04/09/2018, 21.57
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A world economy in crisis marks the end of an era (I)

by Maurizio d'Orlando

The economy is recovering according to some analyses and comments, but it is only smoke and mirrors (and perhaps lies). The "recovery" is only the result of monetary emissions by the world’s central banks. In fact, many expect the huge speculative bubble to burst, whilst the real economy continues to be humiliated. We are on the eve of a change that could overwhelm governments in the West and in the East. Our expert in political economy provides the first of a four-part analysis.

Milan (AsiaNews) - A dear friend of mine, the director of AsiaNews, has been asking me for some time: "How is it possible that someone who predicted in 2005 – thank you, director –  the deep crisis of 2008, when no one had any inkling nor called for prudence, does not have anything to say today?” The director wants another opinion. He will have a very another opinion.

For some time, this writer stopped looking at world economic indices, GDP, the real inflation rate, foreign exchange markets, interest rate trends, stock and bond markets, production levels. manufacturing, employment and unemployment, market trends in raw materials and precious metals. A fortiori I have kept away from analyses and commentaries on political economy. This is not at a whim but stems from a deep disagreement about how data and economic indicators are reported (or, better, falsified) and a total, basic and reasoned rejection of prevailing economic ideas and doctrines on which current analyses and economic comments are based.

The world economy is fine. Is that true?

The broad consensus among economic commentators is that the world economy, at least for the 2018 and 2019, is generally recovering with the focus centred mostly on the effects of President Trump's neo-protectionism. At best, we can see some uncertainty about stock market indices.

The Dow Jones, the main US stock market index, dropped to about 7,000 points in early 2009. In four years it doubled, recouping all the losses since 2007. Then in five years it rose from 14,000 to 26,600. In the latest period it dropped again and is now around 23,500. A similar trend is substantially also seen in other stock parameters. Are these inevitable small corrections to indices that have run without stopping and are now taking “a breather”? Or are they the first signs of failure, of a major correction similar to the one of autumn 2008? Obviously, the following considerations are not intended to provide financial investment advice through this website but are meant to explain any signs of a new major economic crisis.

Commenting on these fluctuations, one of the most pessimistic Asian economists I have been told about is Andy Xie, who (correctly) states that what is happening now is a “moderate scare-driven selloff, not the crash. The stock market is a huge bubble, bigger than in 2007, 2000, or 1929, because super loose monetary policy had been in place for a decade." Politely, Xie refers to the daily global monetary flood unleashed by central banks since 2009. "The real explosion,” he writes, “will come, but not likely in 2018." Thus, according to this line of reasoning, a crisis is brewing, the bubble will eventually explode, but it will be a good thing and will bring order and logic back into the system. After the great storm, normality will finally return.

For this writer, Andy Xie, and those who think like him, are system-centred scholars, pessimistic in the short run but optimistic in the long run. The principle that underlies this vision is not new, it is very human and expresses the cyclical nature of worldly events. It is Giambattista Vico’s immanentism revisited. It is the vision of many, the "chartists"[1], who rely on charts for their economic forecasts. Far from me – even for a number of personal reasons that have profoundly marked me (my grandfather lost everything in the crisis of 1929) –  to belittle the value of these analyses because they are largely correct. However, even this pessimism is reductive and based on an unproven assumption, namely the supposed circularity of history and, therefore, of the economy.

Never-ending monetary emissions

Let's gets things straight: faith in linear progress, economic expansion and share price listings is perhaps far more dangerous than the Chartists’ somewhat complex tea-leaf reading. No one believes that QE, quantitative easing – a euphemism for huge monetary emissions aimed at saving stock exchanges and the banks, not the real economy, the "miracle" that was no miracle –, can continue indefinitely – not even the central banks believe that anymore, not the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the People’s Bank of China PBC, the Swiss National Bank.

They are so full of toxic securities, balance sheets bloated with useless paper that, even if they are forced to speak with a ‘forked tongue” at press conferences imposed by politically correct ‘transparency” (more lies), they know that another QE could only be lethal and quicker than expected. Only a small number of the usual “experts” still believe in QE and in the linearity of the progress of price listings and money markets, used as they are to keep alive optimistic narratives. In large part, they are the forever, at whatever cost "loyal" QE militant economists,[2] people like Nobel Prize winners Paul Krugman and John Stiglitz. Like the soldiers of Japan’s imperial army who, thirty years after the war, still hid in the jungle to avoid the dishonour of surrender, the last profligate Keynesians and revered "commentators" refuse to give up before the evidence, muddling through in the newsrooms of some backwater economic “progressive” publications. Nothing can be done for them; it is a secular religion in which they believe and shall always believe. If we look at real growth of the economy, that is, with properly assessed inflation, it has been negative at least since 2004-2005.[3]

At that time, writing on AsiaNews, this writer warned that a serious crisis was looming. By contrast, almost all the commentators in mainstream papers and TV networks told public opinion that the era of endless development had arrived. Then came the 2007-2008 crisis (triggered by the failure of Lehman Brothers). After a negative GDP growth of -6 per cent in 2009, growth stabilised around -2 per cent annually. Even if we take the official data (made suitably "rosier" than the real), since the height of the crisis, economic growth has remained very low in the United States (whilst in countries like Italy it was zilch). In fact, hundreds of trillions of dollars in QE have only helped the recovery of money markets and stock exchanges. Post-crisis recovery is pure fluff. Never before has the disconnect between stock market indices and the real economy been so great, thanks precisely to the never-ending QE.

The ECB saved (only) the banks

Sooner or later, reality re-emerges. At this point, one may only wonder what whims and sophisms will be pulled out of the top hat of economic illusionists. Take for example that Keynesian bastion of the Swiss National Bank, which got the Swiss Constitution changed and sold off the gold accumulated by generations of hardworking Swiss workers to buy all kinds of American stocks and bonds. It is a known fact that Keynes saw gold as a barbaric relic. Poor, little Switzerland, the last refuge of European civilisation during two appalling world wars, you will be dismembered, you will no longer serve as the continent’s strongbox. When the stock and bond markets collapse, when you find out what is really behind the 100-franc bill, what will this gang of brigands that is holding you and making you march like a Swiss clock tell you.

However, let no one think that things are different elsewhere because the Swiss National Bank is just one example. It is like this everywhere. To be fair, so much more could be said. In fact, we should at least mention Japan’s 250 per cent absurd and sinister debt-to-GDP ratio. That it is all - or almost all – held by Japanese creditors matters precious little. At that level it is unsustainable and will never be repaid.

More could be said – but this would be very long – about the dirigisme and structural economic imbalance of the Euro-Soviet Union, the Fourth Reich shaped by the needs of the German economy, but if we did that we would inevitably end up in politics. We could not, in fact, avoid looking at the economic choices of the European Central Bank and the European Commission, which together constitute an "enlightened" government complex (readers can read whatever they want into that) but without any legitimate sovereignty. Or else we could not explain why, on the one hand, huge sums were used to save the banks, whilst, on the other, the peoples of the continent were subject to oppression.

(First part)

 

[1] See for example, ‘Similarities to 1929, 1987, 2000 & 2007 in play says Joe Friday,’ Zero Hedge, 3 February 2018, https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-03-02/similarities-1929-1987-2000-2007-play-says-joe-friday, (accessed 9 April 2018).

[2] This is the “whatever it takes” policy of quantitative easing (QE), announced by Mario Draghi on 26 July 2012, but first implement by the Federal Reserve under Ben Bernanke starting in the fall of 2008.

[3] See ‘Alternate Gross Domestic Product Chart’, John Williams’ Shadow Government Statistics, http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/gross-domestic-product-charts, (Accessed 9 April 2018).

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