Category Archives: The Debt Imperative

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.

Bloomberg: The IMF Should Get Out of Greece

It has long been evident the Greek government, over the years, has been so overburdened with debt that much of it would eventually need to be forgiven. Now, even the mainstream media is touting that as the necessary solution to Greece’s predicament. In his recent article, published on the Bloomberg website, Princeton Prof. and former IMF deputy research director Ashoka Mody argues that the IMF is to blame for Greece’s debt situation and that it ought to pull out. He proposes that the IMF’s principal shareholders — the Europeans and Americans, must “honorably accept real losses.”

But he also points out that “the IMF’s Board, over the fierce opposition of several executive directors, the Europeans and Americans pushed through a bailout program that, contrary to the fund’s rules, did not impose losses on Greece’s private creditors. The decision was based on a spurious claim that “restructuring” private debt would trigger a global financial meltdown.”

So, here we have another case of private bank creditors being bailed-out. Yes, the Greek debt must be forgiven to allow the Greek economy to recover, but the burden now falls upon European and American citizens instead of on the banks’ owners, where it properly belongs.

A World Without Money and Interest

During my October tour, I gave three presentations in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and another in Sardinia, Italy. Two of the Malaysia presentations were at the International Forum on Inclusive Wealth, but I do not yet have recordings of those. The third was an extended presentation and discussion (on October 10) at the Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies titled, A World Without Money and Interest: A pathway toward social justice and economic equity. Here below is the video of the proceedings, or you can watch it on YouTube at https://youtu.be/8BejigzDAVY. The audio only is here, and the slides that were used in that talk can be viewed here.

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

Why Can’t Governments Balance Their Budgets?

This is a question I answered more than a quarter century ago in Part I of my book, Money and Debt: A Solution to the Global Crisis. It is a question that gets scant attention from politicians and economists who are willing to speak only about the need for perpetual economic growth and keeping the government debt at “manageable” levels, never asking why government debt is necessary or how it might be eliminated.

When I first undertook to answer this question, the debt crisis was already well underway and global in scope. Since then the situation has become more critical with debt levels reaching astronomical levels.USDebt&deficits

What I said in 1990 began with this:

The whole world today seems to be awash in a sea of debt which threatens to drown us all. Many Third World countries, despite their huge increases in production for export, are unable to pay even the interest due on their accumulated indebtedness to Western banks and governments. In the U. S., the levels of both public (government) and private debt are increasing at alarming rates. The Federal budget deficits of recent years far exceed anything thought possible just a decade ago. Why is this happening and why is it a problem? In order to understand that, one must first understand some financial facts of life.PublicDebt

Here are the essential points of my argument:

  1. Almost all of the money in every country is created by commercial banks when they make loans either to the private sector or to governments (by purchasing government bonds, notes, etc.),
  2. Money is extinguished when loan principal is repaid,
  3. The interest that banks charge on these loans causes the amount owed to grow as time passes,
  4. Causing the aggregate amount owed to banks to always exceed the supply of money in circulation,
  5. Requiring that banks make additional loans to keep the supply of money in circulation from falling behind the amounts needed for existing loans to be “serviced” (repayment of part of the principal plus the interest due) in order to avoid a cascade of defaults and economic depression,
  6. And that this “debt imperative” that is built into the global money system is the driver of the economic “growth imperative” that results in superfluous economic output and its attendant depletion of physical resources, despoliation of the environment, increasing disparities in income and wealth distribution, and many other problems that plague modern civilization.
  7. That physical limits to economic output on a finite planet make this money system unsustainable over the long term.
  8. That there are practical limits to the amount of debt that the private sector is able or willing to incur.
  9. That chronic government budget deficits are therefore a political expedient that is necessary to keep this flawed system from collapsing as governments assume the role of “borrower of last resort.”
  10. That politicians are quite willing that governments play this role since it gives them the power to take much more value out of the economy than the revenues available by means of overt taxation.
  11. That bankers, for their part, by monopolizing the allocation of credit in the economy and charging interest on it, are able to enrich themselves and exercise tremendous power over the political process making a sham of democratic government.

The empirical evidence strongly supports my analysis. You only need to look at charts showing the growth of debt over time to see it growing at an accelerating rate (geometrically), a pattern that reflects the compound interest function that is an inherent feature of our global political money system.

You can read my original 1989 exposition of these points at Money and Debt: a Solution to the Global Crisis, Part I, and their subsequent elaboration in my latest book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, https://beyondmoney.net/the-end-of-money-and-the-future-of-civilization/.

#     #     #

Varoufkis launches a powerful personal counter-indictment against his accusers.

Responding to charges of treason leveled against him by his “self-styled persecutors,” former Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, on his personal blog, has laid down the gauntlet, accusing “Greece’s oligarchic establishment” as being “troika-friendly.”
In his post of July 28, Varoufakis defended his “defiant negotiating stance” saying:
My dastardly ‘crime’ was that, expressing the collective will of our government, I personified the sins of:
• Facing down the Eurogroup’s leaders as an equal that has the right to say ‘NO’ and to present powerful analytical reasons for rebuffing the catastrophic illogicality of huge loans to an insolvent state in condition of self-defeating austerity
• Demonstrating that one can be a committed Europeanist, strive to keep one’s nation in the Eurozone, and, at the very same time, reject Eurogroup policies which damage Europe, deconstruct the euro and, crucially, trap one’s country in austerity-driven debt-bondage
• Planning for contingencies that leading Eurogroup colleagues, and high ranking troika officials, were threatening me with in face-to-face discussions
• Unveiling how previous Greek governments turned crucial government departments, such as the General Secretariat of Public Revenues and the Hellenic Statistical Office, into departments effectively controlled by the troika and reliably pressed into the service of undermining the elected government.

Varoufakis also claimed a moral victory, arguing that “The debate about the democratic deficit afflicting the Eurozone is now unstoppable.”

# # #