Hope things pick up for you soon every politician should
take a good look at this video and see how an ordinary man earns a living .By
the way If that was Cowen, he is lucky I wasn’t around because I would have a
few words to say him the Ba*****. I think Taxi drivers are a great source and indicator
of how the economy is going and judging from this man’s rant things are not
getting better anytime soon
Archive for July, 2011
Hope things pick up for you soon every politician should
One of the most important assets of the German people is the gold that has been accumulated over the years through their hard work and savings. Individuals hold some of this gold, but much of it is kept with the Bundesbank as an essential rainy-day reserve, held just in case monetary turmoil requires its use to re-establish a stable currency.
This gold has been entrusted to the Bundesbank and provides peace of mind knowing that it is there. But where is it really? And just as important, how much is there? Unfortunately, we do not know the answer to these questions.
The Bundesbank’s latest Annual Report states: “As of 31 December 2009, the Bundesbank’s holdings of fine gold (ozf) amounted to 3,406,789 kg or 110 million ounces. The gold was valued at market prices at the end of the year (1 kg = €24,638.63 or 1 ozf = €766.347).” The total value therefore reported by the Bundesbank on its balance sheet is €83,939 million. There have been, however, repeated claims suggesting that the Bundesbank’s gold vault is empty. The reporting by the Bundesbank in its Annual Report does nothing to disprove these claims.
The Annual Report states that the Bundesbank owns €83,939 million of “Gold and Gold Receivables”. Surprisingly, it does not distinguish between these two fundamentally different assets, nor does it report how much of each it owns.
Clearly, gold stored safely and securely in the Bundesbank’s vault in Frankfurt has a different level of risk than gold that has been loaned out. Physical gold is a tangible asset, and therefore does not have counterparty risk. But a loan – regardless whether you are lending euros, dollars or gold – is only as good as the creditworthiness of the borrower. This lesson was learned the hard way, for example, by the central bank of Portugal. It had loaned gold to Drexel Burnham Lambert, and that gold receivable was still outstanding when this bank failed two decades ago.
By not reporting “gold in the vault” and “gold receivables” separately as two different assets, the Bundesbank is saying in effect that cash and accounts receivables are the same thing. Of course they are not, and their fundamental difference is made clear by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, which highlights a deficiency in the Bundesbank’s Annual Report.
Section 26(2) of the Bundesbank Act states: “The accounting system of the Deutsche Bundesbank shall comply with generally accepted accounting principles.” By reporting “gold in the vault” and “gold out on loan” as one item, the Bundesbank is not reporting its two different gold assets according to generally accepted accounting principles.
There have been reports that the Bundesbank believes the way it accounts for gold is required by International Monetary Fund rules, which they contend supersede Section 26(2) of the Bundesbank Act. But if so, one can reasonably ask, who controls the Bundesbank? The German people or the IMF? Until these questions are answered, the public may never learn how much gold the Bundesbank has stored safely and securely in Frankfurt, and how much it has loaned, thereby perpetuating the rumour that the Bundesbank’s gold vault is empty.
Given the ongoing monetary turmoil and the growing worries about the inflationary impact of rising commodity prices, those rainy-day gold reserves may soon be needed. So when will the Bundesbank provide an accurate accounting of Germany’s gold reserves?
- James Turk: Time for an accurate accounting of Germany’s gold (lonerangersilver.wordpress.com)
- Bundesbank Confident Euro Can Withstand Greek Default. (politics.ie)
- BBK Dombret: Low Interest Rates Can Only Be For Limited Time (forexlive.com)
- Bundesbank Says German Economy to Weaken After ‘Explosive’ Start (businessweek.com)
By Peter Zeihan and Marko Papic
Seventeen months ago, STRATFOR described how the future of Europe was bound to the decision-making processes in Germany. Throughout the post-World War II era, other European countries treated Germany as a feeding trough, bleeding the country for resources (primarily financial) in order to smooth over the rougher portions of their systems. Considering the carnage wrought in World War II, most Europeans — and even many Germans — considered this perfectly reasonable right up to the current decade. Germany dutifully followed the orders of the others, most notably the French, and wrote check after check to underwrite European solidarity.
However, with the end of the Cold War and German reunification, the Germans began to stand up for themselves once again. Europe’s contemporary financial crisis can be as complicated as one wants to make it, but strip away all the talk of bonds, defaults and credit-default swaps and the core of the matter consists of these three points:
- Europe cannot function as a unified entity unless someone is in control.
- At present, Germany is the only country with a large enough economy and population to achieve that control.
- Being in control comes with a cost: It requires deep and ongoing financial support for the European Union’s weaker members.
What happened since STRATFOR published Germany’s Choice was a debate within Germany about how central the European Union was to German interests and how much the Germans were willing to pay to keep it intact. With their July 22 approval of a new bailout mechanism — from which the Greeks immediately received another 109 billion euros ($155 billion) — the Germans made clear their answers to those questions, and with that decision, Europe enters a new era.
The Origins of the Eurozone
The foundations of the European Union were laid in the early post-World War II years, but the critical event happened in 1992 with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty on Monetary Union. In that treaty, the Europeans committed themselves to a common currency and monetary system while scrupulously maintaining national control of fiscal policy, finance and banking. They would share capital but not banks, interest rates but not tax policy. They would also share a currency but none of the political mechanisms required to manage an economy. One of the many inevitable consequences of this was that governments and investors alike assumed that Germany’s support for the new common currency was total, that the Germans would back any government that participated fully in Maastricht. As a result, the ability of weaker eurozone members to borrow was drastically improved. In Greece in particular, the rate on government bonds dropped from an 18 percentage-point premium over German bonds to less than 1 percentage point in less than a decade. To put that into context, borrowers of $200,000 mortgages would see their monthly payments drop by $2,500.
Faced with unprecedentedly low capital costs, parts of Europe that had not been economically dynamic in centuries — in some cases, millennia — sprang to life. Ireland, Greece, Iberia and southern Italy all experienced the strongest growth they had known in generations. But they were not borrowing money generated locally — they were not even borrowing against their own income potential. Such borrowing was not simply a government affair. Local banks that normally faced steep financing costs could now access capital as if they were headquartered in Frankfurt and servicing Germans. The cheap credit flooded every corner of the eurozone. It was a subprime mortgage frenzy on a multinational scale, and the party couldn’t last forever. The 2008 global financial crisis forced a reckoning all over the world, and in the traditionally poorer parts of Europe the process unearthed the political-financial disconnects of Maastricht.
The investment community has been driving the issue ever since. Once investors perceived that there was no direct link between the German government and Greek debt, they started to again think of Greece on its own merits. The rate charged for Greece to borrow started creeping up again, breaking 16 percent at its height. To extend the mortgage comparison, the Greek “house” now cost an extra $2,000 a month to maintain compared to the mid-2000s. A default was not just inevitable but imminent, and all eyes turned to the Germans.
A Temporary Solution
It is easy to see why the Germans did not simply immediately write a check. Doing that for the Greeks (and others) would have merely sent more money into the same system that generated the crisis in the first place. That said, the Germans couldn’t simply let the Greeks sink. Despite its flaws, the system that currently manages Europe has granted Germany economic wealth of global reach without costing a single German life. Given the horrors of World War II, this was not something to be breezily discarded. No country in Europe has benefited more from the eurozone than Germany. For the German elite, the eurozone was an easy means of making Germany matter on a global stage without the sort of military revitalization that would have spawned panic across Europe and the former Soviet Union. And it also made the Germans rich.
But this was not obvious to the average German voter. From this voter’s point of view, Germany had already picked up the tab for Europe three times: first in paying for European institutions throughout the history of the union, second in paying for all of the costs of German reunification and third in accepting a mismatched deutschemark-euro conversion rate when the euro was launched while most other EU states hardwired in a currency advantage. To compensate for those sacrifices, the Germans have been forced to partially dismantle their much-loved welfare state while the Greeks (and others) have taken advantage of German credit to expand theirs.
Germany’s choice was not a pleasant one: Either let the structures of the past two generations fall apart and write off the possibility of Europe becoming a great power or salvage the eurozone by underwriting 2 trillion euros of debt issued by eurozone governments every year.
Beset with such a weighty decision, the Germans dealt with the immediate Greek problem of early 2010 by dithering. Even the bailout fund known as the European Financial Security Facility (EFSF) was at best a temporary patch. The German leadership had to balance messages and plans while they decided what they really wanted. That meant reassuring the other eurozone states that Berlin still cared while assuaging investor fears and pandering to a large and angry anti-bailout constituency at home. With so many audiences to speak to, it is not at all surprising that Berlin chose a solution that was sub-optimal throughout the crisis.
That sub-optimal solution is the EFSF, a bailout mechanism whose bonds enjoyed full government guarantees from the healthy eurozone states, most notably Germany. Because of those guarantees, the EFSF was able to raise funds on the bond market and then funnel that capital to the distressed states in exchange for austerity programs. Unlike previous EU institutions (which the Germans strongly influence), the EFSF takes its orders from the Germans. The mechanism is not enshrined in EU treaties; it is instead a private bank, the director of which is German. The EFSF worked as a patch but eventually proved insufficient. All the EFSF bailouts did was buy a little time until investors could do the math and realize that even with bailouts the distressed states would never be able to grow out of their mountains of debt. These states had engorged themselves on cheap credit so much during the euro’s first decade that even 273 billion euros of bailouts was insufficient. This issue came to a boil over the past few weeks in Greece. Faced with the futility of yet another stopgap solution to the eurozone’s financial woes, the Germans finally made a tough decision.
The New EFSF
The result was an EFSF redesign. Under the new system the distressed states can now access — with German permission — all the capital they need from the fund without having to go back repeatedly to the EU Council of Ministers. The maturity on all such EFSF credit has been increased from 7.5 years to as much as 40 years, while the cost of that credit has been slashed to whatever the market charges the EFSF itself to raise it (right now that’s about 3.5 percent, far lower than what the peripheral — and even some not-so-peripheral — countries could access on the international bond markets). All outstanding debts, including the previous EFSF programs, can be reworked under the new rules. The EFSF has been granted the ability to participate directly in the bond market by buying the government debt of states that cannot find anyone else interested, or even act pre-emptively should future crises threaten, without needing to first negotiate a bailout program. The EFSF can even extend credit to states that were considering internal bailouts of their banking systems. It is a massive debt consolidation program for both private and public sectors. In order to get the money, distressed states merely have to do whatever Germany — the manager of the fund — wants. The decision-making occurs within the fund, not at the EU institutional level.
In practical terms, these changes cause two major things to happen. First, they essentially remove any potential cap on the amount of money that the EFSF can raise, eliminating concerns that the fund is insufficiently stocked. Technically, the fund is still operating with a 440 billion-euro ceiling, but now that the Germans have fully committed themselves, that number is a mere technicality (it was German reticence before that kept the EFSF’s funding limit so “low”).
Second, all of the distressed states’ outstanding bonds will be refinanced at lower rates over longer maturities, so there will no longer be very many “Greek” or “Portuguese” bonds. Under the EFSF all of this debt will in essence be a sort of “eurobond,” a new class of bond in Europe upon which the weak states utterly depend and which the Germans utterly control. For states that experience problems, almost all of their financial existence will now be wrapped up in the EFSF structure. Accepting EFSF assistance means accepting a surrender of financial autonomy to the German commanders of the EFSF. For now, that means accepting German-designed austerity programs, but there is nothing that forces the Germans to limit their conditions to the purely financial/fiscal.
For all practical purposes, the next chapter of history has now opened in Europe. Regardless of intentions, Germany has just experienced an important development in its ability to influence fellow EU member states — particularly those experiencing financial troubles. It can now easily usurp huge amounts of national sovereignty. Rather than constraining Germany’s geopolitical potential, the European Union now enhances it; Germany is on the verge of once again becoming a great power. This hardly means that a regeneration of the Wehrmacht is imminent, but Germany’s re-emergence does force a radical rethinking of the European and Eurasian architectures.
Reactions to the New Europe
Every state will react to this new world differently. The French are both thrilled and terrified — thrilled that the Germans have finally agreed to commit the resources required to make the European Union work and terrified that Berlin has found a way to do it that preserves German control of those resources. The French realize that they are losing control of Europe, and fast. France designed the European Union to explicitly contain German power so it could never be harmed again while harnessing that power to fuel a French rise to greatness. The French nightmare scenario of an unrestrained Germany is now possible.
The British are feeling extremely thoughtful. They have always been the outsiders in the European Union, joining primarily so that they can put up obstacles from time to time. With the Germans now asserting financial control outside of EU structures, the all-important British veto is now largely useless. Just as the Germans are in need of a national debate about their role in the world, the British are in need of a national debate about their role in Europe. The Europe that was a cage for Germany is no more, which means that the United Kingdom is now a member of a different sort of organization that may or may not serve its purposes.
The Russians are feeling opportunistic. They have always been distrustful of the European Union, since it, like NATO, is an organization formed in part to keep them out. In recent years the union has farmed out its foreign policy to whatever state was most affected by the issue in question, and in many cases these states has been former Soviet satellites in Central Europe, all of which have an ax to grind. With Germany rising to leadership, the Russians have just one decision-maker to deal with. Between Germany’s need for natural gas and Russia’s ample export capacity, a German-Russian partnership is blooming. It is not that the Russians are unconcerned about the possibilities of strong German power — the memories of the Great Patriotic War burn far too hot and bright for that — but now there is a belt of 12 countries between the two powers. The Russo-German bilateral relationship will not be perfect, but there is another chapter of history to be written before the Germans and Russians need to worry seriously about each other.
Those 12 countries are trapped between rising German and consolidating Russian power. For all practical purposes, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova have already been reintegrated into the Russian sphere. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria are finding themselves under ever-stronger German influence but are fighting to retain their independence. As much as the nine distrust the Russians and Germans, however, they have no alternative at present.
The obvious solution for these “Intermarium” states — as well as for the French — is sponsorship by the United States. But the Americans are distracted and contemplating a new period of isolationism, forcing the nine to consider other, less palatable, options. These include everything from a local Intermarium alliance that would be questionable at best to picking either the Russians or Germans and suing for terms. France’s nightmare scenario is on the horizon, but for these nine states — which labored under the Soviet lash only 22 years ago — it is front and center.
- Meet Germany, The Strong Man Of Europe (businessinsider.com)
- Germans Should Not Let Themselves be Pushed into Ruling Europe (adamcollyer.wordpress.com)
- France’s Baroin,Germany’s Schaeuble:EFSF Must Be Enhanced:FT (forexlive.com)
- Germany will turn out light on euro – journalist (rt.com)
- Greek bail-out was a one-off, says German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble (telegraph.co.uk)
- Jim Rickards – Germany’s Fourth Reich Has Conquered Europe (lonerangersilver.wordpress.com)
The Us has given the IMF 100 billion $ and is spending Billions more on various wars,the
US is paying its bills by printing money out of nothing .The Us recently “Helped”
the EU and the IMF to bailout Greece .All of this help is in fact not helping
Greece as the idea is to put Greece into more debt .It seems the US thinks the
answer to the worlds debts is to create more debt and that is exactly what has
happened to us here in Ireland .
Only we are also been fleeced with this so called help our assets are in fact been stolen from us .Yes the government are fattening up our Banks allowing them now to charge
subprime rates to every mortgage holder in the country, this is to help them to
build up their capital base and just recently we saw the Bank of Ireland managed
to find “Investors” to invest in this bank .The taxpayers have been screwed all
over and every time they put money into this toxic black hole, but the fact
that the private investors have now dipped their toe into this toxic bank tells
me we might be close to a total bank sale and the taxpayers of this country
will again get shafted.
The idea of taking on more and more debt to solve a problem that is in fact the problem of German and French Banks problem is just ludicrous .The people of Ireland have been saddled with this financial millstone around our necks .Placed there by our own traitorous politicians in the previous government and by the current lot who have turned out to be every bit as gutless and traitorous themselves.
The Americans are in default because they are paying their debts with worthless paper they haven’t a hope of been able to pay off their approximately 14.5 Trillion dollars of American government debt and god knows how many more hundreds of Trillions in Derivatives products they are guaranteeing all around the world . This is a house of cards
and even if they raise the ceiling of debt they are only putting off the day when they will have to face reality .There isn’t enough gold in the world either in bullion or in the ground to pay off these trillion s of worthless IOU’s (The dollar).
Just listen to what the Americans say about this themselves.
It would appear America wants to print its way out of debt and it has learned none of the lessons from the Weimar Republic
The emperor has no cloths and more and more people are beginning to see this .The Americans must start to swallow their own medicine and get uses to the word “Austerity”A measure they were happy to dole (through their proxy the IMF) out to every other country in the world that got into financial difficulty. In any case I am only trying to show that the IMF and the EU are in fact creating money out of “nothing” and with this “nothing” they are supposed to be bailing us out but by putting more and more debts on to us they maintain control over our country and its assets for “nothing” So our
debts are in fact “Nothing” worthless,”none existing” what’s good for the
Americans should also be good for everybody else. Lets pay off our debts with “nothing”
“worthless paper” let’s get the printing presses rolling and follow the Americana
Defaultby using the printers money out of thin air !
Austerity doesn’t work. It only depresses the economy even more, ask any of the people who are now unemployed. Instead of pouring billions into the toxic banks pour the billions into education programmes and re-skilling for the unemployed .Without an educated workforce we are going nowhere and all we can look forward to is more pain and more gobsh*** in the Dail