Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Independent Scotland Will Disintegrate as Unionist Regions Demand Referendum's to Rejoin UK - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Bank of England Panic! Scottish Independence Bank Run Already Underway! - Nadeem_Walayat
3.Scottish Independence Referendum Result NO 55%, YES 45% - Vote Forecast - Nadeem_Walayat
4.Scotland Independence Result NO Win 55% to Yes on 45% - Nadeem_Walayat
5.US Dollar Forecast to Go Much Higher - David_Petch
6.Russian Union Of Engineers Accuses Ukraine Airforce In MH17 Crash - Raul_I_Meijer
7.The Emergence of the US Petro-Dollar - Gary_Dorsch
8.Don't Miss This Gold Buying Opportunity - Brien Lundinr
9.Silver Price: A Collapse and a Rally - DeviantInvesto
10.Silver Buyers Keep Stacking And Demand Higher Despite Falling Prices - 18th Sept 14 - GoldCore
Last 5 days
Stocks Rally Following Janet Yellen's Conference and Scotland's Historic Referendum Result - 23rd Sept 14
Why Isn’t U.S. Housing Market A Bubble? - 23rd Sept 14
The Macro View and the Stock Market - 23rd Sept 14
Gold, the Fed and the Looming Stock Market Correction Q&A - 23rd Sept 14
Can Gold Act as a Safe Haven Again? - 23rd Sept 14
Tesco Super Market Giant Fast Disappearing Down a Financial Black Hole - 22nd Sept 14
Where China and Japan Are Investing Billions - 22nd Sept 14
Scotland YES 71% - Global Youth Intifada Moves On - 22nd Sept 14
U.S. Dollar: The Last Hurrah? - 22nd Sept 14
China Moves To Dominate Gold Market With Physical Exchange - 22nd Sept 14
One Giant Cluster Ponzi - 22nd Sept 14
The Millenial Cult Of Global Warming - 22nd Sept 14
Dubai Residential is NOT a Property Bubble But the Party’s Over - 22nd Sept 14
Stock Market Topping Process Update - 22nd Sept 14
Indian Stock Market BSE SENSEX The Encore Rally - 21st Sept 14
ISIS Fear-Mongering Ahead of Another US False Flag? - 21st Sept 14
Ecology Politics And Haeckel's Tree Of Meaning - 21st Sept 14
ASX200 Stock Market Index Set For New Highs - 21st Sept 14
Scottish Referendum Not Avoiding The Future - 21st Sept 14
Five Lessons Learned from the Scottish Referendum - 21st Sept 14
The Problem With UKIP And Other I I P's - 21st Sept 14
Stocks Bull Market Resumes - 20th Sept 14
Gold And Silver - Current Price Is The Story - 20th Sept 14
Can the U.S. Economy Withstand Another Housing Market Breakdown? - 20th Sept 14
Nervous Investors Will Hate the Money You Make With This Strategy - 20th Sept 14
Cheap Gold Stocks Upleg Intact - 20th Sept 14
Monetary Policy Killing The System - 20th Sept 14
Scotland and the Spirit of Our Time - 20th Sept 14
Bitcoin Price Charts In-Depth Analysis - 19th Sept 14
Alibaba is Focused, Will Use Money in Emerging Areas - 19th Sept 14
Bird's Eye View of the Gold Stocks - 19th Sept 14
Scotland Independence Result NO Win 55% to Yes on 45% - 18th Sept 14
Silver Price: A Collapse and a Rally - 18th Sept 14
Here's Why Trendlines are Your New Trading Best Friend - 18th Sept 14
Silver Buyers Keep Stacking And Demand Higher Despite Falling Prices - 18th Sept 14
The "Hidden" Billions in the Alibaba IPO - 18th Sept 14
Russian Union Of Engineers Accuses Ukraine Airforce In MH17 Crash - 18th Sept 14
Monetary Policy Weighs on Gold and Silver - 18th Sept 14
Global Currencies Analysis...The World According to Chartology - 18th Sept 14
Gold Price Hammered by Strong U.S. Dollar - 18th Sept 14
Is Citigroup the Dumbest Bank Ever? - 18th Sept 14
Scotland Must Vote Yes! For All Of Us - 18th Sept 14
Scottish Independence Referendum Result NO 55%, YES 45% - Vote Forecast - 18th Sept 14

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

You've never seen this before and may never again

Fiscal Cliff Is a Diversion From Dollar Bubble Trouble

Politics / US Debt Dec 18, 2012 - 08:14 AM GMT

By: Paul_Craig_Roberts

Politics

The “fiscal cliff” is another hoax designed to shift the attention of policymakers, the media, and the attentive public, if any, from huge problems to small ones.

The fiscal cliff is automatic spending cuts and tax increases in order to reduce the deficit by an insignificant amount over ten years if Congress takes no action itself to cut spending and to raise taxes. In other words, the “fiscal cliff” is going to happen either way.


The problem from the standpoint of conventional economics with the fiscal cliff is that it amounts to a double-barrel dose of austerity delivered to a faltering and recessionary economy. Ever since John Maynard Keynes, most economists have understood that austerity is not the answer to recession or depression.

Regardless, the fiscal cliff is about small numbers compared to the Derivatives Tsunami or to bond market and dollar market bubbles.

The fiscal cliff requires that the federal government cut spending by $1.3 trillion over ten years. The Guardian reports that means the federal deficit has to be reduced about $109 billion per year or 3 percent of the current budget. More simply, just divide $1.3 trillion by ten and it comes to $130 billion per year. This can be done by simply taking a three month vacation each year from Washington’s wars.

The Derivatives Tsunami and the bond and dollar bubbles are of a different magnitude.

Last June 5 in “Collapse At Hand” I pointed out that according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s fourth quarter report for 2011, about 95% of the $230 trillion in US derivative exposure was held by four US financial institutions: JP Morgan Chase Bank, Bank of America, Citibank, and Goldman Sachs.

Prior to financial deregulation, essentially the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and the non-regulation of derivatives–a joint achievement of the Clinton administration and the Republican Party–Chase, Bank of America, and Citibank were commercial banks that took depositors’ deposits and made loans to businesses and consumers and purchased Treasury bonds with any extra reserves.

With the repeal of Glass-Steagall these honest commercial banks became gambling casinos, like the investment bank, Goldman Sachs, betting not only their own money but also depositors money on uncovered bets on interest rates, currency exchange rates, mortgages, and prices of commodities and equities.

These bets soon exceeded many times not only US GDP but world GDP. Indeed, the gambling bets of JP Morgan Chase Bank alone are equal to world Gross Domestic Product.

According to the first quarter 2012 report from the Comptroller of the Currency, total derivative exposure of US banks has fallen insignificantly from the previous quarter to $227 trillion. The exposure of the 4 US banks accounts for almost of all of the exposure and is many multiples of their assets or of their risk capital.


The Derivatives Tsunami is the result of the handful of fools and corrupt public officials who deregulated the US financial system. Today merely four US banks have derivative exposure equal to 3.3 times world Gross Domestic Product. When I was a US Treasury official, such a possibility would have been considered beyond science fiction.

Hopefully, much of the derivative exposure somehow nets out so that the net exposure, while still larger than many countries’ GDPs, is not in the hundreds of trillions of dollars. Still, the situation is so worrying to the Federal Reserve that after announcing a third round of quantitative easing, that is, printing money to buy bonds–both US Treasuries and the banks’ bad assets–the Fed has just announced that it is doubling its QE 3 purchases.

In other words, the entire economic policy of the United States is dedicated to saving four banks that are too large to fail. The banks are too large to fail only because deregulation permitted financial concentration, as if the Anti-Trust Act did not exist.

The purpose of QE is to keep the prices of debt, which supports the banks’ bets, high. The Federal Reserve claims that the purpose of its massive monetization of debt is to help the economy with low interest rates and increased home sales. But the Fed’s policy is hurting the economy by depriving savers, especially the retired, of interest income, forcing them to draw down their savings. Real interest rates paid on CDs, money market funds, and bonds are lower than the rate of inflation.

Moreover, the money that the Fed is creating in order to bail out the four banks is making holders of dollars, both at home and abroad, nervous. If investors desert the dollar and its exchange value falls, the price of the financial instruments that the Fed’s purchases are supporting will also fall, and interest rates will rise. The only way the Fed could support the dollar would be to raise interest rates. In that event, bond holders would be wiped out, and the interest charges on the government’s debt would explode.

With such a catastrophe following the previous stock and real estate collapses, the remains of people’s wealth would be wiped out. Investors have been deserting equities for “safe” US Treasuries. This is why the Fed can keep bond prices so high that the real interest rate is negative.

The hyped threat of the fiscal cliff is immaterial compared to the threat of the derivatives overhang and the threat to the US dollar and bond market of the Federal Reserve’s commitment to save four US banks.

Once again, the media and its master, the US government, hide the real issues behind a fake one. The fiscal cliff has become the way for the Republicans to save the country from bankruptcy by destroying the social safety net put in place during the 1930s, supplemented by Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” in the mid-1960s.

Now that there are no jobs, now that real family incomes have been stagnant or declining for decades, and now that wealth and income have been concentrated in few hands is the time, Republicans say, to destroy the social safety net so that we don’t fall over the fiscal cliff.

In human history, such a policy usually produces revolt and revolution, which is what the US so desperately needs.

Perhaps our stupid and corrupt policymakers are doing us a favor after all.

Paul Craig Roberts

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/

Paul Craig Roberts [ email him ] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan's first term.  He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal .  He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by French President Francois Mitterrand. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider's Account of Policymaking in Washington ; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy , and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice . Click here for Peter Brimelow's Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.

© 2012 Copyright Paul Craig Roberts - All Rights Reserved
Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2014 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Free Report - Financial Markets 2014