In this big bad world of the Credit Crunch, powerful central bankers – civil servants all – have bent over backwards to help powerful and rich private bankers.
On one day, ‘debtonation day’, central bankers in Europe and the US pumped an eye-watering $150 billion into the financial system, to keep big banks afloat. According to Bloomberg, the US’s Federal reserve has ‘cycled $2.58 trillion through U.S. money markets since December’. (Bloomberg 8th August, 2008).
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Fulfilling my duties as a citizen, I am now confined to the Southwark Crown Court as a juror, so have little time to update the blog. However the effective insolvency of two US government sponsored banks or enterprises (GSEs) – Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac – will now impact not just all those US individuals, institutions and local governments that may have invested in these banks; not just on US taxpayers who are expected to bail them out; but also on you and I (our banks may well hold Fannie and Freddie securities); the central banks of the world that have bought their debt – confident that it will always be repaid.
Their insolvency now threatens a global systemic financial crisis, and their taxpayer-funded bailout of shareholders, bondholders and an incompetent management exposes the hypocrisy of much neo-liberal cant.
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Open Democracy, 7th July, 2008.
The precedent of the United States’s great depression and Japan’s post-bubble collapse should haunt today’s G8 summiteers, writes Ann Pettifor in Open Democracy.
Japan hosts the G8 summit in the northern island of Hokkaido on 7-9 July 2008 at a time when its prolonged period of deflation and economic failure have rendered its politicians impotent. Philip Stephens notes that – despite Japan’s still considerable role in the global economy – the country’s politicians are the weaklings of global geopolitics. “Where is Japan?”, he asks. “The question is one of psychology rather than geography. Japan is still the world’s second most powerful economy. Politically, it is all but invisible” (see “Japan goes missing: invisible host at the summit“, Financial Times, 4 July 2008).
My friend the formidable economist, Mark Weisbrot put it most succinctly.
“Since the U.S. economy showed positive growth for the last quarter, some commentators in the business press are saying that we are not necessarily going to have a recession, or that if there is one it will be mild. This is a bit like the proverbial story of the man who jumped out of a window 60 floors up, and then said “so far, so good,” as he passed the 30th floor.”
On a day when Nationwide warned that in the UK “The pace of house price falls accelerated in May as more weak economic news added to the gathering momentum of negative sentiment about the housing market,” his point is a timely warning that while the UK lags the US, nevertheless the levels of household and corporate indebtedness and the scale of our housing bubble means we still have far to fall.
By Ann Pettifor, Open Democracy, 11th December, 2007
On 9 August 2007, globalisation’s rickety financial levees were broken by a storm-surge of debt, invisible to most punters, but scary enough to frighten bankers. This debt includes highly leveraged corporate debt traded on secondary markets, household mortgages, credit-card debts, car loans and other substantial outlays. But what scares financiers and other experts are the truly big debts racked up by financial institutions, including those that have insured against loan defaults.
One of the least understood, but potentially most lethal financial products they have engineered – away from the regulatory scrutiny of central bankers and finance ministries – is called a credit default swap (CDS). In reality, they are not “swaps”, but a form of insurance (for illumination, read the blog of one “Hellasious”, of Sudden Debt).
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