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Jim Cook

 

RUNAWAY SOCIAL SYMPATHY

Every once in a while I switch the TV channel from Fox to CNBC to see what the liberals are saying.  After listening awhile I get a deep sense of hopelessness and foreboding for our country.  The most important thing for the left is giving money to people.  They are happy to see the growth of food stamps, disability payments, housing subsidies, free healthcare and all the other welfare benefits.  They utterly fail to see the damage it is doing to the recipients.  Whole cities that once flourished have deteriorated into rotting eyesores populated with shambling hulks of chemically dependent drones.  These people are no longer employable.  They have become incompetent and helpless and the liberals can’t see that it’s their doing.

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The Best of Jim Cook Archive

 
Best of Doug Noland
October 17, 2011
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From the European experience, we now appreciate that the little, almost inconsequential Greek economy is quite an impressive financial black hole.  And as things have progressed, critical Credit Bubble Dynamics have been illuminated for all who want to see.  The market has witnessed how the “money” from Greek Bailout One was soon vaporized.  Dexia’s 2008 bailout:  vaporized.  Greek Bailout II, when it arrives, will be similarly vaporized.  European bank capital:  poof.  The potential amount of “money” to be vaporized if Italy succumbs to the highly contagious path of Greece, Portugal and Ireland:  Unfathomable Black Hole.  Well, everyone knows this is not an option.  So incredible effort will be exerted to present the European crisis in terms of some quantifiable, manageable, solvable problem – some quantifiable cost that might, with the euro at risk, be tolerable to, say, the German voter.

The markets are somewhat relieved to see policymakers now completely engaged.  Yet I don’t foresee an increasingly enlightened marketplace really buying into any notion that policymakers are getting their arms, minds or pocketbooks around the problem.  Seeming at times in lonely isolation (and I’m not referring to either their AAA debt rating or manufacturing-based economy), the Germans appreciate the unfolding “financial black hole” and monetary “slippery slope” nature of how things are progressing.  Meanwhile, on a more daily and hourly basis, market focus seems to be whether policy pronouncements are sufficient to engender another “rip your face off” short squeeze.

Despite stringent austerity measures, Greece will run a deficit this year of at least 8.5% of GDP.  Without a massive and open-ended commitment from a rapidly depleting European “core,” the situation is utterly hopeless.  In a microcosm of the predicament shared by other developed economies, Greece for too long depended on the creation of new financial claims (Credit) and consumption at the expense of investment in real wealth creation (is this type of analysis sounding any less archaic these days?).   As much as policymakers will never admit it, impaired economic structures are at the heart of an unquantifiable global Credit crisis of confidence.   And as de-risking and de-leveraging empowers contagion effects worldwide, the scope of the unquantifiable grows only more unfathomable.  Perhaps this is what Sir Mervyn King, from the BOE, had in mind.

And it all seems to boil down to this:  Credit cannot be stable within a backdrop of such extraordinary uncertainty.  And, I would argue, no amount of central bank liquidity (“money”) and bank capital is going to engender sufficient certainty to stabilize global Credit, financial flows and asset markets.   Not with the large number of dangerously maladjusted economies; not with such well-entrenched global economic and financial imbalances; and not with today’s unbelievable Credit, derivatives, and speculative leverage overhang.  The issue is certainly not a lack of “money” - but rather a lack of confidence and trust – the bedrock of Credit.