by ilene - July 7th, 2011 8:31 pm
Courtesy of Michael Snyder of Economic Collapse
In the past, there certainly have been governments that have gotten into trouble with debt, but what we are experiencing now is the first truly global sovereign debt crisis. There has never been a time in recorded history when virtually all of the governments of the world were drowning in debt all at the same time.
This sovereign debt crisis is never going to end until there is a major global financial collapse. There simply is no way to unwind the colossal web of debt that we have constructed in an orderly fashion. Right now the EU and the IMF have been making "emergency loans" to nations such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal, but that is only going to buy those countries a few additional months. Giving more loans to nations that are already drowning in red ink may "kick the can down the road" for a little while but it isn’t going to solve anything. Meanwhile, dozens more nations all over the globe are rapidly approaching a day of reckoning.
All of the bailouts that you are hearing about right now are simply delaying the pain. The reality is that when the "emergency loans" for Greece stop, Greece is going to default. Greece is toast. The game is over for them. You can stick a fork in Greece because it is done.
One of the big problems for Greece is that since it is part of the euro it can’t independently print more money. If Greece cannot raise enough euros internally Greece must turn to outside assistance.
Unfortunately, at this point Greece has accumulated such a mammoth debt that it cannot possibly sustain it. By the end of the year, it is projected that the national debt of Greece will soar to approximately 166% of GDP.
The financial collapse of Greece is inevitable. If they keep using the euro they will collapse. If they quit using the euro they will collapse. When the rest of Europe decides that it is tired of propping Greece up the game will be over.
At this point very few people are interested in lending Greece more money.
As I wrote about yesterday, many of the nations around the world are only able to keep going because they are able to borrow huge amounts of money at low interest rates.
by ilene - March 9th, 2011 3:54 pm
The Middle Kingdom’s prosperity is an illusion. And when China finally falls, we’ll all feel the pain.
As fearmongering election campaign ads go, it’s hard to top the "Chinese Professor," which flickered across the Internet just before Americans went to the polls last fall. In the spot, set in a sleek Beijing lecture hall 20 years in the future, a sharply dressed Chinese instructor explains to his Asian students why previous empires, from Ancient Greece to the U.S.A., turned to dust. The Americans failed because they lost sight of their principles, he says in Mandarin, with subtitles. They overspent, overtaxed and over–borrowed. "Of course, we owned most of their debt," he cackles, as the class joins in. "So now they work for us."
If you missed the ad, put out by the conservative group Citizens Against Government Waste, no matter. The notion that China’s headed for superpower status at the expense of the United States has been repeated so often that many in the West now take it as an undisputable fact. With breathless enthusiasm economists predict China’s red–hot economy will power past America’s to become the world’s largest in just 15 years. Bookstore shelves are filled with titles like China’s Ascent and When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order, in which author Martin Jacques argues America is in denial about the fact China is its "usurper and ultimate replacement." Hollywood’s even getting in on the act with a remake of the 1980s Cold War paranoia flick Red Dawn, in which Soviet soldiers overran a Midwest American town. Only this time, the marauders are Chinese. Having conquered American capitalism, the People’s Liberation Army is coming for America’s Capitol, too.
It’s easy to find evidence that ostensibly confirms China’s unstoppable ascent. Try this: Go to Google News and type in "China," along with any laudatory adjective, then add the suffix "–est." Do so, and you’ll learn that China is building the world’s third–tallest skyscraper ("China usurps U.S. in skyscrapers"); it produces the smartest children ("Chinese students outperform U.S. in recent test") and now boasts of the world’s fastest trains ("China’s fastest train leaves rest of world behind"). This super–country narrative has become so pervasive that the majority of Americans take it for granted. At the end of last
by ilene - March 1st, 2011 5:52 pm
Courtesy of Mish
A number of sites are commenting on a Bloomberg video in which El-Erian, PIMCO Co-CEO says "Dollar could lose its reserve currency status".
Bloomberg: "Mohammad what does a weak dollar signal to you, a dollar that can’t jump up here on a day like we’ve seen today?"
El-Erian: "It is a warning shot to America that we cannot simply assume flight to quality, flight to safety. That people are starting to worry about the fiscal situation in the U.S. They are starting to worry about the level of debt. They are starting to worry about what they hear about states and municipalities. So, I would take this as a warning shot that we cannot assume that we will maintain the standing of the reserve currency as we have in the past."
Reserve Currency Definition
Before we can debate whether or not the US will lose reserve currency standing, we must first define what it means.
Investopedia defines Reserve Currency as follows.
"A foreign currency held by central banks and other major financial institutions as a means to pay off international debt obligations, or to influence their domestic exchange rate."
I accept that definition. Unfortunately Investopedia rambles on with nonsense about the implications: "A large percentage of commodities, such as gold and oil, are usually priced in the reserve currency,causing other countries to hold this currency to pay for these goods."
That sentence is a widely believed fallacy. The reality is no country is obligated to hold dollars to buy goods denominated in dollars.
Currencies are Fungible
Currencies other that illiquid currencies with low or no trading volume (think of Yap Island stones or the Cuban Peso) are fungible. It is a trivial process to switch from one currency to another.
You can buy gold or silver in any country, and I assure you those transactions do not all take place in dollars. Thus, just because a commodity is widely priced in dollars does not mean it only trades in dollars.
That holds true for oil as well.
I keep pointing this out, unfortunately to no avail, that oil trades in Euros right now. There is no selling of Euros to buy dollars on the front causing the oil producers to trade dollars for euros on the back end. The oil states simply sell oil for a price in Euros and then hold Euros in their…
by ilene - October 29th, 2010 3:18 am
Courtesy of Gordon T Long of Tipping Points
In September 2008 the US came to a fork in the road. The Public Policy decision to not seize the banks, to not place them in bankruptcy court with the government acting as the Debtor-in-Possession (DIP), to not split them up by selling off the assets to successful and solvent entities, set the world on the path to global currency wars.
By lowering interest rates and effectively guaranteeing a weak dollar through undisciplined fiscal policy, the US ignited an almost riskless global US$ Carry Trade and triggered an uncontrolled Currency War with the mercantilist, export driven Asian economies. We are now debasing the US dollar with reckless spending and money printing with the policies of Quantitative Easing (QE) and the expectations of QE II. Both are nothing more than effectively defaulting on our obligations to sound money policy and a “strong US$”. Meanwhile with a straight face we deny that this is our intention.
It’s called debase, default and deny.
Though prior to the 2008 financial crisis our largest banks had become casino like speculators with public money lacking in fiduciary responsibility, our elected officials bailed them out. Our leadership placed America and the world unknowingly (knowingly?) on a preordained destructive path because it was politically expedient and the easiest way out of a difficult predicament. By kicking the can down the road our political leadership, like the banks, avoided their fiduciary responsibility. Similar to a parent wanting to be liked and a friend to their children they avoided the difficult discipline that is required at certain critical moments in life. The discipline to make America swallow a needed pill. The discipline to ask Americans to accept a period of intense adjustment. A period that by now would be starting to show signs of success versus the abyss we now find ourselves staring into. A future that is now significantly worse and with potentially fatal pain still to come.
Unemployed Americans, the casualties of the financial crisis wrought by the banks, witness the same banks declaring record earnings while these banks refuse to lend. When the banks once more are caught with their fingers in the cookie jar with falsified robo-signing mortgage title fraud, they again look for the compliant parent to look the other way. Meanwhile the US debt levels and spending associated with protecting these failed…
by ilene - October 18th, 2010 11:30 am
Courtesy of Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge
Just in case there is someone living in a cave who still doesn’t understand that the Fed’s one and only mandate (forget that crap about inflation and jobs) is to give everyone one last shove into the all inponzi before the diarrhea hits the HVAC, here is David Rosenberg explaining, for the cheap seats, what the Fed’s terminal intent is.
The Fed’s intent is not to create consumer inflation, but rather asset inflation — primarily in the equity market. By pulling longer-term bond yields lower, the Fed hopes that this will alter how investors value equities relative to the fixed-income market. Moreover, the Fed will be actively pushing up the value of bonds that exist in investor portfolios, and as such the intent is to induce these investors to rebalance their asset mix towards equities in order to maintain their current allocation. The Fed is also trying to incentivize fund flows into the equity market. This in turn would theoretically boost household wealth and as such make consumers, who now feel richer, to go out and spend more. So the theory goes — we shall see how it works in practice.
The Fed’s intent is also to lower both the debt and equity cost of capital so that companies will, at the margin, compare that to expected returns on newly invested capital and begin to spend more on new plant and equipment. The hope here is that the investment spending multiplier will kick in and that stepped-up job creation would occur in tandem with the renewed capex growth.
In essence, the Fed wants to avoid what happened in Japan over the last two decades — have a look at Japan Goes from Dynamic to Disheartened on the front page of the Sunday NYT. The comment in the article to the effect that back in 1991, the consensus was looking for the Japanese economy to begin surpassing the U.S. economy in size by 2010. Nice call. Instead, Japan’s economy has not expanded at all since that time whereas the U.S. economy, despite all its problems, has grown 65%.
That said, the U.S. has already experienced a lost decade in many respects, especially as it pertains to the labour market, while Japan has lost two decades. Also have a
by ilene - October 13th, 2010 1:58 am
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
At least one analyst out there actually understands how QE works. Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley says that QE is one big waste of time. He understands that global imbalances can’t be resolved with kick the can policies.
by ilene - October 5th, 2010 3:52 pm
Courtesy of Zero Hedge
Some rather scary predictions out of Paul Farrell today: "It’s inevitable: Wall Street banks control the Federal Reserve system, it’s their personal piggy bank. They’ve already done so much damage, yet have more control than ever.Warning: That’s a set-up. They will eventually destroy capitalism, democracy, and the dollar’s global reserve-currency status. They will self-destruct before 2035 … maybe as early as 2012 … most likely by 2020. Last week we cheered the Tea Party for starting the countdown to the Second American Revolution. Our timeline is crucial to understanding the historic implications of Taleb’s prediction that the Fed is dying, that it’s only a matter of time before a revolution triggers class warfare forcing America to dump capitalism, eliminate our corrupt system of lobbying, come up with a new workable form of government, and create a new economy without a banking system ruled by Wall Street." And just like in the Hangover, where the guy is funny because he’s fat, Farrell is scary cause he is spot on correct.
Handily, Farrell provides a projected timeline of events:
Stage 1: The Democrats just put the nail in their coffin confirming they’re wimps when they refused to force the GOP to filibuster Bush tax cuts for billionaires.
Stage 2: In the elections the GOP takes over the House, expanding its strategic war to destroy Obama with its policy of “complete gridlock” and “shutting down government.”
Stage 3: Post-election Obama goes lame-duck, buried in subpoenas and vetoes.
Stage 4: In 2012, the GOP wins back the White House and Senate. Health care returns to insurers. Free-market financial deregulation returns. Lobbyists intensify their anarchy.
Stage 5: Before the end of the second term of the new GOP president, Washington is totally corrupted by unlimited, anonymous donations from billionaires and lobbyists. Wall Street’s Happy Conspiracy triggers the third catastrophic meltdown of the 21st century that Robert Shiller of “Irrational Exuberance” fame predicts, resulting in defaults of dollar-denominated debt and the dollar’s demise as the world’s reserve currency.
Stage 6: The Second American Revolution explodes into a brutal full-scale class war with the middle class leading a widespread rebellion against the out-of-touch, out-of-control Happy Conspiracy sabotaging America from within.
Stage 7: The domestic class warfare is exaggerated as the Pentagon’s global warnings play out: That by 2020
by ilene - September 28th, 2010 2:19 am
The following is Part I to David DeGraw’s new book, “The Road Through 2012: Revolution or World War III.” This is the second installment to a new seven-part series that we will be posting throughout the next few weeks. You can read the introduction to the book here. To be notified via email of new postings from this series, subscribe here.
Editor’s Note: The following is Part I to David DeGraw’s new book, “The Road Through 2012: Revolution or World War III.” This is the second installment to a new seven-part series that we will be posting throughout the next few weeks. You can read the introduction to the book here. To be notified via email of new postings from this series, subscribe here.
When we analyze our current crisis, focusing on the past few years of economic activity blinds us to the history and context that are vital to understanding the root cause. What we have been experiencing is not the result of an unforeseen economic crash that appeared out of the blue with the collapse of the housing market. It was certainly not brought on by people who bought homes they couldn’t afford. To frame this crisis around a debate on economic theory misses the point entirely. To even blame it on greedy bankers,…
by ilene - September 26th, 2010 9:13 pm
Courtesy of asiablues at Zero Hedge
By Dian L. Chu, Economic Forecasts & Opinions
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Thursday denied the application by China’s largest credit rating firm--Dagone Global Credit Rating Co.--to become a Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization (NRSRO) in the U.S.
The SEC cited concern regarding cross boarder supervision since “It does not appear possible at this time for Dagong to comply with the record keeping, production, and examination requirements of the federal securities laws."
Media report quoted an SEC official that Dagong is the first firm to be denied by the SEC since the regulations governing the application process went into effect in 2007.
Dagong’s claim to fame came with its first international sovereign ratings report released in July of this year. In the report, Dagone stripped the U.S. the AAA rating, while giving emerging economies like Brazil and China higher credit ratings than the US , the UK, and Japan. Those ratings widely contradict the ones assigned by the Big Three – Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch.
Dagong, then followed up with some sharp criticism of its western counterparts, and a verbal clash with Harold "Terry" McGraw III, whose company owns Standard & Poor’s credit agency.
So, it is of no surprise that Dagong immediately issued an angry rebuff calling the SEC’s decision discriminatory against China and a barrier specifically set for Dagong. It also took it to a few octanes higher –citing China’s sovereignty and financial assets safety are at issue here. From People’s Daily Online:
“….the contention by U.S. authorities… amounts to bias against Chinese credit-rating agencies. Dagong will not accept the NRSRO status at the price of betraying national sovereignty….. Dagong will consider conducting activities at the right time to protect its rights, including seeking legal actions against the SEC."
China Daily also cited Dagong statement that having China’s own say in credit rating in the United States is significant to safeguarding the security of China’s overseas financial assets. And Dagong aims to enter the U.S. market to protect China’s interests as the largest creditor there. As of July, China held $846.7 billion worth of U.S. Treasurys, according to official U.S. data. …
by ilene - September 21st, 2010 1:13 pm
Christopher Whalen writes about how the U.S. economy in first half of the 20th Century could be characterized as stagnant, with a brief growth spurt during WWI and a mirage of growth during WWII and the cold war:
Following the Crash of 1929, the pretense observed by both political parties that all was well in the U.S. economy evaporated into almost twenty years of economic stagnation. While the massive mobilization for WWII provided the appearance of a recovery, and the period of the Cold War extended this mirage on a sea of public debt and paper dollars, the basic issue of overcapacity remained.
The illusion continued through the 1970s when the housing sector took over defense as the main driver of economic growth. However, Chris argues, that what was perceived by most Americans as real growth was actually the result of deficit spending and "reckless monetary expansion" by the Fed, courtesy of Alan Greenspan and later Ben Bernanke. – Ilene
The page proofs of my upcoming book, "Inflated: How Money and Debt Built the American Dream," just went back to the editors. One of the benefits of writing a book about U.S. financial history is that it forces you to take a long view of both economics and the political narrative used to describe it. It is the issue of language and labels, in my view, that is making it so difficult for Americans to understand the current state of the economy.
The National Bureau of Economic Research just declared that the “recession” that began in 2007 ended in the middle of 2009, making it the longest downturn since WWII. The only problem is that none of the people who work at NBER today, which is one of my favorite research organizations, are old enough to remember what the U.S. economy was like before WWII; before the age of Keynesian socialism and the use of debt to stimulate growth and employment became standard policy in Washington.
Let’s start with the term “recession,” which itself reflects the assumption that economic growth is always positive and the trend line is always upward sloping…
Continue here: blogs.reuters.com