Blowing the Lid on Child Abuse in Entertainment – The Ben Fellows Radio Show with guest Patrick Henningsen
October 11, 2012 By 507 Comments
On the show today Ben talks with Patrick Henningsen of 21st Century Wire, about Jimmy Saville and the BBC pedophile scandal, the dirty side of show business, IMF and foreign aid fraud, MSM manipulation, the Middle East, the upcoming American elections and the 21st Century Wire TV show. ….
September 20, 2012 By 1 Comment
Michael Payne OpEd News Dark times lie ahead for the U.S. dollar as its future as the world’s reserve currency looks to be in great jeopardy. For more than 50 years the U.S. dollar has been the chief monetary instrument used by the nations of the world to facilitate trade involving commodities such as petroleum, manufactured products, and gold. But the times are changing and many of these nations, with China at the forefront, are finalizing trade agreements that utilize only their own currencies. So it appears that the reign of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency will, quite likely, be coming to an end within the next ten years. It is certainly no surprise that China, widely considered to be the premier economic power of the future, is wasting no time in exerting its growing power and influence in these matters. China is actively working with nations in Asia, the Middle East and other regions of the world to bring dramatic changes to the way world commerce is conducted and money is exchanged.Many of these countries who are moving away from the dollar no longer view America as a stable and reliable force on the world economic stage and they are seeking alternatives as a hedge against a severe future decline in the dollar’s value.That China is the main facilitator of these moves to do away with the dollar is without question; the evidence is everywhere. Here are some specific examples of the various agreements that have been between China and other nations in recent times:*China and Iran are creating a barter system by which Iranian oil will be exchanged for Chinese imported products. This is, quite obviously, an agreement designed to counter U.S. sanctions against Iran since China has no intention of discontinuing the importation of Iranian oil. Besides the barter system the two countries will also conduct trade using the Chinese yuan, the Iranian rial and gold.*China and Japan announced plans to bypass the dollar and use their own currencies in their trade relations. Discussions involving a partnership between South Korea and China to exchange their currencies also have taken place. This is a huge development as China, Japan and South Korea are the dominant economic powers in that Asian region. China and Russia have, for more than a year, been conducting trade using rubles and the yuan. China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have announced an agreement which will use the yuan for oil trades. The Chinese National Bank said that this agreement, worth around $5.5 billion, was made to “strengthen financial cooperation, to promote trade and investments, and to mutually assure regional financial stability.” *Russia and Iran have agreed to use rubles as a means of currency in their trades. Russia has joined China in opposing U.S. sanctions against Iran and fully intends to maintain a close relationship with Iran. *China will pursue bilateral trades with Russia and Malaysia using the yuan, the ruble and the ringgit, respectively. *The nations comprising the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) recently agreed at their summit meeting in Sanya, China, to establish mutual lines of credit in local currencies. This, again, is a very significant development since this group of nations represents a very powerful economic bloc going into the future. *The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has stated that “the current system of currencies and capital rules which binds the world economy is not working properly and was largely responsible for the financial and economic crises.” Further that “the dollar should be replaced with a global currency.” *The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently issued a statement about replacing the dollar as the world’s reserve currency with a system of Special Drawing Rights called SDR’s, an international type of currency created in 1969 which is, in effect, a “basket of national currencies” backed by the full faith and credit of the member countries’ governments. It seems like everyone is jumping on the bandwagon to do away with the dollar as the reserve currency. This could be termed as “payback time” as many countries that either have lost respect for America, or who fear its military outreach, have found a way to combat physical force with economic power. That may well be the case when we consider that this movement is being strongly promoted by China, Russia, and Iran, no real friends of the U.S. When the dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency the effects on America will be very severe. It will have monumental negative effects on the economy and its ability to conduct trade with other nations. In many cases nations will simply stop using the dollar. In other cases they may use the dollar but only at heavily discounted rates. Such actions will cause the Fed to run the Treasury Dept. printing presses non-stop, creating massive inflation and making the dollar the modern-day version of Fiat Money. And yet, in every dark cloud there is a silver lining. If the dollar loses world favor, if it is severely devalued, there will be an opportunity for the government and the business community to take advantage by working together to rebuild American manufacturing, since exports to other countries will be at much lower prices. When that time comes we’ll see if each of them has the capacity to respond to the changing times and the new opportunities. The demise of the dollar will also bring radical changes to the American lifestyle. When this economic tsunami hits America, it will make the 2008 recession and its aftermath look like no more than a slight bump in the road. It will bring very undesirable changes to the American lifestyle through massive inflation, high interest rates on mortgages and cars, and substantial increases in the cost of food, clothing and gasoline; it will have a detrimental effect on every aspect of our lives. Such a revolutionary event in the world’s reserve currency poses a far greater threat to America’s security than any of those many fabricated terrorists that the Washington-based facilitators of war have created to keep the American people in a state of fear. This is a real threat and danger that America will be powerless to defeat with any form of military might. This will be a battle involving economic survival. The U.S. government obviously can see what is going on, how these nations are rapidly moving away from the dollar. But is it doing anything to respond to the challenge? Time and time again this nation’s dysfunctional government has been warned that it is going in the wrong direction and must change course. It has been warned that it must stop pouring hundreds of billions and trillions of dollars into its war machine and downscale it vast worldwide military empire; it has not heeded those warnings. This government knows that it is imperative that it significantly reduces its monumental national debt, that is must take steps to restore its manufacturing sector and rehire its workers, the foundation of America’s economy. But the corrupted politicians who answer only to the dictates of Corporate America have refused to respond to those warnings and they continue to follow a course that will eventually lead to financial insolvency. And now time is running out for the U.S. dollar as the world community of nations has seen enough of America’s incapability in dealing with its most critical problems. It has now become evident that many of the nations of the world no longer have faith or confidence in either the U.S. dollar or in America itself.
Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His articles concentrate on social, economic and political matters as well as American foreign policy. He is a U.S. Army veteran and a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.
|The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.|
September 19, 2012 By 23 Comments
REFRESHING NEWS North Korea said Tuesday that it had signed an agreement with Russia settling an estimated $11 billion debt owed by Pongyang that dates back to the Soviet era. The North’s state news agency KCNA said the agreement was signed Monday in Moscow, but gave no details of the terms involved. “The North-Russian debt adjustment pact will pave the way for the two countries to further expand economic cooperation between them,” the KCNA report said. Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak had made a rare visit by a top Russian official to Pyongyang in May to discuss settling the outstanding debt. The Izvestia newspaper reported last year that Russia would write off 90 percent of the total sum — estimated at $11 billion — and that the other 10 percent would be spent on joint development projects in North Korea. Following his visit, Storchak confirmed that part of the settlement would involve investment in energy, health and education projects in the isolated Stalinist state. The debt had been discussed in August last year at a rare summit in the Siberian city of Ulan-Ude between North Korea’s late leader Kim Jong-Il and Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev. Kim Jong-Il died in December and was succeeded by his son Kim Jong-Un. Until recently, talks on the issue had seemed deadlocked with Moscow insisting Pyongyang needed to acknowledge that it owed the money to Russia as the successor of the Soviet Union But Moscow is keen to pursue several projects with its neighbour, including a trans-Korean railroad, the construction of an electricity line and a pipeline carrying Russian gas to South Korea via the North.
July 16, 2011 By 7 Comments
The ECB is technically insolvent, but we won’t hear that on primetimeBy Andrew McKillop 21st Century Wire July 16, 2011 Once upon a time there was the Eurozone and its all-new hard money, the EURO… It got off to a good start with a monstrously high forced surrender cash-in rate for the national moneys it replaced: depending on country, around 15 to 25 percent above the euro’s real worth. This yielded several years in the early 2000′s when it wasn’t even necessary to doctor the official inflation numbers, but through a penchant for old ways and traditions, national economic agencies, the European Commission, the ECB and other rightly named players kept on doing it. This made sure that all of its fundamental economic data was absolutely fake, an important aid to launching a now-floundering ‘cuckoo’ fiat money. KEEPING THE MONEY STRONG The 1956 Treaty of Rome and subsequent treaties like Maastricht and Nice lectured that governments must leave their central banks alone and not force them to liquidate gold assets. They could play around with SDRs and paper gold behind closed doors at the IMF, but in their home patch the central bank’s role is currency and money supply management, not government financing woes. Making this a lot less than sure by creative interpretation of the founding texts, the creation of the ECB and operation of the Eurozone, recently expanded to 17 countries, included the Protocol of the European System of Central Banks and European Bank, with “ESCB” being the correct name for the Euro zone. This protocol says in one of its Articles that neither the ECB, nor any national central bank, nor any member of their decision-making bodies will be told what to do by any European Union institution, body or national government. Another article prohibits community institutions or governments having what the article calls ‘overdrafts’, or any other type of easy loan facility with the ECB, or with any national central bank. This rather ferocious, seeming limit on selling gold, of course in secret, was easily got around by interpreting it to mean that gold cannot be put up as collateral for loans received by a central bank and passed on to private banks or to its national government- but it can be swapped. While the IMF’s recent director Strauss-Kahn was surely interested in wife-swapping, his gold-swapping appetite was even stronger, with the IMF’s action in this domain on an extreme high since Strauss-Kahn moved in, during late 2007. Since then, the swapping bug has new and powerful adepts, or competitors, in Europe as the IMF, ECB, the US Federal Reserve and European central banks scramble to invent, shuffle, swap and sell paper gold, buy government debt, and bail out any private banks who belong to the club. SELLING GOLD The ECB under another French political nominee, J-C Trichet, lost no time with its Eurozone central banking partners in ignoring these strictures and ran official gold sales rising from around 35 tons a year, to their first high point in 2009 at 142 tons. In 2010 the brakes were slammed, and sales crashed to 6.2 tons. Official reasons given for this nicely underline the schizophrenic balancing act played out by all central banks and the governments they are officially independent from and unrelated to. On the one hand central banks seek a low and preferably declining gold price, because a low gold price (by money magic) means that fiat paper moneys they also print and circulate will seem relatively stronger in comparison. To help that process, claimed to generate and maintain confidence and trust in their paper moneys, they have to sell gold. On the other hand if the gold price is rising, they have to buy gold, and by 2010 (in fact long before), gold was showing ugly signs of going only one way: up. Central bankers mulled the dire fact that gold, by 2010, had its best 10-year streak for price growth – since the 1920s – a fateful decade for central bankers, and everybody else after 1929. The Central Bank Gold Agreement (CBGA) set at the dawn of the 2000′s, sought limited and controlled European central bank gold sales because of concern that uncoordinated selling was destabilizing the gold market and driving down gold prices too far – despite this being what one side of the Jekyll-and-Hyde central banker psyche wants. In February 2001 gold prices had fallen from their previous record high (in nominal dollars) of $850 an ounce, reached in 1980, to $253. By September 2010 the price had grown to $ 1300, and today is menacing to break out from current levels around $1550 to unknown and exotic new extremes – for central bankers. By pure schizophrenia therefore, gold selling suddenly became dangerous and unacceptable in late 2010 but well before then, from 2008, national governments were in panic mode on sovereign debt, budget deficits and collapsing private banks across Europe, in the USA, and Japan. They needed huge new amounts of financing, and central banks had no choice but to pony-up liquid cash using the only real hard asset they have: their gold reserves. They were therefore thrust into the purest of all two-way splits: they had to buy (or in fact invent) gold, while they also had to sell both real and invented gold: needing a frenzy of gold swaps. THE FRAGILE ECB The ECB could be called the worst possible mix-and-mingle of classic central bank and semi-federal bureaucratic institution. Both secretive and incompetent, it has intensified Europe’s sovereign debt crises by waiting too long to act, then panicking in an unproductive way. The Bank’s hard asset gold and gold related financial resources (called gold-related receivables), are based on its declared gold reserves of 522 tons at end 2010, with a value of less than €20 bn at today’s gold price ($1550 per ounce). With other resources, whose value or present worth is market price-related, its total reserves are in nominal terms about €82bn but its current operations and exposure, notably the buying of Greek debt and loans to Greece, and loans to other PIIGS countries, stood at around 444 billion euro as of June 2011. The Bank is therefore now leveraged around 23 to 24 times relative to its real capital base, meaning that should the ECB see the value of its assets fall by less than 5 percent, from booking losses on its loans, from purchases of bad government debt in the PIIGS, or from selling gold at one price but then having to buy it back again at a higher price, its entire capital base would be wiped out. To be sure, that is ‘unthinkable’ because the ECB, even more so than most other central banks is ultimately underwritten by taxpayers. In turn this means there is a hidden – and potentially huge – cost of the Eurozone crisis to taxpayers buried in the ECB’s books. Hefty losses for the ECB are no longer a remote risk. Greece is effectively already in ‘rolling default’ because it does not have the capacity to pay double-digit interest rates on its ballooning debt, as shown by the supposedly disappointing results from each new bail-out package from the EU, ECB and IMF. To date. the ECB has probably taken on around €200bn in Greek assets, in other words well over twice the ECB’s capital base, and as much as 8 times the value of its 500-odd tons of gold at current gold prices. Since value compression from the penny-on-the-dollar forced sale of Greek national assets is predictably ferocious, and investor-speculators operate a classic raid on its assets, encouraged by all the institutional players including the European Commission and European governments, this will cause large losses to the ECB. Some forecasts put the probable loss for the ECB, only on its Greek operations at around €45 to €65 billion, depending on how deep the write-downs and losses are and how long the crisis drags on.. A loss of this magnitude would make the ECB insolvent – meaning taxpayers in the Eurozone 17 countries will have to finance its recapitalisation. Alternatives exist: the Bank could ask Eurozone governments to send it more cash through a capital call on their national central banks, which could sell some of their gold to raise the cash. In theory and almost always in practice when a central bank is recapitalised it will print and issue more money. The ECB would therefore almost certainly print more euro notes and organize more euro coin minting, making it certain the results are inflationary, which is specially unacceptable for Germany, the strongest economy in Europe, with the second-largest central bank stock of gold in the world. The risk of Germany quitting the euro, or in fact, keeping it for a selected and restricted club of ‘hard money capable’ countries would radically increase. THE NUMBERS DON’T ADD UP Looking at the debt-and-deficit crises of the Europe-USA-Japan threesome it is hard to say which one might be less out of control than the others. Each has its special edge of unreality and uncontrollability, with the USA oppressed by the single biggest debt load, the Europeans having the fastest spreading and most dangerous loss of control, and the Japanese having the oldest and most untreatable hyper-debt. If we took the total official gold stocks of the world’s 180-plus central banks, or the 15 – 19 European parties to different versions of the CBGA since 1999, and the current gold price which central bankers tell us is extreme high and dangerous, the present total net worth of these two official gold piles is not just tiny, but minuscule in relation to present-day sovereign debt and deficit crises. If by magical means it was possible to sell the biggest of these two piles, world total central bank gold reserves as reported to the World Gold Council, around one-third of it held by CBGA parties, this would produce about $1500 billion. This is far short of the Obama administration’s annual deficit for 2011. Even the recent and current ECB and IMF bailout of Greece, costing above $250 billion, is one-sixth of that amount – to unsuccessfully bail out the sinking finances of one small country with 11 million inhabitants. Japanese sovereign debt is over $12 300 billion, and growing, most recently by a probable $150 billion hit from the Fukushima disaster, with the same again for tsunami damage. Question: What can central bank gold stocks do against that ? Possibly this is known, but also possibly it is too extreme to be understandable – by central bankers and their ilk. Heavy attention in government-friendly and politically correct media has gone to the horse-trading process for shoehorning France’s own Christine Lagarde, a near world class swimming champion in her youth – into the IMF. Europe wants and needs the directing role, because Europeans must invent and swap an awful lot of gold, fast. Under Strauss-Kahn the “loan portfolio” of the IMF was multiplied from $1 billion in 2006 to around $100 billion today, and the amount of paper SDRs the IMF could print, allocate and shuffle between member countries were drastically raised, but the numbers remain derisively small compared with the size of the problem. The next quantum leap in IMF financial resource creation, all of which have a ‘gold handle’ somewhere in their design, might only need to be 10-fold, or 20-fold, we are told by believers to expect ’good luck’ and to muddle through, but how the IMF could do this trick is still relatively unknown. In the event of failure, we are forced back to the rather gob-smacking scenario of an ‘entirely new money’ being created. Financial markets, as expected are doing their predictable best to drive the crisis. The US debt ceiling of $14 300 billion sets a nice playing field for political horsetrading and name-calling; after Greece, market operators in Europe are quaking with music hall fear from their surprise discovery that Italy is a super Greece; and Japan’s latest weak government is on its way out as national debt racks on and up by as much as $400 billion only since March. Ingredients have fallen into place for a Summer Panic on world stock markets – which is unusual in modern times, but no problem at all if we go back to classic Victorian-era panics. NEW MONEY To be sure, both political elites and their well-disciplined media and press supporters will hunker down and try to ignore the crisis, driving financial market operators to new extremes of saying out loud what they want: easy cash and low interest rates. They have the whip hand for exactly that reason. Easy cash and low interest rates has been the only tune in town since 2008 – but the results are unreal. Saying there is no cause for concern is nice or traditional, but the vastest amounts of extra money ever printed in human history has failed to do anything to, or with the real economy: this is more than just alarming. Today’s crisis is totally unlike the 1979-1980 panic era. This is despite the “Crash of 79″ being cited more and more as the likely model for what happens now, featuring the solid-looking precedents of high gold and oil prices, high unemployment, banking sector stress, rising government deficits and falling regimes in the Arab and Muslim world. Today’s crisis has major missing ingredients: high inflation and high interest rates. It also includes ingredients that weren’t present in 1979: the BRICS are big creditor nations today, both China and India are massively industrialising. They have both, like Russia and Brazil, on many times warned they are not happy with the dollar’s constant loss of value. In 1979, sovereign national debt in the OECD countries was often tiny and sometimes nonexistent – Japan for example was a huge net creditor country with the rest of the world. One new money could in theory therefore come from over the horizon, BRICS Money, but even a moment’s look at the idea shows this neat fantasy is as unreal as the debt-and-deficit crisis of the OECD group. Gold-backed money, an idea that was tried in the 1920s, but resulted in gold prices only rising and the gold-backed moneys of the day folding one by one, is another popular quick solution, among many observers, but would have direct consequences. To work, it would need a cut in world liquidity by let us say 90 percent, to allow each new bill or note to command, equate to and freely exchange with a measurable speck of metallic gold. Bancor-type money of the Keynesian genre, in fact never really detailed in the ramblings of Keynes but featuring a basket of real resources able to range across the commodities space, could or might be a candidate new single world reserve currency. Massive intervention across global commodity markets would be needed, with a huge risk of price spirals, and crashes in the value of the ‘fiduciary resources’, that is commodity values. Setting up this nice idea would take a lot more than a single day’s work for ex-swimming champ Lagarde at the IMF. Other genial-seeming solutions have already come and gone. In particular the Carbon Money trial balloon of 2009, heavily promoted by Strauss-Kahn at the IMF, which folded as fast as it had appeared. We can unfortunately be sure that financial market operators have their own solution: another 1929. Lemming-like and driven by herd instinct, they are drawn to these kind of events because. In certain market contexts like the present there is one Total Solution: sell everything, except of course gold. Leads and ideas from the finance sector can be counted on for their apocalyptic-type absence, forcing the question back into the public arena. This unfortunately is not prepared to deal with such a fundamental question. We could or might suggest that No Alternative economics, as some early neoliberals in their heyday right after the crash of 1979 called their first solution of the day – high street bank interest rates gouged to 20% or more in OECD countries – has generated a No Solution crisis in 2011. The problem may be so special, and so big we can only anticipate and hope for unprecedented solutions. These would likely be forced to include debt moratoriums on some of the biggest economies of the world, starting with the USA, existing moneys would have to be protected from implosion, world prices of key basic commodities would have to controlled – but whatever the solutions, they will have to come fast. -
June 30, 2011 By 42 Comments
By Andrew McKillop 21st Century Wire June 30, 2011 In the gallic joy and media hoopla of yet another French elite politician with almost no knowledge of economics getting the IMF top job, confirming the real role and mission of this fragile institution, its bizarre mutation to financial and economic charlatanism- goes almost unnoticed. The Greek debt crisis however shows this stark and clear. The IMF and the European Central Bank, with an outgoing French director and an incoming Italian chief, are basically struggling for survival – due to the debt crisis of a country with 11 million inhabitants whose GDP comes in at about 5 percent of EU-27 GDP. Whoever says IMF and ECB also says ‘US Federal Reserve’, although Ben Bernanke would likely nuance that and distance himself from failed “quantitative tightening” in south-east Europe, to concentrate on failed QE at home. What the IMF and ECB have cooked up in Europe’s PIIGS, with the second I-for-Italy moving upstage in a dangerous way as the Berlusconi empire and media circus crumbles, is nothing short of ultra Keynesian deficit medicine mixed with ultra Neoliberal austerity cures of the IMF 1980s Third World type. The net result is simple: debt has to become assets. Never mind the ideology because if this gambit fails, the euro will fall and a string of European, US, Japanese and other banking houses will shudder and tremble, 2008-style. OLD AND NEW The doctrinal mix-and-mingle running through the veins of global central bankers and their bridges to the political deciding elite – the IMF playing master of ceremonies – has become so confused, so bizarre we could call it an ice cream cocktail with chopped gherkins put through a mixmaster. It was not even born to fail – it was simply not biologically possible, but like dinosaurs… it happened. Using Greece as an online, real time exhibit of leading edge financial engineering, the IMF and ECB, along with the European Union and a few Greek politicians, watched by the US Fed and some very engaged private bankers and finance sector players, are creating one of the most massive debt explosions the world has ever seen. All this with the small assets, and big debts of a small country edging along the Balkans. But the Greek Ponzi-style debt pyramid grows every day; most media reporting gives rather fakely, exact numbers of the type: “As of 9am Wednesday morning, Greek sovereign debt is 365.2 billion euros”, and a slightly less fantasist number for how much Greece has to receive to cover the 31 days of July: 12 billion euro, roughly $ 1500 for every man, woman and child in the country. With borrowing like that, why work ? The second income has arrived, but of course with strings attached. The latest 12-billion dollop is the last part of the first debt package masterminded by the IMF and the Europeans, with the ECB in the lead but also including the European Commission and major government players, led by Germany’s Angela Merkel who has publicly said she got on fine with Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and will get on fine with Christine Lagarde: it is official. GREEK FINANCE: WITH STRINGS ATTACHED The strings attached include the Dr Jekyll part of the two-headed IMF monster: Greece has to perform. It has to achieve 50 billion euro of asset sales, not so easy in a country of 11 million inhabitants operating in the oversupplied Mediterranean package tour business against bankrupt Tunisia and bankrupt Egypt, now selling 8-day holidays at modern hotels, with food and air flights, at around $ 400 per person. With the July monthly instalment from the IMF and the Europeans, the entire Greek nation could ship itself out to Egypt for the month and find something creative to do with the unused assets, back home. Greece of course also has other assets, like lignite fuelled power plants, toll highways, ports, tanker shipping lines and even a few semi-bankrupt airlines. The real potential of achieving 50-billion-euro of asset sales in Greece, anytime at all, let alone soon is however rather low – but that doesn’t matter. What is needed is a public attempt at doing it, and here the IMF and its European friends, with their uncertain and perhaps wavering US allies, have stepped back in time to the 1980s Third World debt pantomine, complete with funny noses: all that is needed is a remake of the Club of Paris, bringing worried banks and reassuring IMF officials together, for a debt and asset slaughter, where assets were turned into debts rather fast. OLD ASSETS, NEW DEBTS A country like Greece today, or 1980s-style debt strangled Third World countries, or Russia, Argentina and others in the 1990s has so much short-term debt and ever rising interest rates on that growing part of its debt balloon – a lead balloon – that any asset it puts on the block will be depreciated, quick time. The depreciation is rigorously ferocious, something like an aside in a Thorsten Veblen book on cigar puffing, cognac swilling Victorian capitalists. What you thought might bring in 5 billion euros will in fact return 50 million, penny-on-the-dollar style. Under that type of New Reality, austerity has to be Victorian-style, witness a hike in value added tax on Greek restaurant meals from 10 percent to 23 percent: if you have enough cash to eat out, you have enough to pay the IMF and ECB. Asset sales and state revenue hikes in Greece will therefore, and can only disappoint. Meanwhile, the debt clock ticks on and up, another bailout will be needed, so more assets have to be sold (even if they dont exist) and the austerity program has to be tightened, again. In the Russian case in the 1990s, national pride took a strange New Capitalist turn: roughly 40 percent of the entire population were de-monetized or moved out of the cash economy for several years. To be sure, this had a rather draconian impact on imports, let alone mortality rates, but even if oil was worth nothing in the 1990s, Russia kept on exporting it along with other Sunset Commodity resources – exactly like Argentina. So Russia pulled through, to a certain extent, leaving Putin with a permanent chip on his shoulder regarding Western capitalist partners and iron will to stay a creditor nation. Greece isn’t likely to have a resource-led export revenue boom, like Russia, Argentina and almost all the Jekyll-finance 1980s victims of the IMF in low income Africa and other Third World countries. This is Europe, meaning new-style rigour in a new-style post-liberal economy – which as we already said is the most bizarre cocktail crock of loony economic tunes a Martian could imagine. Failure is certain. Courage has no place at all in that me-too circus, but it could work in the Greek case: a sudden and dramatic abandonment of the euro with no prior warning would almost certainly succeed, aided by its shock and horror. The reintroduced drachma would spiral to nothing – but then banks, including the global central bank-surrogate, the IMF, and the would-be federal European ECB would understand they had gone too far with their Veblen medicine and themselves were set to lose everything, too. This brings us straight to a fundamental notion embodied in Keynesianism: if you have a big debt and can’t pay, bankers will stay interested in you. If you have a small debt and can’t pay – go away and die or take a stay in prison. Greece could shift to a street-friendly military regime of the type which (legend says) saved vodka swilling Boris Yeltsin, install a land army agriculture corps and national sea fisheries corps, develop close and friendly relations with other ruined new democracies of the Mediterranean region, and basically refuse to pay its debt. Playing for time, the new popular regime of Greece would by necessity be populist, and start by ousting all foreign migrant workers from the country, stemming remittance outflows from the country. This again would signal the new popular regime means business. An aggressive financial strategy with all other EU27 nations would also be necessary, carefully using the twin arms of debt default menace, and joint venture asset development promise. THE POST LIBERAL RECOVERY The IMF’s present role models and dominant ideology cocktails range from the laughable to the absurd and back again. Even as a gold hoarder and semi-legal trader, operating with the Basle-based BIS, the IMF is a failure and like other new style central banks probably has a lot less physical gold than it claims. All it can offer debt-strapped countries is SDRs and new debt, drawing down and destroying, or depreciating to almost nothing any real assets that happen to fall into its hands. Recovery is almost officially defined by the IMF as an Act of God, or Inch’allah for the Gulf state petro-monarchies brought onside by the IMF whenever possible. We can be sure that previous feats of the IMF, especially its decades-long debt financing saga with low income resource exporter Third World countries, would have dragged on even longer – if there had not been a sudden, strong and sustained upsurge in commodity prices. This upsurge was totally expected by almost any analyst able to use a two-dollar calculator, and totally unexpected by the IMF and its ruling elite politician friends. The IMF therefore has a proven track record of being surprised, and will be surprised by what we can call post-liberal recovery. In Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and across the Med in Tunisia and Egypt this post-liberal recovery is emerging, sometimes quite fast. The restored state, the government, national institutions and national identity all have a post-global economy importance which of course is played down by average government friendly media in presently unaffected countries. This is a dangerous trend for fuddle-along debt financing and austerity miracles, which only fatten the regular gang of charlatans, who in any case will quickly lose their ill-gotten gains on the gaming tables of the global financial casino. The process is also post-ideology in a major way. Carefully unexplained by dominant media and their business editors, the failed dictators of the Arab world, currently including ben Ali of Tunisia, Mubarak of Egypt, Gaddafi of Libya and al Assad of Syria all played squeaky clean copybook export platform economics, yipped on by IMF-friendly economists and commentators. Inside their countries the story was a lot different. Street resistance was not driven by ideology or by demonstrators waving pictures of Che Guevara – but by citizens sick of not being able to afford to eat and the victims of permanent mass unemployment, casually described by well paid IMF experts as “an adjustment phenomenon”. Forcing the economy to ground zero, which again is official IMF medicine, drives society to a rapid search-and-select of what counts and what does not. The flimsy global economy and its tinsel promises weigh little, and outright resistance to austerity measures and cures will rise. The fear of anarchy and revolution in the post-liberal world – and a total loss for global finance players – is now moving up the teleprompter, prompting European, US, Japanese and other remaining defenders of Orthodox ‘no alternative’ economics to throw money at emerging national governments in a string of countries. Played right, Greece might also benefit from this. -
May 24, 2011 By 368 Comments
FLASH ANALYSIS By Andrew McKillop 21st Century Wire May 24, 2011 Question: Why could gold go parabolic? Prices for the Yellow Metal have recently suffered, along with silver, from sudden investor retreat using rationales like ‘inflation is beaten’, the global economy is recovering and the US dollar is getting stronger. Against the overvalued euro, maybe, but against gold the US dollar, euro, yen and almost all other paper moneys only have one way to go: down. Gold is a very special market and gold plays a key arbiter role in the unending attempt by the IMF and central banks to bolster and defend the value of “fiat moneys”. Their strategy is simple: push down the price of gold, anyway they can. With the sudden and spectacular fall of the IMF’s Strauss-Kahn, 18 May, a large number of gold shuffling and swap operations between the IMF, central banks, the ultra-secret BIS and the world’s highly restricted number of authorized bullion banks could have been frozen in mid-air. When the balls hit the ground the collateral monetary damage could be a lot more interesting and much more powerful than what Strauss-Kahn did with his personal playthings in a Manhattan hotel room. Strauss-Kahn’s sudden ouster comes at a key moment for its biggest debt bailout operations in favour of governments like that of Greece or Portugal, Ireland or Spain, the Baltic states, Iceland and others – who have to run a constant financing operation to save their national private banks, insurance companies and mortgage lenders. IMF austerity cures and forced firesale of government assets, under Strauss-Kahn or any body else, only makes the debt-load financing problem worse. To be sure, the IMF line is things have to get worse before they get better Other so-called rich countries with similar crisis-level debt loads start with the USA, but at such fantastic rates of new financing need that, since late 2008, the USA is in permanent crisis territory. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT The near-term gold price target is US$ 2000 per troy ounce, and how this open-crisis price level for the Yellow Metal is reached will itself have powerful impacts on what happens next. Options will include the rushed introduction of an entirely new global reserve currency, itself driving gold prices ever higher, perhaps in a highly compressed time frame, measured in months. Other options include a crash into recession far steeper than the 2008 crash. Gold traders and holders including the big ETF’s led by SPIDR can themselves heavily influence the parabolic curve for gold prices through this summer. But central banks, due to the sudden disappearance of Strauss-Kahn and a likely gaping hole in the IMF’s own and real marketable gold reserves may be forced to enter the market and buy-buy-buy. Under this scenario, daily gold price hikes could become glaring signals of what is happening: $25-per-day and per ounce would be a giveaway signal. To be sure, government leaders worldwide will try to talk down and thwart this gold panic – at the same time as their central banks drive the process. - SEE ALSO: