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The austerity death trap

Written By: - Date published: 7:15 am, October 25th, 2011 - 88 comments
Categories: capitalism, debt / deficit, economy, election 2011, Keynes - Tags: , ,

A while back I wrote a post on the similarities between the austerity measures in Britain and in NZ, and the all too predictable outcome of economic stagnation and increasing hardship in both countries.  No surprise of course to find a similar analysis of the situation in America:

The Austerity Death Trap

Ron Paul’s newly-unveiled economic plan – promising to cut $1 trillion from the federal budget in year one (presumably that means 2013) – is only slightly more ambitious than what we’re hearing from other Republican candidates. They’re all calling for major spending cuts starting as soon as possible. What are they smoking?

Can we just put ideology aside for a moment and be clear about the facts? Consumer spending (70 percent of the economy) is flat or dropping because consumers are losing their jobs and wages, and don’t have the dough. And businesses aren’t hiring because they don’t have enough customers.

The only way out of this vicious cycle is for the government – the spender of last resort – to boost the economy. The regressives are all calling for the opposite. … The result will be the most stringent fiscal tightening of any large economy in the world. … It will come at a time when 25 million are Americans looking for full-time work, median incomes are dropping, home foreclosures rising, and a record 37 percent of American families with young children are in poverty. To call this economic lunacy is to understate the point. …

Even if you’re a deficit hawk this is nuts. Instead of reducing the ratio of debt to the size of the overall economy, this strategy increases the ratio because it causes the economy to shrink.

Call it the austerity death trap.

Under these circumstances, the harder a country works to cut its debt, the worse the ratio becomes — because the economy shrinks even faster.

Greece is already in the trap. Spain and Italy are perilously close. Even Britain, France, and Germany are tip-toeing up to it. And now us.

Deficit hawks have to understand: The first step must be to revive growth and jobs. That way, revenues increase and the debt/GDP ratio drops. Only then – when the economy is back on track – do you start cutting. …

As each party sets out its policy for the coming election look carefully to see what they will to stimulate sustainable growth and jobs. Look for recognition that we live in a resource limited world, facing huge challenges in the form of peak oil and climate change. Look for economic competence and a willingness to try new ideas, rather than muddling along deeper into the austerity death trap. Our country deserves better than three more years of ineptitude and stagnation.

88 comments on “The austerity death trap”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    I don’t think there is such a thing as sustainable growth and jobs in our current global economic set up. Government stimulus cannot help when large amounts of your GDP is generated by foreign holdings: money pumped into the economy by the government will flow straight out to foreign shareholders.

    In the US they have the additional problem of full scale bankster occupation. The Federal Reserve has been pumping hundreds of billions into the US economy, but only one tiny part of it – the financial sector. So banks and corporates have been making record profits and paying out record bonuses. But 90% of the economy is deadly stagnant as the flows of precious money are corraled inside the speculative financial system of Wall St, and never sees the light in Main St.

    And globally, the financiers and banksters have saddled the entire developed world with an uncontrollable amount of debt, as well as massive amounts of unproductive derivative side bets. Any resolution to the current financial crisis must involve huge ‘haircuts’ to banks and bond holders of 50% or more. Otherwise entire sovereign nations will become multi-generational debt serfdoms serving the big financial institutions of the world.

    Then there is the small problem of global energy depletion and tdeindustrialistaion of the western world. I’ll let AFKTT handle that topic, but in essence, complex technical and bureaucratic systems cannot continue to function properly on declining and increasingly expensive sources of energy. You reach the stage where all the energy available is used up simply to maintain the status quo i.e. running harder and harder to stay in the same place. We’re talking zero growth per capita, if that, which again means no ability to pay the interest which accumulates on our debt without hollowing out our own capital stocks/assets even further.

    • aerobubble 1.1

      For an organism to realize its hand is burning the hand must first send pain
      signals to the central cortex. In a democracy the people are the brain of
      the economy. Austerity, however destructive, harmful to the people, is
      how the people CHOOSE to wire their government. They CHOOSE
      right wing politicians who cheaply pander to their emotional needs,
      and so we get “aspirational politiciains” our very own glam Belliscoi PM.
      Western Democracy like to be treated like big children and thown
      lollies. Sure I vote Green and would like to be treated like an adult,
      but most people are too gormless, they took on debt, and now are
      paying for trusting the rightwing politicians (whether Blair, Brown, Major,
      cyes, even Clinton, or any one named Bush, etc,etc).

      The simple fact is the pain is necessary to wake the middle classes up
      to themselves, and be satified with being moderately well off, and
      for thw working classes to realize they were just scammed horrendously
      by the new aristocracy of wealth, brokers and speculators like Key.
      That’s why Key went soft, and will hold off Austerity till after the
      election, you haven’t seen nothing yet. But the sad problem of the
      NZ economy is not the government books, its private debt held
      by mostly kiwis (and most foriegners have loaded their NZ holdings
      with debt to play the currency and capital gain).

      Labour policies promise to finally shift the economy towards
      kiwis and away from sell out NZ at fast as they can types.

  2. Afewknowthetruth 2

    ‘As each party sets out its policy for the coming election look carefully to see what they will to stimulate sustainable growth and jobs.’

    Anthony, by writing that you have just pronounced yourself to be a fuckwit. There is no such thing as ‘sustainable growth’. As has been posted on this site on numerous occasions, anyone who thinks perpetual growth is possible on a finite planet is either a madman or an economist.

    The growth game is over and the western way of living -consuming the planet’s resources till ther is nothing left- is rapidly coming to an end. You wrote the words: ‘Look for recognition that we live in a resource limited world, facing huge challenges in the form of peak oil and climate change. Look for economic competence and a willingness to try new ideas, rather than muddling along’ but don’t seem to have made the brain connection.

    And then there is the slight matter of collapse of the global environment due to rampant extraction of resources and ever rising CO2 levels. Abrupt climate change and acidification of the oceans are happening now!

    The entire system is going down and futile attempts to prop it up are totally counterproductive.

    Let’s get real about this Anthony. If you support economic growth and jobs [in the othodox meaning of the word], that means you support deep-sea drilling, you support fracking; you support coal mining wherever there is any coal to be dug up; you support stripping the oceans of whatever fish remain by whatever methods are available; you support covering more agricultural land with concrete and asphalt; you support tourism which is putting the chemical composition of the atmosphere out of balance; you support faster destruction of the next generation’s future.

    Instead of wrting about ‘the austerity trap’ how about wrting about the FALSE PARADIGM TRAP and how Labour leadership and the vast majority of Labour candidates (if not all) are completely detached from reality.

    • Gosman 2.1

      I’d love to see a serious party on the left arguing for a zero growth economy during an election (simply because it would be electoral suicide). However I doubt this will be any time soon. Even the NZ Greens aren’t arguing this point as they have this concept of Green Growth (whatever that means).

      • mik e 2.1.1

        Gooseman it would be more sensible for greens to support National as they have already achieved Zero Growth Austerity measures next year will see to that.Its costing us tax payers $18.4 billion just this current year in borrowing just so National can look good in election year.

    • r0b 2.2

      Anthony, by writing that you have just pronounced yourself to be a fuckwit.

      Possibly.  But a few points.  First I didn’t say that such growth can be “perpetual” (obviously impossible).  I do think that there is room for some further short to medium term growth if it is “sustainable” (renewable energy, recycling, carbon neutral, it can be done).   And second, we need that time / infrastructure / expertise to transition to a sustainable zero growth “perpetual” future.  We can’t get there without it.  (Also, I’m in favour of very different measures of what “growth” means in practice.) But that’s all too much to lump in to a short blog post, so, shorthand, “sustainable growth”.

      As a final point, I find it depressing that you probably do more harm than good for your causes by being insulting and petty all the time.  You have an important message, but you give everyone the excuse to ignore it by fulfilling every stereotype of the raving loony.  Clean up your act, you’ll reach a bigger audience.

      • Afewknowthetruth 2.2.1

        r0b.

        The present system is able to maintian itself and gain tacit approval of the masses by perpetuating many great myths. Here are some:

        Myth One.

        Economic growth will generate the resources necessary to deal with environmental and energetic problems Reality One.

        All economic activity within the mainstream paradigm consumes pre-existing resources, degrades the planet on a continuous basis and consumes non-renewable energy resources, in the case of oil at the rate of over 80 million barrels a day. The system does not generate wealth; it consumes wealth. GDP is a major comnponent of this system of lies imposed on society by economists and money-lenders. GDP = Global Deceit Paradigm. GPD = Global Destruction Process.

        Myth Two.

        We cannot deal with our energetic and environmental predicament just at this moment, but once we have built a strong economy we will will devote resources to dealing with those predicaemnts. We cannot make any drastic changes and have to move in the right direction via small increments.

        Reality Two.

        This game has been played for the past 40 years and next to nothing has been done to deal with any of the fuindamentals. All the ‘problems’ are now far worse that they were when initially identified. Humanity has now run out of time. After 200 or so years if ever-expanding industrialism the financial system is now crashing, the energy system is now crashing and the environment is now crashing.

        Myth Three.

        Recycling and renewables will allow us to maintain a consumeristic society.

        Reality Three.

        It takes huge amounts of rapidly depleting, non-renewable energy to extract resources from the ground and convert them into stuff that is described as ‘renewable’ and stuff that can be recycled. Recycling takes takes huge amounts of non-renewable energy. We are now falling off the EROEI curve, as explianed beautifully by Chris Maternason in chapter 17 of Crash Course.

        ‘I find it depressing that you probably do more harm than good for your causes by being insulting and petty all the time.’

        I find it depressing that people who should know better keep perpetuating myths and keep presenting oxymorons as possibilities for poilicy.

        By the way, it is not my cause: it is my grandchildren’s cause. They are the ones who will inherit a degraded planet that has been stripped of its resources and is undegoing rapid environmental collapse because ignorance, apathy and denial continue to reign supreme.

        • aerobubble 2.2.1.1

          We can feed the world, the entire world, there’s enough water for
          everyone. The problem is capitalism has augmented government
          to legislate consumerism. Its very easy to shift back to a lifestyle
          that our great? grandparents would recognize, and is in fact likely
          once all the coal, oil, gas, fuels are used to provide food, water, etc.
          The mix of the two, minus our technology but plus our technological
          know how, I believe will be a vey pleasant existence.

          The problem is too many people still think its possible to have
          what we’ve had since the war.

        • TightyRighty 2.2.1.2

          you must be a riot at dinner parties

    • KJT 2.3

      AFKTT.

      Technically you are correct.
      In the longer term nothing is sustainable. Entropy always wins.

      And good on you for keeping the really huge problem in our consciousness.

      But. What do you suggest. Solutions are impossible/unsustainable so we all lie down and give up?
      Stop eating?

      To most of us sustainable is synonymous with more sustainable. Which in reality is all we can do.

      And. In the meantime why should we let a few people grab the biggest proportion of a cake they know has to decrease.

      A large part of the problem is that a few people have found a way of appropriating the products of our work. Firstly by cutting the share we get in wages/SME income to increase their take, making a shortfall in the earnings we need to live. Secondly by charging us to borrow back our own earnings at interest. Thirdly by using some of the extra they steal to buy politicians and managers, to facilitate the theft.

      We can live more sustainably, but it is not in the interests of the 1%, who can use the wealth they steal to escape the consequences of their actions.

      • Gosman 2.3.1

        The good old Labour theory of value rearing it’s ugly head once more. It reminds me of economic illiterates trying to argue that something is overpriced in an economy and that prices need to be controlled to ‘correct’ this imbalance.

        • r0b 2.3.1.1

          You mean like when Key calls for an enquiry into the price of milk?

          • Gosman 2.3.1.1.1

            Yep. Completely idiotic statement from the Prime Minister.

            Right leaning politicians are just as capable of stupid statements as left wingers in my view, (in some cases even more so).

            Unlike some I don’t have a slavish devotion to people who share some of my political view points.

      • Afewknowthetruth 2.3.2

        KJT.

        About once a week someone asks: what are the solutions?

        The solutions are the same as what I wrote a week ago, and the week before that, and the month before that, and last year, and the year before that, and for the past decade.

        The solutions are POWERDOWN and simplified PERMACULTURE.

        In essence that means planting fruit trees, restoring the soil and growing food locally. I means cycling and walking instead of driving etc.

        It means cutting back severely in consumerism and eventually disengaging from it altogether.

        THOSE ARE ALL THINGS MOST PEOPLE DO NOT WANT TO DO.

        And the power elites who are in control most certainly do not want people to do them.

        Hence, Western societies will collapse in a ‘screaming heap’ and in all likelihood large numbers of people will starve to death, especially if they live in a big city.

        • Colonial Viper 2.3.2.1

          Rebuilding co-operative social structures and strengthening community/family relationships are also crucial.

        • KJT 2.3.2.2

          I am not disagreeing with you.

          Just with your propensity to rubbish any steps in the right direction as too small.

          We have to start somewhere. Getting power back from those who do not care is a good start.

      • M 2.3.3

        Like your reasoning KJT.

        I’m a peakist but also I hope a realist – and no I do not mean an apologist for all that is wrong because there is plenty wrong.

        Most people still have to get up every day and go to work unless they are of independent means and do not have time to endlessly cogitate on what may come to pass. I know that peak oil and more probably nukes will get us all in the end but we will all die one day anyhow and that’s not being defeatist it’s just a bald fact. People really need to simplify their lives and try to get by with little money – doing favours for neighbours and friends is one way to do this or maybe exchanging garden produce – Dimitri Orlov well understands this being Russian and having lived in kleptocracies in the USSR and the USA.

        Like AFKTT I have descendents whom I have prepared – they know very hard times are coming but we can still enjoy life to a modest degree hopefully without trampling anyone in the process. My kids well know how the right visit economic and environmental violence on others through their selfish and self-aggrandising policies and obsessive need to be top of the heap.

        I have been berated by some for supporting murderous, criminal left politicians as they don’t get peak oil but I think the price mechanism will send a loud and clear message a la Jeff Rubin – what should I do instead, slit my wrists? I don’t want to live in anarchy.

        Whatever people’s views on peak oil and the environment people IMHO still stand a far better chance of some modest comfort even in severely constrained and steadily worsening times than they ever will with RWNJs because for RWNJs sharing is out – no argument.

      • aerobubble 2.3.4

        Birth rates are falling, entropy can be managed, we just don’t have physicists
        in parliament, or who explain to the public that they can whole cake now and never
        ever again, or pieces of cake for a very long time.

  3. Gosman 3

    Where does the money to fund this stimulus spending come from? Unless you print money, (thus fuel inflation), then the only way would be to borrow it as increasing taxes to cover it is fiscally neutral.

    Greece can’t print money or increase borrowing. The money supply is controlled by the European Central Bank and noone wants to lend money to a country which is already heavily indebted. This will get worse if the Creditors have to take a loss.

    Greece just highlights the follow of the very policies you are advocating. You can’t continue to borrow in the hope that your economy will magically become productive at some indeterminate point in the future. At some stage you will have to pay the price. Greece is paying the price now. It won’t be pretty but they shouldn’t have followed such wrong headed left wing policies.

    The US has more wiggle room but they just spent trillions on a stimulus package from 2008. If that massive spending hasn’t resolved the problem why would spending trillions more be more successful?

    • RedLogix 3.1

      Where does the money to fund this stimulus spending come from?

      You don’t have to print new money, and even that is problematic because as we have seen it doesn’t go to where it will do any good.

      The problem is this, consumers, businesses and governments are saturated with debt, much of which can never be repaid. Solution… get rid of the debt.

      A Partial Debt Jubilee has to be at this point in time a very real option. Certainly Steven Keen has identified this as the most effective tool because from his ‘money circuit theory’ perspective it deals with the problem directly at it’s root cause.

      • Gosman 3.1.1

        If you cancel the debt what would be the incentive for the lenders to start lending again? Certainly there will be less capital available for nations that require it to develop their economy.

        If the countries that have spent money on unproductive areas don’t cut back on these areas what is stopping them getting back into debt in the future again, (assuming someone will lend them capital again that is)?

        On top of that countries like Germany and China would be the ones that suffer in that equation. You would have essentially penalised them for being productive and rewarded the unproductive nations like Greece.

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1

          Fuck your paradigms. The Fed printed big banks US$16T at almost zero interest rates to get them lending again and do you know what they did with that money? They have fueled a new speculative debt/derivative based financial bubble which is going to frak the global economy.

          Sovereign governments should become the primary creater of money and credit, not banks which charge interest and which are today more interested in massive fraudulent speculation on Wall St rather than helping out Main St.

          On top of that countries like Germany and China would be the ones that suffer in that equation. You would have essentially penalised them for being productive and rewarded the unproductive nations like Greece.

          If German and Chinese lenders decided to lend money to debtors who could never realistically pay their debts back, that is a risk they took and they should suffer the haircut for it.

          Simple adage: debt which cannot be paid back will not be paid back.

          Destroy the debt, destroy the banks, do not make sovereign nations debt serfdoms to the bankster occupiers.

          All basic banking functions should be considered utility infrastructure and taken over by sovereign governments and run on a not-for-profit basis for the good of communities.

        • RedLogix 3.1.1.2

          You would have essentially penalised them for being productive and rewarded the unproductive nations like Greece.

          And if the alternative is 20 years or more of global depression, or total financial melt-down… how is that any better? For anyone?

          The point is that the a de-regulated global financial industry has dug itself a vast hole of dishonorable Ponzi lending, a hole from which there is no honourable escape.

          Besides you may want to consider that the idea of a debt jubilee is a very ancient one, going back to at least Biblical times. Looked at from the bigger picture a pure credit based system is vulnerable to the problem of more credit being created than there is value to support it; in which case resetting the system from time to time becomes necessary.

          These are not ordinary times; ordinary solutions will no longer suffice.

          • Gosman 3.1.1.2.1

            Tell me how the situation in Greece was caused by de-regulation of the finance industry. For one thing the biggest creditors to Greece are actually German and French banks. These are two nations who didn’t follow the standard approach to neo-liberal deregulation as other nations did.

            • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.2.1.1

              Gosman you missed the point completely.

              French and German economies did not follow neoliberal prescriptions.

              But their banks followed highly leveraged, derivative driven ones.

              French and German banks have so many bad assets hidden off balance sheet they can’t afford to take any writedown on Greek debt without failing.

              • Gosman

                Ummmm… where is the evidence that the problem with the German and French banks lending to Greece is caused by derivatives?

                This kind of goes against the prevailing meme in the leftist world about the current economic situation which goes something along the lines of –
                “Deregulation by Government of the finance industry caused the banks to enagage in highly risky leveraging activity via derivatives which fueled a credit bubble which then burst and the banks needed to be bailed out.”

                However leftists used to hold up France and Germany as how economies should be run. How come they ended up deregulating the finance industry then and why did the Anglo-American banks not get into the same sort of predicament in Greece?

        • KJT 3.1.1.3

          The Greeks, like us, work more hours for less money than the Germans.

          Why should we reward the people who have found a way to enrich themselves by increasing their own profits at our expense, by grabbing an ever greater share of the wealth our work makes, and then charging us to use the money they took. When they gambled it away.

          At the end of the day capital is the resources and the work done in an economy.
          Money capital is meaningless when it is so out of step with production.

          As to what happens when you tell the bankers to F off. Look at Argentina. http://kjt-kt.blogspot.com/2011/06/kia-ora-what-happens-if-decide-neo.html

    • Colonial Viper 3.2

      Where does the money to fund this stimulus spending come from? Unless you print money, (thus fuel inflation)

      This is bullshit, printing money done right does not fuel inflation any more than releasing money into the economy by borrowing it from overseas.

      It is the productivity of the economy and the quanitity of money which matters, not where it comes from.

      • Gosman 3.2.1

        It is quite clear that you are a supporter of a form of social credit Colonial Viper

        I am not aware of one nation on the planet that has successfully implemented such a policy without causing inflation to rise. I do know of many that attempted to do something similar and ended up with a broken economy as well as higher prices though.

        By all means push for your policies to be adopted by whichever left wing party you support. I for one would relish it if the left took this idea seriously.

        • KJT 3.2.1.1

          So. Allowing banks to print money and take an ever greater share of economic output has worked so well.

          • KJT 3.2.1.1.1

            North Dakota and other US States with State banks appear to be doing rather better than private banking States.

            https://publicbanking.wordpress.com/

          • Gosman 3.2.1.1.2

            Banks don’t print money. They create credit based on the amount of reserves they hold.

            I suspect you are one of the people who believe that if they create $90 of credit on an initial $100 deposit with 10 % reserve ration then when this $90 comes back in to the bank and they lend 90 % out again they are effectively creating money but that is a simplistic reading of the situation.

            Noone ever just deposits money back to the bank after it has been leant to them. They either spend it or use it to attempt to make more money than it is costing them in interest. If they do spend it then the person who receives the money is hopefully making money on what it cost them to sell the item and is thus making a profit.

            Where banks get in to problems is when they fail to lend to people who are able to earn more with the money than it costs to borrow it. It has very little to with money creation but more to do with bad risk management.

            • KJT 3.2.1.1.2.1

              Well. I hope we can agree that the banks should be required to take the bath from their bad risk management. Not unassociated tax payers.

              • Rusty Shackleford

                Is there really anybody left, except for Paul Krugman and the banks themselves, who believes the banks deserve to be bailed out?

                • Colonial Viper

                  Sure, the entire kleptocracy does, and they hold all the levers in our society presently.

              • Gosman

                Oh I agree they should be left to fail. However by doing so it would cause lots more pain for lots more people in the short term. Especially the most vulnerable in society. If you are willing to accept that price then we are in agreement on this one

                • KJT

                  Not necessary. The bail out money can go to people most affected and small business instead of those who caused the problem.

                  • Gosman

                    You don’t understand the bail out do you? The money isn’t just poured into a big black hole never to be recovered. In fact I’m pretty confident much of the TARP funds in the US has been repaid. Unless you are trying to state that the Government should start lending funds directly to small business then your idea is just stupid as it would blow the budget deficit through the roof, (more than it is currently by a long, long way).

                • Rusty Shackleford

                  How does shifting the cost of bank failures from share holders and executives to tax payers hurt “the most vulnerable in society”? I would have thought it would be the other way around.

                  In any case your thinking is faulty. The bank failures have to be absorbed by somebody anyway. Bailing out the banks only delays the inevitable, perhaps even setting up the economy for a bigger hit. Purging the banks at the time would allows the malinvestment to leave the economy. This is hard in the short term, but sets up the banking market and economy as a whole to be stronger in the long term.

            • RedLogix 3.2.1.1.2.2

              Banks don’t print money. They create credit based on the amount of reserves they hold.

              The M0 supply of actual cash is a tiny, tiny fraction of the actual amount of money in circulation. The vast majority of money people and businesses use is bank credit.

              Secondly it has now been shown that in the real world banks create the credit first, then subsequently look for the deposits to prop up their reserve requirements. The cause and effect is the opposite of what most people imagine.

              For all intents and purposes our money system is a pure credit one…. and the creation of which has been totally captured by private banks. The lesson that was learnt in the aftermath of the Great Depression was that this process had to be strictly controlled and regulated to avoid senoirage. This is what happens when banks who should be nothing more than trusted bookkeepers of credit transactions between businesses and consumers, themselves exploit their privileged position in a way that diverts money away from businesses and consumers and concentrates it into the hands of their shareholders.

              Post WW2 the regulations put in place ensure that the financial sector accounted for no more than 5-10% of all economic activity. In a small nation like NZ it was at the lower end of the range; only in the USA and UK with big financial centers in London and New York was it closer to 10%.

              When the neo-liberals dismantled those protections in the 1980’s, the bankers got busily to work re-capturing as much profit into their ‘industry’ as possible. By the 2005 some 45% of all corporate profit in the USA was being made in the financial sector. In the UK the City of London became the essential hub of their entire economy. Globally the amount of money stacked up in a vast complex of derivatives and instruments estimated to be in the order of at least $500 trillion; some 8-9 times larger than the entire GDP of the world.

              Think about that. This is a sector that actually generates no wealth… banks are only just bookeepers who perform a rather basic, yet essential, social service. Yet somehow we have fallen on our face worshiping them, and allowed them to ‘jam their blood-funnel into the face of humanity’ sucking off ever great portions of GDP into their own exclusive coffers, robbing both ordinary businesses and workers of the wealth we create.

              Ordinary people are seeing this now. It can’t last much longer.

              • Gosman

                What you don’t address is how the neo-liberals were able to influence policy in places such as Germany and France which still believed in a large amount of regulation of the economy. It is the German banks that will suffer the most because of the Greek crisis not the Anglo-American ones.

                • RedLogix

                  Nonetheless these European banks still made loans that have been proven to have been very risky indeed.

                  If you really want an example of a tightly regulated banking industry you could look to China. As I understand it the Chinese banks are really little more than extensions of CCP policy and operate very much to suit that government’s purposes. And so far it’s evident that the crisis enveloping the rest of the world has largely left the Chinese financial system unscathed.

                  Whether it remains immune in the face of a worsening global situation is yet to be seen, but if you want an example of a tightly regulated, stable banking system… that’s the best example I can think of right now.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Irrelevant.

                  Its not the French and German governments who have screwed up and exposed themselves to massive risk, it is their global banks.

                  However, the French and German governments WILL screw themselves up if they agree to bail out and absorb the bad debts of their banks or of Greece, Italy and Spain.

                  And that’s why both the German and French people are adament that it must not happen, even as their political leaders fall under the sway of the ECB, IMF, World bank and other usual crony cartel suspects.

                  • Gosman

                    Ummmmm… who was responsible for monitoring what the French and German banks did with their capital if not the governments of those countries? Also as you seem to blame this all on deregulation who deregulated the French and german banking industries and when exactly did it happen?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Irrelevant.

                      Financial “innovators” hid many derivative trades off balance sheet and through dark pool exchanges.

                      Government regulators had no chance. And in the US all the Govt regulators were from the banking industry and mates with them any way.

                      You can say government failed, but finally it was bank executives and bank shareholders who made billions from their bullshit.

                    • Gosman

                      There is little evidence that the problem with the Sovereign Debt crisis in Europe was caused by the use of Derivatives. This is simply a case of (mainly German and French) banks lending to a country much more than they could conceivably service going forward. It is the Greek government that is primarily at fault for borrowing more than they could pay back.

        • Colonial Viper 3.2.1.2

          The banksters rule and print money at will, distributing near 0% loans to their favoured few.

          Time for community currencies and sovereign debt-free money to come to the fore.

          Fuck having private banks create your country’s money and then charge you interest on it.

          I am not aware of one nation on the planet that has successfully implemented such a policy without causing inflation to rise.

          Inflation is already rising under your dumb bankster regime. Time to take the money-creation power back.

          • Gosman 3.2.1.2.1

            Ummmm… what was the recent inflation rate just announced in N.Z and was it heading up or down?

            • Colonial Viper 3.2.1.2.1.1

              Up mate, way up from 3 years ago, especially when compared to the median wage.

              • Rusty Shackleford

                It was only 5.5% or something CV. I’ve heard you extol the virtues of 7% inflation in the past.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Time to take away credit creation powers from banks, I know you are into it mate

                  • Gosman

                    How do you take away credit creation from banks unless you strictly control what they actually do and fundamentally alter the nature of banking?

                    Even using systems where the money supply is linked to a commodity such as Gold banks were able to create credit via relending of deposits.

                    • Rusty Shackleford

                      This is a ridiculously simple question to answer. Banks should simply be gold warehousing institutions. If they can’t cover deposits, they will go to jail, in the same way I would go to jail if you paid me to store your car and I “lent” it to someone else. Of course it could be a different commodity, but gold has worked the best for the longest.

                    • Gosman

                      And your is a very simplistic answer that ignores historical reality.

                      If we follow your logic then the only way banks could make money would be to charge for the service they provide those that deposit the gold with them. How will those that have very little afford to pay for their banking then?

                    • Rusty Shackleford

                      “…the only way banks could make money would be to charge for the service .”
                      Yes. Exactly.

                      “How will those that have very little afford to pay for their banking then?”
                      Keep it in their pocket I suppose. How did people do it for most of history?
                      http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard202.html#chap01

                    • Colonial Viper

                      If we follow your logic then the only way banks could make money would be to charge for the service they provide those that deposit the gold with them.

                      They charge people who deposit cash with them today.

                      So what’s the difference.

                      Why should we allow banks to make money through the trading of highly leveraged derivatives which when it all goes wrong, become weapons of mass financial destruction?

                      Banking should be a terrifyingly boring, plodding industry, which makes its shareholders <5% return on capital employed, after all salaries and taxes are paid.

            • KJT 3.2.1.2.1.2

              Inflation can be good. It tends to offset some of the wealth being taken in debt repayment and the consequent, unsupported by underlying resources, growth in money supply.
              It tends to terrify the already wealthy as it diminishes their spending power at the same time as it gives more spending power to workers. (Provided wages are not artificially kept low as they are at present).

              At present though we have extremely high inflation in necessities, that poorer people have to buy, without corresponding increases in income. We have all the bad effects of inflation without the benefits.

              The gap between wage rises and inflation is the largest it has ever been. At the same time 14 billion a year is forever lost to us as it heads offshore.

              Headline inflation rates have been gerrymandered for years.

              For most of us, (Who do not buy a new car every year) , the only inflation that matters is the increases in our monthly food, rent/mortgage, power and petrol.

    • mik e 3.3

      Gooseman Gooseman just like Muldoom National borrow and hope

  4. JS 4

    There are some areas that could provide sustainable growth and create employment, such as in education (better provision in developing countries, and smaller classes etc in developed ones), IT, development of clean renewable energy, and investment in growing food crops in backyards and communal gardens and the breaking up of those huge Monsanto type estates into sustainable units. Growth in mechanisms aimed at redistribution of resources locally and globally would be positive, and this often means more employment for people in civil society organisations. Generally intellectual and social capital can grow without negative consequences on a planet of limited resources.

    • Gosman 4.1

      A lot of your potential for growth relies on rolling back the Green revolution that occured in the world since the 1950’s and even that of the Agricultural revolution of the late 18th Century.

      If you want to see the benefit of large scale commerical agriculture you just need to look at how Brazil has transformed itself from Net food importer to one of the biggest Food exporters in the past 20 to 30 years. And no it doesn’t include chopping down the Amazon.

      • Colonial Viper 4.1.1

        And no it doesn’t include chopping down the Amazon.

        yes it has, several million hectares over the last 20 years.

        A lot of your potential for growth relies on rolling back the Green revolution that occured in the world since the 1950′s

        Yours is a delusional rewriting of history. Our world population of 7B was not the result of any “Green Revolution” its the result of massive resource exploitation overshoot.

      • KJT 4.1.2

        Yes it has.

        Ask one of the displaced Amazonian tribes what they think.

    • KJT 4.2

      Just two examples, but there are many.

      Supplying solar stoves to sunny climates.
      Economic growth. Supplying a new product.
      Net positive effect on the environment. Slowing deforestation and Green house emissions.

      Passive solar design including re-fitting existing houses.
      Also economic growth in building with a net long term positive effect.

      AFKTT is wrong that some of the solutions will not come from technology.

      • Gosman 4.2.1

        Did you take into account whether or not the solar powered stoves have to be imported into these hot climes, how long they last, and whether they are easily fixed or replaced?

        It might be more economically viable to simply invest in tree planting schemes in poorer countries.

        • KJT 4.2.1.1

          It may be.

          Though at the end of the day. If we want humanity to survive more than the next 50 years. Economically viable has to reflect environmentally viable sustainable use of resources.

          It will not happen under an economic system that only works with infinite growth.

          Where do you think the resources are going to come from to support infinitely compounding interest. It either has to be offset by inflation, debt jubilee or collapse.

          As for inflation. Food inflation in New Zealand has been more than 20% this year. After nil wage increases for most. Our economy is collapsing because most New Zealanders have no money left after food, transport and housing.

          Don’t you see how ridiculous it is. Our present system has people struggling to buy food, in a country that can sustainably feed many times its present population.

          Note milk is now going up because overseas returns have fallen. previously it was going up because overseas commodity prices have been high. ???

          • Colonial Viper 4.2.1.1.1

            Although I met someone today whose entire family went to the rugby world cup final. Sounds like they had a great party afterwards too.

            No collapse at that end of society.

          • Gosman 4.2.1.1.2

            I reject your view that the economy is collapsing. It is a ridiculous statement as far as I am concerned. I suggest it is one that is unsupported by any half decent economist.

  5. Afewknowthetruth 6

    Most people who comment here seem not to understand that in the present system MONEY IS DEBT.

    Practically all money in western societies is loaned into existence. Since the interest charged on loans is not created at the same time as the loans, the interest is robbed from money already in the system via so-called inflation. In other words the value of the coins, notes and digits that most sheeple have (of think they have) goes down on continuous basis.

    The other importnat fact that most people still have not worked out is that the entire system is underpinned by resources, especially oil and coal, but also soil, phosphate rock, water suitable for irrigation, trees, fish etc.

    Practically every one of those is at or past peak. That means the system has only one way to go.

    By the way, the ‘Green Revolution’ would be more properly called the Black Revolution, since it was as much founded on the use of oil as founded on plant breeding to boost agricultural production.

    Like the monkey with his hand in the bottle-trap holding the food, humanity is in a trap of its own making from whch there is no escape except by letting go.

    The ‘wise ape’ is not wise enough to let go.

    Most people, especially those in the western world, are going to learn the hard way.

    http://www.publishme.co.nz/shop/theeasyway-p-684.html

    • Gosman 6.1

      How ridiculous. Your calling the Green revolution the Black Revolution could equally apply to the Information revolution or even the Arab spring because the technical inovations behind them wouldn’t be possible without Oil. While you’re at it you might as well rename other historical periods of recent time such as the Space race to something involving oil as they too would not have been possible without it.

    • TightyRighty 6.2

      you are the most arrogant piece of work I’ve ever had the misfortune of coming across on the web. Disagreement with your view on the world economy is not ignorance. you are factually incorrect at least 75% of the time, the other 25% is false, as while you may be logically correct, the logic flows from your incorrect facts. The problem is your posts are all so TL;DR that rebutting them in full would take me away from earning more money, which isn’t going to grow the company very fast now is it?

  6. johnm 7

    The current BAU continues to make the planet potentially uninhabitable plus we are incapable of controlling population increase totally dependent on a fossil fuel regime now in decline. That is a real death trap for billions.

    Durban May Be Last Chance to Stabilize Climate Under Two Degrees

    “They also found that by the time a child born today reaches 50 years old, it will be at least two degrees warmer everywhere except the oceans.

    Although two degrees C seems like a small amount, it is akin to a person running a high fever, with all kinds of consequences for the human body. On planet Earth, that amount of warming has serious consequences for food, water and biodiversity. It will guarantee more and stronger extreme weather events, including droughts and flooding.

    Two degrees C puts humanity on a new hotter, stormier planet that is less compatible with human survival.

    Without putting the brakes on carbon emissions very soon, large parts of Africa, most of Russia and northern China will be two degrees C warmer in less than 10 years. Canada and Alaska will soon follow, the regional study shows.

    Although two degrees C seems like a small amount, it is akin to a person running a high fever, with all kinds of consequences for the human body. On planet Earth, that amount of warming has serious consequences for food, water and biodiversity. It will guarantee more and stronger extreme weather events, including droughts and flooding.”

    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/10/24-8
    The extra 2 degrees is an average increase the increase may vary in range in places up to 3 or 4 degrees.

  7. johnm 8

    Paul Ehrlich, a prophet of global population doom is now gloomier than ever:

    Population surge means there is only a 10% chance of avoiding a collapse of world civilisation, says the professor
    “Among the knowledgeable people there is no more conversation about whether the danger is real,” Ehrlich told the Guardian. “Civilisations have collapsed before: the question is whether we can avoid the first time [an] entire global civilisation” collapses.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/23/paul-ehrlich-global-collapse-warning

    Lovelock likens our situation to Napoleon at Moscow: Totally committed and overextended with diminishing supplies and supply lines in an increasingly hostile environment (Winter and scorched earth). His only hope as with us to quickly beat a strategic retreat (AFKTT, Powerdown and Permaculture) which if left too late would become a disastrous retreat. Another illustration of human hubris and vainglory bringing dire results.

    Ehrlich won’t be getting invites to any parties! I suppose the human selfish attitude is so long as me and mine are ok the doom and gloom can take care of itself!

  8. Rusty Shackleford 9

    erm, who exactly has implemented austerity measures ie. cutting govt spending? The US certainly hasn’t, and they are talking about raising current (unprecedented) spending 30% in the next decade or so. Wasn’t the NZ treasury borrowing a hundred mil a week, or some such, at one point? Doesn’t sound like austerity to me.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      Greek civil servants have lost 30% of their pay
      Hundreds of NZ public servants fired or had their conditions downgraded
      US municipalities turning off street lighting and indefinitely delaying road and sidewalk repair.
      Millions foreclosed on and now renting or homeless.

      Bankers awarding themselves billions in bonuses this quarter.

      Wake up and smell the coffee.

      • Rusty Shackleford 9.1.1

        Erm, so they are moving resources from one area to another. Who exactly, is cutting total spending? If the local municipalities can’t even keep the lights on (one of the supposed ‘public goods’) what are they there for?

      • Gosman 9.1.2

        What you fail to appreciate is that the Greek austerity meassures are not just cutting expenditure but also raising of taxes. Other than your rather hair brained scheme of printing money there is simply no alternative to this as noone would lend to the Greeks unless they undertake to get their left wing economy sorted out along more market based lines.

        • mik e 9.1.2.1

          Gooseman the so cold hair brained scheme has some very positive outcomes people who have studied more than National party brochures would Know. ie Ben Bernanke who is considered the worlds foremost expert on the depression 1929 to 38 has a PHd in economics from Harvard
          Knows way more than a political hack like yourself .Why the US EU and the UK are printing money is to bring the value of their currencies down as well as lift bank liquidity. This printed money they are using has to be paid back to the respective governments .In the 1930s in NZ we used printed money to help the average joe on the street thats why it was more effective in our economy we also nationalized our banks the US let their banks go under and are now lending them money and not nationalizing [better option research has shown sell off when they are back on their feet] . This is not as effective in freeing up liquidity, thats why the US took longer to come out of the depression and now the recession.

        • mik e 9.1.2.2

          Gooseman it has been right wing governments that have ruled Greece for the last 20 years its a left wing government that has to fix the borrow and hope mess that right wingers have created

        • Huginn 9.1.2.3

          It’s a little bit more complicated than that, Gosman

          . . . [the] euro crisis is a direct consequence of the crash of 2008. When Lehman Brothers failed, the entire financial system started to collapse and had to be put on artificial life support. This took the form of substituting the sovereign credit of governments for the bank and other credit that had collapsed. At a memorable meeting of European finance ministers in November 2008, they guaranteed that no other financial institutions that are important to the workings of the financial system would be allowed to fail, and their example was followed by the United States.

          Angela Merkel then declared that the guarantee should be exercised by each European state individually, not by the European Union or the eurozone acting as a whole. This sowed the seeds of the euro crisis because it revealed and activated a hidden weakness in the construction of the euro: the lack of a common treasury. The crisis itself erupted more than a year later, in 2010.

          from
          Does the Euro Have a Future?
          George Soros
          http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/oct/13/does-euro-have-future/

  9. Afewknowthetruth 10

    At least johnm understands, even if nobody else does.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/little-time-left-to-halt-warming-2375107.html

    The 2oC rise in average temperature by around 2040 mentioned in the article would render most of the Earth uninhabitable for humans within the lifespan of babies born this week. The effect on food production is indeterminable at this point of time but there are plenty of observations that rising temperature reduce crop yields: just look at Texas over the past year or Thailand now. In combination with falling oil extraction and depletion of aquifers and galciers the prognosis with respect to the industrialised food system is pretty grim.

    The vast majority of NZers are not the least bit troubled by those piece of information. As long as they can wave black flags and drink beer they appear to be quite happy to destrory their own children’s/ grandchildren’s futures (along with most other consumers in developed nations)..

    In view of the fact that ignorance and apathy continue to reign supreme we will presumably continue to have lots of items on The Standard promoting destruction of the future via ‘economic growth’ which is predicated on the conversion of fossil fuels into CO2, even if economic growth is mathematically impossible due to Peak Oil (a falling energy supply).

    Just to be clear on the point, even falling economic activity will render the Earth largely unihabitable is a few decades, since even falling economic activity still equates to tens of billions of tonnes of CO2 added to the atmosphere and oceans every year until civilisation collapses.

    I guess I will be accused of being ‘too gloomy’ for speaking the truth and promoting solutions to the predicament (powerdown and permaculture) that people do not want to adopt.

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