Tuesday, October 06, 2009

If you squint just right, maybe you can see it.

For the past couple of months or so I have gotten out of the habit of checking Bloomberg (US) and Asian Times and the Market Oracle (UK) for international economic news, so I thought today I would see what was going on in the world while waiting for the delivery guys to show up with the new fridge - an unplanned and unbudgeted expense that fell upon us sometimes in the wee hours of yesterday morning. Sigh. I probably should have just watched TV instead.

The Banker to the world's central banks isn't buying all the fluffball nonsense about unicorns and butterflies for everyone just around the corner. In fact, present and former directors of the BIS pretty much just come out and say that Uncle Sam is a dead man walking. This is an extremely long article, but I have excerpted the major points for you.

The Market Oracle (UK)
The Economic Recovery is an Illusion
Oct 03, 2009 - 07:05 PM
By: Andrew_G_Marshall

War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength, and Debt is Recovery.The day after the report by the BIS was published, the former Chief Economist of the BIS, William White, warned that, “The world has not tackled the problems at the heart of the economic downturn and is likely to slip back into recession,” and he further “warned that government actions to help the economy in the short run may be sowing the seeds for future crises.” He was quoted as warning of entering a double-dip recession, “Are we going into a W[-shaped recession]? Almost certainly. Are we going into an L? I would not be in the slightest bit surprised.” He added, “The only thing that would really surprise me is a rapid and sustainable recovery from the position we’re in.”

An article in the Financial Times explained that White’s comments are not to be taken lightly, as apart from heading the economic department at the BIS from 1995 to 2008, he had, “repeatedly warned of dangerous imbalances in the global financial system as far back as 2003 and – breaking a great taboo in central banking circles at the time – he dared to challenge Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, over his policy of persistent cheap money.”

In light of the ever-present and unyieldingly persistent exclamations of ‘an end’ to the recession, a ‘solution’ to the crisis, and a ‘recovery’ of the economy; we must remember that we are being told this by the very same people and institutions which told us, in years past, that there was ‘nothing to worry about,’ that ‘the fundamentals are fine,’ and that there was ‘no danger’ of an economic crisis...

...The economic crisis is anything but over, the “solutions” have been akin to putting a band-aid on an amputated arm. The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the central bank to the world’s central banks, has warned and continues to warn against such misplaced hopes...

...The BIS was founded by “the central banks of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, and the United Kingdom along with three leading commercial banks from the United States, including J.P. Morgan & Company, First National Bank of New York, and First National Bank of Chicago. Each central bank subscribed to 16,000 shares and the three U.S. banks also subscribed to this same number of shares.” However, “Only central banks have voting power.”

...In September of 2009, the BIS reported that, “The global market for derivatives rebounded to $426 trillion in the second quarter as risk appetite returned, but the system remains unstable and prone to crises.” The BIS quarterly report said that derivatives rose 16% “mostly due to a surge in futures and options contracts on three-month interest rates.” The Chief Economist of the BIS warned that the derivatives market poses “major systemic risks” in the international financial sector, and that, “The danger is that regulators will again fail to see that big institutions have taken far more exposure than they can handle in shock conditions.” The economist added that, “The use of derivatives by hedge funds and the like can create large, hidden exposures.”

The day after the report by the BIS was published, the former Chief Economist of the BIS, William White, warned that, “The world has not tackled the problems at the heart of the economic downturn and is likely to slip back into recession,” and he further “warned that government actions to help the economy in the short run may be sowing the seeds for future crises.” He was quoted as warning of entering a double-dip recession, “Are we going into a W[-shaped recession]? Almost certainly. Are we going into an L? I would not be in the slightest bit surprised.” He added, “The only thing that would really surprise me is a rapid and sustainable recovery from the position we’re in.”

An article in the Financial Times explained that White’s comments are not to be taken lightly, as apart from heading the economic department at the BIS from 1995 to 2008, he had, “repeatedly warned of dangerous imbalances in the global financial system as far back as 2003 and – breaking a great taboo in central banking circles at the time – he dared to challenge Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, over his policy of persistent cheap money.”

...Further, “At the same time, government guarantees and asset insurance have exposed taxpayers to potentially large losses,” and explaining how fiscal packages posed significant risks, it said that, “There is a danger that fiscal policy-makers will exhaust their debt capacity before finishing the costly job of repairing the financial system,” and that, “There is the definite possibility that stimulus programs will drive up real interest rates and inflation expectations.” Inflation “would intensify as the downturn abated,” and the BIS “expressed doubt about the bank rescue package adopted in the US.”

...The derivatives market represents a massive threat to the stability of the global economy. However, it is one among many threats, all of which are related and intertwined; one will set off another. The big elephant in the room is the major financial bubble created from the bailouts and “stimulus” packages worldwide. This money has been used by major banks to consolidate the economy; buying up smaller banks and absorbing the real economy; productive industry. The money has also gone into speculation, feeding the derivatives bubble and leading to a rise in stock markets, a completely illusory and manufactured occurrence. The bailouts have, in effect, fed the derivatives bubble to dangerous new levels as well as inflating the stock market to an unsustainable position.

...As if this debt burden was not enough, considering it would be impossible to ever pay back, the past two years has seen the most expansive and rapid debt expansion ever seen in world history – in the form of stimulus and bailout packages around the world. In July of 2009, it was reported that, “U.S. taxpayers may be on the hook for as much as $23.7 trillion to bolster the economy and bail out financial companies, said Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.”

...Conclusion

The warnings from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and its former Chief Economist, William White, must not be taken lightly. Both the warnings of the BIS and William White in the past have gone unheralded and have been proven accurate with time. Do not allow the media-driven hope of ‘economic recovery’ sideline the ‘economic reality.’ Though it can be depressing to acknowledge; it is a far greater thing to be aware of the ground on which you tread, even if it is strewn with dangers; than to be ignorant and run recklessly through a minefield. Ignorance is not bliss; ignorance is delayed catastrophe.

A doctor must first properly identify and diagnose the problem before he can offer any sort of prescription as a solution. If the diagnosis is inaccurate, the prescription won’t work, and could in fact, make things worse. The global economy has a large cancer in it: it has been properly diagnosed by some, yet the prescription it was given was to cure a cough. The economic tumor has been identified; the question is: do we accept this and try to address it, or do we pretend that the cough prescription will cure it? What do you think gives a stronger chance of survival? Now try accepting the idea that ‘ignorance is bliss.’

As Gandhi said, “There is no god higher than truth.”


It also helps if the doctor isn't being paid by the patient's heirs to conveniently misdiagnose the ailment, so don't expect any credible reform or change in economic direction from the fat cats now in control. Whatever "recovery" we have will have to be made with our own two hands, at the local and regional level, and will have to bypass the entrenched economic infrastructure. That's the real "inconvenient truth" we all need to understand, and the sooner we all get it and start working toward sustainability and relocalization, the better.

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