GREECE PROBLEM EXPLAINED Way back when about 30 years ago (probably as far as history is concerned) politicians wanted to get themselves reelected to cushy jobs with big perks. They figured out if they gave the voters more “stuff” before each election the voters would vote them back in and they did. This issued in the period of professional politicians who did not work and lived off the income of those who did. Of course, their job was to protect the people and pass sensible laws, but this was forgotten as the pols pursued only one thing – staying in power. The Greek parliament started creating laws that gave people more and more “benefits”. There was no thought of how these would be paid for in the future. At first the government was able to pay for these with reasonable taxes, but as time went on outgo exceeded income from the tax rate The solution is simple. Raise taxes. When an economy is growing as it was in Greece with ship building and tourists flocking to the country the debt burden was manageable. Slowly, but surely as more was given as “benefits”taxes crept up and the people wanted more and more free stuff. Politicians always promise bread and circuses and never care that they cannot be paid for. Then the extra taxes that had to be added to both labor and products began to price the ship building business to other countries. Lower wages and taxes in Japan, China, Malaysia created new ship construction companies, but not in Greece. In order to pay for all the free stuff and benefitsthey had created the pols started issuing government bonds. Then a coalition of European countries was created called the European Union and Greece decided to join. They had to cook the books to qualify. That means lie. The other countries bought their debt (bonds). When they could not pay the interest Greece borrowed money from the EU banks to pay the interest. And those other countries’ banks were stupid enough to give it to them. Suddenly there is hundreds of billions of Euros (that’s like dollars) owed and the other countries continue to give them money so they won’t default on their debt.They know that every cent given will not be repaid. Greece is broke broke. Because the banks in all those other countries are also broke for the same reason they realize if they let Greece fail then every other country will also have to declare they are bankrupt. And no one wants to tell the public the truth. Let’s go one step further. The country of Italy is even broker than Greece, and they have billions of those worthless Greek bonds. If Greece defaults then Italy will go down also. Then every other European country will fall like dominos. As bad as Greece is Italy is 10 times worse. And did I mention it is going to affect the U.S. economy as well.
Thomas Jefferson said in 1802: I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property - until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.
Currency War Are you ready for a currency war? Well, buckle up, because things are about to get interesting. This week Japan fired what is perhaps the opening salvo in a new round of currency wars by publicly intervening in the foreign exchange market for the first time since 2004. Japan's bold 12 billion dollar move to push down the value of the yen made headlines all over the world. Japan's economy is highly dependent on exports and the Japanese government was becoming increasingly alarmed by the recent surge in the value of the yen. A stronger yen makes Japanese exports more expensive for other nations and thus would harm Japanese industry. But Japan is not the only nation that is ready to go to battle over currency rates. The governments of the U.S. and China continue to exchange increasingly heated rhetoric regarding currency policy. In Europe, there is growing sentiment that the euro needs to be devalued in order to help European exports become more competitive. In addition, exporters all over the world are already loudly complaining about the possibility that the Federal Reserve is about to unleash another round of quantitative easing. Virtually all major exporting nations want the value of the U.S. dollar to remain high so that they can keep flooding us with lots of cheap goods. The sad reality is that our current system of globalized trade rewards exporting nations that have weak currencies, and many nations have now shown that they are willing to take the gloves off to make certain that their national currencies do not appreciate in value by too much.
Some nations have been involved in open currency manipulation for some time now. For example, Singapore is well known for intervening in the foreign exchange market in order to benefit exporters. Also, the Swiss National Bank experienced losses equivalent to about 15 billion dollars trying to stop the rapid rise of the Swiss franc earlier this year.
But as we race toward the end of 2010, currency manipulation is becoming a major issue on the world stage.
Rumors that the Federal Reserve is considering a substantial new round of quantitative easing is already causing many major exporting nations around the world to howl in outrage.
Well, quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve could put substantial downward pressure on the value of the dollar and that would make exports significantly more expensive in the United States. The reality is that even a relatively small change in the value of the U.S. dollar can have a major impact on exporters.
But what could really set off a massive currency war is the ongoing dispute between the U.S. and China.
For years, China has kept the value of their currency artificially low. Even though China has made a few small moves toward a more free-floating currency policy, at this point China’s currency is still pretty much pegged to the U.S. dollar. It is estimated that the Chinese government is keeping China's currency at a value about 40 percent lower than what it should be. This is essentially a de facto subsidy to China's exporters.
This has enabled China to flood the United States with cheap goods and it is killing entire industries in the United States. Americans have loved rushing out to Wal-Mart to get super low prices on all kinds of stuff, but in the process we have slowly but surely been shipping our manufacturing base and our standard of living over to China.
In recent years both the Bush administration and the Obama administration have been whining about this currency manipulation by China, but both administrations have stopped short of taking any real action.
But are there now signs that the Obama administration is going to get serious and start a currency war?
Well, last week Barack Obama did send the head of his national council of economic advisers, Larry Summers, to Beijing to discuss currency issues.
But what can we do other than whine at this point?
Are we willing to start a trade war?
Considering the fact that China holds nearly a trillion dollars worth of U.S. Treasuries, that probably would not go so well for us.
Even though China's currency manipulation is absolutely raping the U.S. economy, China has so much leverage over us at this point that it isn't even funny.
For example, China has almost a complete and total monopoly on rare earth elements. If China totally cut off the supply of rare earth elements, we would have no hybrid car batteries, flat screen televisions, cell phones or iPods. Not only that, but rare earth elements are used by the U.S. military in radar systems, missile-guidance systems, satellites and aircraft electronics.
But something has to be done. Essentially we are caught between a rock and a hard place.
Today, the United States spends approximately $3.90 on Chinese goods for every $1 that the Chinese spend on goods from the United States.
Last month, the monthly trade deficit with China was approximately 26 billion dollars. For the year, the trade deficit with China will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 billion dollars or so. The transfer of wealth to China that represents is absolutely mind blowing.
The U.S. economy is getting poorer and the Chinese economy is getting richer each and every month.
We are in decline and China is on the rise. In fact, one prominent economist is projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040.
This would not have ever happened if we had not put up with China's open and blatant currency manipulation all this time.
But now they have us over a barrel and standing up to China would be incredibly painful for the U.S. economy in the short-term.
So will we actually see a currency war break out soon?
Well, it seems almost a certainly that countries throughout the world will continue to manipulate their currencies in order to gain a competitive advantage, but if you are waiting for the Obama administration to truly stand up to China you are probably going to be waiting for a very, very long time
The U.S. has seen its fair share of bubbles in the past; the Tech bubble of a decade ago defied logic had but nevertheless attracted billions of dollars; with stocks selling at over 100 times their earnings in 1999 it should have been no surprise when most of these overvalued securities saw an 80% decline shortly thereafter.
Some respected investors think the bubble now forming will be equally devastating. “The bond market is the mother of all bubbles right now and I think when it bursts the losses will dwarf the combined losses of the stock market bubble and the real estate bubble,” said Peter Schiff. “This decade will be the worst decade for bonds in U.S. history.”
Several months ago... Dr. Jensen and three PhDs (from the University of Richmond, CFA Institute and Texas Tech) embarked on the most exciting gold research in modern history.
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In their words...
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Think about it. That means...
When gold moves up 5%, mining stocks gain 15-50%.
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