Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Greek Bailout May Well Trigger an Avalanche of Similar Defaults...

Ever wonder if ANY in the political class know ANYTHING about what they often pontificate about?

When politicians talk sports, it often becomes very obvious they don’t, as with Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) consistently referring to Rafeal Palmeiro (pal-mare-oh) as Mr. Pal-mary, or former Illinois Governor George Ryan introducing MIKE DITKA as “the Hall of the Famer, the legend, DICK BUTKA.”

But it IS almost certainly the case in many other instances and areas, as well.

Certainly very few in the political class know much, if anything about economics and how economies work. That’s almost certainly behind the fact that despite the ever-growing mountain of evidence AGAINST Keynesian economic policies, the political class stubbornly refuses to abandon the one economic theory that sees more government intervention in the economy as a good thing.

THAT as much as anything else is why we’re nowhere near done with the ongoing economic meltdown that began with Keynesian policies and is growing toward a quick implosion because of more Keynesian policies.

Yesterday the EU announced that the Greek debt crisis would be solved...by a staggering $1 TRILLION (USD) bailout!

Only a dolt (or a member of the political class...same thing, I guess) wouldn’t wonder, “How does that “FIX” anything?! It’s like GM’s recent announcement that it had paid off its TARP loans without mentioning that it was paid back with....other TARP funds!

GM, like Greece is still in deep, DEEP, even critical debt.

Consider that Greece’s economy is about the size of current day Michigan’s economy and that $1 TRILLION  bailout is even more astounding! Moreover, to pay back that staggering loan, Greece will have to embark on a series of draconian austerity programs. Odds are that they’ll default and ultimately bring on even deeper problems not far down the road.

But Greece’s $1 TRILLION bailout is not the only reason that bailout was a bad idea.

For what the Greek bailout does is to send a very clear signal to Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain (the other “PIIGS”) that “profligacy pays off...and BIG!” Expect the other PIIGS to default and look for their bailouts as well, triggering an avalanche of debt and default that may well trigger a global Depression down the road.

Where are all the funds going to come from for all those other bailouts?....And at what cost to global financial stability?

The primary lesson from Greece is all too clear - the government directed economy does not work. More than 25% of Greeks work for the government, of the remaining 4 million “workers,” five hundred thousand are unemployed and eight hundred thousand are heavily subsidized EU farmers of very low productivity. Without taking into account all of those of the private sector who make all or some of their living indirectly from the state, it falls on around 2.7 million Greeks to support a million public employees, 800 thousand farmers, 500 thousand unemployed and 1.7 million retirees. Since it would be impossible for Greece’s tiny private sector to support such a heavy burden, that’s why Greece is so dependent on continuous and high levels of borrowing no matter how good or bad the times are. In short, Greece doesn’t have the productive output to sustain that gargantuan public sector...in truth NO economy does! Ergo, the government-directed economy or “Euro-socialism” does not work.

The entitlement culture that Euro-socialism and Keynesianism inculcate is a cancer. In most, if not all cases, it’s best to let those who make bad decisions deal with the consequences.

Ultimately no one and no thing is too big to fail.


WomanHonorThyself said...

Ever wonder if ANY in the political class know ANYTHING about what they often pontificate about?..daily my friend!!!..thanks for the insightful comments at WHT!

JMK said...

Hi Angel!

Those were two great posts at your site.

Skunkfeathers said...

Greece is the first from the freedom side of the line that will prove what history already knew about socialism/marxism: it is a failure. The cradle-to-grave welfare state is a myth, and runs in the face of basic human nature. And that is why it fails in the East (unless propped up by bayonets, as in North Korea or Venezuela), and it fails in the West.

And our moron liberal (and some equally idiot RINOs) politicians, with a wealth of evidence before them, SIMPLY REFUSE TO SEE THAT.

Reason enough for a huge house (and Senate) cleaning in November.

JMK said...

Two GREAT reads on this exact subject are Robert Samuelson's The Welfare State's Death Spiral: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/09/AR2010050902443.html?wpisrc=nl_pmopinions


Depression 2010?:http://publication.samachar.com/pub_article.php?id=8933608&nextids=8867811|8941600|8931865|8932818|8933608&nextIndex=0

The frightening conclusion that Samuelson makes and I agree with is, "But there is another more sobering reading of the Great Depression. It is that painful and once unthinkable changes are made only under the pressure of acute crisis. One reason that central banks were so passive is that they clung to the gold standard: relaxing credit policies too dramatically to rescue banks might lead to a loss of gold; people would demand metal to replace paper money. Gold was abandoned in various countries only after it seemed untenable. Similarly, the post–World War I debt problem wasn't "solved" until repayment was impossible....Against that backdrop, today's unresolved problems — over the welfare state, leadership in the global economy — become more ominous. They suggest that major adjustments won't be made until they're compelled by some sort of crisis. This possibility defines the present economic drama. Will the recovery encourage conscious changes? Or is recovery providing a false sense of security? The stakes are, of course, enormous..."

I too believe that a massive crisis (global Depression?) will be required to shake Western governments to their cores...and even that may not be enough to get the political class to abandon the Keynesian view that supports the "need" for "the elites" to control and distribute the fruits and opportunities of any economic order. The ultimate removal of the political class may well require somewhat more drastic and draconian measures.

Early Light said...

They buy votes until the system implodes, then they get kickbacks on bailouts to save the imploding system.

And it will happen here in a decade or so.

And Bush-43 is every bit as responsible as Clinton. Obama is only doing proportionally more to destroy this country - I didn't think that was possible after Bush-43 and Clinton.

(We may disagree on the Bush-43 part, and if so, I will let it rest for now.)

JMK said...

The crazy thing about the Greek protesters, EL, is that they're all GOVERNMENT WORKERS!

Who are they "rising up against?"

Themselves?....Or those Greeks unlucky enough NOT to have received such a sinecure?

As for Bush-43, overall we don't disagree.

I've given Bush Jr credit for TWO positive things, (1) the across the board income tax rate cut and the Cap gains tax cut that had revenues soaring in their wake (unfortunately he spent us into oblivion at the very same time) and (2) belatedly engaged the Islamic jihadists who'd been relentlessly waging war against us for the previous decade...without an appropriate response from us. Of course those war powers were used to expand the federal government and strengthen the Executive branch.

Bush-43 was a Keynesian, just like his Dad and Richard M Nixon and Herbert Hoover.

In fact Herbert Hoover was the first "progressive" President of the United States! His mantra was, "Every problem has a scientific solution best implemented by a wise and benevolent government."

Hoover set the pattern we've followed ever since. Hoover began the "alphabet soup" of government programs that FDR expanded upon and so began a series of Republican Keynesians turning faltering economies over to hyper-Keynesian Democrats.

Hoover to FDR....Nixon to Carter...Bush Sr. to Clinton...and G W Bush to Obama!

This current fiasco could ultimately wind up far worse than the Nixon to Carter debacle, which was very bad indeed.

I'd like to short the Euro going forward...it was a good bet a few months ago and it's a much better bet today, with the bailout precedent being set. Ultimately only a systemic disaster will stave off this Keynesian self-abuse.

Shorting the U.S. Dollar is also a very good bet going further out, given out own unwillingness to come to terms with our profligacy. If we and Europe continue on this current path we'll see another global Depression, one that might make the 1930s look tame by comparison.

Ultimately there IS no free lunch, but for those lucky enough, Keynes' rejoinder, "In the long run we'll all be dead," comes true before the great reckoning.

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