Willem Buiter: The US Must Prepare For Savage Austerity

Tyler Durden's picture

In an interview with Tom Keene yesterday, Citi strategist Willem Buiter, alongside Howard Davies chairman of the London School of Economics, said that "savage austerity" is in the US' future. "The only question was really the timing and the
composition." Alas, for that to happen it would require an overhaul of the entire US kleptocratic oligarchy, and the entire premise of tenured politicians, who don't realize that in addition to boosting revenues, sometimes outlays have to be trimmed as well. Of course, as this is precisely the fatal flaw of Keynesianism, we can only commiserate with Buiter, who calls it exactly right. Too bad that even the possibility of actual austerity in the US would result with riots so severe it will make the ongoing economic freeze in France seem like the peak of Chinese economic growth.

In discussing the ability to postpone the inevitable domestic austerity, Buiter notes that "the U.S. will still be able to borrow for a while at
“risk-free rates” , even when there is risk, because its markets remain bolstered by the
dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency. It won’t last forever, that buffer of protection. Market discipline is being eroded by the burden
of unsustainable deficits." Which of course explains why the market continus trading as if each day will be its last, and risk on, risk off is the only thing that matters, as only those with the fastest selling systems feel insulated in their hope they can dump positions during a bidless market.

And lastly, Buiter calls out the Treasury on its hypocrisy of condemning others of performing currency manipulation, when the Fed's QE2 threat is the biggest FX intervention move ever, and furthermore, at least others retain some dignity by doing their operations in the open. While the Fed, like a coward thief in the night (stealing from the middle class) can only operate by undermining the credibility of its currency by monetizations. The last part is ours.

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Ivanovich's picture

Good, bring "savage austerity" the fuck on.  I don't get shit from the government, I fend for myself, am fiscally responsible and work hard.  I'm tired of seeing my son's future in this kleptocratic state go through the floor.



Conrad Murray's picture

Two wrongs make a right!  Everyone deserves a free house free food and free healthcare!  No justice no peace!  No blood for oil, no sweat for money!

arby63's picture

You sound like a moron Alcoholic. You may be onto something re the banks but this country is living fat and happy off the future earnings of our youth. That's bullshit and you know it.

Alcoholic Native American's picture

bla bla bla future generations.  Distraction technique, they are living off the backs of this generation, right now.  Yes force austerity to save future generations.......lol.  Yea, like the patriot act, it's just temporary until we balance our budget, I swear some of you clowns are clueless.

LowProfile's picture

Those calling for savage austerity will instead have austerity forced on them by savages.

tmosley's picture

Sounds more like a satirical character to me.

If he's for realz, then he is definitely a moron, but I don't think he is.

wowser22's picture

May you be skewered from eye socket to asshole and then placed on a spit so that your flesh can be roasted by a searing gale of farts which issues forth from the haunches of Satan.  Then, I hope you are hollowed out and used as a prophalactic for thorn cocked demons that squirt battery acid from their engorged penises.  Other than that, have a nice day.

LowProfile's picture

Not to be argumentative, but I suggest the prophylactic usage comes first, the roasting second.

eatthebanksters's picture

Alcoholic, fuck you, fuck your kids and fuck your dog...an enabling society has helped to create this mess.  I'm all for helping those who can't help themselves, but for everyone else, get off the crack pipe, go to work.  Hard work pays!  I started with nothing, made a lot and have lost most of it because of the banksters, but I am not going to cry or whine and ask for a hand out.  A level playing field and opportunity are enough for me.  Its lazy fucktards like you who in one way make my life easier and in another way bring it all down.

alien-IQ's picture

why don't we start with some corporate and military austerity before we decide to reach into the already empty pockets of the bottom 90% of the country's population?

Alcoholic Native American's picture

No doubt, The financial kleptoz are the ones pushing this Austerity shit.


The self flagellating TeaTards(TM) are corporate tools, an amazing example(still happening) of propaganda.

I don't post much on this site, because it's full of them.



zaknick's picture

I'm with you, man. hang in there, they will hang themselves in the end. No scam like this can ever be for ever.


Guillotines is what I'm thinking about manufacturing.

goldsaver's picture

If I reach into someone's empty pocket, will I get anything but lint? And isn't the point of austerity to stop reaching into everyone's pockets and stop spending? How about cutting 50% of all Federal expenditures. Depts of Energy,HUD, HHS, Education, etc all shut down. Recall all troops from overseas. Raise SS retirement age to 75. Shut down the Fed and start issuing silver certificates. How is that for austerity?

merehuman's picture

agreed   , kill the machine, let our people live!

Double.Eagle.Gold's picture


–noun, plural -ties.
  1. austere quality; severity of manner, life, etc.; sternness.
  2. Usually, austerities. ascetic practices: austerities of monastery life.
  3. strict economy.
  4. military - aim weapons, empty magazines
When Trust Matters
MountainMan's picture

TD should revoke your membership asap.

Tyler, come on?

Dr_Dazed's picture

Gotta say "savage austerity" sounds like "protect the privileged" to me.  Austerity isn't going to hit the kleptocrats and bankstas for their ill gotten gain - it's just going to take a whack at the lower 97.5% of us who are going to have to further temper our aspirations and expectations for the future.


Some austerity.

alien-IQ's picture

"savage austerity" sounds like "protect the privileged"


Non Passaran's picture

No one said don't make the elite pay. I want to see them all (the oligarchs, the free shit crowd, etc.) get screwed.

Just because someone mentioned only one of the groups, it doesn't mean he's wrong. 

There are many freeloaders among "the lower 97.5%".  

PuppetRepubl1c's picture



I hate to be the one to tell you this, but "savage austerity" implies not only massive cuts to government spending (which is obviously necessary) but also massive tax INCREASES.  I can assure you it won't be pleasant for anyone. 


Prudent people who don't rely on the government will still get f*cked over.  I know the tea party likes to believe this won't happen but just look at history, the hard working individual always gets f*cked over.



Ivanovich's picture

Fine, if that's what it takes to righten the ship, so be it.  I'm sick and tired of paying for 99 weeks of unemployment, bailing out anyone and anything (bank, homeowner, etc) who wasn't fiscally responsible enough or lacked intelligence to realize they shouldn't have bought/invested in what they did, while I bought the right size house while making sure I could make the payments on it.


There is a difference between having a safety net in the economy for those who are less privledged and creating a NANNY state where over 40% of the people (as of this moment) get government assistance.


If that pisses off some of you folks, you'll pardon me if I don't lose sleep over it.

ElvisDog's picture

I think "savage austerity" is coming sooner or later whether those who want to keep the government transfer payment gravy train going want it or not. The only question is: do we kick the can down the road for a little while longer and make the savage austerity even savager.

SheepDog-One's picture

I agree totaly! BRING ON savage austerity to this stupid nation full of greedy spoiled lazy brats!

TheGreatPonzi's picture

There will never be austerity in the US. The FED will impeach it.

ZakuKommander's picture

Oh, yes there will be.  Only one iPad per family.  3D TVs limited to one per household.  Only 10 12-pacs of soda per person per week.  Rationing coupons for Happy Meals.  Just you wait and see.

Crime of the Century's picture

I'm surprised you of all people failed to note that Buiter is the fool who equated Au with seashells. The Tylers are fickle, spanking one moment, lauding the next.

SheepDog-One's picture

I agree with his equating of AU with seashells and beads, WTF is the difference! Just objects with 'implied rarity' big fukin deal, who NEEDS gold for anything? No one!

tmosley's picture

Gold is a ruler for value, because it is in constant supply, and most of it is in human hands, so there is little supply fluctuation.  When a thing is of constant supply, it's "price" in terms of goods is a direct measure of society's consumption preference.  As such, it does, in fact, have value.  By itself, it has no use, just like a ruler has no use by itself, but bring in multiple humans each of whom have different goods and desires, and it suddenly becomes a very nice transaction facilitator and store of value.

So yes, I need gold to conduct business.

SheepDog-One's picture

Any measure of value depends on the situation youre in, if I ran into you out in the desert and I had a bottle of water and a Krugerand, which on would you find most valuable?

Double.Eagle.Gold's picture

WTF - 1 iPad per family, that's cruel & unusual, come-on, we're not commies here...

HarryWanger's picture

Too bad that even the possibility of actual austerity in the US would result with riots so severe it will make the ongoing economic freeze in France seem like the peak of Chinese economic growth.

Only if that "austerity" takes away the NFL, Dancing with the Stars or Glee, will there be rioting. People will continue to bend over and take whatever is thrown at them as long as you keep them entertained. That's how power works. Keep throwing them reality tv shows for free over the air and there won't be anything close to a riot.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Any rioting would be limited to the usual suspect parts of our big cities.    This would be nothing like France, with major highways shut down by "snail" operations, ports and fuel depots shut down, and culturally native mainstream citizens marching and approving.   

No, any eighteen wheelers doing snail operations would get swatted down by the law here, same deal with blockades of fuel depots and refineries and such.  With high levels of public support.

HelluvaEngineer's picture

+1 - the only rioting we have here is looting, usually only by people who have identified an excuse for looting (not an actual vested interest)

It will go something like this: my EBT card was not activated at 12AM on the 1st, therefore I will kill the convenience store owner and steal all his scratch-offs.

TBT or not TBT's picture

The one model in Europe that touches of actual riots is any incident of police enforcement that harms a perp of middle eastern or north african descent.    I think we see similar things here, for example with the Rodney King situation.    BTW, are you a P.E.? because lots of nerds worked hard to get their P.E. status and we have to respect that when choosing pseudonyms.

HelluvaEngineer's picture

I'm a MechE but never got my PE.  I pretty quickly switched over to programming.

Tha handle comes from my alma mater http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramblin%27_Wreck_from_Georgia_Tech

economessed's picture

It will go something like this: my EBT card was not activated at 12AM on the 1st, therefore I will kill the convenience store owner and steal all his scratch-offs.

We need a name for this -- something the media can latch onto -- something like "Detroiting for your Dinner..."


Double.Eagle.Gold's picture


  1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
  2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
  3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

Use racist in a Sentence

Only black people are smart enough to understand when someone is f-ing with them and respond by protesting, ergo - white people are mostly (97.55%) dumb schmucks.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Too true Harry. They've got so many other levers in hand too.


1) Legalize prostitution (I think Craig's List has done yoeman service in sluttifying America).

2) Legalize Pot

3) Legalize sleaze/porn in a bigger way 

4) Pump up the Propaganda 


and on and on....

I see it's going to be the few that get away and stay free, truly.

Buns and Butter for the masses.

Guillotine for the patsies..

Guns and Shutter for the "odd" one's (yes, you!)

And Off/Under planet for the elites.

But for now, let us enjoy the circus...





TBT or not TBT's picture

"3) Legalize sleaze/porn in a bigger way "

When you talk about levers in hand, this isn't the first thought that... comes... to mind.

Sausagemaker's picture

No additional commentary required:



Escapism & Distraction As a Social Control During the Roman Empire


Escapism and distraction are social controls that can be employed by a governing body to hide inadequacies or divert attention from themes that can cause malcontent among the populace. It is important to distinguish between the two; distraction refers to anything that can take the attention of the populace away from the inadequacies of the government where as escapism refers to specifically removing the minds of the individuals from the situation that they are in, in order to escape anything that brings discontent to their lives.


Distraction was a tool that could be used by Emperors both to divert attention from current objectionable events. Impending risk of warfare increased anxiety within Roman society, the development of gladiatorial spectacle could both demonstrate the continuing competence of the governing body of Rome, even during a crisis (Futrell 2006). Not only could the gladiatorial spectacle distract the citizens from contemporary issues but it could also "erase public memories of political blunders" in the past (Shelton 1998, p333).

Distraction from warfare was an obvious connection, however distraction could also be used to keep "the populace amused and out of mischief" (Lewis and Reinhold, 1990, p142). Auguet (1994, p185) further added weight to this view by describinggladiatorial spectacle as "a first rate means of keeping people amused". Grant (1967, p104) also agreed with this concept exclaiming that Emperors expressed the wish that the "potentially unruly and dangerous city population" be "amused", also adding the idea that this would and keep them "quiet".

As stated earlier (see Literature Review) the first reported date of the gladiatorial spectacle was in 264 BCE and at the time of the First Punic War. The second recorded date of the gladiatorial spectacle was not until 216 BCE again coinciding with a year of war in which the battle of Cannae took place (Shadrake 2005). This leaves a gap of almost 50 years in which there is no record of any gladiatorial spectacle having taken place in the Roman Empire. It seems too much of a coincidence that these two sets of gladiatorial spectacle positioned almost 50 years apart, just happened to fall on times of conflict. A more likely explanation is that these gladiatorial spectacles were put on to distract the people from the turmoil of war. Another explanation is that there were gladiatorial spectacles that fell within this 50 year gap, but they were not particularly noteworthy, and greater publicity was generated for these two recorded games again for the purpose of distraction of the masses.


Escapism could well be the biggest factor in social control that gladiatorial spectacles had over its audience. In contemporary society there are a number of escapisms that are available even to those who do not have a large disposable income. Some of the most popular escapisms in modern society such as television, the internet, film, and computer games were not accessible to the Romans. Granted they had food, literature and recreational games, but none of these can draw comparison with the hold that television and the internet has on society today. This is where the gladiatorial spectacles came into play; they provided the audience with a complete distraction from their mundane day to day lives. The comradery of sitting amongst their peers, the historical stories that some of the spectacles told, and the opportunity to wrap oneself up in the glory of Rome, provided the ideal escape from issues of war, disease, political unrest that may have otherwise had a more detrimental affect on the psychology of the population.

Kyle (2007, p301) stated that attendees of gladiatorial spectacles, utilised them to "escape their deplorable living conditions". Shelton (1998, p334) further elaborates declaring that political figures hoped that these diversions would "take people's minds off problems like unemployment and food shortages". According to Shelton (1998, p349) viewing the gladiatorial spectacles would allow "people who themselves felt powerless and brutalised" to find "some satisfaction in watching the infliction of pain on others".




nedwardkelly's picture

People will continue to bend over and take whatever is thrown at them

It used to be bread and circuses, now it's iPads and American Idol. What's new? What's changed?