The next economic and banking collapse is going to make the 2008 crash look like a slight adjustment.
Once-powerful Western economies are booking quarterly GDP growths of 1% or less. For the non-mathematicians, that is within a rounding error of ZERO growth. So when you hear a Chancellor deriving solace from an economy achieving a growth of say 1.5% which was “better than the expected” 1.3%, we know that they and we are in trouble.
Politicians and central bankers have exhausted their entire repertoire on a THREE YEAR attempt to put their economies in order whilst at the same time propping-up a broken banking system. None of it has worked!
They all know that the tsunami is coming but there is no high ground to run to.
European politicians are rushing about, turning inaction into an art-form whilst economies and banks are merely standing on the trapdoor and holding hands hoping that somehow all this will go away and the entire system will somehow self-right. Their impotent prevarication can (and will) only result in two things – collapse and bankcrptcy.
Bankruptcy of governments, business and of private individuals.
Last week we had the very first example of a banker who more-or-less threw-in his hand, admitting that there was little-else that money could do. The Federal Reserve’s Ben Bernanke had the choice of either printing more empty dollars or not. The so-called Quantitative Easing 3 would have increased US inflation and made Investment Bankers happy. It would have enabled the bankers to further plunder the markets and create more of those illusory profits. They’ve been operating on that basis for two years now and perhaps Bernanke decided that enough was enough.
Mainlining money is never the long-term solution – it’s too addictive!
However, No U.S Quantitative Easing has simply accelerated the collapse of the United States economy.
Yes! It’s as clear-cut as that.
In the end, Bernanke took a leaf from the politicians’ book and decided to do nothing but sit and wait. NO mention of QE3 and no steps to promote economic growth.
He has decided to kick the the whole thing forward yet another month in the vain hope that Congress can deliver the next promise. THAT’S what you call a long-shot!
For the moment both Europe and the USA appear to be quite content to pause and doze in the middle of their joint economic tightrope until someone else (as yet unknown, probably China) comes along to coax them out of their torpor.
Unfortunately, America and Europe are entwined in such a way that if Europe falls, so will the USA.
We used to dismiss the PIIGS nations as the ones heading for the econo-slaughter house — Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain. Their problem is very simple – they have debts so huge that there is absolutely NO prospect of them ever being repaid. Their politicians are also waiting for something miraculous to happen sometime in the future.
The Euro saviour WAS supposed to have been the “strong man of Europe”, the one with the largest economy – Germany. Unfortunately,Germany has also hit the economic buffers. It’s growth in this year’s second quarter was just 0.1 percent!
France, Europe’s second-largest Euro-economy, has also ground to a halt. President Sarkozy’s has followed the UK route with huge budgetary cuts. That certainly looks good on paper and may lower deficits but will produce an impossible drag on an already-waning economy. THAT will inhibit growth and ultimately lower tax revenues – which will inevitably result in higher taxation.
The United Kingdom’s Chancellor can take the credit for showing everyone else the way to economic stagnation through the triple whammy of Government budget cuts, rising inflation and plunging consumer confidence. EXACTLY the conditions to discourage anyone from risking any sort of entrepreneurial initiative or borrowing from the banks to fund commercial expansion. That is, if the banks weren’t continuing to sulk.
Europe is frantically cutting spending in a desperate attempt to postpone the inevitable debt meltdown. Meanwhile Washington continues to rack-up up its national debt at the eye-watering rate of more than 10 percent per year.
All that America has achieved so far is to have its credit-rating slashed by Standard & Poor’s while its local governments, states and cities frantically try everything from releasing prisoners early to selling off the family silver.
The ENTIRE Western economy has ground to a shuddering halt with the weird unwanted bolt-ons of climbing inflation and consumer confidence at near an all-time low.
So what IS the solution?
The solution is comparatively simple and should be attempted in stages.
The first would be to reconcile ALL sovereign debt.
Secondly, the markets and banks would collapse – but at a controlled rate.
Thirdly, it should be admitted that the Euro and the Eurozone were both very bad ideas which developed into a grotesque sacred cow.
Then we could ALL start again.
The alternatives are greater budget shortfalls, greater deficits, even faster growths in government debt, followed by catastrophic collapses and Depression.
The former all require political decisions of such magnitude that even the politicians have come to realise that we do not have anyone with even remotely the courage to raise his or head above the parapet to take control.
So for the moment, it seems as if we’re knowingly headed for an economic holocaust.
So, unless the politicians wake up soon, we need to create hell and not wait for it.
From “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime,” lyrics by Yip Harburg, music by Jay Gorney (1931)