Ready for round two?

Written By: - Date published: 9:02 am, August 6th, 2011 - 79 comments
Categories: capitalism, economy, International - Tags: , ,

The global financial system, which has never properly recovered from the recession, is poised on the brink of a second crash.

The immediate trigger seems to be the fiasco in America over raising the debt ceiling. The whole process revealed the growing power (and lunacy) of the Tea Party faction within the Republican Party, and the corresponding weakness of Obama and the Democrats. I like this summary by Paul Thomas in The Herald:

So it’s come to this. America, the land of laissez-faire capitalism, the bastion of thrift and self-reliance, the spiritual home of the Protestant work ethic, being lectured on fiscal responsibility by the Chinese Communist Party and the former KGB apparatchik who seems to run Russia.

As the debt drama went down to the wire, Vladimir Putin took time out from crushing frying pans with his bare hands to describe America as “a parasite on the world economy”, and China’s state news agency Xinhua demanded that Washington defuse its “debt bomb”.

Nor were they impressed by the way politicians went about ensuring that the US didn’t default, complaining of “madcap brinkmanship” and “dangerous irresponsibility”. … America got what it voted for in last year’s mid-term elections.

Short term America is probably heading back into recession.  Medium term America is now obviously in decline, and instability lies ahead.

The other underlying cause is the sovereign debt crisis.  Although the immediate flash point in Greece has been temporarily papered over with another emergency bailout, it is obvious to all that the underlying problems remain.  And Greece is just one small part of a much wider crisis

Growing divisions on how to manage crisis in Europe

A BLOODBATH on stock exchanges has forced European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso to admit the sovereign debt crisis was spreading to Spain and Italy and to call for an urgent review of the EU’s failing bailout systems.

But his call exposed continuing divisions among European leaders on how to manage the dramatically intensifying crisis, with both Germany and the Netherlands snubbing Mr Barroso’s request. …

I’m frankly surprised that it has taken this long, but the inevitable stock market fall has begun.  The piece above continues:

Alarmed by the prospect of an American recession and by the failure of European authorities to deal with the woes of the euro, investors rushed to sell. In Britain, the FTSE 100 index fell 3.43 per cent to its lowest level in almost a year in the fifth straight day of heavy selling.

The French stock market fell 3.9 per cent in Paris and the German index 3.4 per cent in Frankfurt. Italy suffered the steepest collapse, with its stockmarket down more than 5 per cent in Milan.

The new crash is all over the news:

Crisis mounts as world markets dive

Stock markets around the world have plunged again as fears persisted that the global economy could slip back into recession. The FTSE 100 Index has seen 9.8%, or £147.9 billion, sliced off its value in the past week – its worst performance since October 2008 when Lehman Brothers collapsed and the credit crunch began in earnest.

Markets across the world are in meltdown as traders panic that America will lead the global economy back into recession and the eurozone will be crushed under the weight of its debts.

And there are fears that the crisis could escalate further unless Governments are able to convince financial markets that they are able to pay off their loans.

Emergency meetings are under way:

FTSE slumps to worst week since 2008 despite US employment data rally

Emergency meeting of G7 ministers called after biggest share slump since 2008 banking crisis

Britain’s stock market suffered another major selloff yesterday, ending its worst week since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 with almost £150bn wiped off the value of the country’s top 100 companies.

After a calamitous five days for stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic, the FTSE 100 closed 146 points lower at 5247 to record its third day of triple digit declines – a trading pattern last witnessed in the immediate aftermath of Lehman’s bankruptcy in September 2008.

The first impact on NZ seems to be that the dollar has tumbled from its heights (which is not actually all bad news for the economy).  But if the world economy continues its spiral into a second recession then our own faltering recovery will be washed away in the flood.  We continue to live in interesting times.

 

79 comments on “Ready for round two?”

  1. Global financial instability makes the need for a clear plan for NZ’s economy all the more pressing.

    The adage is apt: when the US sneezes, NZ catches a cold.

    Capital depth, and it’s contribution to productivity is critical – suggesting Kiwisaver and Cullen Fund cuts were crazy, and proposed Asset Sales in a depressed market are worse. Our economy needs greater diversification: R&D credits Labour is proposing are an important step in the right direction. As is Labour’s fairer tax proposal. And our personal savings needs to be addressed – Kiwisaver again.

    Labour has a credible plan that takes both the rising cost of living, and our country’s debt seriously. It fits these difficult times. Which is not to say there is a panacea, only that Labour’s approach seems better thought through than some others.

    • PS – is anyone going to argue that selling our State Assets is a better approach to dealing with our debt than introducing a fairer tax system?

      • Do you mean partial asset sales versus partial CGT and partial GST?

        • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1

          Trust PG to conflate the sale of strategic hard assets to foreigners with tax reforms which would remove the already weak rationale for those sales.

        • mickysavage 1.1.1.2

          Pete even for you that is a really silly comment.  An asset sale is an asset sale and a tax is a tax.

          Been going to “how to  muck up a thread” lessons with CT?

          • Pete George 1.1.1.2.1

            You’re right, it is a bit silly.

            Partial sales are better than total sales.
            Comprehensive GST and comprehensive CGT are better than partial exemptions.

            • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.2.1.1

              No sales better than partial sales

              And anyways National will sell the majority of the SOEs next term.

              • queenstfarmer

                No sales better than partial sales

                That demonstrates ridiculous ideology. There would be no circumstance ever in which you would even consider the state selling any asset, or any part asset?

                • Lanthanide

                  I don’t think he implied that at all.

                  Just that at the moment, partial SOE sales are not warranted. I agree.

                • Colonial Viper

                  There would be no circumstance ever

                  Well I’m talking about NZ 2011. Yes I will revisit my ‘ideological’ position if an asteroid strike or similar occurs. I’m pretty pragmatic, don’t you know 🙂

                  Thanks Lanth.

            • QoT 1.1.1.2.1.2

              Now, boys, Pete has a really good point.

              Only eliminating some long-term return for short-term one-off gain is totally better than eliminating all your long-term return for short-term one-off gain.

              Just like how a surgeon accidentally amputating one of your hands is totally better than accidentally amputating your whole arm. Obviously, this makes purposeless hand-amputation a reasonable and compelling idea.

            • rainman 1.1.1.2.1.3

              Actually I’d disagree, even though I’m completely opposed to National’s asset sale plans. Selling all of an asset is likely to get the whole value. 49% will usually deliver much less than half of the value. Control is worth actual money.

      • dave brown 1.1.2

        Seems not a Key is all about ‘owning’ Kiwisaver to pump money into SEOs. Mum and Dad bonds?

    • Afewknowthetruth 1.2

      David.

      The reason the global system is failing is because it is founded on fabrications and frauds with respect to money and because the global energy supply has peaked and is on its way down.

      No amount of tweaking will fix a fundamentally flawed system. A Labour government might orchestrate a slghtly slower collapse than a National government. Or not.

      The nations that will do best in the coming meltdown will be those least engaged in global capitalism. Unfortunatley NZ is up to its eyeballs.

      However, NZ will be better able to feed itself than most nations once it stops exporting so much food. On the other hand, the traitors who would have NZ land sold off to overseas owners may well succeed, in which case Chinese ‘security forces will probably be stationed in NZ ensure that the looting continues.

      • KJT 1.2.1

        Given the past record, I think it will be more likely to be US rather than China’s security forces.

        Or even our own. Protecting wealthy US and NZ citizens who take refuge here from the masses.

        Given Chinese pragmatism, and eye on the future, they would probably prefer just to trade for what they want, rather than go to the expense and difficulty of keeping a distant hostile population productive and docile..

      • afktt, I am not as optimistic as you re: global energy production having peaked. Time will tell which of us is right.

        The worst kinds of fossil fuel resources have not yet been tapped (tar sands, poorest quality coal etc.) and the potential for nuclear is nearly limitless if one avoids the problem of waste disposal, long-term human cost etc. Let me be clear that I am not advocating this blinkered approach.

        Sadly, I do not sense that the world as a whole is ready to face up to these energy challenges. It creates all kinds of inequities, but most countries are carrying on, hoping that a future generation will get us out of the mess we’re in.

        That said, I have been greatly encouraged by the willingness of students in Dunedin I’ve encountered (some involved in groups like Generation Zero) to front up to an issue that really ought to be the challenge that previous generations should have addressed.

        • Colonial Viper 1.2.2.1

          When considering liquid fuels I would say that net kJ/$ has already peaked and is in permanent decline now i.e. (energy return on energy invested)/$ will continue falling. That will be the case whether or not the gross production of oil in terms of bb/day has hit its ultimate peak yet.

          EROEI for Alberta tar sands is roughly 3:1 or 4:1 (for west Texas oil wells 50:1 or better was common).

          As the price of oil continues to climb over the next few years, the metric of net energy purchasable per dollar will continue to fall. Hard times.

          • Lanthanide 1.2.2.1.1

            Crude oil energy per capita peaked back in the 70’s. When you put it in that context, all current and future humans are going to have to share less and less crude oil energy between them.

            • Colonial Viper 1.2.2.1.1.1

              Yeah per dollar capita is another measure and when you include the increasing population the picture does indeed get grimmer.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.3

      We already have the capital depth as we have all the resources we need – people, schooling, food and the hard resources such as iron, wood, etc. What we don’t have is the political will to use it effectively and sustainably. Instead our politicians seems determined to sell NZ off to the highest bidder and to promote the dead weight loss of profit.

  2. Afewknowthetruth 2

    I see the Dow is up 0.5% today. The Plunge Protection Team have done their work via a bit of money created out of thin air from the Fed and have pulled the crippled plane out of its nosedive.

    Anyway, the US economy is recovering: favourable unemployment data has been released showing a marvelous level of job creation and a drop in unemployment from 9.2% to 9.1% (must be for the fifth time).

    The NZ dollar and the Aussie are down. Everything is coming right, just as all the politicicans and economists have been promising since 2008.

    Proper market crashes normally occur in September-October.

    .

    • KJT 2.1

      I understand the US unemployment figures have been dropping because most of the current unemployed have reached the end of State or private unemployment insurance entitlements. They are simply no longer registered as unemployed.

      • Colonial Viper 2.1.1

        You have to wonder how these people can even live now, when their unemployment insurance runs out. Average unemployment duration now up to 40.4 weeks: an all time record.

        And 49 out of 50 States are about to make carrying concealed hand guns legal. Do the math.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Short term America is probably heading back into recession.

    The financial sector is the only part of the US economy which has not been in continuous decline since 2008. They managed this because the Fed pumped trillions of dollars into the financial markets, via the primary dealers (Goldman Sachs etc). Basically they printed money to reinflate the financial bubble.

    In comparison, the US has now had 18 weeks straight of 400,000+ new jobless claims per week.

    I’m frankly surprised that it has taken this long, but the inevitable stock market fall has begun.

    If you take the action by the Fed into account above, it makes much more sense. TPTB have also been using that money to suppress prices of gold, silver and oil.

  4. tsmithfield 4

    The market isn’t going to crash. It is certainly correcting, and could correct further yet. However, unlike the previous recession, company balance sheets are generally very healthy now, and companies have become lean and mean, and able to make profits in a recessionary environment. So companies are now a lot sounder, and so unlikely to crash like they did before.

    The problem now is largely a sovereign one, as the private debt has largely been transferred to sovereign debt.

    Anyway, I have a small amount invested in the US in positions that will earn me approx 500% if we get the expected 3-5% relief rally, but plenty in cash to take advantage if the correction takes the market lower. It is now a traders market which is good for making money in either direction.

    • infused 4.1

      Exactly. Will be nothing like the first.

      • Colonial Viper 4.1.1

        You guys are really stupid.

        But I guess you are right in a way, after countries and their citizenry debt implode, some of the corporates left standing will have generous reserves of cash left which can be used as single ply paper.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.1

          What TS, Infused and the corporates are expecting is that after the countries and people implode due to debt they’ll have enough cash left over to buy everything else and force the people into even deeper slavery to keep their own parasitic lifestyles going.

    • bbfloyd 4.2

      way to bury your head in the sand ts…. about what people have come to expect from you… a narrow, myopic view that shows your complete inability to see past your own nose…

      you will be one of those begging for protection from the angry mobs when the pressure gets too great from the obvious imbalances created from your kind of economic/political usury.

      word to the less than wise.. everything looks wonderful while looking through the lens of self interest as long as the authorities can maintain the fiction that they govern for all people.. once that mask is broken, then it’s going to get ugly, and no amount of dissembling will help then..

      the time to wake up to the reality that nationals policies, supported by the insanely greedy, are hastening the trainwreck that worldwide financial lunacy is pushing us all towards..

    • Sovereign is right so the big fight now is NOT between those banksters and their state forcing their debt onto mum and dad and their kids and grandkids etc, but between the banksters and their state AND the new mass of debtors who simply repudiate the debt and go live in a park to think outside the square. So who will be the new king -banksters and cronies, or the people. My bet is on the people and the odds get better when I think of China.

  5. Tom Gould 5

    @ David Clark, someone told me that the problem is that the right wingers cut taxes and slashed red tape which led to huge deficits and wild capitalism which led to a massive crash which caused the state to bail out banks which added to the deficts and the debt. Is this correct? And he said that the answer is to increase tax on those who can afford it and pay off debt and cut services from those who don’t need them. Does that add up?

    • Is this training for Question Time type patsy questions.

      Is it prompting for another quack potted talking point?

      • It is not a patsy question, it actually gets to the essence of the problem.  The Republicans cut taxes and did not make expenditure savings and then stressed the whole system.  They also did not analyze what expenditure was important and should be maintained.  They just wanted to give their rich mates a tax cut so their campaign donations could continue.

        Tom in that one comment had more substance than I have ever seen you put in a dozen comments Pete Squirrel.

  6. Great Chomsky piece. William K. Black has some scary insights also:
    http://goo.gl/R7CNf

    The MBA’s success in causing the FBI to ignore the control frauds reminds me of this passage in the original Star Wars movie where Obi-Wan uses Jedi powers to pass through an Imperial check point with two wanted droids in plain sight:

    Stormtrooper: Let me see your identification.
    Obi-Wan: [with a small wave of his hand] You don’t need to see his identification.
    Stormtrooper: We don’t need to see his identification.
    Obi-Wan: These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.
    Stormtrooper: These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.
    Obi-Wan: He can go about his business.
    Stormtrooper: You can go about your business.
    Obi-Wan: Move along.
    Stormtrooper: Move along… move along.
    Luke: I don’t understand how we got by those troops. I thought we were dead.
    Obi-Wan: The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded.

    The FBI isn’t supposed to be “weak-minded” about elite white-collar criminals. It is not supposed to be misled by “Jedi mind tricks” by the lobbyists for the “perps.” It is not supposed to fail to understand the importance of endemic markers of accounting control fraud at every nonprime specialty lender where even a preliminary investigation has been made public.

    The FBI, DOJ, banking regulators, SEC, and all the purported sources of “private market discipline” failed to act against (and even praised) the perverse incentive structures that the accounting control frauds created to cause the small fry to act fraudulently. Those incentive structures ensured that there were always far more new small fry hatched to replace the relatively few small fry that the DOJ could imprison. Accounting control frauds deliberately produce intensely criminogenic environments to recruit (typically without any need for a formal conspiracy) the fraud allies that optimize accounting fraud. They create the perverse Gresham’s dynamic that means that the cheats prosper at the expense of their honest competitors. The result can be that the unethical drive the ethical from the marketplace. Had Mukasey been aware of modern white-collar criminological research he would have been forced to ask why tens of thousands of small fry were able to cause an epidemic of mortgage fraud in an industry that had historically successfully held fraud losses to well under one percent of assets. Ignoring good theory produces bad criminal justice policies.

  7. DJ 7

    Frankly Anthony I think you’re being unfair and by giving Obama too much slack. Obama was put in a incredibly messy situation, spet tiring hours upon hours in negotiation with unreasonable people and was unsupported by his party. Ultimately the American people have to accept responsibility for the people they voted for and their system. They knew what the republicans did, and they let them back in to have a controlling stake.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      Their democracy is compromised by big money, full stop.

      The majority of Americans want increased taxes on the wealthy, they also wanted a public health care option.

      But big money did not, so none of it happened. Yes you can blame the sheeple to an extent, but in a representative democracy the representatives are supposed to consider on and reflect on what is supposed to be the best for the people.

      They aren’t.

  8. Lazy Susan 8

    Yes Anthony crash MK2 coming – and we have kick-off

  9. Pascal's bookie 9

    And the US loses it’s AAA rating. Fun times.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      Yep AA+ now with the sting in the tail being the negative outlook which came as part of the downgrade.

  10. tsmithfield 10

    If you all really think the market is going to crash, why not go into the US market as I have done and put a few hundy or so down on out of the money puts on the SPY. If it all goes to custard, you will could make 10 times your money, easy.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      Because I find it absolutely immoral to benefit via someone else’s misfortune.

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.1

        But Draco, if you bought CDS’s at the same time as pressuring the US financial system to collapse you could increase your payout from 10x to 100x easy!

        Other good countries to target now would be Italy, Greece and Spain. The people in those countries might end up suffering more, but its OK because you don’t really know any of them, and its not personal, just business!

      • tsmithfield 10.1.2

        DTB: “Because I find it absolutely immoral to benefit via someone else’s misfortune.”

        That is one of the more idiotic things I have seen you write.

        Perhaps you should study the concept of equity options, and then revise your comment.

        • Colonial Viper 10.1.2.1

          ts = amoral

          • terryg 10.1.2.1.1

            OK TS, I’ll play your evil game.

            According to you, it is not absolutely immoral to to benefit via someone else’s misfortune

            That being the case, hows this for a unique investment opportunity:

            Leveraging off GIS-based knowledge pools, identify families with infants living in close proximity to petrol stations. Take out million-dollar life insurance policies on their children, payable to the investor on the event of a childs death from leukaemia. Then sit back and wait for the cash to come rolling in 🙂

            Nothing immoral there?

            (and dont tell me it cant be done; I’ve had “key man” insurance….)

      • queenstfarmer 10.1.3

        How would it benefitting via someone else’s misfortune? You’d be a willing buyer, they’d be a willing seller. If you happened to make money (which on your assumptions is guaranteed), then you would bring the money into NZ and could give it whatever charity you want.

        You’d be taking money off the evil rich institutions and could give it to a worthy cause here. If you’re so certain of how things are going to go, it would be a sure thing.

        Let us know how it goes.

        • Colonial Viper 10.1.3.1

          fuck yer funny

          Are you still pretending to not realise that financialised trading has massive effects which extend beyond the parties and counterparties of a specific individual trade?

          Come on man, i realise that ts messing about is not going to do change a thing globally. But I had a colleague overseas whose ‘professionally managed’ US$750K blue chip pension account lost over 80% of its value since 2007 due to financialised derivatives manipulation.

          Bit of a bugger since he’d built it up over most of his working life and he turned 60 this year. His and his wife’s retirement plans are effectively scr%$#^*d.

          • queenstfarmer 10.1.3.1.1

            Sorry to hear that. But what’s that got to do with my comment?

            Actually I can think of a way – this guy must still have a fair chunk of money. As TS said, he could make all his money back by shorting the markets etc. According to the doom-and-gloom analyses, it’s a sure bet!

            • Colonial Viper 10.1.3.1.1.1

              Cheers. He’ll do OK as that’s not the only assets he had but he’s looking at 10 more years work before he can even think about retiring now.

              The other thing to remember is that the world’s major equity markets have not been fair, transparent or efficient for several years now. It’s worse than a rigged casino (Look up HFT algos as just one example of what I mean).

              And ordinary workers have been conned into pouring their life savings into this game, one way or another.

            • ChrisH 10.1.3.1.1.2

              Shorting’s not a sure bet even if you “know” a crash is coming. The trouble is that untill the correction comes, things are going the other way. The question is, for how long? Things might fall apart in the long run but as Keynes said, in the long run we are all dead.

              Or to put it another way, the markets can remain irrational longer than the short seller can remain solvent, an equally famous saying. The problem is the same as with the argument that if you double losing bets each time a coin is tossed, you are bound to recoup your losses sooner or later.

              That’s why it’s hard in practice for contrarians to put (often limited) money where their mouth is even though they might still be right sooner or later. If on the other hand you run with the herd, well, that’s a lot less risky in the short run, which is what most people are worried about.

              Even Marx once said something about how everybody knows the crash is coming and yet they all have their basket under the golden shower, hoping to catch some before the end.

              After all, all speculative markets crash sooner or later. The fact is that for most investors who are not to be paralysed by fear the crash must exist as some vague remote certainty that few really worry too much about RIGHT NOW, like death (Keynes’s image) or the day the earth finally earth spirals into the sun (Marx).

              They hope that they will get sufficient warning to put their affairs in order if the worst should come to the worst. And on the other hand they know that shorting the market means losing money right now in the hope of the same kind of vague future certainty, which now looks like the Second Coming.

              In short a trend or bubble will attract most people to go with the flow in the hope they can bail out before the end. Meanwhile it’s unreasonable to ask hard up critics to put their money where their mouth is in betting against the market.

              • Draco T Bastard

                http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Maynard_Keynes

                The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is past the ocean is flat again.
                A Tract on Monetary Reform (1923) Ch. 3; many have thought this meant Keynes supported short terms gains against long term economic performance, but he was actually criticizing the belief that inflation would acceptably control itself without government intervention.

                Once you get context then you end up with a totally different meaning.

          • tsmithfield 10.1.3.1.2

            CV “But I had a colleague overseas whose ‘professionally managed’ US$750K blue chip pension account lost over 80% of its value since 2007 due to financialised derivatives manipulation.”

            They obviously didn’t buy out of the money puts on the SPY as I recommended. 🙂

            Seriously, though, equity options are sold by institutions as additional ways of raising funds besides just selling shares. So, DTB’s comment above about making money off the misery of others is just plain stupid.

            CV: “ts = amoral”

            Yeah right. So, purchasing from a willing seller and selling to a willing buyer is “amoral” now. Funny world you live in.

          • davidc 10.1.3.1.3

            Sorry to hear that your straw man is poor now but if he had put all that money into NZ realestate he would have only lost a few percent and stll have a decent rental income steam to live off.

            Wonder why realestate is a beloved class of invetsment?

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 10.2

      TS are you really John Key? Thats how he made all his money.

  11. Pete 11

    AA+ Would downgrade again.

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      Other ratings agencies to follow like sheep within the next 24 hours.

      • tsmithfield 11.1.1

        The markets have largely priced a downgrade in, partly accounting for the current slide. While it might have a slight further impact, it will simply mean better buying opportunities. Whats the point in having a market correction if you can’t profit from it?

  12. Rich 12

    I reckon there’s about a 1:10 chance of a major US retail bank failing. If that happens, there’ll probably be a bunch more failing in consequence.

    Normally the government would be able to bail them out and pay out on the FDIC insurance, but with retards in Congress, that might not happen quickly or ever. So you’ll have people not being paid coz their companies banks are frozen, and not being able to get at their money even if they have any. I predict a riot.

    Stage 2, BTW, is that as the US and Europe go back into recession, demand for Chinese consumer goods is going to take a pasting. With the Chinese economy looking more and more of a bubble (heard about the ghost cities?) that’ll tip to a hard crash. Remember, no welfare, hundreds of millions of people who’ve moved to the developed cities – all the ingredients for even bigger riots. I wouldn’t want to be a member of the Chinese Communist Party when that kicks off.

    Stage 3 is going to be a massive commodities slump. That won’t be good for the “sound” Aussie banks, who will simultaneously have their reliable Asian funding sources cut off.

    End of capitalism?

  13. I hope this time they do not bail the banks out.  Something much more dramatic is required.

    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      Don’t think so as the planned objective of these repeated crises is to enable the mass transfer of wealth and real assets (sovereign ones this time) to the banksters.

      It’s Key’s and English’s “we have a debt problem so we are going to borrow more, tax the rich less and sell off our assets to the wealthy” writ 10,000x bigger and more devious.

  14. Lazy Susan 14

    During the last 30 years “Western” governments have been increasingly controlled by the corporations and global elites. This has resulted in a huge reduction in taxes and regulations for these elites leading to a subsantional transfer of wealth from the many to the few.

    With falling tax revenues from the elites “western” economies have been forced to borrow ever increasing ammounts to maintain popular public services such as healthcare, education, welfare and other government funded programmes.

    Now under the guise of this “debt crisis” western governments are forcing “austerity programmes” on their citizens. What they should be doing, of course, is increasing taxes for the wealthy, to reduce the public debt, and rein in the out of control banks.

    The end game is close and the con is slowly unravelling. It is not just the poor who will suffer under this “crisis” but great swathes of the middle classes will be wiped out as interest rates soar, stocks and property slump and public services are slashed. They may then wake up and realise they’ve been duped.

  15. Chomsky‘s take on it all.

    The self-inflicted blows, while increasingly powerful, are not a recent innovation. They trace back to the 1970s, when the national political economy underwent major transformations, ending what is commonly called “the Golden Age” of (state) capitalism.
    Two major elements were financialization (the shift of investor preference from industrial production to so-called FIRE: finance, insurance, real estate) and the offshoring of production. The ideological triumph of “free market doctrines,” highly selective as always, administered further blows, as they were translated into deregulation, rules of corporate governance linking huge CEO rewards to short-term profit, and other such policy decisions.
    The resulting concentration of wealth yielded greater political power, accelerating a vicious cycle that has led to extraordinary wealth for a fraction of 1 percent of the population, mainly CEOs of major corporations, hedge fund managers and the like, while for the large majority real incomes have virtually stagnated.
    In parallel, the cost of elections skyrocketed, driving both parties even deeper into corporate pockets. What remains of political democracy has been undermined further as both parties have turned to auctioning congressional leadership positions, as political economist Thomas Ferguson outlines in the Financial Times.
    “The major political parties borrowed a practice from big box retailers like Walmart, Best Buy or Target,” Ferguson writes. “Uniquely among legislatures in the developed world, U.S. congressional parties now post prices for key slots in the lawmaking process.” The legislators who contribute the most funds to the party get the posts.
    The result, according to Ferguson, is that debates “rely heavily on the endless repetition of a handful of slogans that have been battle-tested for their appeal to national investor blocs and interest groups that the leadership relies on for resources.” The country be damned.

  16. Afewknowthetruth 16

    ‘Update: US credit rating downgraded from AAA to AA+ with negative outlook (same as NZ).’

    Credit rating agencies did give triple A ratings to what became ‘toxic sludge’ shortly afterwards.

    • KJT 16.1

      It is one of the great mysteries of the current situation.

      Credit rating agencies and financial institutions that are proven failures retain any credibility at all.

      That anyone still pays Standards and Poors for credit ratings, given their record.

      The USA should have been F since it became obvious that the USA will never tax their wealthy and deficit was too big to ever repay without taxing their billionaires or massive inflation.

  17. tsmithfield 17

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the US equity markets rally on Monday for the following reasons:

    1. Markets often do the opposite to what people expect. For instance, there was an expectation of a market rally once the debt ceiling issue was sorted. Look what actually happened.

    2. Markets love certainty. At least there is certainty over the rating issue now, so the market can move on.

    3. If the USD drops due to the rating downgrade, then equities that are already cheap due to the recent sell-off will look even cheaper.

    4. Also, if there is an exodus from Treasury bonds, then there will be money looking for somewhere to go. The equity market is an obvious home.

    • Colonial Viper 17.1

      I’ve got a simple question for you then, Market Guru. Will the S&P500 finish the week up or finish the week down 😈

      4. Also, if there is an exodus from Treasury bonds, then there will be money looking for somewhere to go. The equity market is an obvious home.

      lololololololololololololololololololol

      GOLD and SILVER my friend, not PAPER

      • rd 17.1.1

        Apparently Bank of America? is CHARGING to hold large deposits!!!!!

        • Colonial Viper 17.1.1.1

          And what does that tell you about their valuation of USD deposits over time :mr green:

          BAC is this cycles Lehman Bros fall guy. The one which gives the US a new round of excuses to print money for the rich.

      • tsmithfield 17.1.2

        “I’ve got a simple question for you then, Market Guru. Will the S&P500 finish the week up or finish the week down”

        If I gave you a definitive answer on this, then I suggest you should ignore it as it would probably be wrong. 🙂 However, I think there is a fairly good chance the market will finish higher this week. The technical indicators suggest the market is very oversold at the moment. Even in bear markets, they tend not to go down in a straight line, so I expect a relief rally at least.

        I don’t expect the market will crash as in 2008. The reasons for this is that the fundamentals are substantially different. Now the corporate balance sheets are quite strong, and interest rates in the US are near zero, with QE3 on the horizon. Thus, there are relatively limited opportunities for getting a reasonable return outside the share market in the US. At the time of the previous crash the Fed was ratcheting up interest rates.

        “GOLD and SILVER my friend, not PAPER”

        Yes. Gold and silver a possibilities, except they have already come up a long way, so there may be limited head room. Also, they don’t offer a dividend return unlike stocks. However, you can get more leverage by purchasing options on ETFs such as SLV and GLD if you want to dabble in this market.

        • KJT 17.1.2.1

          Cannot eat any of those things.

          I suspect farmland, raw materials and food will be the only things worth anything in the not to distant future.
          Which is why the Chinese are buying them up ASAP with their US dollars while they are still worth anything.

          • tsmithfield 17.1.2.1.1

            I have to agree, which is why NZ is quite well positioned IMO.

            You could take options on the DBA etf which tracks a collection of agricultural stocks.

            • KJT 17.1.2.1.1.1

              Actually looking for a block big enough to grow veges.

              So long as overseas owners do not use that as an excuse to move the troops in and take it. Or secret agents to change the Government.
              Like the USA does with oil producers.

              • Macro

                They bought mine this time last year.
                But I don’t think it was to plant veges…
                more like land bank and a big mansion in the country – but just down the road from Auckland.

        • Pascal's bookie 17.1.2.2

          The other things that are different from 08 include that that neither the govt, nor the fed, have any room to move.

    • lefty 17.2

      One outcome we can be sure of is the banksters will find another way to screw the rest of us out of all this. More bailouts, tax cuts for the rich, deeper exploitation of workers and developing nations, and a raft of new tricks dreamed up by the lords of the universe will all be on the table.
      Its about politics not finances. We either rise up and stop the games, or continue to sit idly by while society is looted.
      Voting for any of the capitalist political parties and expecting anything to change significantly for the better is the same as standing idly by.

  18. vto 18

    It is just all going to continue to go down hill until such time as the money printing presses stop and the entire fractional reserve banking system is overhauled.

    It has finally reached its limits.

  19. Afewknowthetruth 19

    The death of the industrial-financial-military complex will be accompanied by desperate atempts to prop it up.

    From The Independent:

    Shell given go-ahead to drill off Alaska

    By David Usborne

    Saturday, 6 August 2011

    An oil tanker escorted by two tugs off the coast of Alaska

    The keys to vast reserves of oil off the coast of Alaska may have been handed to Shell this week after President Barack Obama’s administration granted it provisional permission to drill exploration wells in the Beaufort Sea’s frigid waters despite fierce opposition from environmentalists.

    “This is a disaster waiting to happen,” said Holly Harris, a lawyer for Earthjustice, one of several groups decrying the approval by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement of Shell’s drilling plans for the region off the northern edge of Alaska. “Today’s decision is nothing more than the administration’s decision to roll the dice with the Arctic.”

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