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Posts Tagged ‘European Union

It’s your choice, Europe: rebel against the banks or accept debt-serfdom

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by Charles Hugh Smith
from Of Two Minds
Posted December 4, 2011

THE EUROPEAN DEBT BUBBLE HAS BURST, AND THE REPRICING OF RISK AND DEBT CANNOT BE PUT BACK INTO THE BOTTLE. It’s really this simple, Europe: either rebel against the banks or accept decades of debt-serfdom. All the millions of words published about the European debt crisis can be distilled down a handful of simple dynamics. Once we understand those, then the choice between resistance and debt-serfdom is revealed as the only choice: the rest of the “options” are illusory.

The euro enabled a short-lived but extremely attractive fantasy: the more productive northern EU economies could mint profits in two ways: A) sell their goods and services to their less productive southern neighbors in quantity because these neighbors were now able to borrow vast sums of money at low (i.e. near-“German”) rates of interest, and B) loan these consumer nations these vast sums of money with stupendous leverage, i.e. 1 euro in capital supports 26 euros of lending/debt.

The less productive nations also had a very attractive fantasy: that their present level of productivity (that is, the output of goods and services created by their economies) could be leveraged up via low-interest debt to support a much higher level of consumption and malinvestment in things like villas and luxury autos.

According to Europe’s Currency Road to Nowhere (WSJ.com):

Northern Europe has fueled its growth through exports. It has run huge trade imbalances, the most extreme of which with these same Southern European countries now in peril. Productivity rose dramatically compared to the South, but the currency did not.

This explains at least part of the German export and manufacturing miracle of the last 12 years. In 1999, exports were 29% of German gross domestic product. By 2008, they were 47%—an increase vastly larger than in Italy, Spain and Greece, where the ratios increased modestly or even fell. Germany’s net export contribution to GDP (exports minus imports as a share of the economy) rose by nearly a factor of eight. Unlike almost every other high-income country, where manufacturing’s share of the economy fell significantly, in Germany it actually rose as the price of German goods grew more and more attractive compared to those of other countries. In a key sense, Germany’s currency has been to Southern Europe what China’s has been to the U.S.

Flush with profits from exports and loans, Germany and its mercantilist (exporting nations) also ramped up their own borrowing – why not, when growth was so strong?

But the whole set-up was a doomed financial fantasy. The euro seemed to be magic: it enabled importing nations to buy more and borrow more, while also enabling exporting nations to reap immense profits from rising exports and lending.

Put another way: risk and debt were both massively mispriced by the illusion that the endless growth of debt-based consumption could continue forever. The euro was in a sense a scam that served the interests of everyone involved: with risk considered near-zero, interest rates were near-zero, too, and more debt could be leveraged from a small base of productivity and capital.

But now reality has repriced risk and debt, and the clueless leadership of the EU is attempting to put the genie back in the bottle. Alas, the debt loads are too crushing, and the productivity too weak, to support the fantasy of zero risk and low rates of return.

The Credit Bubble Bulletin’s Doug Nolan summarized the reality succinctly: “The European debt Bubble has burst.” Nolan explains the basic mechanisms thusly: The Mythical “Great Moderation”:

For years, European debt was being mispriced in the (over-liquefied, over-leveraged and over-speculated global) marketplace. Countries such as Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy benefitted immeasurably from the market perception that European monetary integration ensured debt, economic and policymaking stability.

Similar to the U.S. mortgage/Wall Street finance Bubble, the marketplace was for years content to ignore Credit excesses and festering system fragilities, choosing instead to price debt obligations based on the expectation for zero defaults, abundant liquidity, readily available hedging instruments, and a policymaking regime that would ensure market stability.

Importantly, this backdrop created the perfect market environment for financial leveraging and rampant speculation in a global financial backdrop unsurpassed for its capacity for excess. The arbitrage of European bond yields was likely one of history’s most lucrative speculative endeavors. (link via U. Doran)

In simple terms, this is the stark reality: now that debt and risk have been repriced, Europe’s debts are completely, totally unpayable. There is no way to keep adding to the Matterhorn of debt at the old cheap rate of interest, and there is no way to roll over the trillions of euros in debt that are coming due at the old near-zero rates.

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The world is drowning in debt, and Europe laces on concrete boots

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by Charles Hugh Smith
from Of Two Minds
Posted November 14, 2011 

Three metaphors describe Europe: drowning in debt, circular firing squad and trying to fool the money gods with an inept game of 3-card monte.

The world’s major economies are drowning in debt – Europe, the U.S., Japan, China. We all know the U.S. has tried to save its drowning economy by bailing out the parasite which is dragging it to Davy Jones Locker–the banking/financial sector– and by borrowing and squandering $6 trillion in new Federal debt and buying toxic debt with $2 trillion whisked into existence on the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet.

It has failed, of course, and the economy is once again slipping beneath the waves while Ben Bernanke and the politico lackeys join in a Keynesian-monetary cargo-cult chant: Humba-humba, bunga-bunga. Their hubris doesn’t allow them to confess their magic has failed, and rather than let their power be wrenched away, they will let the flailing U.S. economy drown.

Europe has managed to top this hubris-drenched cargo-cult policy – no mean feat. First, it has indebted itself to a breathtaking degree, on every level: sovereign, corporate and private:

Germany, the mighty engine which is supposed to pull the $16 trillion drowning European economy out of the water, is as indebted as the flailing U.S. Second, the euro’s handlers have already sunk staggering sums into hopelessly insolvent debtor nations, for example, Greece, which has 355 billion euros of outstanding sovereign debt and an economy with a GDP around 200 billion euros (though it’s contracting so rapidly nobody can even guess the actual size). According to BusinessWeek, the E.U. (European Union), the ECB (European Central Bank) and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) own about $127 billion of this debt.

Since the ECB is not allowed to “print money,” the amount of cash available to buy depreciating bonds is limited. The handlers now own over 35% of the official debt (recall that doesn’t include corporate or private debt), which they grandly refuse to accept is now worth less than the purchase price. (The market price of Greek bonds has cratered by 42% just since July. Isn’t hubris a wonderful foundation for policy?)

In other words, they have not just put on concrete boots, they’ve laced them up and tied a big knot. We cannot possibly drown, they proclaim; we are too big, too heavy, too powerful. We refuse to accept that all these trillions of euros in debt are now worth a pittance of their face value.

When you’re drowning in debt, the only solution is to write off the debt and drain the pool. The problem is, of course, that all this impaired debt is somebody else’s asset, and that somebody is either rich and powerful or politically powerful, for example, a union pension fund.

Third, the euro’s handlers have set up a circular firing squad. Since the entire banking sector is insolvent, the handlers are demanding that banks raise capital. Since only the ECB is insane enough to put good money after bad, the banks cannot raise capital on the private market, so their only way to raise cash is to sell assets–such as rapidly depreciating sovereign-debt bonds.

This pushes the price of those bonds even lower, as supply (sellers) completely overwhelm demand from buyers (the unflinching ECB and its proxies).

This decline in bond prices further lowers the value of the banks’ assets, which means they need to raise more capital, which means they have to sell even more bonds.

Voila, a circular firing squad, where the “bulletproof” ECB is left as the only buyer who will hold depreciating bonds longer than a few hours, and all the participants gain by selling bonds before they fall any further. This is the classic positive feedback loop, where selling lowers the value of remaining assets and that drives further selling.

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Our fragile “hothouse” economy

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by Charles Hugh Smith
from Of Two Minds
Posted November 03, 2011

Financialization has led to a “hothouse” global economy where the slightest disruption in central bank/Central State intervention will cause the sickly flowers to wilt and expire.

Of the three great financial truths that have been left unspoken for the past four years out of sheer dread, lest their mere mention collapse our economy, let’s start with the most obvious:

The first great financial truth: If the Federal Reserve and Federal government ever crimped the dripline of “easing” and bailouts, America’s financial sector would promptly roll over and expire.

Does this strike you as a robust, flexible, transparent system? Of course not. Rather, it is a “hothouse” financial sector, one that needs constant injections and a carefully controlled environment just to keep it alive.

And since the U.S. economy has been fully financialized, it is now dependent on financial machinations and skimming for its “growth,” profits and the debt expansion that fuels everything else, including the metastasizing Savior State, a gargantuan aggregation of an unaccountable National Security State with crony-capitalist cartels and a dependency-inducing Welfare State.

Without the debt conjured into existence by the Fed, Treasury and the financial sector, even the mighty multi-tenacled Savior State would quickly starve.

As a result of our dependence on financialization and exponential debt, our entire economy has become a weak, sickly “hothouse” economy which can only survive in a narrow band of temperature, debt injections and opaque manipulations of data and what’s left of the nation’s shriveled markets.

Once exposed to Nature, i.e. “wild” transparent markets that are allowed to discover the price of all assets naturally, then both the nation’s financial sector and its economy would implode.

The second great financial truth is that the financial sector has long been detached from the real economy. The real economy is for chumps; the “no-risk” skimming of monetary legerdemaine is the raison d’etre of the entire financial sector, a point brilliantly made in this “must read” essay posted on Zero Hedge: MF Global Shines A Light On Monetarism’s Incapacity To Enhance The Real Economy. Granted, some of the financialization schemes described are not that easy to grasp, but here’s the primary point:

That is why this system has to change at some point. It is exactly designed to be misleading, and the reason is so very simple. In any fractional system there will be a desire to amplify that fraction to the maximum degree. But in doing so, participants recognize that the process of maximization entails creating negative human emotions and perceptions since history is not really that kind to this manner of fractionalization. So the system has institutionalized, abetted by the very regulators that are supposed to cap fractions and leverage, these methodologies of hiding just how much financial entities have engaged in maximizing themselves under the cover of mathematical precision.

The Panic of 2008 was supposed to correct these excesses and remedy the fact that risks have not been accurately priced for decades. Yet the system has resisted every effort, simply settling for redefining the appearance of safety yet again. Somewhere in that mathematical pursuit of maximum fractions, the very goal of finance changed, as if traditional banking was no longer sufficient to support the pursuit’s ever-growing ambitions. So the financial economy has broken away from the real economy, using the ironic cover story of enhancing price discovery to the process of intermediation.

The fact that money is disconnected from the real economy never enters the consciousness of monetarists since money is always the answer. But make no mistake, the primary reasons for this global malaise are that money has lost its productive capacity and its proper place as a tool within the system.

The third great unspoken truth is that the conventional Status Quo – the financial punditry, the Cargo Cult of Keynesianism, the incestuous academic community, the PhDs in the Fed and Treasury, the politico lackeys, the self-serving think-tanks of both empty ideologies (“which is better, Bud or Bud Light?”), not to mention the lobbyists, revolving door toadies and all the other hangers-on in New York and Washington – have no Plan B and certainly no Plan C. In other words, they are utterly clueless about what to do when their abject and total failure becomes unavoidably obvious.

It is of course a crisis of self-service; nobody dares put their own status, wealth, power and perks at risk by thinking independently, much less speaking All That Cannot Be Spoken Lest This Sucker Implode.

But it is also a monumental lack of imagination; the lackeys and toadies cannot imagine any other Beast other than the one whose teat they have sucked all their lives. They live in mortal fear not of being ignorant or lacking in imagination – those deficiencies are too obvious to contest – but of the truth of the system’s increasing weakness and vulnerability being openly revealed.

America’s (and the world’s) financial sector is a fragile, sickly hybrid which will shrivel and expire the moment it is placed in the real, dynamic world. And because the global economy has become dependent on the slouching beast of financialization, it too is fragile and sickly, sensitive to the slightest perturbations and exquisitely vulnerable to any disruption of the constant life support offered by central banks and Central States.

It is neither capitalism nor socialism, but a twisted hybrid of the worst traits of each.

I happened to catch a brief interview on DW TV (German TV, with English announcers and subtitles) of one of the few ECB (European Central Bank) officials with the integrity to resign in protest at the ECB’s blatant interventions in the bond market (buying Italian bonds to prop up a market that would implode the second ECB support vanished) and the central bank’s slippage toward money-printing as the answer to every problem.

This gentleman said that the ECB had to monitor the global economy 24 hours a day lest some tiny policy mistake bring the entire shaky edifice down.

Does that strike you as a description of a robust, adaptable, capitalist system based on transparancy and price discovery of assets? Of course not; it describes a hothouse economy, always on the ragged edge of collapse if its central bank and Central State minders make the tiniest error in its care.

For four precious years we have been force-fed nothing but lies, obfuscation, misdirection, fear-mongering, spin, sins of omission, misinformation, propaganda, false rumors and false hopes. The hothouse is slowly falling apart, and the sickly global financial sector is wilting. The financial media is heralding every “save” and every “rescue” with ever-shriller enthusiasm, lest a contagion of truth spread through the hothouse like a chill wind.

But we can be sure of one thing: those who know better have already sold, and it is now the job of the politico lackeys and the toadies of the Mainstream Media to convince the bagholders to hold on and not sell, because “everything’s been rescued.” Distilled to its essence, that is their one and only job: to convince you not to sell. That keeps the bid up for their Masters to sell into.

If history is any guide, the final collapse will be triggered by an apparently “controllable” event, something like the bankruptcy of MF Global. All eyes are on Greece’s referendum, apparently scheduled for December 4 or 5; but regardless of the vote, does a “yes” or “no” change that nation’s fundamental insolvency? No, it doesn’t.

Does the passage of some toothless law in Italy magically render that nation solvent? No, no, a thousand times no; none of these public-relations tricks can change the fact that all these nations are insolvent, the banks are insolvent, and even France and Germany are staggering under unprecedented burdens of debt.

The smart money sold in May, 2010, and the disbelievers among the Power Elite sold in May 2011, or perhaps August. Now those below the smart money (but still above the dumb money) are sniffing the fetid hothouse air, where the rank, sweaty desperation of the minders is now ever-present.

So the apparatchiks and foot soldiers have been ordered to keep the dumb money from selling, until their “betters” can sell into a rumor-juiced bid. This explains the sudden jump in the S&P 500 on every rumor of rescue, as if an over-indebted and leveraged-26-to-1 financial system can be rescued with “belt-tightening” and ECB intervention with taxpayer money.

The entire euro “project” was a scam that enabled a vast new scale of financialization. Now that the “project” is falling apart, the bagholders who bought into the shuck-and-jive are nervous and fearful; has it all really been “saved”?

No, it hasn’t; it cannot be saved. The only “solution” available is to sell: sell now, while there is still a bid. Sell fast, sell hard, sell everything denominated in euros. That is precisely what the Status Quo fears the most: an awakening continent of bagholders and debt-serfs.

Anyone thinking the euro (and eurozone) can’t possibly go down until after the Greek referendum may well find their confidence in the Status Quo’s “rescue” has been sorely misplaced.

500 Million Debt-Serfs: The European Union Is a Neo-Feudal Kleptocracy (July 22, 2011)
The Dynamics of Doom: Why the Eurozone Fix Will Fail (July 25, 2011)
The European Model Is Also Doomed (February 7, 2009)
When Debt-Junkies Go Broke, So Do Mercantilist Pushers (March 1, 2010)
Why the Euro Might Devolve into Euro1 and Euro2 (March 2, 2010)
Why the Eurozone Is Doomed (May 10, 2010)
Ireland, Please Do the World a Favor and Default (November 29, 2010)
Why The European Union Is Doomed (March 28, 2011)
Greece, Please Do The Right Thing: Default Now (June 1, 2011)
Why the Eurozone and the Euro Are Both Doomed (June 23, 2011)
Greece Is a Kleptocracy (June 28, 2011)

What recovery? Undemocratic and corrupt, the EU faces dis-Union

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from The Daily Bell
Posted August 31, 2011

Double-dip fears across the West as confidence crumbles … The Western world is at mounting risk of a double-dip recession after key measures of confidence collapsed in both the United States and Europe, with Germany the steepest one-month fall since records began in the 1970s. The IMF has slashed its growth forecast for America and Europe, according to a leaked draft of its World Economic Outlook. – UK Telegraph

Dominant Social Theme:
Everything has been going very well, and employment and profits are picking up. So let’s not spoil a good thing, eh?

Free-Market Analysis:
This article in the UK Telegraph takes a dim view of the “recovery” that the West is supposed to be enjoying. In fact, it cites a good deal of evidence to show the West’s economic situation is about to get even worse. In doing so it all but predicts the EU itself – or at least the euro – may be only weeks away from fracturing.

This is good, of course, though perhaps (unfortunately) over-optimistic. The EU is nothing but a fascist enterprise that should be broken up as soon as possible. Astonishingly, the appendages of the EU have not been audited for years because the auditing firms will not take responsibility for an institution of such corruption.

There is an inner circle in the EU that is answerable to no one expect perhaps the great banking families of Europe and America that have created this monstrosity. It is from this tiny circle of “leaders” – all of them either coming from communist or socialist backgrounds – that EU policy is created.

The result is a mishmash of oppressive regulations and overweening ambition. The EU leaders have had ambitions to build an army and to create a fuller union of EU states that will mimic the worst federal excesses of the United States.

What is even worse is that all of this was planned long ago; even as EU member states and their populations were being assured that the EU was nothing but a large trading facility, its top executives were plotting and planning a 400 million strong, federal union. One hears echoes of that today, as academics and politicos alike call for a closer EU to counteract the implausibility of the euro’s current condition.

In fact, these days the euro itself is not a currency mechanism so much as a kind of metaphorical manacle that increasingly is keeping Europe’s Southern flank – miserable and bleeding – tied to the richer North. The result: higher taxes, resource fire-sales and the slashing of public services and retirement benefits.

Of course, we’ve long predicted that the EU, or at least the euro, is in significant trouble. This is based on the idea, generally, that there is no “recovery” – not in America and not in Europe. In fact, Europe’s Southern PIGS are bankrupt; meanwhile, the US’s unemployment refuses to go down and may even be headed up.

What’s left? The world’s economy basically hangs on the thread of China and as we’ve tried to point out in numerous articles, that’s a thin support indeed. China’s social unrest is actually quite staggering at this point, though under-reported. Its much discussed (finally) empty cities, skyscrapers and malls are symptomatic not of central planning so much as communist party desperation.

The ChiComs will do anything to meet their self-imposed growth targets. But the result has been the biggest building and buying binge the world has ever seen. It has to end sometime, and it is very possible that it will put an end to the Chinese government itself. Without China, the world will reel round like a drunk looking for a handhold.

Without support, the global economy will fail. India, Brazil and Russia shall not provide salvation. Germany will not salvage the EU, for without anyone to buy its products, Germany will participate in the upcoming worldwide “recession.”

But the UK Telegraph article tells us to expect grim times – really grim ones – even without China’s participation. In the US, we learn, the US Conference Board’s index of consumer sentiment “plunged to the lowest level since the depths of the slump in 2009, falling to 44.5 from 59.2 in July.”

Meanwhile, Christine Lagarde, new chief of the International Monetary Fund, put her wrong foot first, irritating the Germans and then the French by discussing a global crisis is entering “a new phase.” This was not welcome news to the leaders of either country, and the Germans especially do not want to be pressured into supporting a weaker euro, no matter how concerned Ms. Lagarde is.

Lagarde is actually reacting to her own research. We learn from the Telegraph that the IMF has slashed its growth forecast for America and Europe, according to a leaked draft of its World Economic Outlook. Lagarde and the IMF want American and European central banks to print more money, even though it doesn’t seem to be working. The Germans know it; the IMF does not seem to.

The Germans apparently understand that nothing can be done, at least when it comes to Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland. Lagarde’s IMF disagrees. Jose Vinals, the IMF’s head of capital markets, “rebuked Europe’s leaders for failing to beef up bank defences and allowing the debt crisis to fester.”

Vinals received support from Charles Dumas of Lombard Street Research, who said a further “recession” in the West is inevitable because of fiscal deflation. What should have happened? The ECB should have loosened considerably this summer; Jean-Claude Trichet, Europe’s central banker has got it all wrong, and has been behind the curve besides.

Yet can Trichet really be blamed? He’s feeling considerable heat from the Germans who have claimed that the ECB has engaged in “legally questionable” purchases of Spanish and Italian bonds. The Germans apparently feel they are losing control of the ECB, even though it is German money that drives the EU and the euro.

The rhetoric is building in Germany. The Telegraph notes that Hans-Olaf Henkel, former head of Germany’s industry federation (BDI), wrote in the Financial Times that his support for the euro had been “the biggest professional mistake I have ever made.” What’s the solution? A so-called ‘Plan C’ under which Germany, The Netherlands, Austria and Finland make their own currency, leaving the South to struggle on without the straightjacket of a German euro.

Stephen Jen from SLJ Macro Partners believes that the EU’s debt-ridden Southern flank may act first, as politicians revise their views on the PIGS’ unpopular austerity and propose radical solutions featuring disunion either of the EU itself or of the currency. “I think this will happen in weeks rather than months,” the Telegraph quotes him as saying.

We are not holding our collective breath. (Just today there are reports that Merkel DOES have enough votes to push through yet another EU bailout package in Germany.) But it does occur to us that the combination of an intractable sovereign debt crisis, an oncoming German recession and a court case intended to decide whether Germany’s current government is acting unconstitutionally may be enough – eventually – to crack open the union.

We have never predicted in the past what may happen to the EU, at least not in the short term. In fact. this deeply dishonest political system was meant to grow by crisis. Its top men assumed that there would come a time when the euro would not function properly. One can even make a case that the European banks were encouraged to acquire sovereign debt in order to precipitate the current crisis.

But something happened on the way to a closer union. We believe the Internet Reformation has thoroughly exposed the plans of those at the top in a way that was not anticipated. It is one thing to manipulate people who do not understand what’s occurring. It is another to move ahead with a slippery program that people understand is not in their best interests.

The EU, if it fails, becomes merely one more dysfunctional meme. It takes its place in an increasingly long line that includes the foundering war in Afghanistan, the rising tide of disbelief over the war on terror, the obloquy that global warming now attracts, the derision to which central bankers are increasingly subject, etc.

The 21st century is nothing like the 20th. The great banking families are losing control of communications and increasingly cannot configure their messaging. Mainstream media is struggling to survive. The vast fear-based promotions rolled out by Tavistock Institute are not working so well these days. The directed history that seems to have run the world for nearly 200 years is becoming undone. This world lives in interesting times. Such lack of elite control was seen last some 500 years ago during the era of the Gutenberg Press, which led to the Protestant Reformation and a wholesale shift in the way populations were controlled.

It may be that the powers-that-be have already anticipated the break-up of the EU or at least the degradation of the euro. Perhaps such an occurrence will be used to bring pressure on world leaders to create a truly global currency. But even so, this must be seen as a secondary strategy more than an original plan.

Conclusion:
Definitively, the great families and their enablers did not wish for the EU to fail, so far as one can tell. Its dissolution, were it to occur, will be no victory for them. In fact, it would be a most important and startling defeat, one that might have an extremely negative effect – not just on European unity but also on regulatory democracy and even on the central banking system. It might even signal the beginning of the end of the modern conspiracy to rule the world.

America “makes the cut” – So what happens next?

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by Brandon Smith
Posted on Alt-Market, August 7, 2011

AROUND THE WORLD, STARTING MONDAY, ALL EYES ARE ON THE MARKETS. The tension is palpable. The uncertainty is ample. And anger is heavy in the air. As predicted, the debt ceiling deal was not only NOT enough to assuage economic fears, it actually exacerbated them, triggering a flight from the Dow, and creating a decisive opportunity for ratings agency S&P to cut the once perfect U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA+.

At Alt-Market, we often talk about points of balance, and how certain moments in history become highly visible indicators of balance lost. If we pay close attention, and know what we are looking for, these moments can be recognized, allowing us time to shield ourselves from the explosion and the resulting financial shrapnel. The past two weeks have culminated into one of these defining events that tell us the tide has fully turned, and something new and dangerous is just over the horizon. The question now is; what should we expect?

The nature of the credit downgrade situation is not necessarily “unprecedented” in history, but it is surely unprecedented on the scale we see currently in the U.S. It is difficult to predict how exactly the investment world will react. Some consequences, though, are probable, if not inevitable. Let’s examine the events we are likely to see in the coming weeks as well as the coming months, as nations attempt to adjust to America’s final plunge…

1) Ratings Agencies under attack

This has already begun. Italian authorities have raided the offices of S&P and Moody’s, apparently perturbed that their credit rating is not under their control. The U.S. is accusing S&P of making “accounting mistakes” and jumping the gun on the American downgrade. The battle between insolvent governments and the ratings agencies from here on will escalate quickly. More offices will be investigated and raided. The mainstream media will try to assert that the downgrades are “not that important”, and that the U.S. will recover quite nicely without a perfect score. Eventually, as the collapse becomes more evident, ratings agencies will fill the role as the go to scapegoat / economic hitman at which all governments will point accusing fingers.

“S&P is gonna’ cut you man! S&P’s a blade-man, man!”

In my view, it’s all theater. First, let’s set aside the recent ratings cuts altogether and look at the facts. The U.S. should have been downgraded years ago, especially after the Federal Reserve decided to begin purchasing U.S. Treasury Bonds in place of dwindling foreign interest and turned to monetizing our debt to the point of rampant inflation. Italy and numerous other EU members should have been downgraded to junk status a long time ago as well. If anything, the ratings agencies over the past few years have been PROTECTING the credit reputations of many countries which in no way deserve it. The recent downgrades are long overdue…

Second, suddenly governments and MSM pundits feel it necessary to point out the large part ratings agencies played in the derivatives bubble and subsequent credit crisis? Please! They were perfectly content with S&P or Moody’s giving fraudulent top ratings for toxic garbage securities, and even defended agency actions after the bubble burst! Now, after they finally start doing their jobs by downgrading bad debt, governments want an investigation?

Third, ratings agencies were not alone in the creation of the derivatives bubble. The private Federal Reserve artificially lowered interest rates and flooded the markets with cheap fiat. International banks used this fast money to create the easy mortgage groundswell and the derivatives poison that was fed it into the system. Ratings agencies went along with the scam and graded the worthless securities as AAA. The federal government and the SEC allowed all of this to take place by purposely ignoring the crime and refusing to apply existing regulations in investigating the fraud.

The Bottom line? You CANNOT create an economic crisis like the one we face today without collusion between big business, government, regulatory bodies, and ratings agencies. The Obama Administration is well aware of this, and the attacks on S&P are nothing more than a show. S&P is not to blame for the downgrade this past weekend. They are ALL to blame.

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500 Million debt-serfs: the European Union is a neo-feudal Kleptocracy

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by Charles Hugh Smith
Posted July 22, 2011 on Of Two Minds

The banks of Europe are the new Feudal Manors and Masters. All Europeans now serve them as debt-serfs in one way or another.

IF WE KNOCK DOWN ALL THE FLIMSY SCREENS OF ARTIFICE AND OBSCURING COMPLEXITY, what we see in Europe is a continent of debt-serfs, indentured to the banks under the whip of the European Union and its secular religion, the euro. I know this isn’t the pretty picture presented by the EU Overlords, of a prosperity built not just on debt, but on resolving the problem of debt with more debt, but it is the reality behind the eurozone’s phony facade of economic “freedom.”

What else can we call the stark domination of the big banks other than Neo-Feudalism? In one way or another, every one of the 27-member nations’ citizens are indentured to the big international banks at risk in Europe, most of which are based in Europe.

Amidst the confusing overlay of voices and agendas, there is really only one agenda item: save the big European banks. Everything else is just mechanics. The banks are the new feudal manor houses, the bankers are the new feudal lords, and the politicians of the EU and its influential member nations are the servile vassals who enforce the “rule of law” on the serfs.

Here is the fundamental fact: there are trillions of euros of debt which can never be paid back. In a non-feudal system, one in which the banks were not the Masters, then this fact would be recognized and acted upon: something like 50% of the debt would be written off in one fell swoop, all the banks whose assets had just been wiped out would be declared insolvent and liquidated, the remaining debt would be sized to the economic surplus of each debtor nation, and a new, decentralized banking sector of dozens of strictly limited, smaller banks would be established.

To the degree that is “impossible,” Europe is nothing but a Neo-Feudal Kleptocracy serving its Banker Lords.

The Greek worker whose pay has been slashed in the “austerity” demanded by the banks serves the Banker Lords, as does the German worker who will be paying higher taxes to bail out Germany and France’s Banker Lords. Though the German is constantly told he is bailing out Greece, the truth is Greece is just the conduit: he’s actually bailing out the EU’s Banker Lords.

We can clear up much of the purposeful obfuscation by asking: exactly what tragedy befalls Europe if all the sovereign debt in the EU was wiped off the books? The one and only “tragedy” would be the destruction of the “too big to fail” banks, not just in Europe but around the world. As the big European banks imploded, then their inability to service their counterparty obligations on various derivatives to other big banks would topple those lenders.

While the political vassals call that possibility a catastrophe, it would actually spell freedom for Europe’s 500 million debt serfs. From the lofty heights of the Manor House, then the loss of enormously concentrated power and wealth is indeed a catastrophe for the Lords and their political lackeys. But for the debt-serfs facing generations of servitude for nothing, then the destruction of the banks would be the glorious lifting of tyranny.

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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?