This week’s Outside the Box is in the tradition of showing the other side of the argument. Normally, anything George Soros says or does politically has my blood pressure up about 20 points. Yet, I posted another piece of his today in Over My Shoulder – and then ran across this longer piece from Der Spiegel. Note this is from a dedicated Europhile wanting to save the euro. He succinctly outlines what must be done if it is to be saved, and does it as well as anyone. (I know that among my readers there are both likers and haters of Soros, but as an observer of markets he is to be respected. And this is an article in which his acumen is in evidence.
Author: Guest Author
In 2010, Euro area’s savings were insufficient to finance investment. Business needed to borrow to finance their investments and households savings were not enough to fill the gap. This is why the euro area runs a current account deficit, and is a net borrower.
Andy Lees takes a sceptical view of fiat currency and the excess credit it has created over the past forty years and uses a few charts to demonstrate his points.
Investors are anticipating the unravelling of the 21 July 2011 “solution” and a breakdown of the interbank-market that would throw the economy into an “immediate recession” like the one experienced after the Lehman bankruptcy. This column argues that this will happen without quick and bold action. The EFSF can’t work as designed but if it were registered as a bank – which would give it access to unlimited ECB re-financing – governments could stop the generalised breakdown of confidence while leaving the management of public debt in the hand of the finance ministers.
The global crisis of 2008-09 hit emerging markets nearly as hard as it hit rich countries, which is welcome news compared to previous crises in which emerging markets often suffered much more than developed economies. This column explores emerging economies’ growth dynamics since the crisis.
If we have learned anything from the current financial mess, it’s that building wealth is dependent on rational analysis, careful decision making, and risk management. That’s why sticking close to home at a time when our markets are more uncertain than ever is a recipe for disaster and absolutely the wrong thing to do. Not only will you miss out on the world’s fastest-growing markets, but the odds are exceptionally high that you will miss as much as 50% or more in potential returns over the next decade.
Postmortems of last month’s European Union summit meeting have now turned to why the Greek debt rescue failed to restore investor confidence in the country’s finances. Many reasons are advanced: the failure to communicate clearly; the complexity of the plan; the inability to coordinate with the International Monetary Fund. There’s a simpler explanation: The debt-reduction deal failed because it didn’t reduce the debt.
We repeat: the “debt problem” is a currency problem and the currency must and will collapse. The global monetary system exists at the pleasure of the Fed, which legally exists at the pleasure of Congress, which as we have learned only has the political will to control the Fed at the pleasure of the Fed’s shareholder banks. It is the Fed and nothing else that determines the solvency of Treasury. Analogously, it is the Fed that ensures the ultimate solvency of the fractionally-reserved banking system – the system that shorts dollars via perceived “lending” today and covers those dollars once devalued as the Fed creates them tomorrow. Ultimately, Congress, the Fed and Wall Street will have to answer to the masses that buy milk and pay and staff its military.
Institutional investors have learned how to create and game self-fulfilling prophecy runs in various asset markets. (George Soros understood this and demonstrated its efficacy with his effort to break the pound in 1992.) Indeed, this is one of the “secrets” to manufacturing higher absolute returns if you are a hedge fund portfolio manager – namely, creating and managing such bandwagon effects. It is a plausible simple story with a self-fulfilling aspect to it.
Included in the BEA’s first (“Advance”) estimate of second quarter 2011 GDP were significant downward revisions to previously published data, some of it dating back to 2003. Astonishingly, the BEA even substantially cut their annualized GDP growth rate for the quarter that they “finalized” just 35 days ago — from an already disappointing 1.92% to only 0.36%, lopping over 81% off of the month-old published growth rate before the ink had completely dried on the “final” in their headline number. And as bad as the reduced 0.36% total annualized GDP growth was, the “Real Final Sales of Domestic Product” for the first quarter of 2011 was even lower, at a microscopic 0.04%.
The research presented below from the IMF from October 2010 “finds that fiscal consolidation typically reduces output and raises unemployment in the short term. At the same time, interest rate cuts, a fall in the value of the currency, and a rise in net exports usually soften the contractionary impact.”
If economic crises make the short-run pains of reforms easier to bear, then crises could yield considerable long-run benefits. But this column argues that the recent global financial crisis has been wasted thus far. It suggests that it is political crises – and not economic turmoil – that actually bring about reforms.