Feb 6, 2007
By Mike Whitney
The massive equity bubbles which arose from artificially low interest rates and the deliberate destruction of the dollar by reckless increases in the money supply have shifted trillions of dollars from working class Americans to the predatory aristocrats at the top of the economic food chain. The gulf between rich and poor has grown so wide that it now poses a direct threat to our increasingly fragile democracy.
“Whatever future developments may prove to be, my best guess is that the US will continue to maintain a façade of Constitutional government and drift along until financial bankruptcy overtakes it.” Chalmers Johnson, “Empire V. Democracy: Why Nemesis is at our Door”
02/06/07 "ICHBlog" -- - Every time a US Dollar is traded, a check is issued on an account that is overdrawn by $8.6 trillion. (That is the present size of the national debt) It is, without question, the biggest swindle in history. Flimsy sheets of faded-green scrip are eagerly exchanged for costly goods and services without any regard for the real value of the currency.
And, the real value of the currency is absolutely nothing!
How is it that this scam persists when people appear to be aware of the massive debt and deficits which underwrite the dollar? Do they still believe in that puerile fairy tale about “the full faith and credit” of the United States backing up every greenback? Or are they pacified by the wizened graybeards, like Alan Greenspan and Hank Paulson, who soothingly bray about the “strong dollar policy”?
In truth, the dollar rests on the crumbling foundation of consumerism and oil. The American consumer’s gluttonous appetite for spending has kept the greenback flying high for decades. Economists marvel at America’s lust for electronic gadgetry, the latest fashions, and useless knick-knacks. They call our profligate spending “the engine for global growth”; and indeed it is. No other country in the world is nearly as addicted to binge-spending as the US consumer. As long as he can beg, borrow or steal his way into the shopping mall; the orgy of spending is bound to continue. (Consumer spending is 70% of GDP)
Regrettably, there are signs that the US consumer is beginning to buckle from the weight of personal debt. The Associated Press reported just this week that “people are saving at the slowest rate since the Great Depression… and the Commerce Dept stated that the nation’s personal savings rate for 2006 was a negative 1%, the worst showing in 73 years.”
Additionally, credit card debt has skyrocketed, which is an indication that homeowners are no longer able to siphon easy-money from their home-equity. The nose-diving real estate market has slowed refinancing to a dribble; cutting off the additional $825 billion of cash which was extracted from home-equity just last year.
Clearly, the well is running dry; the housing bubble is hang-gliding into the abyss and there’s nothing Fed-master Bernanke can do to save it from its inevitable crash-landing.
The central banks around the world are now watching for any sign that the American consumer is about to give up the ghost. As soon as that happens, bank managers everywhere will swing into action, ditch their U.S.Dollars and head for the exits. When the “global engine” sputters to a halt; it’ll be curtains for the greenback.
The Oil-extortion Racket
The dollar’s link to oil has helped to keep it afloat but, in truth, it’s just another dismal rip-off. More than 70% of the world’s oil is denominated in USD; a virtual monopoly for the USA. Until last year, even Russia was using dollars in its oil transactions with Germany. Imagine a comparable deal, like the US purchasing oil from Canada in rubles?!?
It’s lunacy; and yet this is the system the US hopes to preserve so it can maintain its unique status as the world’s “reserve currency” and keep expanding its debt into perpetuity. It explains why the Federal Reserve has been able to increase the money supply by a whopping 15% for the last 6 years! Trillions of dollars are now circulating in the oil trade keeping the value of the dollar high by creating artificial demand.
The other reason the dollar hasn’t succumbed to hyperinflation is because the current account deficit is running at roughly $800 billion per year. The Asian giants (China and Japan) and the oil exporting countries are mopping up more than $700 billion of our red ink every year!
The dollar’s link to oil forces central banks to maintain humongous stockpiles of USD to pay the steadily rising price of oil that keeps their industries and vehicles running. Otherwise they would have chucked the flaccid greenback years ago and converted to the more steadfast euro.
The so-called ‘global economic system’ has nothing to do with competition, free markets or private enterprise; that’s just public relations gobbledygook. In practice, it is the world’s biggest extortion racket, wherein, the “Godfather”-- Uncle Sam-- holds a gun to the heads of his subjects and forces them to use our fiat-paper to purchase the oil that lubricates their economies.
Why would anyone accept a personal check from a nation that owes the bank more than $8.6 trillion dollars?
It’s blackmail, pure and simple; and yet, the Chinese, Japanese etc. continue to play along knowing full-well that we neither have the inclination nor the resources to pay them back in kind?
Every so often, a rebel nation will try to break the shackle of greenback-tyranny and operate outside the US-run system?
For example, Saddam Hussein switched to euros 6 months before he was carpet-bombed in Shock and Awe. His defiance only hastened his ultimate downfall.
Now Iran and Venezuela are threatening to convert to euros. Is it any surprise that they are both on Bush’s axis-of-evil hit list?
Russia has already made the conversion to euros and rubles (and has considerably depleted his supplies of USD) but, of course, regime change is more difficult when a state has nuclear weapons. Instead, the mainstream media is conducting an impressive “Swift Boat” campaign against Putin, smearing him as a “Russian autocrat” who is “rolling back democracy”. At the same time, the Bush administration is threatening to deploy missile systems in Eastern Europe and ratcheting up the pressure in the former Soviet republics.
Bush would rather restart the Cold War than abandon the supremacy of the greenback.
But, why? Is Dollar-primacy really that crucial to our economy?
The greenback is the baling wire that keeps the global economy in the hands of the doddering old misers at the Federal Reserve. It’s the cornerstone of the whole wretched system; a system which now includes torture, extraordinary rendition, and myriad other war crimes.
The young Muslim men who are abducted off the streets of Europe and Asia and taken to CIA Black Sites where they are waterboarded or stacked in naked pyramids; are tortured in defense of the crumpled piece of green paper we carry in our pants pockets.
Think I’m kidding?
Just look at Bush’s budget for 2007-2008; $700 billion for foreign wars?!? There’s no way the US can pay off that debt through the normal means of increasing exports. In fact, Bush has already said that he plans to preserve his unfunded tax cuts whether they produce massive deficits or not.
What Bush plans to do is force the foreign central banks to hold more dollar-based assets, thus, thrusting our gigantic debt onto our trading partners. According to Bob Chapman of The International Forecaster, “US debt was up 10.1% to $4.085 trillion and accounts for 58.8% OF ALL THE CREDIT ISSUED GLOBALLY LAST YEAR. The US is producing more debt than the rest of the world combined.
As long as foreign lenders are willing to take our paper, Bush will keep expanding our debt. As Chalmers Johnson opined, “We are dependent on ‘the kindness of strangers’”. (The Blanche Dubois economy)
Of course, if the central banks grow tired of this pyramid-scheme and dump the dollar; the world can get on with the business of addressing global warming, poverty, AIDs, Peak Oil, nuclear proliferation etc. That won’t happen as long as the dollar reigns supreme and a small cadre of unelected racketeers at the Fed continue Gerry-rig the system.
Economic justice and equitable distribution of wealth begin with greater parity among the currencies. That requires “regime change” for the greenback and a loosening of its tyrannical grip on the system.
Sleepwalking in the Weimar U.S.A.
The good news is that the Bush administration is pushing the dollar towards extinction anyway. Another few years of $800 billion trade deficits, lavish unfunded tax cuts for the mega-rich, and a Pentagon budget of $700 billion-plus; and the old greenback will be going the way of the Dodo. Jim Willie of GoldenJackass.com summarized it this way:
“Never in the history of central bankers has the hidden coordination, influenced pressure, gargantuan money creation, doctored statistics, and interference with financial markets been so broad, so deep, and so profound. My allegation is clear, that we now live in Weimar times, as has been warned for two years worth of scribbles. Collectively, they have abused the privilege of printing money, and in doing so, have guaranteed a gold bull market. … The more heavily the counterfeit press dispenses electronic dollars, devoted to operations, to credit, to consumer spending, to military adventures, to good old fashioned fraud, the gold bull benefits from ample new oxygen and blood flow”.
Willie is right; the system is rotten to the core. Once the dollar crashes, other currencies rush in to fill the void generating greater competition between the energy and manufacturing giants. A new paradigm will emerge distributing power more equitably among the states. It’s a way to resuscitate a system that is currently held together through force of arms.
Besides, how long will China and Japan continue to abet Washington’s war-mongering adventurism? My guess is that the daggers have already been sharpened in Beijing, Caracas, Delhi and Moscow. Everyone is just waiting for Bush to cross that invisible line in the sand before they fling their greenbacks into the jet-stream and wait for Goliath to tumble.
That “invisible line in the sand” is Iran.
The world is at a crossroads and everyone who can fog a mirror knows it. The superpower model of global governance has failed miserably. We need more responsible stewardship of the planet and its resources.
How can we build our economies when a handful of western plutocrats control the spigot for quickly dwindling oil reserves? How can we attack climate change when those same blinkered reprobates employ pseudo-scientists to dispute global warming? How can we address nuclear proliferation when neocon militarists believe in “useable” low-yield, bunker-busting warheads?
The model is hopelessly shattered. We’d be better off boarding-up the White House and the Federal Reserve and starting from Square One.
The world needs a break from Washington’s wasteful spending and unprovoked wars. At the same time, foreign creditors are increasingly reluctant to keep financing America’s extravagant consumption. And, no one is hoodwinked by Bush’s “war on terror” scam; a conflict that was clearly concocted to assert control over the world’s remaining resources.
The world is realigning according to mutual interests and a shared vision of the future. The rise of energy alliances in Latin America and Asia (particularly the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which now controls most new oil deposits and output) signals the waning of western influence and the ascendancy of a new energy paradigm. Power is progressively shifting away from Washington.
That’s bad news for the greenback which depends on its linkage to oil to sustain its enormous debt.
The dollar now faces challenges from all directions. Western elites have savaged the country’s economic base by hollowing out our manufacturing base in order to destroy the American labor movement.
Free trade has transformed the US into the biggest creditor nation in history. The country exports nothing but bombs and misery.
Also, as Congressman Ron Paul notes, “Most knowledgeable people assume that inflation of the money supply is not only going to continue, but accelerate. This anticipation, plus the fact that many new dollars have been created over the past 15 years that have not been fully discounted, guarantees the further depreciation of the dollar.”
Eventually, the markets will catch on, foreign lenders will stop buying our Treasuries, and the dollar will fall through the floor.
The laws of gravity apply to economics as well as science.
Red flags are going up everywhere. China’s central bank issued a warning in December about the risks of the weakening dollar:
“If external capital stops flowing into the US, a significant drop in the dollar may occur with consumption and investment shrinking, interest rates rising, and financial markets experiencing turbulence, endangering global financial and economic stability. There could be adjustments to how European private capital, Asian foreign exchange reserves and oil export proceeds are invested.”
Yes, of course, a complete economic meltdown with capital fleeing the United States to foreign countries and the American economy collapsing in a heap.
The Chinese central bank statement adds:
“If the US current account deficit continues to grow faster than GDP, then the investment value of US assets may be subject to doubts and challenges and the willingness of investors to continue holding and buying US financial products may weaken. This could cause changes in capital flows, the exchange rates of major currencies, and the value of foreign exchange assets.”
The Chinese bank is giving the Bush Team a chapter out of Econ. 101: “If you keep spending more than you are taking in; the stock market will fall, the dollar will plummet, and the US economy will tank”.
What could be clearer than that?
The administration, however, chooses to ignore the basic laws of economics and pursue a madcap plan to wage aggressive war across the planet and pilfer the world’s oil reserves.
So far, the results have been less than reassuring.
The Decline of U.S. Sovereignty; blame it on the Fed
The United States set off on the road to perdition when it transferred the power to create money to the privately-owned Federal Reserve. It’s been downhill ever since.
The man who can set interest rates and create money is more powerful than the man who can move armies and change laws. By conferring that authority on the Federal Reserve we have assured that the policies that govern our economy are decided by unelected members of the ruling elite whose choices will naturally reflect the interests of their class.
The wealth gap that has opened up like a yawning chasm between rich and poor in America originated with the class-based policies of the Fed. The massive equity bubbles which arose from artificially low interest rates and the deliberate destruction of the dollar by reckless increases in the money supply have shifted trillions of dollars from working class Americans to the predatory aristocrats at the top of the economic food chain. The gulf between rich and poor has grown so wide that it now poses a direct threat to our increasingly fragile democracy. That’s why Thomas Jefferson said:
“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of our currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and the corporations that will grow up will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing of power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.”
Free people cannot control their own destiny unless they control their own currency. The Federal Reserve must be abolished.