Much has been spun in recent weeks to indicate that as a result of collapsing trade, Iran's economy is in shambles and that the financial embargo hoisted upon the country by the insolvent, pardon, developed world is working. We had a totally different perspective on things "A Very Different Take On The "Iran Barters Gold For Food" Story" in which we essentially said that Iran, with the complicity of major trading partners like China, India and Russia is preparing to phase out the petrodollar: a move which would be impossible if key bilateral trade partners would not agree to it. Gradually it appears this is increasingly the case following a just released Reuters report that "Iran will take payment from its trading partners in gold instead of dollars, the Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted the central bank governor as saying on Tuesday."
Just as we scripted, the temptation to migrate from the status quo in Europe was just too high for the other peripherals and Ireland just gained first / next mover advantage by daring top mention the "R" word. As Bloomberg notes:
- *IRELAND TO HOLD VOTE ON EU FISCAL COMPACT, KENNY SAYS
We would imagine that Barroso and his pals are scrambling now that another 'Referendum' is on the cards (and we are checking what 'referendum' is in Portuguese) and while fascism in perpetuity has been priced into Euro, the possibility that democracy rears its ugly head has just sent the EURUSD tumbling.
With an economy of just $3.2Tn versus the United States $14.3Tn Germany is trying to prop up a Eurozone that is more than one trillion dollars bigger than America. They just do not have the resources for the task they are undertaking and I predict serious consequences, eventually, from their efforts. Germany is “best of class” and will be the last to go but they cannot evade the European recession in the end and I think it is only a matter of time and unfortunate decisions before the austerity demands made on so many will wind their way back home to those who made the demands. They used a timeline that was much too short for the job at hand and payment will eventually be forced upon them. They obviously get the joke where Eurobonds and other ploys of this nature average the economies of Europe and the standards of living over some period of time so that Germany, in the end, will suffer most as they have the furthest to fall. They have approached the G-20, China, the emerging market countries and all polite responses to the side; the results have been about zip. The Germans are running out of both time and money and Franz is squirming in the beer hall.
And it was brutal. No more diplomatic niceties.
The surreal keeps getting surrealer. One could probably think that after being forced to pay for the privilege of having a job, to fund European bank solvency out of their pocket as part of the Greek "bailout", and finally to hand over their gold, the Greeks would have at least put up a fight. One would be wrong: instead of doing anything else than the occasional store front looting by marauding gangs, what Greeks are doing instead... is lining up for German lessons. Well, if you can't beat them, may as well learn their language. Athens News reports: "Ruediger Bolz has 350 students coming through the doors of his German language institute in central Athens each day - 20 percent up on a year ago. The rush among Greeks to learn German may seem odd after the war of words between the two countries, with Greeks fuming at German accusations of financial mismanagement and some media playing on Nazi caricatures of Berlin politicians. Yet for Bolz, who has run the Goethe Institute for the last six years, there is no mystery: his pupils are happy to side-step politics and face up to harsh economic realities by acquiring new skills." So years of debt slavery induced misery may be in store, and the sheep are delighted to get the electric cattle prod, but at least they get to beg their employers to take their money with the proper umlaut usage.
“Ms. Katseli, an economist who was labor minister in the government of George Papandreou until she left in a cabinet reshuffle last June, was also upset that Greece’s lenders will have the right to seize the gold reserves in the Bank of Greece under the terms of the new deal.” The Reuters Global Gold Forum confirms that in the small print of the Greek “bailout” is a provision for the creditors to seize Greek national gold reserves. Reuters correspondents in Athens have not got confirmation that this is the case so they are, as ever, working hard to pin that down. Greece owns just some 100 tonnes of gold. According to IMF data, for some reason over the last few months Greece has bought and sold the odd 1,000 ounce lot of its gold bullion reserves. A Reuter’s correspondent notes that “these amounts are so tiny that it could well be a rounding issue, rather than holdings really rising or falling.” While many market participants would expect that Greece’s gold reserves would be on the table in the debt agreement, it is the somewhat covert and untransparent way that this is being done that is of concern to Greeks and to people who believe in the rule of law.
When it comes to labor-wage parity, nowhere has this topic been more debated than in the context of China and the US. Specifically, with US wages declining consistently for the past 3 years despite commodity price inflation spiking with a 2-3 month lag following every coordinated central bank printing episode (such as the one we are experiencing now), many have proffered their predictions as to when Chinese secular inflation would make wage pay equivalent on both sides of the Pacific, and stop the exporting of jobs from the US to China (a good discussion on the topic can be found in "With China Forecast To Reach Wage Parity With The US In Five Years, Is A New Manufacturing Golden Age Coming To The US?"). And while labor equivalency between China and the US likely still has a ways to go, we have now crossed a critical Rubicon, as Chinese and European wages, at least in one part of European Union, have caught up. Net result, as Spiegel reports, carmaker "Great Wall this week became the first Chinese automobile manufacturer to open an automobile assembly plant inside the European Union in the latest move suggesting the country's carmakers are seeking to establish a beachhead into the European market." Yes, that's right: it is now cheaper for China to make cars in the European Union: "It used to be that European carmakers opened plants to assemble their cars in China. Now the Chinese have turned the tables with the opening of their first factory in Bulgaria, an EU country with low labor costs and taxes. Increasingly, Chinese carmakers are setting their sights on the European and American automobile markets." The ramifications of this landmark development are massive for virtually every aspect of the economy: for domestic labor migration, for inflation, for the trade balance, and certainly for US workers.
Crude oil spiked to nine-month high primarily on investors fear of potential conflict over the escalating tensions between the US, Europe, Israel, and Iran. Right now, it seems Iran could be the one blinks first (war or peace).
The day dawns with a deal for Greece that is full of smoke and mirrors; lies and deceptions. It is a deal pretty much as expected and, as I have said before, now the realities are going to be confronted. Europe has spun the agreement and the Euro has rallied some and the S&P futures are up but the next few weeks, I am afraid, will hold some serious disappointments. The page turns today because now we are about to confront not what is told to us but the actuality of what has been presented to us and just what will happen as a result.
Ken Rogoff: Greece Should Be Given A "Sabbatical From The Euro" As Kicking The PIIGS Can Will Just Drag Germany DownSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/20/2012 11:03 -0500
There is nothing new in this interview of Spiegel magazine with Ken Rogoff, but it is refreshing to listen to a person who has at least some standing in the arena of grand self-delusion (i.e., economics and capital markets), telling it like it is. While he rehashes all the old points, these bear reminding as the key one is what happens to Germany as the can kicking becomes a new default exercise in preserving bank "solvency" at the expense of the last stable economy: when asked if in 2015 the Eurozone will be the same, his response: "It may well be the case that all current members remain in the euro zone, and that Germany keeps on shouldering the ever-increasing debts of other countries. But the price of such a scenario is very high for all involved: southern Europe would become embroiled in permanent stagnation and the German economy would eventually be dragged down to a slower growth trajectory." So even though everyone knows that Europe is doomed in its current configuration, let's all just pretend things shall be well, and keep the even more doomed banks alive for a few more quarters? Is the loss of a banker bonus truly such a great catastrophe to society that countries have to remain in a state of perpetual misery until it all finally unwinds? Judging by today's market action the answer is yes.
Let’s be honest, quite a few Americans love a good war, especially those Americans who have never had to bear witness to one first hand. War is the ultimate tribally vicarious experience. Anyone, even pudgy armchair generals with deep-seated feelings of personal inadequacy, can revel in the victories and actions of armies a half a world away as if they themselves stood on the front lines risking possible annihilation at the hands of dastardly cartoon-land “evil doers”. They may have never done a single worthwhile thing in their lives, but at least they can bask in the perceived glory of their country’s military might. This attitude of swollen ego through proxy is not limited to the “Right” side of the political spectrum as some might expect. In fact, if the terrifyingly demented presidency of Barack Obama has proven anything so far, it is that elements of the “Left” are just as bloodthirsty as any NeoCon, and just as ready to blindly support the political supremacy of their “side” regardless of any broken promises, abandoned principles, or openly flaunted hypocrisies. No matter how reasonable or irrefutable the arguments against a particular conflict are, there will ALWAYS be a certain percentage of the populace which ignores all logic and barrels forward to cheerlead violent actions which ultimately only benefit a select and elite few.
The geopolitical game theory escalates once again, as Iran, which four days ago halted exports to peripheral European countries took it up a notch, and has as of this morning halted sales to British and French companies. Reuters reports: "Iran has stopped selling crude to British and French companies, the oil ministry said on Sunday, in a retaliatory measure against fresh EU sanctions on the Islamic state's lifeblood, oil. "Exporting crude to British and French companies has been stopped ... we will sell our oil to new customers," spokesman Alireza Nikzad was quoted as saying by the ministry of petroleum website." Here is the actual statement from MOP.ir. As a reminder, on January 27 we said how Iran was about to "Turn Embargo Tables: To Pass Law Halting All Crude Exports To Europe." And so it has - now, the relentless media campaign about China isolating Iran in response to American demands has to be respun: recall that in early February Reuters told us that "China will halve its crude oil imports from Iran in March compared to average monthly purchases a year ago, as a dispute over payments and prices stretches into a third month, oil industry sources involved in the deals said on Monday." Apparently that may not have been the case, as there is no way Iran would have escalated as far as it has unless it had replacement buyers of one third of its crude. Incidentally, this is just as we predicted in "A Very Different Take On The "Iran Barters Gold For Food" Story." The end result of this senseless gambit by the west: Europe has less oil, the Saudi fable that it has endless excess suplies is about the be seriously tested, China has just expanded a key crude supply route, and Russia is grinning through it all as Brent prices are about to spike. Iran didn't invent chess for nothing.
The ethics of debt, at least in the officially sanctioned media, boils down to: nobody made them borrow all those euros, and so their suffering is just desserts. What's lost in this subtext is the responsibility of the lender. Yes, nobody forced Greece to borrow 200 billion euros (or whatever the true total may be), but then nobody forced the lenders to extend the credit in the first place. Consider an individual who is a visibly poor credit risk. He would like to borrow money to blow on consumption and then stiff the lender, but since he cannot create credit, he has to live within his means. Now a lender comes along who can create credit out of thin air (via fractional reserve banking) and offers this poor credit risk $100,000 in collateral-free debt at low rates of interest. Who is responsible for the creation and extension of credit? The borrower or the lender? Answer: the lender. In other words, if the lender is foolish enough to extend huge quantities of credit to a poor credit risk, then it's the lender who should suffer the losses when the borrower defaults. This is the basis of bankruptcy laws--or used to be the basis. When an over-extended borrower defaults, the debt is cleared, the lender takes the loss/writedown, and the borrower loses whatever collateral was pledged. He is left with the basics to carry on: his auto, clothing, his job, and so on. His credit rating is impaired, and it is now his responsibility to earn back a credible credit rating....The potential for loss and actually bearing the consequences from irresponsible extensions of credit was unacceptable to the banking cartel, so they rewrote the laws. Now student loans in America cannot be discharged in bankruptcy court; they are permanent and must be carried and serviced until death. This is the acme of debt-serfdom.
Open Europe has published a briefing note outlining the ten questions and issues that still need to be resolved in the coming weeks in order for Greece to avoid a full and disorderly default on March 20. The briefing argues that, realistically, only a few of these issues are likely to be fully resolved before the deadline meaning that Greece’s future in the euro will come down to one question: whether Germany and other Triple A countries will deem this to be enough political cover to approve the second Greek bailout package. In particular, the briefing argues that recent analyses of Greece’s woes have underplayed the importance of the problems posed by the large amount of funding which needs to be released to ensure the voluntary Greek restructuring can work – almost €94bn – as well as the massive time constraints presented by issues such as getting parliamentary approval for the bailout deal in Germany and Finland. While the eurozone also continues to ignore or side-line questions over the whether a 120% debt-to-GDP ratio in 2020 would be sustainable and if, given the recent riots, Greece has come close to the social and political level of austerity which it can credibly enforce.
Millions of Evangelical Christians Want to Start WWIII to Speed the "Second Coming" ... and Atheist Neocons are Using ReligionSubmitted by George Washington on 02/17/2012 22:07 -0500
To stir them up and start a war with Iran ...