Success of the German-inspired solution for the latest Greek crisis is far from assured. If it fails, the Eurozone may be changed forever. This column argues that the failure would lead to an outcome that has been favoured for decades by Germany’s Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble. Perhaps the package the Eurozone agreed is just a backdoor way of getting to the ‘variable geometry’ and monetary unification for the core that the Maastricht criteria had failed to achieve.
In the 2008-9 crisis, Latvia suffered more than any other country despite its extensive bank reforms after the 1995 crisis. Yet only one of its banks failed (Parex): the rest were bailed out by their foreign owners. So the question is, if Latvia’s banks were actually in better shape than those in other countries, why did Latvia suffer the worst recession in the world? To be continued……
As Greece staggers under the weight of a depression exceeding that of the 1930s in the US, it appears difficult to see a way forward from what is becoming increasingly a Ponzi financed, extend and pretend, “bailout” scheme. In fact, there are much more creative and effective ways to solve some of the macrofinancial dilemmas that Greece is facing, and without Greece having to exit the euro. But these solutions challenge many existing economic paradigms, including the concept of “money” itself.
The euro crisis is a crisis of Europe, not of European countries. It is not a conflict between Germany and Spain (and I use these two countries to represent every European country on one side or the other of the boom) about who should be deemed irresponsible, and so should absorb the enormous costs of nearly a decade of mismanagement. There was plenty of irresponsible behavior in every country, and it is absurd to think that if German and Spanish banks were pouring nearly unlimited amounts of money into countries at extremely low or even negative real interest rates, especially once these initial inflows had set off stock market and real estate booms, that there was any chance that these countries would not respond in the way every country in history, including Germany in the 1870s and in the 1920s, had responded under similar conditions.
Last Thursday, we ran a unique half-hour segment on gold, gold investing and the gold standard over at Boom Bust. The panel was made up of four investors: Marshall Auerback, Rick Rule, Cullen Roche and Peter Schiff. I moderated the panel with regular Boom Bust host Erin Ade. I really enjoyed this format and think we could or should have run the segment for a full hour because there was a lot more ground to cover.
Take a look.
“I am determined that the American dollar must never again be a hostage in the hands of international speculators”
Below is the video of Richard Nixon closing the gold window exactly 43 years ago today. Hat tip to Raja Korman
Yesterday, I wrote up a piece at the New York Times’ Room for Debate forum about the legacy that Tim Geithner left behind, given his recent memoir “Stress Test”. The question was : “Did the government miss a historic opportunity to reshape the financial system — or was its moderate approach correct?” I recommend you read the other answers from […]
I am skipping the news links today to go right to the daily commentary. I want to continue my thoughts on what’s happening in Europe and why I think the ECB will become more activist. There are a number of policy options on the table for the ECB including continuing to stand pat. But given both what ECB board members are saying and what the Lisbon Treaty defines as the ECB’s mandate, I believe we are about to see a big shift in policy toward greater activism. I’ll explain why below.
Jobless claims: a good coincident indicator of the US economy. If you look at changes in jobless claims it can also help you call turning points in the economy. I have done claims graphs a few times over the past six years but I haven’t posted an update in a while. So I wanted to update you on what the data are saying.
Continuing where I left off yesterday, it’s clear that the global economy is growing now. We see growth in the US, Europe, Japan, and in emerging markets. Economic growth is the norm, not the exception. And over the longer term, markets will rise to reflect that growth. That’s what I mean when I say market and economic momentum is up and to the right. Here’s the problem; there are periods of time when economies and markets fall out of bed. And sometimes the upheaval is so great, it turns into a generational divide – a depression and/or secular bear market. I believe there is a good case that we are still both in a depression and a secular bear market and I want to explain how that matters below.
Yesterday I looked at the Ukraine situation from a decision-tree framing. And my conclusion was that Western influence in Ukraine’s internal politics to aid regime change was a key factor in making the situation in Ukraine and its consequences more unpredictable. I believe markets are fairly complacent given the potential fallout, which could include military confrontation. Today, I want to use a different framing to look at Russian – US animosity over Ukraine. I am going to use the Franco-Prussian War as an analogy to give a sense of likely outcomes.
I knew Charles Keating, the head of Lincoln Savings, in my capacity as a financial regulator and as the subject of his wrath. His fraud schemes and the manner in which they targeted our system’s vulnerabilities in an era before Citizens United made the corruption of politicians by fraudulent CEOs child’s play remain the play book for the world’s most destructive financial frauds. Our failure to learn the ten lessons has caused immense suffering. Keating’s life, and the great harm he caused, will not have been in vain if we step back and use the occasion of his death to reflect on the changes we need to make.