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Zeno’s Recovery – Looking forward with fury to 2011

Well here we are in a second successive year of Zeno’s Recovery.  The recovery that never ends but never gets anywhere either.

In accordance with Zeno’s rules of paradox, no news will be allowed that is not positive: Thus good news will be exaggerated and bad news will be treated as if it were good news.  Every report on television, radio and in the newspapers will be about how some indicator or other is on its way up. And yet to those not staggered with optimism, it will appear, as it always does in nightmares, that for all the struggling and sacrificing, we will never seem to move from where we started.  The people of Ireland already know how bleak this feels.

Here are some of the reasons why I do not believe we are in a recovery.  I know I risk becoming a ridiculous figure, the man who refuses to see the dawn even as it breaks.  But I see no dawn.

America.
What exactly has turned around in the Land of the Free?

Housing prices have not risen. They are going to fall in fact, as foreclosures and bank sales rise like a stealthy tide. And this despite the on going legal debacle concerning fraudulent foreclosures and  even more fraudulent securitizations.

Unemployment has not fallen at all. The narrow definition, U3, still stands on the cusp of 10%. While the true misery measure, U6, stands like the stone rebuke that it is, at 17%.

The ONE and ONLY thing that has recovered is the stock market.  Breathless headlines ‘revealed’ that US markets are now back to ‘Pre-Lehman’s levels’.  So how can I possible doubt the robustness of the recovery?

Easy! There is still the unspoken assumption that these stock levels are a proxy for general well being and broad recovery.  This IS NOT TRUE.  Who owns all these stocks?

I doubt you own any. Because 90.3% of ALL the stocks, shares and Mutual fund ownership  (Which are large, pooled investment funds) are owned by just 10% of Americans. 50.9% of the stocks and shares are owned by a single, golden ONE PERCENT. That ONE PERCENT of the families of America runs, owns or works at Wall Street’s Banks, America’s largest corporations, including its largest, Congress inc. (Thanks to Rich for the link).

The same 10% who own the wealth, the stocks, the bonds, the banks, and the companies, ALSO run the government and sit in the courts. Which means that 90% of the rise in the stock markets enriches the same 10% who already own everything anyway. 90% of the stock market rally does NOT benefit ANYONE else in America.

Is it a coincidence that the people who engineered the ‘recovery’ with its miraculous stock market recovery turn out to be the people who also own all the stocks?

What this means is that watching the stock market tells you simply how fast the super wealthy are becoming even more super wealthy, how quickly they are leaving us behind.  It tells you nothing at all about the people of America and the economic distress in which they live.  A ‘recovery’ based solely upon a rise in the stock markets while wages and home prices remain collapsed is a recovery for the very few AT THE EXPENSE of the rest.

And that is exactly what we have had so far.

Company share prices have ‘recovered’ to pre-Lehman’s levels but wages for ordinary people have not shared in this recovery. Companies have not rehired. Production has not gone up.  Exports have not jumped to pre-Lehman’s levels.  Nothing has moved, except the prices of the shares traded back and forth between the banks of the rich.

Japan.
A little over a year ago at the end of 3Q of ’09 news was trumpeted out of Japan, that 3Q growth had reached 4.8%.  A fantastic figure for the world’s financial bulimic sumo. Was this finally the end of the two decade nightmare of alternatively helplessly gorging itself on trillions of yen in stimulus, only to violently puke the lot back up as it refused to consume or grow?

No, it wasn’t. It was a lie. Another one. From the staggering 4.8% it was ‘revised’ down to 1.3%. In fact growth in 3Q turned out to be just 0.3% which gives 1.3% as an annualized rate.

Since that ignominious admission that there had been none of claimed growth, things have only got worse for Japan.  Japan now has debts of 225% of its GDP. At the same time the cost of that debt, as a percentage of its TAX Revenue is just short of 60%.

So Japan’s recovery is to have very low, if any growth, with debts over over twice its GDP and servicing costs which take nearly 60% of it’s entire tax take.  And all that, is only the Yakuza’s smile.  The bad news is, in my opinion, terminal.

Just after Christmas Japan’s cabinet approved a new budget which plans to reign in government borrowing aiming to reduce it to ONLY 200%. And they will do this by SPENDING MORE than last year.  In fact Japan’s borrowing WILL, same as last year,  exceed tax revenue by 41 Trillion Yen.

Japan’s pathetic leadership will spend more, save nothing, borrow 41 trillion more than they take in taxes, spend 60% of what they do take paying the debts they have accumulated so far, before rounding off another stellar year of recovery, with more debt than they began with.

Japan is lost.  Japan will only pull off this slow suicide by raiding 7 trillion yen in one-time pots of money hitherto unnoticed –  such as money accumulated by the railways.

This plan is a monument to lies and failure.  It is without a shred of courage and it dishonours its own people.  Frankly, it soils the Japanese.

That is their plan.  A plan which still depends on selling huge amounts of debt. And therein lies the  killer problem.  Till now Japan has sold its debt to its own people via their pension plans.  The rpoblem is those pension plans, like the people in them, are now out of money.  Not only that but the largest pension plans as well as smaller investors are now moving their buying abroad.  So far the move has been slow. But all landslides begin slowly.  Without domestic buyers for their debt, willing, as they have be till now, to buy the debt at a third of the interantional market rate,  Japan cannot and will not survive.

I believe that 2011 will be the end for Japan.  Domestic buyers will not buy enough. Japan will have to offer its bonds on the open market. It’s costs will triple.  The market will also know that next year there will be no little pots of money to raid.  2011 is Japan’s last year to find the courage and new leaders it has lacked for more than 20 years. If it doesn’t then it is going to implode.

Hungary and friends  
In December, Hungary’s debt was downgraded by Fitch to ‘BBB-‘ with a negative outlook, which is just one grade above junk.  This on ‘worries’ that the government does not intend to cut its debts as fast as it has said it would in discussion with the IMF and EC.  And so it won’t.  Hungary has no hope of cutting its debts as the IMF would like it too, in large part, because it is not growing at the fantasy rates all and sundry told themselves it would.  Hungary, like its neighbors Romanian and Bulgaria is sinking.

And the other, compounding reason, if you’ll pardon the horrid pun, Hungary is doomed is because the Swiss franc is gaining value against every currency.  The Swiss franc is even gaining against the dollar as a safe haven investment.  So for the Hungarians who borrowed and owe their mortgages in Swiss Francs but have to earn and pay in Florints, their debts are growing and there is NOTHING they can do about it.

And do you remember who owns over a third of Hungary’s banking sector? Greece. So as losses and defaults grow in Hungary a chunk of those losses will be headed to Greek banks to deal with.  Another part of the losses from Hungary, as well as Romania and Bulgaria. will pass to Bank Austria and its luckily owner UniCredit.

I also expect that this year will also mark the beginnings of trouble of countries who have so far weathered this crisis better, such as Poland who also has large mortgage debts valued in Swiss Francs..

China.
China is still trying to reign in the property and banking bubble it has let grow but somehow do it without popping the bubble.  Good luck.  They also need to bring down inflation which is growing and fast.  So far the central authorities have failed to reign in anything at all. So the central government has now raised the bank rate.  Will this do what all other efforts have failed to do?  Who knows.  What I am more interested in is the effect of the uncertainly on Australia and Canada.  IF, and it is a bog if, China does in any way manage to stem the flow of hot money pouring out of China looking to buy properties in Canada and Australia, then this will have dire consequences for both those nations.  Chinese investment has been no small part of their ability to keep their property bubbles going.

Australia.
The first real warning signs have begun to flash for Australia,  Australian banks do not and cannot fund their lending from domestic deposits and interbank lending. ,Just like those in Ireland and the UK used to do, Australian banks have become dependant on foreign, often non-bank funding for their mortgage lending. Australia as a whole now owes foreign investors 352 billion Australian dollars. Which is 27% of  Australia’s entire economic output.

And for the first time some of those foreign investors are sounding warnings.

This is from the Australian financial press,

Gerard Fitzpatrick, global fixed income portfolio manager for Russell Investments, said he was increasingly cautious about lending to Australian banks.


Speaking from London last week, he cited the recent catastrophe in Ireland, where the house price bubble effectively broke the banks.

“I’m not saying Australia is the same as Ireland, but there are definitely similarities,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

“You’ve had a booming housing sector and rapidly increased lending by banks. The two situations have enough in common for bond investors to consider the consequences for the Australian housing market – and the banks that are supporting it.”

When you are totally dependant for day to day solvency on suppliers of short term funding and those suppliers even START to mutter about feeling ‘increasingly cautious’ about lending to you, then you are one step away from becoming Northern Rock, Anglo Irish or Depfa.

It is my feeling that the property markets on Canada’s west coast as as vulnerable as Australia’s market.  It is only the blanket guarantee of the Canadian government which has kept the lid on the whole thing.

Portugal and Italy.
I think Italy will find itself slipping into company with Portugal partly as municipal debts surface and partly as UniCredit being to suffer as I think it is going to do this year.  UniCredit’s woes will be partly those of Italy as it’s ability to stay above the bond market carnage ends and is drawn in to its own funding crisis.

And it will partly be UniCredit’s very own crisis. One made in the East, in it subsidiary, Bank Austria and in the West at another subsidiary, Pioneer.  Some potentially very damaging questions have already been asked in the Austrian Parliament about UniCredit’s actions.  The questions are not yet, I don’t think, public, but may become so. What is sure, is that those asking them, and the suspicions underlying them will NOT go away. They will grow and fester like an infection from dirty splinter

Great Britain.
This is the year the reality of our situation beings to pierce the fog of government and city lies which has blended so well with a self induced chemical defence of chronic drunkenness.  2011 is when GB will taste the bitterness and pain of sobering up.

This year there will be a wave of crime some of it not so petty.  That may sound trifling but it will unsettle the inner cities and the towns in a way the Tories are not ready for.  The cause of the crime wave will be the new policy of making people report regularly for work duties or lose their benefits.  There is an small army of Heroin addicts and chronic alcoholics who cannot and will not report for work, who will therefore lose their benefits and will, in all likelihood turn to petty crime as soon as the cramps kick them hard enough.  We have already seen a rise in household thefts in my area, according to local police.

To that wave of misery add a wave of  homelessness.  2011 will be a year of unrelenting cruelty when it comes to people losing their jobs and income, and shortly thereafter facing losing their house as well.  I expect the second half of this year to slowly force a wave of families out of their homes into homelessness. The problem will come when local authorities reveal that they just do not have the money to rehouse them.

These are some of the reasons I see no dawn of a better future.

I see only a cold growing fury spreading like a disease among the shafted and despised.  For anger is the one natural product of recession which is indeed limitless and does increase when nothing but lies and misery are on offer.

 

,

65 Responses to Zeno’s Recovery – Looking forward with fury to 2011

  1. richard in norway January 2, 2011 at 7:17 pm #

    good post

    is japanese debt really at 225% that is stagering

    your predicktion on the UK seemed a little shrill but probably right but i do wonder how long the UK housing market can continue to walk the tightrope without falling off

    i mean average house price is 7 or 8 times average earnings, that is just silly

  2. Patricia January 2, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    Since the middle of 2010 New Zealand permitted the Banks to issue covered bonds and now Australia permits them too. Until recently neither country allowed them because the bond holders came first before the depositors. Apparently there are two types of covered bonds – one contractual and the other legislated. New Zealand Government likes the idea of legislated ones. What the consequences of the latter I do not know but it smells of a Government guarantee. The Australian big 4 banks control the banking in both countries. The question then becomes if one of them crashes, and it is within the realms of possibility, then does the Government guarantee any shortfall in the bond holders lending and/or the depositors deposits. I know in New Zealand the Government guaranteed the wholesale funding of those banks’ balance sheets towards the end of 2008. I don't know whether that guarantee has been withdrawn or not. Are those covered bonds in the local currency eg NZ$ or AUD$? I bet they are not. So if those bondholders decide to cut and run where is the money going to come from?

  3. Lars Eirik January 2, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    Hi Golem!

    First of all, a Happy New Year to you and your family, and I hope health now or soon has been restored to all of them!

    Congratulations for your publicist efforts in 2010! The last months I have noticed that an ever increasing number of followers comments on your postings, and the comments are getting better all the time.

    Being of the Popper persuasion, I applaud you making predictions to be tested in 2011.

    Can I ask you:

    Where will interests go in 2011?

    With so many debtors, banks and nations, looking to roll over debt and even incur increased debts, with weary lenders already, can we get to see interest rates seriously go up for instance to 10 – 20 % p. a. or will the printing press stave off important rate hikes?

  4. Golem XIV - Thoughts January 2, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    Patricia,

    In the first instance it comes from the banks assets. The covered bonds have a ring fenced set of assets on the bank's books to which they have first and only right. WHat this means is that all other bond holders, potentially including the government itself, get nothing until all the covered bond holders have been paid.

    There could also be a governmewnt guarantee on top which would then come out of your taxes.

    Covered bonds are seen as being super safe for investors. So when government's pass legislation to allow their banks to sell them it is all too often to cover over the fact that the banks are having a hard time selling non-covered bonds.

    A bad sign, especially given the financial situation as it is.

    It sounds to me as if you could be on the path Ireland was on.

  5. Ben Gabel January 2, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    Thanks David for an excellent set of predictions. All sounds hideously reasonable to me.

    So we've seen the future. Coming soon to an economy near you.

    Now the question I have for all of us to muse on is this:
    What do we DO about it?

    Apart from running around screaming 'aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh', which is all I can come up with right now.

    Seems we're ***ked no matter what. Tell me I'm just being defeatist, please. Positive suggestions anyone?

  6. richard in norway January 2, 2011 at 11:22 pm #

    lars eirik

    er du i bergan

  7. Cass January 3, 2011 at 1:16 am #

    David, Thanks for an enlightening post – as ever.

    I've been trying to find out if such a thing as an "ethical bank" exists. Ok, no sniggering down the back there please! There don't seem to be any here in Ireland (enUff with the sniggers already!)

    The word ethical appears to be interpreted along the lines of 'we've replaced all our lightbulbs'… which is laudable, but…

    Triodos Bank seem to have settled themselves into that niche from the little research I've done. I have no direct knowledge good or bad about Triodos, but they don't operate here anyhow for private accounts. They seem to focus on green companies, sustainability, etc. Again, laudable but… I was looking for a wider ethical (moral?) interpretation than that.

    I already do as much as I can through my Credit Union account, but I'm still tied to a mortgage and a current account etc. I wondered if in the course of your research you had found a movement seeking to promote ethical banking at all?

    Or what's to stop a movement like the Credit Unions taking on this role? They're owned by their members, rooted in the community, lend only to local business' and individuals, and as such they could not engage in the mad stuff – even if they wanted to. If we, the little people, simply refuse to engage with the banks, what happens then? Do they carry on regardless?

    Or is it too late anyhow because the fuse is lit and inexorably burning it's way towards our inept leaders'/central banks bubble-full-of-crap?

    *(Sorry if this question is stupid – and I hope that health matters & family are better)

  8. Golem XIV - Thoughts January 3, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    Dear Mr Eirik,

    What a pleasure to hear from you again. Happy New Year.

    In a normal economy, you're quite correct, there would be no alternative to rates shooting up. There is simply too much debt courting too few lenders. But if rates were allowed to creep very much higher it woul spell disaster for several countries, the U.S. and Japan being top of the list.

    I think rates could go up further across Europe. I think rates will go up in Australia and Canada. I think teh U.S. will do everything possible to prevent more than a token rise.

    Rates will go up in China.

    But you are right, it will have to be printing presses to the ready if it looks like a big rate rise is the alternative or if, as i suspect there is a bond market glut.

    I think the Central Banks will coninue to monetize as slyly as they can through bond buying and in teh US POMO's until they just splurge with more QE.

    Happy New Year Cass!

    I see no reason at all why Credit Unions shouldn't become the ethical banking sector. In fact they are perfectly positioned to do so. Does the Cooperative Bank operate in Ireland. They are the No 1 ethical bank here in the UK.

    They have very few branches and operate mostly online and by phone. Deposits are taken care of by agreement with the Post Office. If you could use the Cooperative I would recommend it.

    If not then Credit Union is where I think people could effect changes in banking.

    As for the main banks in Ireland. Hang on tight. Questions being asked about the Irish regulator in the Austrian Parliament should start new ructions.

  9. Golem XIV - Thoughts January 3, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    Ben,

    must go out now to find children. But I think we do need to think what to do now exactly as you say. Now is the time.

  10. 46Martman January 3, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    Happy New Year to you and all your family Golem

    and all other posters

    It would seem your view his shared by a a long standing bear.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jan/03/albert-edwards-socgen-bear
    Albert Edwards say's
    "Stock markets will revisit their March 2009 lows (3512 for the FTSE 100). And, despite the hints in recent months of a return of inflation, gilt yields will fall below 2% (from 3.5% today) as deflationary forces reassert themselves. Oh, and for good measure, prepare for the hard landing in China and the crash in commodity prices".

    Edwards has a good track record on these things so you are not one lone voice in the wilderness

    I'm off to batten down the hatches

  11. Martin January 3, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    Welcome back and happy 2011

    Not really related to the post but something that caught my eye.

    From Lord HeselBine on 29th Dec 2010

    “The politics [of the City] are very difficult, so skilled political judgment is needed to make sure you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, and there are at the fringes difficult things to defend.
    “But the underlying health of the City and the financial world are of enormous significance to us.”

    "politics [of the City] are very difficult"
    "skilled political judgment" needed

    Which reads;
    "Yes dear public, we need special treatment, but its very complicated so don't expect us to explain why."

  12. Tam January 3, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    Happy New Year, David!
    Hope you come down to London to do a talk at some point this year… Don't let this stuff depress you too much though and make sure you spend as much time as possible on your allotment!

  13. Lars Eirik January 3, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    Hello, Richard in Norway, no, I'm not in Bergen, I'm in oslo. Let's have drink together if you go to Oslo or I go to Bergen. I have mailadress advomork@advomork.no

  14. Britten123 January 3, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I thought I'd add what I know about Vancouver real estate.I think prices relative to income may be the most expensive on earth. Housing there has never fallen from the 1997 Hong Kong influx. Rents are quite reasonable in comparison, however. "Regular" Canadians in general have come to accept that in a large part, in city's like Vancouver you just can't buy, you pay rent to "others". The others being Asian investors, and the huge amount of local black market "bud" money that needs to be laundered. With this support, "non-regular" Canadians can play the real estate game. It's crazy, but it's been crazy for so long…I guess I'll watch yet another year. (Oh, and our govt – who I usually uniformly dislike – has been talking seriously about restricting mortgage lengths back to traditional levels). My 2c.

  15. myopia January 3, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    Hello Golem,

    Excellent post.

    What I'm particularly interested in understanding is who takes the hits when debts are not paid back – whether that be via default or haircuts. What are the ramifications of this – particular for the guy on the street – and how does it manifest itself?

    I ask because it seems clear to me that – certainly in Europe – defaults and haircuts are inevitable despite all the can kicking presently being done by the powers that be.

    Anyway, keep up the great posts!

  16. Golem XIV - Thoughts January 3, 2011 at 6:41 pm #

    Happy New Year Myopia,

    The hits and hair cuts will be taken by the bond holders in reverse senioroty. So lowest first. Junior/subordinated usually get wiped out. Senior exp[ect to be treated like some sort of royalty but will, i think, take severe hits as well.

    The bond holders means other financial insitutions, the shadow banking system, Wealth funds of most nations, big bond companies like Pimco, wealthy individuals and of course insurnace and pension funds.

    The later is what makes everyone quiver at the knees.

    But they shoul pull themselves together. Pension funds WILL get hit. BUT, then they will begin to rebuild. The current policy of , as you say, kick the can, means pensions get hit with long slow grinding losses and what is worse don't start to recover. In other words pensions have been and will be hit for longer under our present idiotic policy.

    Were we to taked the hit, and pass their share of the losses to the bond holders, we could all get on with a recovery based on solid rock instead of trying to re-build on a swamp of uncleared and festering debts.

    Thank you for asking the question of the hour.

  17. The MacPuddock. January 3, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    Well I am glad I am not the only one who is not sure of the next move. Somehow, it feels like a 'deer stuck in the headlights' moment.

    As a (mainly) blog lurker I must say much of the analysis is well informed and interesting, but I detect a deep sense of Cassandra doom-talk, which I sense is rather counter- productive.

    We need to see the problems clearly and the blog here is making a great contribution, but then look for rational ways to articulate our collective judgements, and avoid, at all costs, any sense of losing the ability to act.

    I wonder if these ad-hoc communities are not actually a major part of a deeper response the the challenges of globalisation.

    I am also aware that in uncertain times there is a tendency to peer avidly at the all the problems and shrink the time and space between them and forget that there is often significant wriggle room between events, which sometimes allows the great ingenuity of the human mind to provide alternatives, or minimise or avoid problems.

  18. ahimsa January 3, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

    This may not be the right place, but with a view to putting the cat amongst the pidgeons..

    Compound interest, debt based(fiat money or otherwise) financial systems are dependent upon the promise of future 'economic growth' – profit and more profits.

    Analysts speak of 'economic science' and spout nonsense about market confidence, inter bank trust & investor belief. Sounds more like metaphysics. Old fashioned physics regard the laws of matter and energy. Oh yes, and limits too.

    I don't care how much economic theoretical spin is spun, global economic growth has been a direct consequence of the exploitation of physical planetary resources. And our increasing ability to exploit those physical resources has been a direct consequence of cheap plentiful sources of energy.

    There seems to be no connection made on this blog between energy supplies(predominantly oil) and economic growth potential.

    I believe cheap oil(not money) is the underlying currency which lubricates the global economy.

    I think the word is out. Peak oil is here. Cheap energy is over. I agree with the economists on one thing, the law of supply & demand. There is no longer enough to go around. Result: Energy prices climb, economic growth stalls..

    Here are some inflation adjusted figures for oil prices:
    http://www.inflationdata.com/inflation/images/charts/Oil/Inflation_Adj_Oil_Prices_Chart.htm

    P.s.
    In these times I am often reminded of F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of 'The Great Gatsby' set in the 1920's at the time of the Wall Street crash, who described his own novel as, a story about the importance of illusion in people's lives and the tragedy that befalls from its eventual breakdown.

  19. Golem XIV - Thoughts January 3, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    Hello Ahimsa,

    NOt much is said about peak oil herer for two reasons I think. FIrst most people accept it as a fact a bit like gravity. Second, there are many other places where it is discussed extensively and I don't think I could add much of any great value.

    So it's not that we disregard its significance at all.

    MacPuddock,

    Of course you are right we must not be defeatest and must push our anayses towards what to actually do next.

  20. richard in norway January 3, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    ahimsa

    you share my view. all those that talk about growing our way out of this are super complacent, peak oil is like a brick wall. mind, i wonder how many times the world economy runs into it before folks get the message. a lot of time has been wasted, i would guess that restructuring to a post oil economy would take 10 to 15 years but we have hardly started. of course when you want to restructure the global economy it's handy if you have a good reliable financial sector………..opps

    peak copper has arrived as well but fortunately copper is not so hard to recycle

  21. princesschipchops January 4, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    Hi Golem – great post. YOu are not the only bear in the woods – AEP's predictions in The Telegraph are resolutely bearish: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/8230654/Overheating-East-to-falter-before-the-bankrupt-West-recovers.html

    The detail you give in your posts though is something else. I am so glad you write this blog, because as you say – sometimes when you can't see the dawn others claim has arrived, you feel you might be going a bit mad. Its good to converse with others who can't see the dawn either!

    ahimsa – I totally agree with you with regards to peak oil. Which is not to say that I don't think the banking meltdown wouldn't be a problem if we weren't in peak oil – but everything is made so much worse by the fact that we are – and that so many in power seem to refuse to deal with it or even admit it.

  22. ianu January 4, 2011 at 1:15 am #

    I'd agree with G here, peak oil is accepted as either a present or imminent phenomenon.

    My feeling of this place is of one exploring possibilities which are post growth, greed, consumption, whatever.

    I suspect you'd be most welcome with that energy!

  23. Dope Addict January 4, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    Where will interests go in 2011? With so many debtors, banks and nations, looking to roll over debt and even incur increased debts, with weary lenders already, can we get to see interest rates seriously go up for instance to 10 – 20 % p. a. or will the printing press stave off important rate hikes?

    We're in a recession — or a depression if you ignore the happy talk about how the stock market rise = all is well — so interest rates aren't going to rise.

    The US Fed's rates are near zero. Lenders aren't weary, they can't find anyone to lend money to. We were told it's a liquidity crisis, that banks needed money so they can start lending. Well now they're drowning in liquidity foisted on them by the govt, and still they aren't lending. But that's because no one wants to borrow, not because banks don't want to lend. Who in their right mind would borrow money now? The economy sucks!

  24. RichGB January 4, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    Hi Richard in Norway

    HERE is a chart showing the bonds issued so far by the Japanese government. You may lose track of the number of zeroes to add – I'm no good at multiplying numbers by 10 to the power of 7! Keep in mind that their GDP is about 480 trillion yen. Also see HERE on page-90.

  25. myopia January 4, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    "Happy New Year Myopia,"

    Thanks, you too.

    Thanks for the reply. This confirms what I suspected. There must however be some powerful vested interest working against this clearing of debts given how much effort is being put in to avoid it. We certainly live in interesting times..

  26. John January 4, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    Happy new year Golem and all posters and readers.

    Another great illuminating and provoking piece Golem, thanks. There are so many threads coming together here. I recently read Krugman's The Conscience of a Liberal and it paints a very clear historical picture of the cyclical nature of what is now happening. We are back at 1920's type inequality in what he termed the "The Long Gilded Age" which ended with the Great Depression as a logical economic consequence. We are not far from that now. So much wealth concentrated in the hands of so few, and so little of it real, or created by real enterprise.

    On the upside this was followed post WW II by the "Great Compression" where, largely due to measures of national necessity in wartime, income inequality was deliberately and successfully curbed through state intervention.

    The big question is whether our political elites today have been so thoroughly captured by the financial elites on Wall St and other financial centres that it will take something akin to WW II to wake them from their cosy, corrupt and immoral slumber.

    BTW just came across this interesting illustration of the global network of power that is Goldman Sach's. Fascinating and frightening…
    http://news.muckety.com/2008/10/10/goldman-sachs-alums-oversee-financial-institutions-around-world/5681

  27. IanG January 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    Happy new year Golem and also to all readers and contributors.

    It is indeed a strange phenomenon that the MSM has turned a blind eye to the facts (except for the DT which BTW has some really thoughtful comments). I also came across this blog:

    http://kunstler.com/blog/2011/01/forecast-2011—gird-your-loins-for-lower-living-standards.html#more

    by James Howard Kunstler. Quite long but some ideas I had not considered in there that are pretty frightening. His views are even more dismal than yours Golem and even Ambrose of the DT. But, there is hope in that a lot of knowledgeable people are aware of the situation and are warning us (via the web of what could happen.

    Cheers all and I hope to read more views and comments.

  28. JamieGriffiths January 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    The darkest hour is just before the dawn?

    Here's hoping it can't get much darker. The glimmers of hope in 2010 for me were the gathering momentum of protest movements across Europe and growing disenchantment with the austerity drives undertaken by our morally bankrupt politicians.

    I think we all see that the energy crisis and financial crisis are multifariously and inextricably intertwined. What makes the financial problem so much more urgent (though no less important) for me is how it displays the enormous antipathy that the super-rich have for the poor in a very measurable way. How it makes clear and obvious the breakdown of equality under the law, the subversion of our democratic institutions to serve the elite at the expense of everyone else. It's this same elite that are ensuring their bailouts at the expense of our society that are also ensuring their continued petro-profits at the expense of our planet. They think they have to worry about the fallout less than the rest of us because of their accumulated power and wealth. And maybe that's true. Or maybe they're just sitting on a higher deck of the Titanic. Either way we need to replace their political servants with ones who act in our, not their, interests and replenish our democratic institutions with ones that will be harder to override in the future. Then we can set about changing our economy to serve the majority of the people rather than a class of untouchables. We can change the way we manage our resources and emissions. We might just be able to save the planet.

    But until we topple the plutocratic bank regime and their political king-makers we are lost.

    Keep up the hard work Golem, you are very much appreciated. Hope your family member is on the mend.

    Happy New Year to all!

  29. Dope Addict January 4, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    HERE is a chart showing the bonds issued so far by the Japanese government…Keep in mind that their GDP is about 480 trillion yen. Also see HERE on page-90.

    I fail to see why Japanese debt, in & of itself, is a problem. While they traditionally issue debt 1-to-1 for govt spending, that's a political choice & wholly unnecessary. As controller/creator of their own currency, they car always pay debts in their own currency, so bankruptcy, unlike with the eurozone countries, is not an issue.

    Not that the Japanese debt isn't an indicator of problems, but in countries like Japan, US, UK, Australia, the budget outcome (surplus or deficit) is an endogenous effect of fiscal policy, not something that can be achieved (by raising taxes or cutting spending.)

    The problems that the debt belies in Japan is that the govt has been taking real resources out of the economy to prop up zombie banks, resources that should be used to create jobs. Japan's solution, like the US, is more deficit spending to create jobs to spur demand & hence growth, not keep zombie banks alive.

    Japan could continue on it's present course almost in perpetuity (20 years & counting!), much like people in the US talk of a "lost decade" of treading water in the same way.

  30. 24K January 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

    G, you could run a book on this stuff.

    Anybody see The Artfull Tax Dodger ads? The Daily Mail group raised prices so it was too expensive to place an ad and the Metro and Telegraph refused to place the ad at the last minute.

    £120 billion lost revenue.

    Rich, I can't get the image of you walking about looking like RoboCop, all stompy and whirry. Whenever you say HERE that old printer paper with the holes starts splurting out of your forearm.

    RoboLink

    If your super rich/clever/evil and young oil peak has got to be on the cards, I think it's one of the later chapters of the necromoneycon.
    Not sure if it's before or after the chapter on population cull.

    Max Keiser had a good one:

    Kleptopcratic.

  31. Ben Gabel January 4, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    My personal feeling about peak oil is that it is the root cause of the financial mess we find ourselves in now.

    I say feeling because I have no hard evidence.

    But seems to me that up to about 2004 ish we were making more and more GDP by burning more and more oil per capita.

    This wasn't possible any more when affordable supplies peaked, so instead we turned to the future as the last untapped resource.

    Ever-increasing GDP generation was then achieved by bringing forward years of future expected GDP for expression now by the alchemy of recursive leverage.

    Except . .. . . actual economic growth requires fuel consumption growth. Ooops. So none of those 'future incomes' which the whole debt-based growth thing is predicated on will ever exist.

    like I said, 'aaaaargh' seems the only rational response. That and buying land, if you have any spare cash.

  32. Dope Addict January 4, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    necromoneycon

    That's a great word!

    Population cull — I've been reading Plagues and Peoples lately, which points out that the world-wide homogenization of diseases pretty much means that there's little chance of a bubonic plague-like epidemic killing off millions of people, unless an existing infectious microbe randomly evolves into something ultra-deadly (like flu in 1918.)

    My point, if I have one, being that any huge die-offs in the next few decades will most likely be of the starvation variety, due to crop failures from climate change, breakdowns in distribution networks (from any number of causes, like war,) politics (using food as a weapon,) etc.

    Let's hope it doesn't come to that. Food commodity prices seem to be holding steady recently but, with the effects of peak oil, that could change — rapidly if speculators attack oil futures, or over time simply due to shortages. And of course with rising food prices come civil unrest. Or rather more civil unrest, on top of likely continuing fights against austerity.

  33. RichGB January 5, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    Hi DopeAddict

    I was so impressed by 24K's first mention of necromoneycon that I immediately registered a domain with this name. When my cable operator finally gets around to wiring up my cable modem I'll be able to publish financially related matters under this name with copious links to like-minded people.

  34. RichGB January 5, 2011 at 8:52 am #

    DopeAddict said:
    I fail to see why Japanese debt, in & of itself, is a problem. While they traditionally issue debt 1-to-1 for govt spending, that's a political choice & wholly unnecessary. As controller/creator of their own currency, they car always pay debts in their own currency, so bankruptcy, unlike with the eurozone countries, is not an issue.

    That's an interesting point. Presumably, if Japan were to pay a significant proportion of that debt in their own currency then the yen would lose value, which would be beneficial to them at the present time.

  35. Gordon January 5, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    Steve Keen has a good post on how Australian banks are dropping loan standards to keep the property bubble inflating.

    http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2010/12/23/loan-standards-drop-to-keep-the-bubble-afloat/

    This has to be just about their last throw of the dice.

  36. Trying to make January 5, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    Hi Golem and all here, happy new year.

    What do people think of this analysis?
    China will begin raising its citizens living standards by raising their wages and the value of its currency to enable them to consume their own output, rather than relaying so much on exports.

    Saw it in an interview with Michael Hudson here:
    ref: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=6001

  37. ahimsa January 5, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    Hallo David,

    Thank you as ever for your response(one of the things that makes the blog great.)

    As you say, and as much as I felt, there are more appropriate sites where peak-oil is extensively discussed & analysed.

    However, I was surprised when you wrote that most people accept peak-oil as a fact like gravity.

    I am not so sure most accept it as a fact that:
    (i) is presently upon us and
    (ii) more presciently, as the fact that has precipitated the finance crisis and will ultimately mitigate against any long term recovery.

    I feel this is a big skeleton in the closet that politicians and bankers dare not whisper a word of, for fear of what would ensue. And I think it important that this be included in economic & political discussions that are taking place.

    That said, reading some of the subsequent comments does give me heart. I am sometimes considered not positive or optimistic enough when considering the state of the world. I like to think my outlook is realistic(seeking to become more pragmatic) and neither optimistic nor pessimistic as both are a bit delusional for my taste.

    Anyhow, keep up the excellent work and best wishes for your family.

    -peace

  38. wirplit January 5, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    Happy New Year Golem and all the posters
    I saw the headlines of the Daily Express yesterday and everything was fine… Crisis over and a great year ahead. Stocks rising… Boris telling us not to be nasty to bankers…. How long a day is! Today in London I picked up a free copy of the Evening Standard and suddenly it all looked different! Footsie down with a bump, London firms downbeat, Spain's service sector, (60% of their economy) shrank at the fastest rate in a year in December and then a great quote from that once lover of Greenspan Gordon Brown
    " We now know that if British bankers had paid themselves 10% less per year between 2000 and 2007, they would have had more capital, some £50 billion more, to help them withstand the crisis. The extent of the under-capitalization of our banks was £50 billion, exactly the sum put up by taxpayers for the emergency stabilisation of our banking system"

    Late Gordon very late but getting there.
    Meanwhile to reinforce your remarks about the US and rising stocks benefiting those who actually own them..Bank of America's $2.8 bil payback to Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac actually made their stock rise 6.4% ! Wonder why that was? HERE
    As the Chinese curse goes… looks like an interesting year

  39. andrew January 6, 2011 at 12:24 am #

    Excuse me for asking a basic question.
    Is it possible to have a functioning economic model not based on growth (and therefore also on occasional contraction because growth cannot be infinite)?

  40. Cass January 6, 2011 at 1:29 am #

    I don't know if this is the relevant place to put this comment, but here goes…
    Are the readers/posters here aware of the "Indignez Vous!" phenomenon in France?

    A booklet written by Stèphane Kessel, 93 year old German born/French naturalised war hero, Buchenwald survivor, diplomat, humanist, contributor to the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

    Published by Indigène Editions – a small printing house in Montpellier, it has sold over 500,000 copies @ €3 each since it came out in October 2010.
    http://www.indigene-editions.fr/
    http://indigene-editions.blogspot.com/

    It is pure, undiluted MAGIC. I don't know when/if translations are in the works, but there are calls from all over Europe for translations. It CANNOT be ignored, this is from within the inner-most circle of elder statesmen who built the world as we know it. There's hope yet…

    "CRÉER, C'EST RÉSISTER.
    RÉSISTER, C'EST CRÉER"

    Vive la Résistance!!

  41. Trying to make January 6, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    Hey Cass,

    The book looks interesting will make a note to look out for it.

    A quote from a recent article from the excellent zerohedge.com

    "Input costs for [UK] companies also rose as average cost inflation accelerated markedly in December to reach the highest level since September 2008"[1]

    Wonder what the interest rates were then?

    [1] http://www.zerohedge.com/article/uk-december-pmi-plunges-sub-50-level-lowest-april-2009-inflation-slashes-uk-margins-next

    p.s. Golem I'm very interested in your, and anyone else’s opinion, on the analysis in my 1st comment on this page.

  42. Golem XIV - Thoughts January 6, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Trying to make,

    China has for some time been trying to encourge a domestic market so as to move away from a purely export driven economy. I think China will continue with the policy. Part of that drive has been to allow some quite high wage increases.

    I see this wage trend continuing. Which will serve to squeeze margin costs at lots of western companies.

    I don't know enough to comment on what China will do regarding the value of her currency other than to say I do not think China will be bullied by the US in to allowing the Yuan appreciate to any great extent.

    Even as China works to grow domestic demand it will still be reliant on exports and will therefore have need of a low value currency.

  43. Uncle January 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    Trying to make,

    Here is another interview where Michael Hudson gives a useful history lesson on taxation in the US (and Europe).

    http://www.creditwritedowns.com/2011/01/reasoning-behind-ninety-percent-marginal-taxes.html

    He tries to explain the reasoning behind the 90% marginal tax rates that existed up to 50 years ago. It seems inconceivable today that such high rates were accepted and the interview does a good job (imho) of explaining why. There is some interesting history on the progressive era.

    My feeling is that lots of countries would quite like to raise marginal rates very high for the wealthiest 1%, however in a globalised world, they would also disappear off shore and pay even less tax.

    Why tax unearned income highly? It's basically to create a flatter more equal society and also because these vast fortunes are only made because there is a society (us) which is exploited. Without the society, there would be no wealth. It seems that over time we have been fooled into thinking that wealth is accumulated due to ability (merit) and conveniently forget that the wealth would not exist without society. What is interesting is that the times when we have taxed wealth more highly have been the times with the highest growth. When this wealth is not taxed it seems to go into inflating asset price bubbles that ultimately make everyone poorer and result in an economy weighed down in debt.

    (disclosure: I believe in capitalism and the the free market – I just don't think we have either at the moment)

    Golem: Thanks for all the hard work posting in the last year. The blog is definitely getting better and the comments are a wonder to read – what a great bunch of intelligent, thoughtful readers you have.

  44. Uncle January 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    Cass and others

    You can read Indignez Vous here.

  45. guidoromero January 6, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    Wheather the stock market has recovered is debatable.

    In a floating exchange rate system, valuations are not absolute so that a stock market recovery can only be ascertained or refuted when compared to something else.

    If we compare the S&P to the purchasing power of the US$, then an argument that the market has recovered could be made though not without a good dose of cynicism.

    http://stockcharts.com/h-sc/ui?s=$SPX:$USD&p=M&b=3&g=0&id=p55760541953

    However, when compared to the purchasing power of gold, the S&P is not looking so hot anymore. At least not for the past ten years.

    http://stockcharts.com/h-sc/ui?s=$SPX:$GOLD&p=M&b=3&g=0&id=p39380124645

    I have many more interesting charts if interested.

  46. guidoromero January 6, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    Oh! And, of course, the one single metric that will show whether the economy has turned around or not is fiscal revenue.

    Whereas all other metrics and parameters can be fudged, fiscal revenue cannot.

    The best and easiest gauge of the trend of an economy is to observe how much the state is "earning" in taxation.

  47. guidoromero January 6, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

    With regards to pensions, here's the reality. Pension and insurance funds are "institutional" money.

    Now here's the skinny. Major global banks are allowed to disregard accounting regulation pertaining to mark to market. This allows these banks to retain investment grade rating.

    As investment grade rated entities, banks are by far the preferred investment vehicle for institutional money.

    Thus, at a time when various sectors of the market are suffering severe downgrades, global banks stand out as the only viable investment option. Hence the astronomical bonuses that are being dished out by the major banks… and, mind you, it is always the usual suspects…

    So, TARP and the plethora of other alphabet soup support programs that have bestowed Trillions upon the banks overtly, do not seem to have changed the fortunes of these banks that are still today allowed to mark their assets to model which, in turn, allows said banks to rake in even more astronomical sums covertly from your tax, pension and insurance contributions.

    Elegant is it not?

  48. Trying to make January 6, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    Cheers Uncle. That interview was interesting. The flip side of that argument would be that lower taxes for the bottom 99% of the population increased wealth. It’d definitely increase consumer spending.

    Agree with you that the 1% will just move their money if taxed highly. I’d expect it’s already spread all over the world in tax havens, trusts and foundations.

    I would like to see large companies pay their full taxes. (Maybe Mr Osborne could pay the 1.6bil he dodged while we’re at it.[1]) I’ve read that would generate 120bil as opposed to the 15bil current austerity measures would net. Even if it would just equal austerity that would be a win. But deals are being cut with, for example, Vodafone to settle while paying less than they owe.

    The moral of that story is avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes, do some litigation, pay less than you owe and as long as what you keep is more than your legal fees that’s a profit, now go pay yourself a fat bonus. A clear case of moral hazard in corporate taxation.

    Agree with your disclosure BTW. We are indeed a long, long way from either right now.

    [1] http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/osborne-pay-your-taxes#petition

  49. JamieGriffiths January 6, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    I was about to post that Michael Hudson interview today as well. Good stuff.

    Just one point regarding the idea that if we raise tax rates for the super wealthy then they'll take their money elsewhere: let 'em go.
    We're not getting any tax out of them at the moment anyway and the extra raised from those who do decide to pay up will at least offset what goes overseas. What will probably happen is that most won't leave and HMRC's earnings will go up.

    But aside from the fiscal argument, the moral argument should be that if these people aren't prepared to pay the tax that the majority has (hypothetically) decided is their due then they have no place calling themselves citizens and should move on. I for one won't miss them.

    (Disclosure: I believe in neither capitalism nor free markets but both would be preferable to what we have now)

  50. dah_sab January 7, 2011 at 4:59 am #

    (formerly Dope Addict)
    Excuse me for asking a basic question.
    Is it possible to have a functioning economic model not based on growth (and therefore also on occasional contraction because growth cannot be infinite)?

    Sure. But good luck arguing for it with raging capitalists (if they can even give you a working definition of capitalism.) They always argue that w/o the free market we'll have no innovation & no "progress," plus people are greedy & always want stuff & that this greed drives innovation.

    The real challenge is convincing people that that more different stuff isn't progress, and that (supposedly) infinite growth is predicated on consumption of natural resources, which tend to dwindle over time, not being infinite.

    The truth, though, is that economic growth is not even possible, much less desirable, and that periodic destruction is necessary because the mathematics of infinite growth are unsustainable. Thus we have wars & depressions.

    But I digress, infinitely. Imagine a world where people's needs are met — they have enough food, they have shelter, they are warm. Not unlike life before capitalism. There wasn't much in the way of growth in the middle ages, so far as ordinary people were concerned. Of course, we don't want to return to the middle ages, not to periodic die-offs from disease, nor to usurious rents extracted by all-powerful landlords. But strip away the massively lopsided rentier hierarchy and it's easy to imagine a steady-state world. But people are so conditioned to believe in the notion of progress (economic, not cultural) that they can't imagine a world without new stuff every xmas, the newest car, phone, etc. I don't think that's human nature. That's marketing. Yes, it's possible. The obstacle isn't viability, but conditioning from modern marketing techniques. "Progress" is our god. I should probably shut up now.

    Thus, at a time when various sectors of the market are suffering severe downgrades, global banks stand out as the only viable investment option. Hence the astronomical bonuses that are being dished out by the major banks… and, mind you, it is always the usual suspects…

    It helps that, at least in the US, the Fed gives banks $$ at almost 0% interest.

  51. Trying to make January 7, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    A small note on the recovery that isn’t. Check today’s City AM front page[1]

    On that graph on the bottom right of the page. The blue dashed-line on a steady decline. That’s UK manufacturing as a % of GDP.

    [1] http://www.cityam.com/issue/2011-01-07

  52. richard in norway January 7, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    was anyone

    listening to wake up with money on 5 live this morning

    there was an economist predicting 20 years of depression,

    simler to what japan has gone through and for much the same reasons

    didn't catch his name, anyone have any idea who he was and how come they messed up and allowed a realist to speak on mainstream media

  53. Golem XIV - Thoughts January 7, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    Hello Richard,

    The person you heard was Jonathan Davis. He runs a financial firm in the UK. We've been in touch with him and he's said he would like to read the book. It seemed to us that Mr Davis was on a simiar wavelength to us here and might enjoy it.

    I agree with you that it is nice to hear opinions from outside of the officially sanctioned concensus.

  54. princesschipchops January 7, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    Oh I wish I could speak (well read) French!

    I ordered your book today Golem from Amazon and am looking forward to reading it.

    Re growth and new models. I think I tend to be seen as madly pessimistic by most people I know – but to me it is just how I see things and I would call myself a realist. I truly believe that unless we manage to change to a new economic model (NOT capitalism) within the next couple of decades the change will be forced on us anyway – we cannot have growth based economic systems (like capitalism) when we are in peak oil territory. And ,like David Harvey would argue – even without Peak Oil – that late stage capitalism is now terminal. In fact his book The Enigma of Capital is brilliant.

    If the change is forced on us it will be in the form of collapse and a descent into barbarism and chaos. Or even worse – world war.

    We do have an alternative though. And every little bit helps – blogs like this that allow alternative thinking a voice. What really scares me is the US – they are so scared of socialism that when they really get sick of the wall st guys ripping them, off my fear is they will turn to fascism, or something else even worse than what they have now.

  55. 24K January 8, 2011 at 5:02 am #

    If you put the web address in google translate it will translate the pdf your Highness.

  56. wirplit January 8, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    Thought this might be interesting Golem
    with reference to your comments about the U6 level of unemployment in the US a useful site for US economic data that is suggesting that even the broad U6 broad rate for unemployment is an underestimate and the true rate may already be well over 20%! .
    http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/unemployment-charts ( sorry cant get link to work)
    If this is right then the rate is up with the worst in Europe.

  57. The MacPuddock. January 8, 2011 at 5:54 pm #

    hey 24K
    Merci for the tip. I fiddled around trying to find a way of transferring the text and eventually gave up. Didn't think of putting in the URL. (Damn-in self kick mode)

  58. RichGB January 8, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    Hi wirplit

    Such figures are terrifying and conjure up that image of Frank Cotton at the end of Hellraiser uttering his final words, writhing in ecstasy whilst being torn apart: 'Jesusss wept!'

    However, is this conjecture? The trouble with SGS is that they require money to be paid to access their methodology. If they are confident in their data then the derivation system should be freely available, to encourage subscription. Perhaps I am too cynical?

  59. RichGB January 8, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    The phrase 'doing a Peston' might be defined as the release of 'controversial' comments from a World-respected media organisation, i.e. the BBC. Now, it seems Stephanie Flanders has become the suicidal messenger: see HERE.
    Yes, it might seem like the equivalent of saying 'I say' to attract the attention of a barmaid in a busy pub, but I think this is a strong statement for the World-renowned BBC.
    Now that I've deposited my link, RoboCop style, I shall depart, but not before leaving a parting shot: 'Excuse me, I have to go. Somewhere there is a crime happening.'

  60. RichGB January 9, 2011 at 12:37 am #

    Hi PrincessChipChops

    I sympathise with your frustration at accessing the non-English contributions to this debate – and Google's low-contextual (garbled!) translation of 'Indignez Vous' does not help. It seems to me that the English-speaking countries are the cause of this economic crisis, but 'we' (the debaters) are the citizens of the same said trouble-causing nations. I fear that our imagination is severely restricted by our own experiences, tainted by the corruption oozing out of Wall Street and The Square Mile.

    New Year's resolution for all: go beyond your familiar newspapers and brave the Google Translator, if necessary. J'èspere votre découvertes ne sonne pas comme les 'Flower Pot Men'. Huh? Non-Brits can find an explanation ICI.

  61. princesschipchops January 9, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    24k Thanks for the tip – I am so technologyically challenged I didn't even know about it – was going to ask my stepdad to translate – but now I can read it for myself.

  62. 24K January 9, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    No probs dudes, it was a bit like watching Twin Peaks mind.

    I saw a short film HERE 😉 and thought of you guys. It's in French too!

    Although to be fair his tweak was like Benanke's. If we all became Le Technician mind…

  63. andrew January 10, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    for those of you that speak french

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4049727159199474941#docid=5455228578800445334

    for those that can't, here's translation of 2 lines

    "Those people who lead us into debt, they are playing us as in a casino. When they win, there's no argument.
    Now that they have lost at the game, they demand repayment from us. They talk about a " crisis".
    No Mr president. They played, they lost,they should play by the rules. Life goes on.

    Thomas sankara, zw- president of burkina faso.
    The sum of his argument is that debt economics is an extension of colonialism that serves only a small elite.

    He was assasinated in 1987.

  64. andrew January 10, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    correction…ex president.

  65. Michael June 27, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    Every week we advance half-way to the recovery!

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