Together, the market and democracy are what we like to call "the system." The system has driven and enticed bankers and politicians to get the world into trouble. One of the side effects of the crisis is that all ideological shells have been incinerated. Truths about the rationality of markets and the symbiosis of market and democracy have gone up in flames. Is it possible that we are not experiencing a crisis, but rather a transformation of our economic system that feels like an unending crisis, and that waiting for it to end is hopeless? Is it possible that we are waiting for the world to conform to our worldview once again, but that it would be smarter to adjust our worldview to conform to the world? At first glance the world is stuck in a debt crisis; but, in fact, it is in the midst of a massive transformation process, a deep-seated change to our critical and debt-ridden system, which is suited to making us poor and destroying our prosperity, social security and democracy, and in the midst of an upheaval taking place behind the backs of those in charge. A great bet is underway, a poker game with stakes in the trillions, between those who are buying time with central bank money and believe that they can continue as before, and the others, who are afraid of the biggest credit bubble in history and are searching for ways out of capitalism based on borrowed money.
"This is a time of tremendous flux in the international order" is how Harvard's Niall Ferguson describes the world in which we live as he opines expertly on the change in China, Europe's pending 'lost decade', and the Middle East's post-Arab Spring disestablishment of the 1970s 'order' with GoldMoney's Alasdair Macleod. From China's need to begin privatizing SOEs and globalizing the RMB (with an interesting focus on the introduction of reliable property rights to 'enable' the middle class) to concerns about its large dollar holdings (and the top-down and bottom-up diversification into gold that continues); Ferguson notes that the ongoing attempt to diversify its wealth and revenues (stock and flow) is relatively limited by the ability to secure hard assets but adds that as the world's 'trade' center of gravity shifts east at a very fast pace so gold will flow from "the West to the rest" as Western power declines and the Asia bloc rises. A fascinating macro-economic and geo-political discussion that concludes with a shift through Russia's energy quagmire, Japan's debt problems, and the faulty design of the European Union.
A religious dictum
Listening to Rehn, Van Rompuy, Juncker and their cohorts is rather like listening to the cheerleaders at the football game and their advice on financial matters is probably right in-line with the knowledge of the cheerleaders; but then I don’t want to insult the cheerleaders. Everything is always “good, fine, hailed, welcomed” and the sunrise is always moments away. Europe officially entered into a recession it was just announced this morning. The economy in Europe is so bad now that a picture is only worth two hundred words. The Europeans blame everything on the ratings agencies lately. There is some wisdom to this. “Moody” is how they are feeling and “Standard & Poor” is what they will be feeling soon. Recently in Spain it was reported that a teacher asked one of her students what his father did for a living. The little boy said his father did a striptease in one of the clubs in Madrid. The teacher was shocked and asked if this was true. The young fellow said, “No, he is the head of corporate credit for Bankia but I am too embarrassed to tell anyone.”
- Don't jump to conclusions over general, Pentagon chief says (Reuters)
- Bad times for generals: Pentagon demotes 4-star General Ward (Reuters)
- Investors Pay to Lend Germany Money (WSJ)
- Noda will no longer be watching... watching: Japan PM honors pledge with December 16 vote date, to lose job (Reuters)
- New China leadership takes shape (FT)
- Hispanic Workers Lack Education as Numbers Grow in U.S. (Bloomberg)
- Quest for EU single bank supervisor stumbles (FT)
- Anti-austerity strikes sweep Europe (Reuters)
- Amazon faces new obstacles in fight for holiday dollars (Reuters)
- SEC Expands Knight Probe (WSJ)
- Singapore’s Casinos Lose Luster as Gaming Revenue Decline (Bloomberg)
- Amid Petraeus sex scandal, Air Force to release abuse report (Reuters)
- Geithner’s Money Fund Overhaul Push Sparks New Opposition (Bloomberg)
It wouldn't be the New Normal if the basket case that is Europe, and its amusingly named "Union", didn't somehow manage to trip over itself. This is precisely what happened last night at the European finance ministers meeting after IMF head Lagarde and pathological liar and chair of the Europe's mostly broke Finance Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, openly disagreed with each other, an event even the FT called a "feud" after they proposed two alternative visions for Greece, one which envisioned the 120% debt/GDP debt target goal pushed forward to 2022 (for Juncker), and on the other hand, IMF, which has been humiliated enough with its horrible predictions, and which refuses to budge from its 2020 Greek target. Per the FT: "In a rare breach, Mr Juncker told a post-meeting press conference the target would be moved to 2022, prompting Ms Lagarde to insist the IMF was sticking to the original timeline. When Mr Juncker again insisted it would be moved – “I’m not joking,” he said – Ms Lagarde appeared exasperated, rolling her eyes and shaking her head. “In our view, the appropriate timetable is 120 per cent by 2020,” Ms Lagarde said. “We clearly have different views.” Officials will meet again November 20 in an effort to reach agreement, Mr Juncker said. Despite the delay, officials insisted Greece would not default on Thursday, when Athens must make a debt payment of about €5bn without the benefit of international aid." Nothing like total coordination and organization within a monetary union that may not exit if Greece does not make its November 16 bond payment, which it likely will, by issuing debt and forcing the ECB to accept it as eligible collateral so that Greece can roll the maturity. And concluding this hilarious incident was Juncker's statement this morning that there is "no real dispute" with the IMF. When it gets serious...
Fiscokiller, fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa
One of the great faults with paying attention to Europe is to take what they tell you as factual. The media trumpets what they are given by the various sources of information in Europe but a quite skeptical eye is what is needed. They claim that they do not have the “Final Troika Report” on Greece because they have not stamped it “Final” yet and so they blame their indecision on the magic trick that they are performing. Everyone on the Continent has the report but since they can agree on almost nothing they have blamed the lack of the rubber stamp as the culprit. They should just come out and say that, “It is the rubber stamp’s fault” and be done with it. Every easy trick has now been exhausted when it comes to Greece. You may feel worn out and tired by the length of time this process has taken but that is a remarkably short-sighted viewpoint. It is going to be either “debt forgiveness” or “more money” or “brute force” and there are quite serious consequences for many nations and many governments whichever path is chosen. Any of these three paths will lead to extensive pain and a lot of contagion and so I conclude that the Greeks will get forced out by increasing European demands. “Blame it on the Greeks” will be the secret password while the Greeks will call Berlin every name in the book.
While the citizens of Athens rioted and threw Molotov Cocktails outside of their Parliament the elected officials narrowly passed the new austerity measures demanded by the Troika last night. They have a budget vote left, likely to be passed, and then the focus will shift to the IMF and the European Union and whether they will fund and how it will be done. The Greek government says it will run out of money on November 16 and the country has debt payments to be made on November 21. Last night’s vote in Athens was only the first page in the current chapter and there are a number of open questions left. Make no mistake; we are caught between three cliffs at present.
Obama's Back In: Does He Succumb To Popular (Ignorant?) Opinion Like The Europeans Or Make The Tough ChoicesSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 11/08/2012 12:04 -0500
Starving a skinny man doesn't make him healthy, but then again neither does shoving 30lbs of food down his throat. When will TPTB start using their heads? As long as policy mistakes are made, contrarian profits can be made as well.
This morning no one is marching in the streets, no coup is underway and the election process functioned. For that much at least; we give thanks. We will have twenty-fours hours of afterglow and self-congratulation and then we will return to a Democratic President with a Democratic Senate that will confront a Republican Congress and America’s fiscal cliff. The popular vote provides no mandate and the United States remains a deeply divided country. Just as our election on November 6 provided an end to a very long road so will the empty till of Athens and the severely declining revenues of Spain. Decisions will now have to be made. In both Greece and Spain it is a high stakes game of Risk where the “streets are alive” and not with “the sound of music.”
- Obama-Romney: Breaking the Tie (BBG)
- Fiscal cliff looms over campaign climax (FT)
- Tough Calls on Deficit Await the Winner (WSJ)
- Election Likely to Leave Housing Unmoved (WSJ)
- Regulator Investigating Rochdale Trading (WSJ)
- Greeks Plan Strikes On Eve of Votes (WSJ)
- China Communists consider internal democratic reform (Reuters)
- Wen urges Asia-Europe co-op to promote world economy (China Daily)
- Italy Said to Reject Bad Bank That May Boost Ties to Sovereign (BBG)
- IMF warning adds to French economy fears (FT)
- Europe, Central Bank Spar Over Athens Aid (WSJ)
- Unlimited Lending May Help Weaken the Yen, BOJ Official Says (BBG)
- PBOC Official Says U.S. Election Won’t Impact Yuan Level (BBG) - Just the USD level to which it is pegged
"Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation and empire." Strauss & Howe wrote these words in 1997. They understood the dynamics of how generations interact and how the mood of the country shifts every twenty or so years based upon the generational alignment that occurs as predictably as the turning of the seasons. The last generation that lived through the entire previous Crisis from 1929 through 1946 has virtually died off. For those who doubt generational theory and believe history is a linear path of human progress, I would point to the last week of chaos, disarray, government dysfunction, and misery of those who didn’t prepare for Superstorm Sandy, as a prelude to the worst of this Crisis. The lack of preparation by government officials and citizens, death, destruction, panic, anger, helplessness and realization of how fragile our system has become is a perfect analogy to our preparation for this Fourth Turning. The regeneracy of the nation will occur during the next presidential term. The mathematical impossibility of sustaining our economic system is absolute.
The center cannot hold because it has failed the nation by defending the Status Quo kleptocracy. As a case study, let's look at Greece, a nation that is the leading-edge of Status Quo delegitimization and destabilization. As the Status Quo fails to protect the national interests and the citizenry from the neofeudal kleptocracy, faith in the political center fades. What happens when people lose faith in the financial institutions and their coercive "fixes"? They move their capital to less-risky, more productive climes. In other words, capital flight is another positive feedback: as people move their capital out of the country, then there is less available per capita for productive investment. The same holds true for every nation ruled by kleptocratic Elites that has attempted to "grow our way out of debt" by piling debt on debt. Doesn't that include Spain, Italy, China, the U.S. and a host of other nations?
- Millions still lack power (WSJ); New York Region Transit Tracker (WSJ), Blackouts Remain for 6.1 Million as Power Repairs Begin (Bloomberg)
- U.S. regulator seeks $470 million from Barclays (Reuters)
- J.P. Morgan Sues Whale's Ex-Boss (WSJ)
- London Frets Future as Financial Hub Outside Bank Union (Bloomberg)
- SNB now selling EUR: Swiss Central Bank Pulls Off Euro Sleight of Hand (WSJ)
- United Said to Study Biggest Airbus A350 to Replace Jumbos (Bloomberg)
- Draghi expands role in fight to save euro (FT)
- Panasonic Plunges by Daily Limit on Loss Forecast, CDS Soars (BusinessWeek)
- Italy risks economic ‘vicious circle’ (FT)
- Starbucks's European tax bill disappears down $100 million hole (Reuters)
- Bernanke Depression Guru Seeks Roosevelt Well-Being (Bloomberg)