Guest Post: “The Sequel”: How 2011 Is A Repeat of 2008—Only Bigger, Longer, and Uncut by Bailouts

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Gonzalo Lira

Guest Post: “The Sequel”: How 2011 Is A Repeat of 2008—Only Bigger, Longer, and Uncut by Bailouts

I might have missed it, but I don’t think anyone has noticed this simple truism:

The structural causes that led to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 are identical to the structural causes that are leading us to another systemic financial crisis in 2011.

You saw this one already?

The only difference is the kind of debt at the core of the looming crisis: Mortgage-backed securities in 2008, as opposed to European sovereign debt in 2011.

And of course, the debt hole in 2011 is bigger than in 2008—a lot bigger.

That’s why I am confident in predicting we are about to have another Global Financial Crisis—I’m calling it The Sequel: Same movie, same players, same story. Only this time around—like all good sequels—the financial crisis we are about to experience is going to be bigger, longer, and uncut by bailouts.

By the way, that is the key difference between 2008 and 2011: We’re not going to have a Hollywood Ending this time around. The governments of Europe and the United States, as well as their respective central banks, do not have any weapons to fight off this 2011 financial crisis, as they did in 2008, for the simple reason that they used them all up—they’re out of bullets, both monetarily and politically.

So when The Sequel hits the big screen, there won’t be a Big Daddy Government deus ex machina to come save the day in the third act twist. When The Sequel hits, we’re on our own.

Let’s discuss the structural similarities between the original and The Sequel:

In both 2008 and now 2011, you had unpayable debts at the center of a fragile financial system. In 2008, it was mortgage backed securities and collateralized debt obligations—the so-called “toxic assets”. I think we all know that story pretty well.

In 2011, we have European sovereign debt. And just like the toxic assets of 2008, the Euro-bonds might have been rated AAA, but they certainly aren’t blue-chip—they are more like brown-chip: That deep brown color peculiar to fast-sinking dog-turds.

In both 2008 and 2011, these unpayable debts—emitted over many years, accumulating silently and asymptomatically like plaque in the arteries—gave a false sense of prosperity in the years leading up to the respective crises.

In the lead up to 2008, the MBS’s and CDO’s gave the American homeowner a sense that their house was their personal private ATM sitting on their quarter-acre suburban lot. They also were a profit spigot for the financial sector, which bouyed the U.S. GDP growth, leading to a false sense of national prosperity, even as there were signs that the non-financial sector of the economy was diving.

In the lead up to 2011, on the other hand, the sovereign debt of the eurozone countries gave the European citizens a sense that they could afford to buy all the imported goods they could ever want, as well as the sense that their government could afford to pay for all the social welfare programs they were all promised—without having to pay for any of this by way of higher taxes. Hell, that was the entire Labour governments’ platform between 1997 and 2010: Blair and Brown gave the UK a welfare state and low taxes—all paid for with sovereign debt.

In both 2008 and 2011, you have banks exposed to these bad debts both directly and indirectly—and this exposure in 2011 threatens to topple the entire financial structure, just as it almost did in 2008.

In 2008, the financial institutions with direct exposure to the toxic assets—that is, the institutions that actually owned these crap bonds that would never be paid in full—were mostly American banks. Their capitalization depended on how pristine these toxic assets were. As it became increasingly clear that the toxic assets were exactly that—toxic—the banks holding this crap found themselves not only without the capitalization to pass regulatory muster, but in fact found themselves functionally insolvent—hence the suspension of FASB 157, coupled with the injection of $150 billion worth of capital by way of TARP.

In 2011, the financial institutions with direct exposure to toxic assets—in this case, the European sovereign bonds, especially from the PIIGS—are once again banks, this time around mostly European banks: UniCredit, Société Générale, Dexia.

Like 2008, these assets might be rated triple-A, but they’re dog-turds—and they threaten these banks with insolvency, if any of them default. A bankruptcy of any of the aforementioned European banks would have massive consequences for the rest of the global financial construct—it would not be a Europe-only problem, just as the bankruptcy of Lehman was most definitely not an America-only catastrophe.

And that’s just the direct exposure to the 2011 version of toxic assets.

The real danger in 2011 is the indirect exposure—that is, the liabilities that are triggered in the case of a debt default: Just like 2008.

In 2008, it was AIG and other assorted credit default swap sellers that got hit bad, when the toxic assets began to default—we all remember how the very ground we trod rocked as AIG stumbled and everybody had a collective nuclear-meltdown freak-out.

In 2011—you guessed it—it’s worse: We have Bank of America for sure has massive exposure to derivatives on European sovereign and debt, as well as . . . God Knows who else.

Why do I say “God Knows who else”? Because just like in 2008, the derivatives market is so opaque—not to say hermetic—that we are not going to know who’s going to go bust until it actually happens. In 2008, Hank Paulson and the Treasury Department didn’t find out about the AIG hole until the weekend before the company would go bust. Today, in 2011—even with the experience of how potentially deadly ignorance of the derivatives markets can be—there are no mechanisms in place to swiftly and accurately tally who has derivatives exposure to any particular bond or asset.

In other words, Tiny Timmy and Bailout Benny never implemented the one lesson learned from 2008: Make the markets transparent, so that you can see where the crisis is coming from before it falls on top of your head.

Thus they—and we collectively—are flying blind insofar as derivatives written on the European sovereign debt. We only know about BofA’s massive CDS exposure indirectly, through Timothy Geithner’s demand in December 2010 that Ireland not default, because of the massive losses an Irish sovereign default on BofA.

Bernanke and Geithner had the chance to regulate this vital piece of the financial markets—but they didn’t! Instead, they acquiesced to this ridiculous pseudo-“ideology” that we should not regulate the financial markets.

(Parenthetically, and speaking as a hard-core, anti-choice, anti-vegan, pro-gun, pro-red meat Conservative: I am sick and tired of the ignorant assholes who say, “All government regulation is bad! Let the free markets reign!” We have the government regulate various industries and products because it is necessary for our individual and collective safety—or would you rather the government never regulated, say, the water supply, car safety standards, housing standards? Would you prefer it if the FDIC ceased to exist, and your local S&L could go to Vegas and play the roulette wheel with your life savings? Certainly not. Not only do we need government regulation for safety standards, we need regulations to prevent unscrupulous exploiters from gaming the system—think Enron, which should have put paid to any ridiculous notion that “the market knows best”, but obviously hasn’t (or else I wouldn’t be ranting here): The Enronites of the “energy trading desks” exploited the free markets and the lack of government regulation in the so-called “energy markets”, and deliberately created rolling blackouts in California so as to gouge the people of that state for the electricity they already owned and which they should have been getting, but which the Enron bastards were manipulating in order to squeeze them for money. Insofar as the financial markets are concerned, anyone spouting that particular bullshit spiel about the markets knowing best is either a shill for the banks, or a complete and utter imbecile. And a bank shill at least has the excuse of needing to pay the mortgage in exchange for spouting this nonsensical bullshit—the imbecile does not.)

Now, I used to write for the movies—I can tell you the secret to writing a good sequel: Use the exact same elements, the exact same story structure—hell, even use the exact same lines!—but make sure the sequel is bigger: Bigger sets, bigger explosions, bigger stars, bigger everything—a bigger bang for the buck.

2011’s The Sequel is certainly going to deliver that bigger bang—because it’s a lot bigger than 2008: The total sovereign debt of the PIIGS is about €3.1 trillion. That’s 20% of the eurozone’s GDP—just the PIIGS, just those five, forget about France, Belgium and the UK, which if added up easily doubles that €3.1 trillion figure.

Compare that to 2008, when the total toxic assets the Federal Reserve wound up having to buy amounted to about $1.5 trillion—about 11.5% of the U.S.’s 2008 GDP.

In other words, the current situation is over twice what 2008 was—and might wind up being four times the 2008 price tag. And that’s just the nominal value of the toxic debt at the core of the current situation. We have no idea what the total value of the indirect exposure via derivatives is going to add up to.

So! We’ve seen that we’re structurally at the same place we were in 2008: Unpayable debts held by a fragile financial sector, with massive indirect exposure by way of derivatives that no one has bothered to tally up and regulate.

We have furthermore seen that—like all good sequels—2011 is going to have a bigger bang: We currently have more debts on deck than in 2008, at least twice as much, as a matter of fact.

Question: Why does teasing out these similarities matter?

Answer: Because it will allow us to see what will happen over the months of September and October, when the crisis breaks.

What we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks is not the crisis—or not the crisis, at any rate. We’ve seen Italian and Spanish debt drop, their yields spiking—we’ve seen gold run up to $1,820—we’ve seen the biggest drops in the US equities markets since 2008—

—but these gyrations are not The Sequel. Rather, these last couple of weeks of market gyrations have been the forewarnings—the pre-tremors. Anyone who’s lived in earthquake country knows about them: The little tremors and hiccoughs that precede The Big One.

The Sequel will actually get going once we have our Lehman-like event.

In 2008, the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers triggered the crash—but it was not the cause of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008: The structural weaknesses were already baked into the situation—the Lehman bankruptcy was just the shove the global financial system needed to fall off the proverbial cliff.

Today, we are waiting for the Lehman-like event. My personal guess is Dexia will be the first to go under, the Lehman-like event that will trigger The Sequel—but that’s just a guess. More likely than not, the Lehman-like event of 2011 will catch us all by surprise—but just like the Lehman bankruptcy, it won’t matter intrinsically: It’ll only matter insofar as it triggers the cascade of panic-default-bankruptcies, etc.

Be that as it may, at my paid site, The Strategic Planning Group, we’ve been discussing what to do, when The Sequel hits. I won’t bother recapitulating what I’ve written there—frankly, it’s too long, and besides, the details are why the SPG Members pay their dues.

The one issue I will discuss here is the notion of a safe haven:

In 2008, when all the stock markets were going south, and all the name-brand banks were teetering, where did everyone park their money? What was the safe haven?

Treasury bonds. In fact, the flight to safety was so massive that Treasuries reached negative yields, when you factored for inflation.

Treasuries are the traditional American safe haven. But what with the recent spate of, er, questionable events (Debt celing conniption fit, anyone?), Treasuries aren’t looking as safe as they used to, nevermind the (cosmetic) S&P downgrade of their Treasuries rating.

But this isn’t an American crisis—this is a European crisis that will have catastrophic consequences in America—but the epicenter will be Europe.

What’s the safe haven in Europe? Gold.

In fact, in Europe, sovereign bonds have never been considered a “safe haven”, for the simple reason that sovereign debt in Europe has countless times suffered haircuts, defaults, outright national bankruptcies.

Since this will be a European sovereign debt crisis that will spread around the globe—but the epicenter of which will of course be in Europe—bankers and asset managers will pull their cash—euros—out of whatever they think is risky, and park it in some safe haven.

These European money men obviously cannot sell their assets and buy US Treasury bonds with those euros that they get. And they certainly won’t plug those euros into European sovereign debt, which is exactly the source of the panic. They won’t even park those euros in German bunds, for fear of contagion.

Therefore, it is reasonable to infer that, if and when there is a Lehman-like event in Europe that triggers The Sequel, the flight to safety will be to gold, which Europeans traditionally see as a financial refuge as surely as Americans consider Treasuries their financial refuge.

Hence in my estimation, gold will rocket on. I would not be surprised if gold crosses $2,000 an ounce when the Lehman-like event happens, and goes on quickly to $2,500 before the end of the year. On my scale of augury, this is head-and-shoulders above a Strong Hunch, just shy of a Fearless Prediction: $2,500 by the New Year’s. After that?

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High Plains Drifter's picture

little timmie says to zog congress. 


we need 3 trillion or there is going to be riots in the streets.............

Long-John-Silver's picture

Free preloaded $1,000,000 debit cards for everyone that shows up to riot IF you go back home.

drink or die's picture

What happens if they run out of cards?  Would that make the rioting better or worse?

LeBalance's picture

nice joke.

they can't run out of cards.

spiral_eyes's picture


I maintain until we get an oil shock or an import collapse (sparked by yuan flotation, or the dollar losing its reserve currency status) that this is still more like japan in the 90s. 

macholatte's picture

Investment tips for 2011


For all of you with any money left, be aware of the next expected mergers so that you can get in on the ground floor and make some BIG bucks. Watch for these consolidations later on this year:


1.) Hale Business Systems, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Fuller Brush, and W R. Grace Co. Will merge and become: Hale, Mary, Fuller, Grace.


2.) Polygram Records, Warner Bros., and Zesta Crackers join forces and become: Poly, Warner Cracker.


3.) 3M will merge with Goodyear and become: MMMGood.


4. Zippo Manufacturing, Audi Motors, Dofasco, and Dakota Mining will merge and become: ZipAudiDoDa.


5. FedEx is expected to join its competitor, UPS, and become: FedUP.


6. Fairchild Electronics and Honeywell Computers will become: Fairwell Honeychild.


7. Grey Poupon and Docker Pants are expected to become: PouponPants.


8. Knotts Berry Farm and the National Organization of Women will become: Knott NOW!


And finally...


9. Victoria 's Secret and Smith & Wesson will merge under the new name: TittyTittyBangBang



boiltherich's picture

"For all of you with any money left..."

Ummmm, if there is indeed anyone that has any money left allow me please to say, if you have calculated a positive net worth for your personal financial situation do not forget to add in your fair share of the state, local, federal, and corporate debts, because there is not going to simply be a jubilee.  Some would argue that corporate debt does not belong on the list but I say it does since one way or another it is we out there in the economy that gets to pay the prices they charge for goods and services which include corporate debt service. 

In aggregate those debts come to about 60 trillion dollars, and a fair share is determined by dividing this amount by the number of people that are either working but not in poverty, because remember there are millions of workers that are in poverty, or not working but with substantial (non farm) assets.  I will take a wild stab at it and say that some 80 million are in this category.  60,000,000,000,000.00/80,000,000=$600,000 per.  So if you think you have a positive net worth you might need to subtract 600,000 and see if that still leaves you with anything. 

I am only really saying that there is absolutely no way this debt can be paid down either by growth in the economy or population.  Even at low interest rates it is still so monstrous that it grows beyond our ability to ever get control of it.  And note I did not even include the tens of trillions in household debt because you already know what your share of that burden is.  There is one way out and it will be the path we go down, it will be the Zimbabwe solution, the yenization, the Turkish Lira path.  And it will carry disastrous consequences that will leave us a hollow constitution and no freedoms at all.  It will reduce 99% of us to poverty, of course there will always be our fabulously rich 1%. 

Zombie households, zombie companies, zombie governments, food shortages in the USA, it is coming.

pelican's picture

It isn't the goverment's fault either.  The little girl was in training to be an investiment banker.



slewie the pi-rat's picture

+++++  LoL!

if Knott NOW merged w/ Sue Bee, they could put out everybody's fave:  Knott NOW Honey

piceridu's picture

"She is on benefits, does not live with the boy's father and has 10 other children, the court heard".

Welcome to the American futurama.

BigJim's picture

What a depressing video.

DavidC's picture

Very, very good! One of the best I've seen on ZH!


dwdollar's picture

They will print Aces until Aces are so plentiful that the game loses meaning.  Anyone smart should quit before they lose their chips.

RockyRacoon's picture
Feral Capitalism Hits the Streets

Feral Capitalism Hits the Streets
by David Harvey
11 August 2011

“Nihilistic and feral teenagers” the Daily Mail called them: the crazy youths from all walks of life who raced around the streets mindlessly and desperately hurling bricks, stones and bottles at the cops while looting here and setting bonfires there, leading the authorities on a merry chase of catch-as-catch-can as they tweeted their way from one strategic target to another.

The word “feral” pulled me up short. It reminded me of how the communards in Paris in 1871 were depicted as wild animals, as hyenas, that deserved to be (and often were) summarily executed in the name of the sanctity of private property, morality, religion, and the family. But then the word conjured up another association: Tony Blair attacking the “feral media,” having for so long been comfortably lodged in the left pocket of Rupert Murdoch only later to be substituted as Murdoch reached into his right pocket to pluck out David Cameron.

There will of course be the usual hysterical debate between those prone to view the riots as a matter of pure, unbridled and inexcusable criminality, and those anxious to contextualize events against a background of bad policing; continuing racism and unjustified persecution of youths and minorities; mass unemployment of the young; burgeoning social deprivation; and a mindless politics of austerity that has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with the perpetuation and consolidation of personal wealth and power. Some may even get around to condemning the meaningless and alienating qualities of so many jobs and so much of daily life in the midst of immense but unevenly distributed potentiality for human flourishing.

If we are lucky, we will have commissions and reports to say all over again what was said of Brixton and Toxteth in the Thatcher years. I say ‘lucky’ because the feral instincts of the current Prime Minister seem more attuned to turn on the water cannons, to call in the tear gas brigade and use the rubber bullets while pontificating unctuously about the loss of moral compass, the decline of civility and the sad deterioration of family values and discipline among errant youths.

But the problem is that we live in a society where capitalism itself has become rampantly feral. Feral politicians cheat on their expenses, feral bankers plunder the public purse for all its worth, CEOs, hedge fund operators and private equity geniuses loot the world of wealth, telephone and credit card companies load mysterious charges on everyone’s bills, shopkeepers price gouge, and, at the drop of a hat swindlers and scam artists get to practice three-card monte right up into the highest echelons of the corporate and political world.

A political economy of mass dispossession, of predatory practices to the point of daylight robbery, particularly of the poor and the vulnerable, the unsophisticated and the legally unprotected, has become the order of the day. Does anyone believe it is possible to find an honest capitalist, an honest banker, an honest politician, an honest shopkeeper or an honest police commisioner any more? Yes, they do exist. But only as a minority that everyone else regards as stupid. Get smart. Get Easy Profits. Defraud and steal! The odds of getting caught are low. And in any case there are plenty of ways to shield personal wealth from the costs of corporate malfeasance.

What I say may sound shocking. Most of us don’t see it because we don’t want to. Certainly no politician dare say it and the press would only print it to heap scorn upon the sayer. But my guess is that every street rioter knows exactly what I mean. They are only doing what everyone else is doing, though in a different way – more blatently and visibly in the streets. Thatcherism unchained the feral instincts of capitalism (the “animal spirits” of the entreprenuer they coyly named it) and nothing has transpired to curb them since. Slash and burn is now openly the motto of the ruling classes pretty much everywhere.

This is the new normal in which we live. This is what the next grand commission of enquiry should address. Everyone, not just the rioters, should be held to account. Feral capitalism should be put on trial for crimes against humanity as well as for crimes against nature.

Sadly, this is what these mindless rioters cannot see or demand. Everything conspires to prevent us from seeing and demanding it also. This is why political power so hastily dons the robes of superior morality and unctuous reason so that no one might see it as so nakedly corrupt and stupidly irrational.

But there are various glimmers of hope and Light around the world. The indignados movements in Spain and Greece, the revolutionary impulses in Latin America, the peasant movements in Asia, are all beginning to see through the vast scam that a predatory and feral global capitalism has unleashed upon the world. What will it take for the rest of us to see and act upon it? How can we begin all over again? What direction should we take? The answers are not easy. But one thing we do know for certain: we can only get to the right answers by asking the right questions.

David Harvey is Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His latest book is The Enigma of Capital, and the Crises of Capitalism.

BigJim's picture

LOL. And who, WHO, will help us to find the right questions to ask? For a tenure? And a fat advance on his new book: We're all to blame, so I'm guessing no one's to blame.

What I love about these guys is that, because we are ruled by a subsidised kleptocratic elite that robs the productive class, they think it's justifiable for the subsidised underclasses to join in, even more than they are already.

SMG's picture

You are incorrect about who occupies government (ie the Zionist Occupied Government - zog reference).  It's the Lucifer worshiping Illuminati, not Yahweh worshiping Zionist.   The correct people must be brought to justice if we are ever to be truely free.

Please stop spreading incorrect info, it would help freedom's cause immensely.  Thanks.


Bastiat's picture

Many (most? all?) Orthodox Jews whould say "Yahweh worshipping Zionist" is a oxymoron. 

SMG's picture

Well my point is, if you blame Jewish people for the worlds ills, you are blaming the wrong people.   The real villans are the Illuminati.  And it is they who must be brought to justice for the common man and woman to be free.

BigJim's picture

He's not blaming Jews. Numerically, most  Zionists are actually bible-bashing evangelical Christians, who think Jesus is gonna come down an' save 'em when all the Jews get back to Isreeeeel.

Accidental Farmer's picture

Aren't the "jews" who controll everything Khazarians? Benjamin Freedman talks about it in a speech you can find on you tube.

SMG's picture

I read the article.   I think the term Zionist is confusing, as to most people when you start talking about Zionism, you begin to think Jewish, and the wrong people get blamed.   To me,  Illuminati clearly refers to the people in the article the Rothschilds, Warburgs and the like.    I think using the Illuminati terminolgy helps ensure the correct people are eventually brought to justice.  Thanks for the article though. 

BigJim's picture

..when you start talking about Zionism, you begin to think Jewish, and the wrong people get blamed.  

Well, the problem when you start talking about the 'Illuminati', you begin to think 'nut', and no one gets blamed.

TwelfthVulture's picture

An orthodox jew wouldn't say yahweh.

Thomas's picture

What's with this whole Jew obsession. Is it Yahweh or the highway? All I care is that they are bankers, and there ought to be a bounty on the top shelf bankers.

andybev01's picture

"Yahweh or the highway?"



PY-129-20's picture

It's Autobahn of course.

zorba THE GREEK's picture

It would solve a lot of problems if the Jews went back to Israel with a banker under their right arm and 

a lawyer under their left arm and a politician with his head stuck up their ass.

zorba THE GREEK's picture

Disclaimer... Zorba wishes not to offend anyone...Some of Zorba's best friends

hate lawyers and bankers and politicians too.

Nozza's picture

Orthodoix Jews / observant Jews would not say the tetrgammaton


Inibo E. Exibo's picture

You should, perhaps, google Abraham Abulafia and Prophetic or Ecstatic Kabbalah.  At it's core Jewish mysticism is all about the Name.'s picture
Traditional Jews Are Not Zionists


Although there are those who refuse to accept the teachings of our Rabbis and will continue to support the Zionist state, there are also many who are totally unaware of the history of Zionism and its contradiction to the beliefs of Torah-True Jews.

Dick Fitz's picture

Good link.

Blaming "Jews" for the work of a smal coterie of people who may or may not be Jewish (although a large minority of the most recognizable ARE of Jewish descent) is counter-productive and muddies the debate. The Illuminati are just another facet of this "conspiracy" and the amount of disinformation on both is astonishing. Look up "The Daily Bell" for a more in-depth examination of these families and groups, and it will help you refine your understanding of the attacks we have faced in the past, and the shape of their attacks in the future.

CH1's picture

Ignore them, Dick. These assholes populate  lot of threads here, mainly to waste everyone's time. Not many more effective ways to do that than screaming Antisemitic bullshit.

They are shills. The good question is who pays them?

Max Hunter's picture

It's the Lucifer worshiping Illuminati,

Of course, make it someone we could never identify or put our finger on.. Perfect!!

I am more equal than others's picture

Lucifer was Barry Obama's dad - so that make Barry son of satan.  There I've identified him.  Whip him your finger!  BO is perfect, perfectly evil........ booohaahaaa

Spirit Of Truth's picture

This is not so complex.  IMO Russian leader Vladimir Putin is the reincarnation of RasPUTIN, a name that means "lawlessness" in Russian.

2 Thessalonians 2 prophesizes that Jesus would return to expose the "lawless one" who, for all intents and purposes, represents the Evil One in the world, i.e., the Antichrist who makes war on the Jews and God's people during the Apocalypse:

Tis the great chastisement as the Kingdom of God is brought to our world, but as part of this a false kingdom of Satan will first be established to counterfeit the divine plan:

Modern Christian eschatology 101.