Category Archives: Debt

Is Capitalism about to crash?

Richard Wolff provides an insightful analysis and historical perspective on the present state of capitalism and democracy. Clearly, Franklin Roosevelt saved capitalism in the 1930s by yielding a bit to the masses’ demand for a share of the economic benefits. Will there be a repeat of that in the coming decade under the next President?

That is doubtful. Conditions today are much different than they were in the 1930s. Big government is no longer in vogue since governments have ceded most of their power to transnational corporations. People now are much more aware of the need for structural change in politics, economics and finance. The vogue today is decentralization of power and restoration of the commons.

I don’t know if Marx has any answers because I’ve never studied Marxist economics.

I am convinced of one thing however that no one else seems to recognize, that is the fundamental flaw in the global interest-based, debt-money, central banking regime. It is the “debt-growth imperative” that derives from the way banks create money by making loans that require the payment of interest. One need only look at the empirical evidence of global debt growth over time to see that it conforms to the exponential growth function of compound interest. Even the richest countries have exploding levels of sovereign debt because there are limits to how much debt the private sector can bear, so governments become the “borrower of last resort” to keep the money supply from collapsing. That’s the reason for bank bailouts and “quantitative easing.”

The fundamental need is for a deep restructuring of money, banking, and finance to decentralize control of credit and eliminate the “debt-growth imperative.” Such an idea may seem radical in the extreme and will not be welcomed by the powers that be, but alternative approaches are already in the works and will be ready to save the day when the capitalist train crashes off the rails.

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Greece and the Global Debt Crisis

Greece and the Global Debt Crisis
Thomas H. Greco, Jr.

ABSTRACT

The Greek debt crisis is emblematic of a more general, decades-long pattern of economic exploitation and reactionary politics that threatens not only the European Union but the stability of the global financial infrastructure and Western democratic civilization. The situation calls for a different form of globalization, not one that is dominated by transnational banks and corporations, but one that is built upon local self-determination and self-reliance, and based on local and domestic control of money, credit, and finance. Greece (and other debtor countries) can recover a measure of sovereignty and rebuild its economy by combining “debt triage” with public and private actions for creating domestic liquidity.

            In the summer of 1977, I first ventured abroad from North America on a journey to explore ancient civilizations, cultures, and religions, and to experience contemporary life in Egypt, Israel, and Greece. During my six-week odyssey, I was able to visit the Pyramids, amble over the Holy Land, and visit the temple ruins of Athens and Delphi.

At one point while in Cairo I came upon a scene that greatly troubled me. There was a small burro hitched to an enormous cart that was laden to the hilt with onions. I felt nauseous as I watched the poor animal lying on its side being flogged by a man in a vain effort to rouse it to the task of moving what seemed to be an impossible load. As a stranger in a strange land, I felt helpless to intervene and quickly moved away. I often wonder what might have been the ultimate outcome, but in my imagination I see the man with the whip standing over the lifeless body of that animal lying in the street, and weeping in worry and frustration.

Now, when I contemplate Greece’s current predicament, that image comes to mind. I see Greece as that beaten and dying animal, overburdened with debt that is beyond its capacity to service, and being flogged by its creditors in a vain attempt to get it to pay up. In my mind’s eye I see a future in which the dead carcass of Greece is being carved up and distributed amongst the creditor institutions. In actuality, Greece will survive, but under new (foreign) management, as she is forced to sell off her assets at fire-sale prices.

In the eyes of the Germans and other creditors, represented by the so-called “troika” institutions (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund), the Greek people are lazy freeloaders who have been living “high on the hog” at their expense, and who now balk at repaying what they borrowed.

But there is another side to the story that paints a different picture, and even if there is a bit of truth in that characterization, what is there to be gained by creditors insisting upon their “pound of flesh”? As civilization has advanced, debtor prisons have been eliminated and bankruptcy laws have been instituted to protect people and companies from creditors who insist upon collecting more than debtors, for whatever reason, are able to pay. Why can’t nations be afforded the same considerations?

First of all, it was not the Greek people who did the borrowing, it was a series of Greek governments that were either corrupted, coerced, or seduced into taking on a series of debts that were increasingly burdensome. Greece was lured into the debt trap from which it seems impossible to escape. Ellen Brown has summarized in her article, The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion, some of the many moves that were made to ensnare the Greek government, and by extension, the Greek people.  … more.

To read my prescriptions and the full article, click here. The article is excerpted from the book, Rebuilding after Collapse: Political Structures for Creative Response to the Ecological Crisis, edited by John Culp. –t.h.g.

Thomas Greco’s Latest Interview–March 3, 2017

Here is my latest interview on Primo Nutmeg. Discussion topics include alternative currencies, credit, central banks, the Federal Reserve, Austrian economics, the gold standard, bitcoin, geopolitics, and the relationship between U.S. foreign policy and the global system of money and finance.

Recovery? What recovery?

Despite the happy talk coming out of Washington and New York about the supposed economic recovery, the present economic and political order remains on course toward self-destruction. I’ve said it over and over again that the fundamental flaw is the compound interest that is built into the global debt-money regime. The fact that virtually all money is created by banks that “lend” it into circulation at interest causes debts to grow faster and faster with the passage of time. A quick glance at the timeline for public and private debt makes this obvious.Total-US-DebtTo2014

Prof. Richard Wolff, in the video below, does not mention this debt-growth imperative, but he does a good job of explaining how the governments and the central banks managed to temporarily forestall total collapse following the 2008 financial crisis, and why their actions are failing to solve the basic problem of slack demand.

We need to look beyond economic ideologies to find ways of defusing the debt bomb which grows bigger and more deadly with every passing day. A shift toward innovative, interest-free, approaches to the exchange of value and the financing of enterprise development provides the most promising route toward a soft landing. See The End of Money and the Future of Civilization.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts explains the geopolitical facts of life

This video featuring Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is a “must view.” Roberts, who was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy under Ronald Reagan, explains very clearly how Greece was lured into its present predicament and made a “colony of the EU.”

If the Greek economy is to be rebuilt and some measure of Greek independence restored, ways must be found to create domestic liquidity independent of the global banking system . Domestic currencies might be issued by the national government or by regional governments, or liquidity could be created by private enterprises in the form of private currencies or credit clearing exchanges. I’ve explained in detail how this can be done in my article, 50 Ways to Leave the Euro.

Looking beyond Greece, Roberts speaks about inflation and unemployment and the true state of the U.S. economy, as well as U.S. foreign policy and the causes of the current geopolitical crisis.

Other important videos to watch are:
Max Keiser’s December 22 interview of Roberts, where he talks about Trump’s cabinet picks and relations with Russia, and
Michel Chossudovsky’s take on the “sweeping measures taken [against Russia] by Obama on December 29.”
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We’re in an inflationary depression, with serious trouble ahead

The statistics offered by the government and the FED are not to be trusted. We’ve long known that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is manipulated in ways that are intended to mask the increases in the true cost of living for the average American. The same is true of the unemployment numbers. Amidst all the happy talk of economic recovery, wages (in real terms) continue to decline and debts continue to  mount up. Charles Hugh Smith in his recent post, What If We’re in a Depression But Don’t Know It?, provides some eye-opening charts and convincing narrative that makes it plain that economic depression is the current reality for all but the top 5%.

But it’s not only the U.S. that is in trouble, the depression is worldwide. The financial crisis of 2007-2008 was only the beginning of what some call “the great unraveling” There are any number of commentators that provide further arguments on that score, including Thom Hartmann (The Crash of 2016) and Gerald Celente.

But no one besides myself is pointing out the underlying cause of all these problems. It is the monopolization of credit by a banking cartel, in collusion with top government officials, that creates money based on interest-bearing debt, a formula that centralizes power and concentrates wealth in the hands of what Hartmann calls economic royalists.

By their control of the monetary machinery they are able to lavishly fund weapons, war, and the global corporatocracy, while making money scarce for everyone else. Further, this system is not sustainable because the interest burden causes debts to grow continually with the passage of time. Central governments have assumed the role of “borrower of last resort,” to keep the money supply pumped up and the banks from failing. This cancer has metastasized and the end is near. –t.h.g.

 

WHERE DID THE GREEK BAILOUT MONEY GO?

An academic study from the European School of Management and Technology highlights the utter futility of the bailout programs in pulling Greece out of the quagmire of debt bondage and economic depression.The report concludes:

“This paper provides a descriptive analysis of where the Greek bailout money went since 2010 and finds that, contrary to widely held beliefs, less than €10 billion or a fraction of less than 5% of the overall programme went to the Greek fiscal budget. In contrast, the vast majority of the money went to existing creditors in the form of debt  repayments and interest payments. The resulting risk transfer from the private to  the public sector  and the subsequent risk transfer within the public sector from international organizations such  as the ECB and the IMF to European  rescue mechanisms such as the  ESM still constitute the most important challenge for the goal to achieve a sustainable fiscal situation in Greece.”

See Rocholl *, J., and A. Stahmer(2016). Where did the Greek bailout money go? ESMT White Paper No. WP–16–02. http://static.esmt.org/publications/whitepapers/WP-16-02.pdf