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Posts Tagged ‘sovereign bankruptcy

The US$200-Trillion Debt which cannot be named

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from The Daily Bell
Posted originally October 28, 2010

The scary real U.S. government debt … Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff says U.S. government debt is not $13.5-trillion (U.S.), which is 60 percent of current gross domestic product, as global investors and American taxpayers think, but rather 14-fold higher: $200-trillion – 840 per cent of current GDP. “Let’s get real,” Prof. Kotlikoff says. “The U.S. is bankrupt.” Writing in the September issue of Finance and Development, a journal of the International Monetary Fund, Prof. Kotlikoff says the IMF itself has quietly confirmed that the U.S. is in terrible fiscal trouble – far worse than the Washington-based lender of last resort has previously acknowledged. “The U.S. fiscal gap is huge,” the IMF asserted in a June report. “Closing the fiscal gap requires a permanent annual fiscal adjustment equal to about 14 percent of U.S. GDP.” This sum is equal to all current U.S. federal taxes combined. The consequences of the IMF’s fiscal fix, a doubling of federal taxes in perpetuity, would be appalling – and possibly worse than appalling. – Globe and Mail (Canada)

Dominant Social Theme:
What? That can’t be. Let’s not talk about it.

Free-Market Analysis:
These numbers cited by Laurence Kotlikoff have been all over the Internet for a while now but have not been much reported by the mainstream press. No surprise there, but we are a bit shocked that the Globe and Mail chose to pick them up. Was it a slow news day? The story itself has been around since August.

Because the Globe and Mail has covered it, so shall we. Here is our question: Given these numbers, how can banks and institutions purchase US fixed income securities, let alone the dollar? What sense does it make? These large institutions, with fiduciary responsibility, are basically buying a bankrupt product. And it is not just the US. The entire Western world (maybe with the exception of Germany) is pretty much either flat broke or worse than broke.

For us, this shows as much as anything else how controlled the system really is. It’s just a fiction and has little resemblance to reality. Institutions are said to flee to the “safe-haven” of the US dollar when they are nervous. But as Kotlikoff shows, the safe-haven is nothing of the sort. When one adds up all of the various commitments that the US has made abroad and at home (to its own citizens) the debt begins to add up to the monstrous, impossible number Kotlikoff arrives at.

So we ask: Can’t bond buyers at large institutions add? How are they comfortable buying the bonds of a bankrupt entity? And why has it taken until 2010 for a mainstream economics professor to measure the “real debt” of the US and speak out about it? Heck we’ve known this for years now – and so have you! If the Western monetary system were a person, it would long ago have been declared clinically insane and shipped off to an asylum. What is worse is the conspiracy of silence about the “real” US debt, which we have to assume parallels at least partially the debt of other Western nations. The whole of the West is busted, pretty much – and the “austerity” plans being put in place are just more window-dressing, albeit of a very nasty sort.

Of course there are several ways out of this dilemma. Probably the easiest one is inflation verging on hyperinflation. If the US prints enough dollars-from-nothing (as Bernanke seems intent on doing) perhaps the dollar will lose so much value that the growing debt will be partially erased. Of course this basically debases the goods and services that people currently count on. The services will remain as a kind of legal fiction – funded but not worth anything.

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‘”The Euro Zone Has Failed”

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by Václav Klaus Czech Republic President
Originally posted June 1, 2010

AFTER THE FALL OF COMMUNISM IN 1989, THE CZECH REPUBLIC WANTED TO BE a normal European country again as soon as possible, after being excluded from participating in the post-World War II European integration process for 41 years. The only way to achieve this was to become a member country of the European Union. We had no other choice, but the communist experience was still too “fresh.” We wanted to be free and didn’t want to lose our freedom and our finally regained sovereignty. Many of us were therefore in favor of a looser form of European integration, against the so-called deepening of the EU and against the creation of political union in Europe. People like me understood very early that the idea of a European single currency is a dangerous project which will either bring big problems or lead to the undemocratic centralization of Europe. My position was clear: With all my reservations, we had to apply for EU membership, but at the same time we had to fight against projects such as the euro.

As a long-standing critic of the idea of a European single currency, I have not rejoiced at the current problems in the euro zone because their consequences could be serious for all of us in Europe—for members and non-members of the euro zone, for its supporters and opponents. Even the enthusiastic propagandists of the euro suddenly speak about the potential collapse of the whole project now, and it is us critics who say we have to look at it in a more structured way.

The term “collapse” has at least two meanings. The first is that the euro-zone project has not succeeded in delivering the positive effects that had been rightly or wrongly expected from it. It was mistakenly and irresponsibly presented as an indisputable economic benefit to all the countries willing to give up their own long-treasured currencies. Extensive studies published prior to the launch of the European single currency promised that the euro would help to accelerate economic growth and reduce inflation and stressed, in particular, that the member states of the euro zone would be protected against all kinds of external economic disruptions (the so-called exogenous shocks).

This has not happened. After the establishment of the euro zone, the economic growth of its member states has slowed down compared to previous decades, increasing the gap between the rate of growth in the euro-zone countries and that in other major economies—such as the United States and China, smaller economies in Southeast Asia and other parts of the developing world, as well as Central and Eastern European countries that are not members of the euro zone.

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EU Tumbles Toward Failure?

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From The Daily Bell
Originally posted Tuesday, May 11, 2010

HAS EUROPE DONE THE IMPOSSIBLE AND HELPED ITSELF TO A FREE LUNCH? That’s certainly what it looks like, to judge by the performance of equity, currency and fixed income markets following the EU’s €750 billion rescue plan. A relief rally sent shares rocketing across the world, led by an almost unbelievable 20% surge in European stocks. Rescued government bonds rallied as central banks threw themselves into quantitative easing. And the euro recovered much of the ground it lost when, during the past couple of weeks, investors thought the currency was heading towards extinction. Was Milton Friedman wrong? Or maybe this lunch isn’t really free? The notion that these rescues are costless, which took hold following the wave of fiscal and monetary policy actions put in place following the credit crunch, looked to be fading recently. People started to realize private sector debt was merely being replaced by public sector borrowing, and didn’t like it. Governments might have altered who would have to repay the borrowing and over what period – typically taxpayers or savers and over the long run – but the debt itself didn’t disappear. There’s nothing to suggest Friedman was wrong in the case of this European rescue either. So who’s paying then? – WSJ/Source

Free-Market Analysis:
Eurozone leaders are ready to defend the euro with the equivalent of US$1trillion if necessary. The American Fed and other central banks stand ready to help too. There are several conclusions to be reached from this – and the mainstream and alternative media is generously presenting at least seven scenarios (perhaps our readers can provide more?). Below, we use the article excerpt above as a jumping off point to unpack them for you, explain the significance of each and then choose the most obvious answer to what’s going on. (Is it really that complicated?) Milton Friedman was right (on this point anyway). There IS no free lunch, in our opinion, and those in charge of Europe are not going to get one either.

Of course, just because we believe this exercise yields up the truth about what’s happening in Europe, we are not necessarily in a position to postulate the OUTCOME. We’re not fortune tellers! But we do understand the war between the elite’s dominant social themes and the Internet itself, which is increasingly debunking these themes and making it far more difficult for the elite in the 21st century to manipulate markets and politics than in the 20th century. Anyway … here’s the list. We’re pretty much on board with the second alternative. But let’s take these options one at a time.

1. The power elite has done what is necessary to stabilize the euro-zone.

2. The power elite has done what is necessary to stabilize the euro-zone but it may not work.

3. The euro-apparatchiks have salvaged the EU basically for banks and bank loans at risk.

4. The euro-zone has been destabilized so that further currency consolidation can be achieved.

5. The power elite and the bankers have destabilized the EU to loot its member states.

6. The power elite has struggled mightily to rescue a 50-year-old investment with mixed results.

7. Germany has received, by peaceful means, the empire that its citizens always wanted.

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