it proposed
than those who accepted them. “It is an issue of morality,” said the
shareholder at the Goldman meeting where Oakland came up. Exactly.
[This article first appeared in the Nation magazine.]