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Archive for July 2011

A Phony EU Crisis

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from The Daily Bell
Posted July 22, 2011

Europe’s leaders have grasped the nettle. Faced with a spiraling bond crisis in Italy and Spain and the greatest threat to the EU project for 50 years, they have ripped up their bail-out strategy and taken a large stride towards a “liability union.” – UK Telegraph

Dominant Social Theme:
Oh, it is the end of the world. The EU is dead. Oh, it is not the end. Long live the EU and the great men and women who saved it … History is being made … etc. … etc. …

Free-Market Analysis:
We have watched the unraveling of Europe for over a year now and can say with some shock and dismay, as the final act grows near, that what we have been treated to is probably nothing more than an elaborately scripted farce. Or call it a dominant social theme (the EU is in trouble and needs rescue by the great statesmen of Brussels).

Now a deal has been struck to “save” Greece (though it is the banks that are being saved yet again, not Greece). The Germans won’t like it as Merkel seems now to have committed them to guarantee, at least informally, hundreds of billions of euros in PIGS assets. But apparently whether the “little people” like something or not doesn’t matter now in this “new” world.

The only danger is over-reach. The crisis, long expected, may still spin out of control or prove insoluble. But there is no doubt the Eurocrats expected this crisis and planned for it. The idea was to use its chaos to create a closer European federation and that is just what they’re trying to do. Out of chaos, order …

The elites that stand behind the EU are trying to build a one-world order, and they will stop at nothing to get it. The same thing is going on in the US with the debt crisis. An orchestrated agenda. The Americans will eventually get European-style austerity. They simply don’t understand the ramifications yet.

These economic crises cannot be pure happenstance. We’ve suggested they can spin out of control, and perhaps they will; but they are all manmade events, the direct outcome of economic constructs and policies of enormous wealth and control. Somebody set up the 100 central banks around the world that report directly to the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland. These are quasi-private entities, many of them. Are we supposed to believe that no one takes a profit on them? That there is no way they compensate their creators?

The money and power is unimaginable. The BIS controls the central banks that in turn control the big banks around the world. The stock exchanges with their endless mergers are controlled as well; and the bond markets, it seems. If the elites control the banking industry – and they do – then they must also control currency markets – at least to some extent. And we are supposed to believe that Greece, little Greece, caused such havoc with this financial system that Merkel and Sarkozy had to meet to save it in the nick of time?

Increasingly, we don’t believe it. The entire amount of the Greek default is in the low hundreds of billions. That’s pocket change for these trillionaire, globalist banking families and their corporate, religious and military enablers. It’s walking-around money. They can spend more than that in a day, an hour even.

The whole thing is a set up. It must be. A shadow play. A crisis created to build further global governance. The only question is whether they can control the resultant fallout in the long term, for the damage far exceeds Greece now.

The Internet has certainly made that more questionable, for it has informed Europeans of what’s really going on and helped organize them. Still, the EU grinds on. Dominant social themes of the elite are rarely if ever cancelled. They tend to continue until they meet immovable resistance, either from the marketplace or people.

Constitutions mean nothing. Promises are made to be broken. Treaties are talk for children, merely incremental markers trailing in the wake of global governance. By their actions ye shall know them. As with sharks, their momentum must be never stilled. Here’s more from the Telegraph article:

The three rescued countries of Greece, Ireland and Portugal have in turn been offered a lifeline out of crippling debt-deflation. The tetchy negotiations dragged on for hours, with an irascible Finland at one point demanding that Greece offer the Parthenon, the Acropolis and its islands as collateral for the second €110bn (£97bn) rescue package. France and its allies abandoned their long struggle to prevent a Greek default, opening the way for the first sovereign insolvency in Western Europe since the Second World War. Objections from the European Central Bank were swept aside. Germany has obtained its fig leaf concession: burden-sharing for bankers.

As a quid pro quo, Germany has dropped its vehement opposition to debt sharing and crossed the line in the sand towards fiscal federalism. It has agreed to turn the eurozone’s €440bn bail-out fund (EFSF) into what amounts to a European Monetary Fund, and arguably into an EU Treasury in embryo … Global markets surged as the details of the EU statement leaked. Credit default swaps measuring bond risk on Ireland and Portugal saw the biggest one-day fall on record. Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said politicians and markets had finally “come together” for the first time since the crisis began.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said the goal was to “go to the root of the problems”, but she may not find it easy to secure political assent for such sweeping concessions from her own parliament. The accord is a spectacular volte-face. Her mantra until now has always been that “collectivisation of risks” would be a grave error … EU officials hope that a debt rollover plan for Greece can be limited to a short technical default. The ECB has backed down on its threat to reject Greek bonds as collateral. The formula will not be extended to Portugal and Ireland. It is understood that rating agencies will hold fire for the sake of global stability.

How neat is this? Like watching a play where all the problems are resolved in the third act. We even learn that the markets rallied in relief (at least to begin with) after the deal was announced! Yes, the EU has moved one step further (a big one) toward federal consolidation. The question is only whether the Germans, in aggregate, will resist, and what will be the results if they do. The Zero Hedge website claims today that this new deal places Germany in the position of underwriting the whole of the failing PIGS universe. The Germans may wake up in open revolt.

It doesn’t seem bothersome, anymore, than Greek unrest. The shadow play continues. The ECB was immoveable in its rigor up until the last minute. But somehow the ECB backed down. The rating agencies that were so horrible have suddenly retreated. Everyone has “compromised.” Problems have magically evaporated. Frau Merkel had threatened not to attend the meeting, but somehow in a single evening she was able to come to yet another “historic” breakthrough with Nicolas Sarkozy.

Perhaps the Eurocrats are merely desperate. Or perhaps they are following a script. We’ve seen it before. US Congressional Democrats sacrificed their careers to pass the leveling health care Act. Now Merkel is sacrificing her career to prop up the EU. Maybe she has been promised something.

Will the Germans riot in the streets? There is already a German Tea Party movement. How about Greece and Spain? Summer is not over yet. And yet … perhaps not. Perhaps, somehow, the elites can impose a federation on nation-states that have been independent for 2,000 years or longer. We don’t see how, (the EU with its debts seems unworkable) but one thing we’re convinced of now is that the elites are arrogant enough to try. The whole mechanism reeks of arrogance.

There is no end to their mischief and scheming. We’ve been privileged to watch how history operates for the past several years and we’ve paid close attention. We’ve come to the conclusion, as Henry Ford once said, that history is bunk. It’s directed. This EU “grand compromise” has been in the works for months, for years – perhaps for decades.

What a farce! It began with the mysterious leaked argument between Sarkozy and Merkel – like the first shot of a war. The EU then was said to be on the edge of a breakup. Sarkozy had threatened to withdraw France. The union teetered – and the crisis was on! And on … and on … and on …

Endless meetings, constant market movements, the mainstream media bewailing every moment. The EU is on the brink. The euro is on the brink. The Greeks are rioting (that was real); the Spanish are protesting (that was real, too). But it was just an act. It’s all too neat, too well orchestrated.

And now we are starting to see the liniments of what is REALLY planned. “The communiqué called for a “Marshall Plan” to bring the Greek economy back to life. “To be credible, the EFSF needs to be proportional to the scale of contagion: we think €2 trillion is needed,” one top Eurocrat is quoted as saying.

The “transfer” that the Germans were assured would never happen is now starting to take place. Others will pay, too. But in Germany there is the constitutional question, as well. We are told German judges are to evaluate the legality. Yet what judge on earth would pull down the union at this point? If the German people want to stop what’s going on, they will have to do so themselves, non-violently if possible in the streets. Of course that hasn’t yet helped the Greeks.

Step by step, promotions are implemented and international structures are built. The politicians and generals in the modern era are literally actors on the stage. Some stand athwart history and others position themselves “progressively.” Miraculously, accommodations are reached in the nick of the time. Alternatively, war is declared. The narrative is provided. History is “written.”

Even in war, the elites apparently control both sides of the conflict. The goals are achieved via the Hegelian Dialectic that allows the powers-that-be to push the larger social conversation in whatever direction they choose. Of course, that’s always towards a greater global union these days.

Conclusion:
Thank goodness the extraordinary Brussels bureaucrats have once more performed a miracle, salvaging the EU yet again, at least for now. Was there ever any doubt?

Ron Paul appeals to America: “Default now, or suffer a more expensive crisis later”

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by Ron Paul, op-ed first posted in Bloomberg
Posted July 22, 2011

Default now, or suffer a more expensive crisis later

DEBATE OVER THE DEBT CEILING HAS REACHED A FEVER PITCH in recent weeks, with each side trying to outdo the other in a game of political chicken. If you believe some of the things that are being written, the world will come to an end if the U.S. defaults on even the tiniest portion of its debt.

In strict terms, the default being discussed will occur if the U.S. fails to meet its debt obligations, through failure to pay either interest or principal due a bondholder. Proponents of raising the debt ceiling claim that a default on Aug. 2 is unprecedented and will result in calamity (never mind that this is simply an arbitrary date, easily changed, marking a congressional recess). My expectations of such a scenario are more sanguine.

The U.S. government defaulted at least three times on its obligations during the 20th century:

• In 1934, the government banned ownership of gold and eliminated the right to exchange gold certificates for gold coins. It then immediately revalued gold from $20.67 per troy ounce to $35, thus devaluing the dollar holdings of all Americans by 40 percent.

• From 1934 to 1968, the federal government continued to issue and redeem silver certificates, notes that circulated as legal tender that could be redeemed for silver coins or silver bars. In 1968, Congress unilaterally reneged on this obligation, too.

• From 1934 to 1971, foreign governments were permitted by the U.S. government to exchange their dollars for gold through the gold window. In 1971, President Richard Nixon severed this final link between the dollar and gold by closing the gold window, thus in effect defaulting once again on a debt obligation of the U.S. government.

Unlimited spending

No longer constrained by any sort of commodity backing, the federal government was now free to engage in almost unlimited fiscal profligacy, the only check on its spending being the market’s appetite for Treasury debt. Despite the defaults in 1934, 1968 and 1971, world markets have been only too willing to purchase Treasury debt and thereby fund the government’s deficit spending. If these major defaults didn’t result in decreased investor appetite for U.S. obligations, I see no reason why defaulting on a small amount of debt this August would cause any major changes.

The national debt now stands at just over $14 trillion, while net total liabilities are estimated at over $200 trillion. The government is insolvent, as there is no way that this massive sum of liabilities can ever be paid off. Successive Congresses and administrations have shown absolutely no restraint when it comes to the budget process, and the idea that either of the two parties is serious about getting our fiscal house in order is laughable.

Boom and bust

The Austrian School’s theory of the business cycle describes how loose central bank monetary policy causes booms and busts: It drives down interest rates below the market rate, lowering the cost of borrowing; encourages malinvestment; and causes economic miscalculation as resources are diverted from the highest value use as reflected in true consumer preferences. Loose monetary policy caused the dot-com bubble and the housing bubble, and now is causing the government debt bubble.

For far too long, the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy and quantitative easing have kept interest rates artificially low, enabling the government to drastically increase its spending by funding its profligacy through new debt whose service costs were lower than they otherwise would have been.

Neither Republicans nor Democrats sought to end this gravy train, with one party prioritizing war spending and the other prioritizing welfare spending, and with both supporting both types of spending. But now, with the end of the second round of quantitative easing, the federal funds rate at the zero bound, and the debt limit maxed out, Congress finds itself in a real quandary.

Hard decisions

It isn’t too late to return to fiscal sanity. We could start by canceling out the debt held by the Federal Reserve, which would clear $1.6 trillion under the debt ceiling. Or we could cut trillions of dollars in spending by bringing our troops home from overseas, making gradual reforms to Social Security and Medicare, and bringing the federal government back within the limits envisioned by the Constitution. Yet no one is willing to step up to the plate and make the hard decisions that are necessary. Everyone wants to kick the can down the road and believe that deficit spending can continue unabated.

Unless major changes are made today, the U.S. will default on its debt sooner or later, and it is certainly preferable that it be sooner rather than later.

If the government defaults on its debt now, the consequences undoubtedly will be painful in the short term. The loss of its AAA rating will raise the cost of issuing new debt, but this is not altogether a bad thing. Higher borrowing costs will ensure that the government cannot continue the same old spending policies. Budgets will have to be brought into balance (as the cost of servicing debt will be so expensive as to preclude future debt financing of government operations), so hopefully, in the long term, the government will return to sound financial footing.

Raising the ceiling

The alternative to defaulting now is to keep increasing the debt ceiling, keep spending like a drunken sailor, and hope that the default comes after we die. A future default won’t take the form of a missed payment, but rather will come through hyperinflation. The already incestuous relationship between the Federal Reserve and the Treasury will grow even closer as the Fed begins to purchase debt directly from the Treasury and monetizes debt on a scale that makes QE2 look like a drop in the bucket. Imagine the societal breakdown of Weimar Germany, but in a country five times as large. That is what we face if we do not come to terms with our debt problem immediately.

Default will be painful, but it is all but inevitable for a country as heavily indebted as the U.S. Just as pumping money into the system to combat a recession only ensures an unsustainable economic boom and a future recession worse than the first, so too does continuously raising the debt ceiling only forestall the day of reckoning and ensure that, when it comes, it will be cataclysmic.

We have a choice: default now and take our medicine, or put it off as long as possible, when the effects will be much worse.

Too big to fail? Ten banks own 77% of all U.S. banking assets

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from The Economic Collapse
Posted July 18, 2011 

BACK DURING THE FINANCIAL CRISIS OF 2008, the American people were told that the largest banks in the United States were “too big to fail” and that was why it was necessary for the federal government to step in and bail them out. The idea was that if several of our biggest banks collapsed at the same time the financial system would not be strong enough to keep things going and economic activity all across America would simply come to a standstill. Congress was told that if the “too big to fail” banks did not receive bailouts that there would be chaos in the streets and this country would plunge into another Great Depression.  Since that time, however, essentially no efforts have been made to decentralize the U.S. banking system.

Instead, the “too big to fail” banks just keep getting larger and larger and larger. Back in 2002, the top 10 banks controlled 55 percent of all U.S. banking assets.  Today, the top 10 banks control 77 percent of all U.S. banking assets.  Unfortunately, these giant banks are also colossal mountains of risk, debt and leverage. They are incredibly unstable and they could start coming apart again at any time. None of the major problems that caused the crash of 2008 have been fixed. In fact, the U.S. banking system is more centralized and more vulnerable today than it ever has been before.

It really is difficult for ordinary Americans to get a handle on just how large these financial institutions are.  For example, the “big six” U.S. banks (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo) now possess assets equivalent to approximately 60 percent of America’s gross national product.

These huge banks are giant financial vacuum cleaners. Over the past couple of decades we have witnessed a financial consolidation in this country that is absolutely unprecedented. This trend accelerated during the recent financial crisis. While the big boys were receiving massive bailouts, the hundreds of small banks that were failing were either allowed to collapse or they were told that they should find a big bank that was willing to buy them.

As a group, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo held approximately 22 percent of all banking deposits in FDIC-insured institutions back in 2000. By the middle of 2009 that figure was up to 39 percent.

That is not just a trend – that is a landslide. Sadly, smaller banks continue to fail in large numbers and the big banks just keep growing and getting more power. Today, there are more than 1,000 U.S. banks that are on the “unofficial list” of problem banking institutions. In the absence of fundamental changes, the consolidation of the banking industry is going to continue.

Meanwhile, the “too big to fail” banks are flush with cash and they are getting serious about expanding. The Federal Reserve has been extremely good to the big boys and they are eager to grow. For example, Citigroup is becoming extremely aggressive about expanding and has been hiring dozens of investment bankers, dialing up advertising and drawing up plans to add several hundred branches worldwide, including more than 200 in major cities across the United States.

Hopefully the big banks will start lending again. The whole idea behind the bailouts and all of the “quantitative easing” that the Federal Reserve did was to get money into the hands of the big banks so that they would lend it out to ordinary Americans and get the economy rolling again. Well, a funny thing happened.  The big banks just sat on a lot of that money. In particular, what they did was they deposited much of it at the Fed and drew interest on it. Since 2008, excess reserves parked at the Fed have grown by nearly 1.7 trillion dollars.  Just check out the chart posted below….

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The Amazing Dissolving Nation

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by James Howard Kunstler
Posted July 18, 2011

GOING BROKE FAST IS A VERY COMPELLING PROBLEM. For ordinary people it tends to induce chicken-with-no-head syndrome – a mad burst of pointless locomotion ending in sudden collapse. If the US debt ceiling is raised – which I think is a 90 percent bet – there will be a sigh of relief that resounds from the lobster pounds of Penobscot Bay to the parking lots of Silicon Valley… and poor dissolving America will still be stuck in its essential predicament of being broke. So a lot of pointless locomotion will continue in the form of positioning among a troop of clown candidates for the dumbshow of the 2012 election. I wonder lately whether that election will actually happen.

Europe is arguably worse off money-wise, more broke, flimsier, crapped out, crippled, and paralyzed. Sad, because in outward appearance Europe  is – how shall I put this? – better turned out than America. Europe is a fit, silver-haired gentleman in a sleek Italian suit and a pair of Michael Toschi swing lace wingtips, holding a serious-looking Chiarugi leather briefcase. America is pear-shaped blob of semi-formed male flesh, in ankle-length cargo shorts, a black T-shirt featuring skull motifs, tattoos randomly assigned (as if by lottery) to visible flesh, a Sluggo buzz-cut, and a low-rider sports cap designed to make your head look flat. In other words, he lacks a certain savoir-faire compared to his European cousin.

But both are broke. Neither has any idea what he will do next – though, for the American, it will probably involve the ingestion of melted cheese or drugs (or both). When the European collapses, a certain air of delicacy will attend his demise; the expired American will go up in flames in a trailer and they’ll have to sort out his remains from the melted goop of his dwelling-place with a front-end loader.

This is the way the world ends for the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), the nations that affected to be developed and civilized. This phase of globalism is certainly not the end of history, but it is looking like the end of accounting tricks, and possibly democracy, which has discredited itself with accounting tricks. At a certain point in time, the sickening recognition sets in that appearances are not the same as reality – and then, all of a sudden, you’re in a political maelstrom.

Citizens of the various lands will discover that the money being argued over, shifted around from column A to column B, assigned to this or that actuarial table or budget line or account or obligation or vault or  “structured vehicle”- that money is just… not… there. There’s no money. It was pretend money. From now on, none of you will get paid. Imagine a world where nobody gets paid.

Europe has run the money string to its bitter end and now it just remains to be seen how each country blows up and where the dust settles. Greece and Portugal may just shrug and retire on an economy based on goat-cheese and olives. Ireland will get drunk and pass out for at least a century. Spain sinks back into an age-old catatonic daze, having gone broke spectacularly once before. Italy strings up Mr. Berlusconi on a lamp-post and breaks up into 112 warring city-states. France elects DSK, whose first act is to declare war on the City of New York. Religious wars leave England in embers. And Germany becomes the world’s first “green” police state.

It’s conceivable to me that Barack Obama may be the last president – for a while. He was a decent fellow but, in the end, ineffectual, and of course he got no help from the legislative branch, including especially colleagues in his own party, a most remarkable class of maundering chickenshits and grifters. Our money problems will not go away and after a while this land will not be governable by familiar means.

In case you haven’t noticed, the rule of law is already AWOL in many sectors of our national life, most particularly money matters, but before long on every street-corner, every highway strip, plus every GMO cornfield, and brownfield. The two parties are unreformable and the Tea Party is the stooge of one of the two parties, and there is no other party of earnest, decisive, and sane individuals anywhere near the horizon. So some kind of convulsion is in the cards and it will be the unfortunate duty of some dutiful officer to step in and set an agenda based on something other than bluster, fakery, and pocket pool.

While there’s a good chance the US debt ceiling will be extended, it seems to me that meanwhile we have crossed an invisible line into a place where untoward things happen.

You want to fix the U.S. economy? Here’s a start…

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by Charles Hugh Smith
Posted July 19, 2011
on Of Two Minds 

A SIMPLE 8-POINT PLAN WOULD RESTORE BOTH THE BANKING and the real estate sectors, and end the political dominance of the parasitic “too big to fail” banks. Craven politicos and clueless Federal Reserve economists are always bleating about how they want to fix the U.S. economy and restore “aggregate demand.” OK, here’s how to start:

1. Force all banks to mark all their assets to market at the end of each trading day, including all derivatives of all types, including over-the-counter instruments.

2. Allow citizens to discharge all mortgage and student loan debt in bankruptcy court, just like any other debt.

3. Banks must mark all their real estate to market weekly as defined by “last sales of nearby properties” adjusted for square footage and other quantifiable measures (i.e. like Zillow.com).

4. Require mortgage servicers and all owners of mortgage-backed securities to mark every asset within each pool to market weekly.

5. Any mortgage, loan or note which was fraudulently originated, packaged and sold, including the misrepresentation of risk, the manipulation of risk ratings, fraudulent documentation by any party, etc., will be discharged as uncollectable and the full value wiped off the books and title records without recourse by any of the parties.

If a bank fraudulently originated a mortgage and the buyer misrepresented material facts on the mortgage documents, then both parties lose all claim to the note and the underlying asset, the house, which reverts to the FDIC for liquidation, with the proceeds going towards creditors’ claims against the bank.

6. Any bank which misrepresents marked-to-market asset values will be fined $10 million per incident.

7. Any bank which is insolvent at the end of a trading day will be closed and taken over by the FDIC the following day, and liquidated in an orderly manner via open-market auctions of all assets, including REO (real estate owned).

8. All derivative positions held by the insolvent bank will be unwound immediately, and counterparties who fail to make good on their claims will also be closed, given to the FDIC and liquidated.

You know what this is, of course: a return to trustworthy, transparent accounting.
And you know what the consequences would be, too: all five “too big to fail” banks would instantly be declared insolvent, and most of the other top-25 big banks would also be closed and liquidated.

At least $3 trillion in impaired residential mortgage debt would be written off, maybe more, and $1 trillion in impaired commercial real estate would also be written down. Derivative losses are unknown, but let’s estimate it’s at least $1 trillion and maybe much more.

If $5.8 trillion of fantasy “value” is wiped off the nation’s books, that’s only a 10% reduction in net household and non-profit assets, which total $58 trillion. Even an $11 trillion hit would only knock off 20%. If that’s reality, if that’s what the assets are really worth in the real world, then let’s get it over with. Once we’ve restored truthful accounting and stopped living a grand series of debilitating lies, then the path will finally be clear for renewed growth.

The net result would be the destruction of the political power of the “too big to fail” banks, the clearing of the nation’s bloated, diseased real estate market, and the restoration of trust in institutions which have been completely discredited.

Bank credit would flow again, and we could insist on a healthy competitive system of 250 small banks instead of a corrupting system of 5 insolvent parasitic monsters and 20 other bloated but equally insolvent financial parasites.

Those who lied would finally get fried. At long last, those who misprepresented income, risk, etc. would actually pay some price for their malfeasance. Criminal proceedings would be a nice icing on the cake, but simply ending the pretence of solvency would go a long way to restoring banking and real estate and ending regulatory capture by TBTF banks.

What’s the downside to such a simple action plan? Oh boo-hoo, the craven politicos would lose their key campaign contributors. On the plus side, the politicos could finally wipe that brown stuff off their noses.

Debt Ceiling Drama

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by Dr. Ron Paul
Posted July 19, 2011

THE DEBT CEILING DEBATE IS PROVIDING PLENTY OF OPPORTUNITY for political theater in Washington. Proponents of raising the debt ceiling are throwing around the usual scare tactics and misinformation in order to intimidate opponents into accepting more debt and taxes. It is important to distinguish the truth from the propaganda.

First of all, politicians need to understand that without real change default is inevitable. In fact, default happens every day through monetary policy tricks. Every time the Federal Reserve engages in more quantitative easing and devalues the dollar, it is defaulting on the American people by eroding their purchasing power and inflating their savings away. The dollar has lost nearly 50% of its value against gold since 2008. The Fed claims inflation is 2% or less over the past few years; however economists who compile alternate data show a 9% inflation rate if calculated more traditionally. Alarmingly, the administration is talking about changing the methodology of the CPI calculation yet again to hide the damage of the government’s policies. Changing the CPI will also enable the government to avoid giving seniors a COLA (cost of living adjustment) on their social security checks, and raise taxes via the hidden means of “bracket creep.” This is a default. Just because it is a default on the people and not the banks and foreign holders of our debt does not mean it doesn’t count.

Politicians also need to acknowledge that our debt is unsustainable. For decades our government has been spending and promising far more than it collects in taxes. But the problem is not that the people are not taxed enough. The government has managed to run up $61.6 trillion in unfunded liabilities, which works out to $528,000 per household. A tax policy that would aim to extract even half that amount of money from American families would be unimaginably draconian, and not unlike attempting to squeeze blood from a turnip. This is, unequivocally, a spending problem brought about by a dramatically inflated view of the proper role of government in a free society.

Perhaps the most abhorrent bit of chicanery has been the threat that if a deal is not reached to increase the debt by August 2nd, social security checks may not go out. In reality, the Chief Actuary of Social Security confirmed last week that current Social Security tax receipts are more than enough to cover current outlays. The only reason those checks would not go out would be if the administration decided to spend those designated funds elsewhere. It is very telling that the administration would rather frighten seniors dependent on social security checks than alarm their big banking friends, who have already received $5.3 trillion in bailouts, stimulus and quantitative easing. This instance of trying to blackmail Congress into tax increases by threatening social security demonstrates how scary it is to be completely dependent on government promises and why many young people today would jump at the chance to opt out of Social Security altogether.

We are headed for rough economic times either way, but the longer we put it off, the greater the pain will be when the system implodes. We need to stop adding more programs and entitlements to the problem. We need to stop expensive bombing campaigns against people on the other side of the globe and bring our troops home. We need to stop allowing secretive banking cartels to endlessly enslave us through monetary policy trickery. And we need to drastically rethink government’s role in our lives so we can get it out of the way and get back to work.

As David Cameron resignation odds surge from 100/1 to 8/1 in hours, is UK default (and contagion) risk set to follow?

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by Tyler Durden
Posted Zero Hedge, July 18, 2011

WHAT STARTED OFF AS A SIMPLE, IF VERY MUCH ILLEGAL, INFORMATION GATHERING protocol (and yes, News of the World is most certainly not the only organization that hacked voice mails), and has since escalated to an epic shakedown of one of the world’s most legendary media companies in which Murdoch himself now appears on the verge of leaving the company, appears set to ultimately result in a historic parliamentary collapse, with the Prime Minister of the UK David Cameron seen as the ultimate fallguy.

As English booking agency reports, “David Cameron’s odds of leaving the Cabinet have been slashed by Ladbrokes. The bookies have taken a steady stream of bets on the PM leaving office with the odds dropping from 100/1 to 20/1 and now 8/1 in a matter of hours.” In other words anyone who bet that the shuttering of the NOTW was merely the first step in the News Corp. scandal and that it would reach as high as the pinnacle of UK leadership, has made a return well over 10 times in the past several days. And yet, as the Economist chimes in with a late night piece, the departure of Cameron at this point is far from certain. Which is arguably a far worse state of affairs: if there is anything the markets hate, it is uncertainty. If Cameron was sure to stay or go, it would have no impact on the UK’s economy and financial markets. As it stands, and with Murdochgate getting worse by the minute, we would not be surprised to see UK CDS follow the US and Germany to multi-year highs, as the UK now openly becomes yet another target for the bond vigilantes who relish precisely this kind of uncertain inbetweenness.

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