In London, last night:
“You weren’t here today,” began the cab driver. “You missed the excitement. You know, the G20 meeting. They held it here in London…
“Some lads got out of control. They smashed a window over at the Royal Bank of Scotland, and then broke up the computers and so forth…
“Nothing very important, but the media makes a big thing of it. They kept talking about that G20 meeting – as if they were going to change the whole world – New World Order and all that…but what could they change? These hotshots at the banks took some bad bets. Now they’ve got to pay for them. What’s all the fuss about?”
Clearly, our cab driver should go back to school. He could study macroeconomics and learn about counter-cyclical fiscal stimulus…and the multiplier effect…and the need to restore liquidity to the financial sector. Then, he could be spouting the same claptrap as other commentators. He could get on board with the plans to save capitalism from…well, from capitalism! It’s all very well for the capitalists to make money, he will discover, but when they begin to lose it, well government has to step in and bail them out. The “creative” part of capitalism is fine…but spare us the destruction, okay.
Yesterday, the heads of state of the world’s 20 leading countries decided to put more muscle into their efforts to stop capitalism’s downswing. Notably, they decided to treble the budget of the IMF. In all, today’s International Herald Tribune tells us it’s a “One Trillion Dollar Deal.”
Gordon Brown pronounced it a “New World Order,” which sounds a lot like what George Bush I was aiming for 15 years ago. One world government. One multi-national police force. Harmonized tax collection. (No more tax havens…nowhere to run…nowhere to hide…) Keep the masses happy with bread and circuses…and “wars” against imaginary and unnecessary enemies. (The War on Terror and now – the War on Depression.)
Hey, maybe we’ll all have to speak Esperanto, too…
But at least now the IMF will be about to bailout more bankrupt governments before it goes broke itself.
Most of the money is coming from a country that doesn’t have any: the U.S.A.
Look up. What do you see? Why, it’s our Dollar Crash Flag. The dollar’s days are numbered. What’s the number? We don’t know. But whatever it was a week ago, it is a smaller number now.
Yesterday, the dollar gave up a little ground. The euro rose to $1.24. Oil went up to $52. Gold, however, fell hard – down to $904. Gold stocks, on the other hand, did rather well.
Hugo Chavez was in the Mideast this week at a meeting of oil producers. He called for a new petro-currency…which, we suppose, is a currency backed by oil. The Associated Press:
“Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sought Arab support Tuesday for a proposed oil-backed currency to challenge the U.S. dollar in his latest swipe at Washington’s dominance in global financial affairs.”
He probably won’t get very far with that. But he’s not the only one looking for a solution to a crisis that hasn’t happened yet.
The dollar’s been king of the monetary mountain for a long time. But it had better be careful…watch it’s back …give a little of the food to a dog before eating it itself. Rivals are plotting against it. Much of the world wants to dethrone “King Dollar,” says the French financial journal, La Tribune. China has already called for a new reserve currency based on IMF Special Drawing Rights. What’s more, it’s worked out bilateral agreements with many of its neighbors to swap goods, rather than use the dollar as a common unit of exchange. This week, it went further afield, making a deal with Argentina. This is the first deal of its kind in the Latin American world. But it’s probably not the last. People see trouble coming with the greenback. They don’t want it to hurt their sales of raw materials to China.
The Russians, too, have called for a new reserve currency. They, like the Arabs and Chavez, are sellers of raw materials. They don’t want to get stuck with dollars that are losing their value.
That’s the real New World Order…the United States will find it harder to stay in the driver’s seat of this bus…and the U.S. currency will no longer give Americans an automatic ticket to the first class section…
More news from Ian in rainy Baltimore:
“First Friday of the month, you know what this means…time for the U.S. employment scene to hit a new low,” writes Ian in today’s issue of The 5 Min. Forecast.
“663,000 Americans lost their jobs in March, the Labor Department claims today. That puts the official unemployment rate up to 8.5%, the highest its been since 1983. March’s loss marks the 15th month in a row of net job losses. Since the recession began, the government estimates 5 million Americans have lost their jobs.”
“Today’s number stands in line with the jobless claims details earlier this week – a record 5.7 million people are currently filing for unemployment benefits.
“But from a trading perspective, as dark as this might sound, today’s jobs number was a non-event,” continues Ian. “March’s losses were just a bit higher than the Street anticipated, and the small details were mostly in line with expectations.
“The only real surprise came in the form of a big January revision. The government added 86,000 lost jobs during the month, to a January tally of 741,000. That’s actually the biggest monthly drop in 59 years. Such a number would have sent stocks to the woodshed back in early February, but since the revision is now so backward looking, there isn’t much traders can do. Clever trick, eh?”
Each weekday, Ian and Addison bring readers the The 5 Min Forecast, an executive series e-letter that provides a quick and dirty analysis of daily economic and financial developments – in five minutes or less.
And Bill with more thoughts:
The rest of the world is enjoying tweaking the nose of the United States of America. The U.S. dollar has dominated world markets for more than half a century. Even before that, it was a favorite for many of the world’s peoples. England ceased having the world’s largest economy in the last decade of the 19th century. It was surpassed by the United States…and then by Germany. And since then, it has been surpassed by Japan, China and France too. Even California has a bigger economy than Britain.
Both Britain and its pound were victims of WWI, with the United States and the dollar taking the lead position.
But what goes around, comes around. Now it is the dollar’s turn. Maybe not this year. Maybe not the next. But it will have to get knocked off the top of the mountain sometime.
One of our French dear readers wrote to say he thought it wouldn’t happen for another 10 years. Maybe he’s right. As we predicted more than five years ago, the United States is sinking into a Japan-style slump. Unless it begins printing money – hell-for-leather – it is doomed to follow Japan. This from MarketWatch:
“The great recession of 2008 and 2009 is likely to be not only the longest downturn since World War II, but also the most geographically widespread recession since at least the 1970s.
“For the first time on record, all 50 states were contracting at the same time, according to the state coincident indicators for February released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia on Tuesday. The state-by-state indicators have been tracked by economists at the bank since 1979.”
Of course, if it prints money too aggressively, or if people THINK it will print too aggressively, it could follow Zimbabwe. Either way, we want off this train…
As GM goes, so goes the nation. Obama assured the nation that America would be the leader in car manufacturing. Alas, it is probably not to be. What makes Germany and Japan so competitive today is the fact that their industries were destroyed in WWII. They were forced to rebuild…amid tough competition. The United States, on the other hand, never had the benefit of aerial bombardment. And its auto industry has had such huge advantages – it was practically doomed from the beginning. Detroit has ready supplies of steel…rubber…plastic…labor – everything you need to make a modern automobile. Japan and Germany had to import almost everything. U.S. automakers also had a much bigger domestic market than either of its competitors…protected by two grand oceans. And it had vastly more open road…and gasoline that sold for only a fraction of the price in Japan or Germany. U.S. automakers would have to be numbskulls to blow this opportunity.
Of course, that is exactly what they did.
Not that it is any of our business. How they run the auto business is entirely up to them, as far as we’re concerned. We just note, and not for the first time, that you’ve got to get in the habit of compensating for your strengths. Because it is your advantages that will kill you, not your weaknesses.
Why are Americans broke? Because they had the world’s strongest economy and the world’s most trusted money. As a result, everybody wanted to lend them money.
Why are the Chinese sitting on the biggest pile of money on earth? Because they had to live under one of the worst governments in history…because they were starving only a few years ago…and because nobody would lend them any money.
Now, what Americans have is the world’s most powerful military machine…immensely more powerful than the closest rival. In fact, the word “rival” has no sense to it. In order to match the United States, you’d have to put together all the rest of the world’s military forces. Even then, they’d be no match for the United States…neither in technology nor in organization.
With that, we invite you to imagine how the world’s most successful military will destroy itself…just as the world’s most successful economy just did. Cursed with far too much money…and far too much luck, (its major enemy just gave up!) it’s just a matter of time before the Pentagon finds its own road to Hell. Maybe it already has!
Are we rambling? Maybe…but we were stuck on the Eurostar on our way back to London when we wrote this part. What else is there to do but ramble?
Out in the street, the demonstrators – including some who looked like professionals – got to tussle with police. The bankers generally laid low, but a few provoked the demonstrators. In the window of the Royal Bank of Scotland, for example, someone had pasted the words:
“WE LOVE MONEY.”
Others held 10-pound notes out the window…taunting the demonstrators.
All in good fund, as near as we can tell.
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