Monday, January 16, 2012
Smoke mirrors and world debt
The game of kick the can continues. Or maybe a circular firing squad would be a better example. Only in this case a couple of players are holding a gun to their own heads. Funny how these things work out or are even started in the first place. Somewhere a couple of thousand years ago it was written "neither a borrower nor a lender be". Why would that be such a pearl of wisdom one might ask? Because it only adds to the stress of life. The borrower must worry about being able to pay back the loan and the lender worries that he'll get his money back with or without interest. Then their is the matter of collateral. Which in todays' case is non- existent. All based on paper and promises it's not something anyone can see, feel, or touch. What could the loan sharks of the central bank repo? Who would want to take over the Acropolis or other antiquity in Greece as payment? That'd be a white elephant for sure.
But this wonderful game of playing Monopoly is being played out around the world and not just in the euro zone. Leveraging works swimmingly well when economies are humming along but at some point the bubbles burst. Reading the financial pages you'd think that some magical power has deep pockets and a solution to the crisis but the truth is that no one holds the keys to a vault with endless cash. But they'd like you to think as much. No dear reader it's nothing more than trading one debt for another. There is no magic bullet, no elixir that will fix today's problems. Unless of course there is a massive write off of debt. Even then the pain inflicted would be massive. Most of what we own as an individual and as a nation is tied directly or indirectly to debt. The savings you have in the bank isn't sitting there collecting dust. It's loaned out at nine times its' value adding to the problem. Also true of your checking.
So we must now face the reality that we're all broke. Even if you're not, the country you live in is and more than likely your neighbors are if they still live in their home and hold a mortgage. But if you read the financial pages they'd have you believe that everything will work out okay. They must keep the game of smoke and mirrors going to reap the scraps of the delusion. You can watch the ups and downs of the markets and know that there is nothing there based in reality. Most of it is done by computer programs those automatic uncaring machine decision makers that are running the world. Slap a few zeros in and money magically appears on a banks books created out of thin air. Gee don't you wish you could do that?