May 26, 2008
Elaine Meinel Supkis
The Group of Thirty who are the banking experts of the planet, are meeting this week in Jerusalem. As they overlook the Gaza Ghetto, they sit around the table and discuss the total collapse of the global banking system. I am guessing that they might be wondering if they did something wrong these last 40 years. Naw. They think they know everything which means they understand nothing. Or perhaps they are too close to the problem and thus, cannot see any solution. Since they don't discuss the rise and fall of empires, they won't see the real problems. But then, one of these 30 guys is the guy who runs the Bank of China and I assure everyone, he knows exactly what the meaning of the history of the rise and fall of empires entails. But the Western members won't ask him about THAT! I went to the Group of 30's library. Teased out a PDF from 1981. Lo and behold, the problems we have today were the problems we had back then! Except for one major difference: the US was not $10 trillion in public debt nor $44 trillion in collective debt and the Derivatives Beast was a tiny cute little baby. Who was being raised to protect the banks, not the $575 trillion monster it has become today.
Federal Reserve Bank of New York President Timothy Geithner said the world economy is coping with the U.S. slowdown.
``The world is much better positioned to deal with consequences of the slowdown in the United States,'' Geithner said at a news conference in Jerusalem today. ``It's looking, at least for now, very resilient to the broad pressures you see, particularly concentrated in the United States.''
ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet, speaking at the same news conference as Geithner, said the market correction is ``ongoing.'' Trichet also reiterated the ``concern'' of the Group of Seven nations about ``sharp fluctuations in major currencies'' after the euro rose to a record against the dollar.
Otherwise, Trichet and Geithner declined to address questions relating to monetary policy. They were attending an event in Jerusalem hosted by the Group of 30, a private group mainly of current and former central bankers.
Are they screaming at each other? Throwing books at each other? Talking about assassinating Obama? Ooops. The US is leaderless right now. But the international ruling elites, the international brain pool, the international noogies who paw all over each other at Davos or Paris or New York, these guys will slog onwards without any US leadership. They are what they are: the Real Rulers. Time to examine the Group of 30:
The Group of Thirty, established in 1978, is a private, nonprofit, international body composed of very senior representatives of the private and public sectors and academia.
It aims to deepen understanding of international economic and financial issues, to explore the international repercussions of decisions taken in the public and private sectors, and to examine the choices available to market practitioners and policymakers.
Here is the list of characters:
So, it is headed by Volcker. It is definitely international. If you click on the web page above, pass the mouse over the names and a thumbnail bio of the various 30 elites will pop up. I notice, despite Obama being called 'an elite', he isn't on this list. I hope this is rectified. Also, Ron Paul isn't on this Augustian list. One can see why! These people, as their site so charmingly says, they exist to 'deepen understanding of international economic and financial issues' etc.
So, everyone, have these 30 geniuses, these 30 conspirators, these 30 elites done a good job? Or have they failed utterly? We should leave out the head of the Bank of Japan and the Bank of China from the failure list. Both have succeeded wildly beyond their happiest dreams. But the rest: are these people naive? Or lost in the Bretton Woods?
The economy grew at an annualized rate of 5.4 percent in the first three months of the year, racing ahead of the gloomy growth outlooks issued by the Bank of Israel and the Finance Ministry.
"The positive data is an indication for how well the Israeli economy can cope amid a global financial crisis," Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On said in a speech at the 59th plenary meeting of the Group of 30 senior economists from developed countries, hosted by the central bank in Jerusalem on Sunday. "It is clear, however, that we are still in a time of great volatility and uncertainty, and therefore we need to continue to watch the developments in global markets and do everything to maintain budgetary discipline."
Gross domestic product rose by an annualized 5.4% in the first quarter of this year, compared with 5.8% growth in the fourth quarter of 2007 and 5.9% in the third quarter, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Sunday. Growth projections for the economy in 2008 of 4.3% by the Finance Ministry and 3.2% by the Bank of Israel painted a more pessimistic scenario.
Well, thank goodness Israel is doing well! See what happens when some sweet sugar daddy comes in with billions in free aid? The US generosity has created wonderful economic conditions for Israel. No wonder the Group of 30 are certain outside the US, everyone is going to do pretty good! If we look at the oil producing nations, they are doing just great. And evidently, Europe, China and Japan have figured out how to roll along without the US, too. At least, they would hope to pretend to do this. If the US were to give all of them hundreds of billions, they would probably pull through the collapse of the US pretty good, I guess.
Frankly, the entire economic system of the world depends on the US spending nearly a trillion more than we make. This hemorrhage of red ink is vital for world trade and they are all wondering if they can get along without this, or at least, the red ink being somewhat reduced. Or course, the other big red ink producer, our military patrol of the planet earth is never mentioned. I scanned the library of these brave geniuses and with 30 guys and gals trying their utmost to figure out what is going on with global money making, spending and trading, not a PEEP about the military! Wow! And no wonder!
They don't want to mention this particular elephant in the room because if they did, they would have to rip up all the pretty reports they made so far and rewrite everything. And the tale would not be about a great international financial system but rather, the Decline and Fall of The US Empire. I suppose the Chinese member who was asked to join only recently [they couldn't keep out the real owners of international banking!] is probably itching to write this report but has been told to wait a while. Especially since China is coping with the huge earthquake damage. Rivers are blocked by mountains and have to be cleared, millions of people need new homes and the earthquakes continue to rattle the region. So China will be rather preoccupied for the time being.
Here is a report from 1981 which I picked out at random. For 1981 was a year that pretty much mirrors today. I wondered how they analyzed it back then:
The Imbalance in External Payments
1. The further surge in oil prices in 1979-80 has dramatically increased the scale of international payments imbalances. The oil-exporting countries ran a combined current account surplus of about $115 billion in 1980, requiring the rest of the world to run a deficit of the same magnitude. Non-oil developing countries have been hit particularly hard. They have had to contend not only with much higher oil bills (net oil imports of oil-importing developing countries rose by some $40 billion from 1978 to 1980) but with two other inter-related changes in their external environment: first, the slowdown in the industrialized countries, which provide their main export markets; and secondly, the move to positive real interest rates, which has raised the real cost of borrowed funds.
Both factors have tended to raise their current deficit further and to reduce their debt-servicing capacity. The combined current account deficit of non-oil LDCs totalled some $80 billion in 1980 and could rise further this year, possibly approaching $100 billion. As the International Monetary Fund's "World Economic Out- look stated last year, the projected deficit of non-oil LDCs is all the more worrying because it is coupled with virtual stagnation in the volume of imports. These countries are therefore confronted with a new threat to their growth, a threat that is almost certainly greater than that in 1974, after the first oil shock.
First off: always, always when I visit international geniuses who are elites and who want to rule this planet, I encounter the same thing over and over. They are very solicitous of the woes of the third world. They want to fix the third world's banking problems. They worry a lot about the third world nations racking up too much debt. They are so very concerned that the governments of third world nations might run up $10 trillion in government debt in only 20 years. Ahem. Such touching concern is a sign of absolute total arrogant STUPIDITY.
Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the most bankrupt of them all?
Is it England or is it France?
Or is the US it by chance?
Well, fiddle-dee-dee! I see in the mirror dark, the face of the American public! First, look at the quaint numbers of this report that worries about oil purchasing debts of the third world: $115 billion in oil sales! Wow. Like, today it is what? A trillion? Another amusing feature in this old report for the Group of 30 is the worry about trade imbalances. The US had been somewhat but not badly out of whack for nearly 10 years when this report was made.
During the first oil crisis, we had rationing instead of high oil costs. The US went into a steep recession and the dollar was devalued vis a vis the yen and the German mark. It went from 4 marks to the dollar to 2 marks to the dollar. Talk about a mark-down! Heh. Well, that boon didn't last very long. The US deficits began as a very small matter. When this Group of 30 report was written, the US had a balanced trade number so the US wasn't worried. But disaster was just around the corner!
Let me make this very clear: the US got cheap oil after Volcker killed inflation with high interest rates. And what happened next? We went deep into debt! And our trade deficit took off. At a negative $100 billion a year at mid-point of that decade, we were so terrified about that number, the US strong-armed Germany and Japan to devalue the dollar yet again. The Plaza Accords did that. The resulting recession in the US meant we ran a one year trade surplus. But this was NOT due to the US selling goods. We sold our MILITARY to the oil Arab kings! Gulf War I balanced our trade deficits. But only for one year. And the resulting recession from more oil price hikes helped the US stop the flood of foreign goods.
Then OIL GOT CHEAPER THAN EVER during the 1990s. Look at the graphs! Wow. The US trade deficit went from $0 to -$800 billion! Back to the G 30 report: it was assumed that all the third world nations would go deep into debt to pay for fuel because fuel prices were running high. And this was true. And the US didn't go this way for the simple reason, we had just hit the Hubbert Oil Peak in 1974 and this was minimized by the Alaskan oil fields coming online before 1980. So we were still solvent. Also, under Jimmy Carter, the US had speed limits of 55 mph, car MPG requirements and other energy initiatives that greatly cut the consumption of energy. All of which was tossed merrily out of the window by the GOP and Reagan!
3. It remains important, in this context, to keep the size of the non-oil LDC deficit in perspective. In connection with the payments desequilibria caused by the 1973-74 oil price increases, the IMF calculated that the growth of the deficit, from about $8 billion a year in 1967-72 to some $30 billion in 1977, was in no sense disproportionate if one took account of the growth in real economic activity and the rise in world trade prices over the period. A somewhat similar perspective is called for as the world faces again disequilibria of unprecedented size.
In the five-year period from 1974 to 1979, the LDCs have experienced a real growth of about 5 per cent per year and world prices of manufactures in terms of U.S. dollars have increased by at least ten per cent per year. Such a conjunction of quantity and price increases produces a doubling of value figures in about five years. Thus, figures for current account deficits for the LDCs that are foreseen for the early 1980s are not by themselves markedly out of line with the figures of half a decade earlier.
'Growth' was often due to the top industrial nations suddenly changing gears and frantically retrofitting so they were more efficient. Before 1974, home insulation industries didn't exist, just for example. And look at the numbers from back then! $8 billion was a huge number. Today, our numb minds have to wrap around the noxious idea that derivatives based on hedging interest rate fluxions is over $300 trillion! For the 1974 period was the introduction of the floating currency regime. Note that the $8 billion grew to $30 billion. The report claims this was 'growth' but we know, if we remember those years, they were VERY inflationary.
The G 30 report from 1981:
(b) Policies for Industrial Countries
10. With regard to the major industrial countries, the emphasis of demand policies at present is placed on the need to maintain the struggle against inflation. The policy response to the second oil shock was shaped by the main lesson drawn from the first oil shock, namely that countries which acted in practice promptly to effect their adjustment also adjusted more successfully than others. There is still some dispute, however, as to whether this was indeed the right lesson-still less the only one-to be drawn from that experience. It would certainly not be correct to interpret this lesson as requiring the adoption of policies aimed at eIiminating the payments deficits of the industrial countries. The main effect of the adoption of such policies would be to raise further the deficits of the non-oil LDCs. The effect on global payments current imbalances would be small.
On the other hand, the need to avoid a cumulative round of belt-tightening should not become a pretext to avoid or postpone adjustment to the real loss of income brought about by the adverse movements in terms of trade. The posture of fiscal and monetary policies should be guided by the need to reduce inflation over the medium term.
11. An important fact in this connection is that the large industrial countries have generally found means of financing their payments deficits without major difficulties. In particular, Germany and Japan, which together accounted for a large fraction of the industrial countries' current account deficit for 1980, made arrangements for financing their payments deficits at least partly by means of capital inflows denominated in their own currencies. These transactions indeed provided oil-exporting countries with opportunities to diversify the currency composition of their foreign assets.
Both Germany and Japan began to really aggressively sell in the US. In particular, automobiles. The second oil shock induced Americans to buy more efficient cars from the high gasoline tax cultures. The US automakers made truly beastly little cars back then like the well-named Gremlin, for example. I once had to figure out how to drive a Pinto in the dark in the rain and it was hellish, for example. Luckily for me, no one crashed into that death trap of a car! I bought a Volkswagen.
I highlighted the part about Japan and Germany creating capital inflows in their own currencies. Both countries have played the US like a fiddle when it comes to currency issues. Despite frantic attempts at manipulating currency values so we get some sort of balance of trade, they always win out in the end. To the point, we obviously gave up entirely. Now we import oodles of oil and oodles of foreign cars.
G 30 report from 1981:
70. Other proposals are directed towards upholding confidence in the international banking system in times of stress; various arrangements to provide supplementary liquidity to the system at such times might be devised. One suggestion is that a "safety net" be established among the major international banks to assure access to liquidity when the inter-bank market is under stress. We recognize the attractions of such proposals but, on balance, we do not think they are likely to be effective in practice.
Proposals to structure a safety net on the basis of swap arrangements between commercial banks (drawn along the lines of similar facilities between central banks) suffer from the critical weakness that their effectiveness depends on inter-bank confidence, which is precisely what is lacking in crisis situations. In such situations, only the central bank has the competence to act as 'lender of last resort' and the authority to require acceptance by all parties of its terms.
As here we can see how the baby Derivatives Beast was born. As a protector of the banks. As a safety net that would prevent failures. As a small thing, a key, a tool to be used carefully to spread risk and deal with sudden inflationary price surges caused by wars which cause oil to shoot up in price suddenly! To protect banks from the effects of the floating currencies that were bobbing and sinking in this maelstrom of inflation and commodity price upheavals and collapses. The Derivatives Beast didn't reach its first trillion dollars until 1989. And it didn't protect us from the savings and loan collapse. Nor did it, even as it was much, much bigger in 1997, it didn't protect Asia from the Great Asian Currency Crisis. And it certainly hasn't protected our own banking system from the present crash.
The US banking system is bankrupt. And the Group of 30 knows this. And they didn't prevent it. Half of them refuse to even acknowledge this is happening. Look at the top of this story! All is well? Who are we kidding? Or rather, who are the G 30 liars kidding?