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Define “Market” Irony: When JPMorgan’s Chief Currency Dealer Is Head Of An FX Manipulation “Cartel” | Zero Hedge

Define “Market” Irony: When JPMorgan’s Chief Currency Dealer Is Head Of An FX Manipulation “Cartel” | Zero Hedge.

Now that everyone is habituated to banks manipulating every single product and asset class, and for those who aren’t, see this explanatory infographic

Foreign Exchanges

Regulators are looking into whether currency traders have conspired through instant messages to manipulate foreign exchange rates. The currency rates are used to calculate the value of stock and bond indexes.

Energy Trading

Banks have been accused of manipulating energy markets in California and other states.

Libor

Since early 2008 banks have been caught up in investigations and litigation over alleged manipulations of Libor.

Mortgages

Banks have been accused of improper foreclosure practices, selling bonds backed by shoddy mortgages, and misleading investors about the quality of the loans.

…revelations that this market and that or the other are controlled by a select group of criminal bankers just don’t generate the kind of visceral loathing as 2012’s Libor fraud bombshell.

As much was revealed when the second round of exposes hit in the middle of 2013, mostly focusing on manipulation in the forex market, and the general population largely yawned, whether due to the knowledge that every market is now explicitly broken (explaining the abysmal trading volumes and retail participation in recent years) or because nobody ever gets their due punishment and this kind of activity so not even a perp-walk spectacle can be enjoyed, this is accepted as ordinary-course action.

Nonetheless, we are glad that the actions of the FX cartel continue to get regular exposure in the broader media, in this case Bloomberg who, among other things, reminds us that it was none other than JPM’s Dick Usher who was the moderator of the appropriately titled secret chat room titled “The Cartel” which we noted previously.  It is this alleged criminal who “worked at RBS and represented the Edinburgh-based bank when he accepted a 2004 award from the publication FX Week. When he quit RBS in 2010, the chat room died, the people said. He revived the group with the same participants when he joined JPMorgan the same year as chief currency dealer in London.”

Yes, the chief currency dealer of JP Morgan, starting in 2010 until a few months ago when he quietly disappeared, was one of the biggest (allegedly) FX manipulators in the world. Define irony…

What are some of the other recent revelations?

Here is a reminder of the prehistory from Bloomberg. First came the chat rooms:

At the center of the inquiries are instant-message groups with names such as “The Cartel,” “The Bandits’ Club,” “One Team, One Dream” and “The Mafia,” in which dealers exchanged information on client orders and agreed how to trade at the fix, according to the people with knowledge of the investigations who asked not to be identified because the matter is pending. Some traders took part in multiple chat rooms, one of them said.

The allegations of collusion undermine one of society’s fundamental principles — how money is valued. The possibility that a handful of traders clustered in a closed electronic network could skew the worth of global currencies for their own gain without detection points to a lack of oversight by employers and regulators. Since funds buy and sell billions of dollars of currency each month at the 4 p.m. WM/Reuters rates, which are determined by calculating the median of all trades during a 60-second period, that means less money in the pension and savings accounts of investors around the world.

One focus of the investigation is the relationship of three senior dealers who participated in “The Cartel” — JPMorgan’s Richard Usher, Citigroup’s Rohan Ramchandani and Matt Gardiner, who worked at Barclays and UBS — according to the people with knowledge of the probe. Their banks controlled more than 40 percent of the world’s currency trading last year, according to a May survey by Euromoney Institutional Investor Plc.

Entry into the chat room was coveted by nonmembers interviewed by Bloomberg News, who said they saw it as a golden ticket because of the influence it exerted.

And after that came unprecedented hubris and a sense of invincibility:

The men communicated via Instant Bloomberg, a messaging system available on terminals that Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, leases to financial firms, people with knowledge of the conversations said.

The traders used jargon, cracked jokes and exchanged information in the chat rooms as if they didn’t imagine anyone outside their circle would read what they wrote, according to two people who have seen transcripts of the discussions.

Since nobody investigated, next naturally, come the profits and the crimes:

Unlike sales of stocks and bonds, which are regulated by government agencies, spot foreign exchange — the buying and selling for immediate delivery as opposed to some future date — isn’t considered an investment product and isn’t subject to specific rules.

While firms are required by the Dodd-Frank Act in the U.S. to report trading in foreign-exchange swaps and forwards, spot dealing is exempt. The U.S. Treasury exempted foreign-exchange swaps and forwards from Dodd-Frank’s requirement to back up trades with a clearinghouse. In the European Union, banks will have to report foreign-exchange derivatives transactions under the European Market Infrastructure Regulation.

A lack of regulation has left the foreign-exchange market vulnerable to abuse, said Rosa Abrantes-Metz, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business in Manhattan.

If nobody is monitoring these benchmarks, and since the gains from moving the benchmark are possibly very large, it is very tempting to engage in such a behavior,” said Abrantes-Metz, whose 2008 paper “Libor Manipulation” helped spark a global probe of interbank borrowing rates. “Even a little bit of difference in price can add up to big profits.

… along with a lot of banging the close:

Dealers can buy or sell the bulk of their client orders during the 60-second window to exert the most pressure on the published rate, a practice known as banging the close. Because the benchmark is based on the median value of transactions during the period, breaking up orders into a number of smaller trades could have a greater impact than executing one big deal.

… and much golf and “envelopes stuffed with cash

On one excursion to a private golf club in the so-called stockbroker belt beyond London’s M25 motorway, a dozen currency dealers from the biggest banks and several day traders, who bet on currency moves for their personal accounts, drained beers in a bar after a warm September day on the fairway. One of the day traders handed a white envelope stuffed with cash to a bank dealer in recognition of the information he had received, according to a person who witnessed the exchange.

Such transactions were common and also took place in tavern parking lots in Essex, the person said.

Personal relationships often determine how well currency traders treat their customers, said a hedge-fund manager who asked not to be identified. That’s because there’s no exchange where trades take place and no legal requirement that traders ensure customers receive the best deals available, he said.

In short – so simple the underwear gnomes could do it:

  1. Create a cartel
  2. Corner and manipulate the market
  3. Profit.

And that’s why they (and especially Jamie Dimon) are richer than you.

 

EU Commission fines banks $2.3 billion for benchmark rigging | Reuters

EU Commission fines banks $2.3 billion for benchmark rigging | Reuters.

European Union Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia addresses a news conference at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels December 4, 2013. REUTERS-Yves Herman
European Union Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia addresses a news conference at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels December 4, 2013. REUTERS-Yves Herman

1 OF 2. European Union Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia addresses a news conference at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels December 4, 2013.

CREDIT: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN

(Reuters) – EU antitrust regulators fined six financial institutions including Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Citigroup a record total of 1.71 billion euros ($2.3 billion) on Wednesday for rigging financial benchmarks.

The move confirms what a source familiar with the matter had previously told Reuters.

The penalty is the biggest yet to be handed down to banks for rigging the benchmarks used to determine the cost of lending, one of the most brazen violations of conduct since the financial crisis. It is also the highest antitrust penalty ever imposed by the Commission, the EU’s competition regulator.

The other banks penalized are Societe Generale, JPMorgan and brokerage RP Martin.

Deutsche Bank received the biggest fine of 725.36 million euros.

The European Commission said it would continue to investigate Credit Agricole, HSBC, JPMorgan and brokerage ICAP for similar offences.

The benchmarks involved are the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, the Tokyo interbank offered rate and the euro area equivalents. They are used to price hundreds of trillions of dollars in assets ranging from mortgages to derivatives.

“What is shocking about the Libor and Euribor scandals is not only the manipulation of benchmarks, which is being tackled by financial regulators worldwide, but also the collusion between banks who are supposed to be competing with each other,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement.

LIKELY SANCTIONS

RP Martin and ICAP could not be immediately reached for comment. Deutsche Bank said it has set aside enough money to cover most of the 725 million euro fine.

JPMorgan confirmed its 79.9 million euro penalty in the Libor case but said it would defend itself in the Euribor case. [ID:nWNBB037YI]. Societe Generale declined to comment.

Unlike the six banks which admitted liability in return for a 10 percent reduction in their fines, Credit Agricole has refused to settle and will likely face sanctions next year. HSBC has also contested the EU’s proposed penalty.

Both banks are expected to be formally charged on Wednesday.

A spokesman for HSBC said the bank would defend itself vigorously in the Euribor case, while Barclays confirmed its cooperation with the Commission which helped it stave off a 690 million euros sanction.

RBS said its 391 million euro penalty had been fully provisioned for.

Authorities around the world have so far handed down a total of $3.7 billion in fines to UBS, RBS, Barclays, Rabobank and ICAP for manipulating rates, while seven individuals face criminal charges.

UBS paid a record fine of $1.5 billion late last year to the U.S. Department of Justice and the UK’s Financial Services Authority for rate-rigging.

EU fines can reach up to 10 percent of a company’s global turnover.

UBS blew the whistle on the Libor and Tibor cases and will not be fined as a result. Barclays will escape a fine in the Euribor case because it alerted the Commission to the offence.

(Additional reporting by Matthias Blamont in Paris, Steve Slater and Kirstin Ridley in London, Ludwig Burger and Clare Hutchison in Frankfurt, Lionel Laurent in Paris; Writing by John O’Donnell; Editing by Luke Baker and David Holmes)

 

Global Debt, Global Currency » Golem XIV – Thoughts

Global Debt, Global Currency » Golem XIV – Thoughts.

by  on OCTOBER 17, 2013 in LATEST

With the latest installment of the ‘US debt ceiling’ melodrama over, for now, perhaps it’s a good time to ask, what was it all about really?

I know that officially it was supposed to be an edge of your seat, high stakes thriller about how much debt the US government can carry before some disaster strikes, and who has the authority to decide. But I think that behind the lumbering domestic stage show there was actually a different, larger battle, with different stakes, being played out. The debt ceiling debate was, to my mind, something of a proxy war. Real for those caught up in its angry rhetoric, but seen from further away, clearly just a local manifestation of something deeper, and something being directed by different people than those making speaches in the spot-light.

Actually I think the fight over the US debt ceiling is a proxy for who controls the world’s real reserve currency. And that currency is not the dollar. I suggest we would understand events more simply if we recognized that the world’s real reserve currency is debt -pure debt.  We should not be confused by the fact that debt, globally, is denominated in several forms. Much like the dollar comes in bills of ten and twenty,  so the debt currency comes in dollars, euros, Yen and Yuan. But they are not the currency itself they are just the different bills it comes in.

In Britain we have pound notes issued by the Bank of England but also by the Royal Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale and Ulster Bank, but they are not different currencies, they are all pounds no matter whose logo in on the notes. I think globally we are now in the early and perhaps not quite recognized days of a similar situation. It is debt which is globally traded and used to settle and value all deals everywhere. The problem is this global debt system is not yet fully formed. It is still umbillically tied to the old system of national currencies and their issuers. And like mummies everywhere the old issuers like to think they are in charge long after they no longer are.

If you are willing to accept this idea, at least for argument’s sake, then the domestic dramas in different countries over how much of this or that kind of debt backed note, with this or that logo on it, should be permitted, take on a different character. I am not saying that the domestic arguments over how many dollars or euros can be printed up, how much debt should be carried are unimportant. They are important and do have profound real life consequences for people and businesses. But I am saying that the driving logic is not domestic and nor is it controlled or even understood by most of the domestic players.

Think of the Vietnam war. In Vietnam it was North vesus South. But for the wider world North and South were just proxies for a much deeper conflict of Communism versus America. And the politicians of South Vietnam were not really in charge of very much. I think this is increasingly the situation of domestic politicans when it comes to finance, debts and currency. Only they don’t yet know this one vital fact. Thus we have the dis-spiriting spectacle of watching the fag ends of our representative democracy argue about things most of them do not understand. An endless stage show where the actors strut and fret, and deliver their lines with gusto, pulling with all their puffed-up might on the familiar levers of power available to them, expecting applause. Yet all the while their drama and the levers of power they squable over are less and less connected to the actual engines of change.

The Democrats and Republicans think they are arguing over who should control the amount of debt the Fed will take on. Not realizing that neither of them, neither Republican nor Democrat controls the matter over which they are arguing. Neither do they realize – not fully at least – that theirs is no longer a theatre of power, it is mostly just a theatre. Power, fundamental power,  has moved elsewhere.

What the debt-celing debate was about, I suggest, was a fight between those who think they control the Fed and the currency (because once they did) and those who do control it but would prefer we not quite realize this.

I think the real battle going on is between the financial players led by the global banks, assorted funds and Insurers, all of whom are very much addicted to fiat debt-money, and a dwindling cadre of politicians who still think central banks control the currencies and elected officials decide how much debt is enough.

This latter group seemingly cannot understand why they can’t get the Fed or the ECB to do what they both said, ever since 2008, they would do, which is to ‘exit’ or to use the prefered term ‘taper’ the ‘extraordinary’ and ‘temporary’ measures they took in 2007, then took again in 2008 and again in 2009 and again in 2010 and 2011 and 2012 and 2013. Which is, let’s be fair to our puzzled politicans and pundits, a confusingly frequent use of ‘extraordinary’ and a long time for ‘temporary’. Hence their confusion.

What our politicians – most of them but crucially not all of them – seem reluctant to underdstand is that neither the FED nor the ECB nor any other central authority, can limit the amount of debt that is issued into the global markets. The banks issue the debt not governments. But that debt, conjured into existence by extending loans does then, particularly in periods of market uncertainty, ‘need’ – or rather or ‘demand’  – backing from a national currency. This creates a pressure on central banks to ‘issue’ more sovereign debt paper to provide the backing for the ALREADY created debt.

The big banks issue the reserve currency. It is a global reserve currency and replaced the dollar some time ago, only no one noticed becaue they kept the old brand name going. It’s not even as if it is just American financial intitutions which issue dollar debt which the Fed finds itself being forced to cover – foreign banks do it to. And anyone who issues dollar denominated debt has a hand on the strings which move the Fed around. Obviously the same is true for other major currencies and their central banks.

The governments and central banks can try to influence the creation of debt though interest rates or ‘stress tests’ and setting levels of ‘regulatory capital’ that must be held. But all of these can be and are gamed by the banks. And when gaming is not sufficient then a debt crisis can be brought in to play to force the reluctant politicians to do what they ‘must’. And that last ploy is the debt ceiling.

Once private debt has been created the central banks are under-pressure to create public debt with which to back it. They know this is how it works they are on record as saying so. But they are caught in a dilemma. The politicians and the public think the government and central banks are in charge and can tell the markets how much debt is enough. The central banks know they do not really have this power because in reality it is the markets not the central banks who are in charge and  decide how much debt is good for THEM.

What can the central banks do? Nominally they work for the government. The people even think they work for them (ho ho!) Whereas the logic which controls lies in the markets and the levers are in the banks. If the Central banks were to come clean and tell the government and the public who is really in charge, who they really work for, what would happen? So they don’t come clean, at least not in public, leaving the poltiicans to argue fatuously amoung themselves for our entertainment.

There are only a limited number of end games I think. The issuance of debt will go on despite the increasing drama of the decisions. The question for the banks will be how best to manage it with the minimum of fuss and least chance of the real situation becoming too clear too early.

Debt issuance will go on because the present economic system, fueled as it is by debt, requires growth above the rate of interest they are all charging each other. The Pension companies require more growth than that because they have long term obligations to pay out at a higher rate. In boom times growth takes care of itself. In bad time that growth ‘must’ be provided by ‘stimulus’ AKA public debt. The minimum growth they want for the headlines is 3%. Which seems reasonable till you do the maths and find 3% growth means a doubling every 17 years. Given the frequency of ‘busts’ built into the debt based system and how much they cost the public each time – (and they are built in – I explained one aspect of this in the last part of the Securitization series. (For completeness here are parts 1 and 2.)  This series is my take on the same logic than Minsky had of course already come to before and more fully) – it is clear how much ‘growth’ is going to be based on public debt. So the debt will grow.

But while it does, other parts of the economic system and their political friends will complain about the size of the debt. So there will continue to be a pressure to stop the debt ‘getting out of control’. How to sqaure this idiot’s circle? The answer is already here only in its infant form. Public Debt created to back private debts will be ‘required’ to grow. Public debt for other things will therefore be under pressure to be cut. So far what has been cut has been the easy and the small beer.

The sums ‘saved’ have been tiny in comparison with the sums created in order to ‘help’ the financial system, even though the misery created in cutting them has been huge. But who cares about miserable poor people when you’re a rich happy one? Nevertheless the sums saved through ‘austerity’ are not going to be sufficient over even the medium term of the next decade. The ‘savings’ need to be orders of magnitude greater. For that the only option is to target the long term, ‘unfunded commitments of health, state pension and long term welfare. These are what the bankers will target when people have been softened up and the next bust hits.

The option I think they will go for is complete privatization of health, welfare and state pension.

All these long term ‘unfunded obligations’ as they are called appear in public debt accounts as future liabilities, future debts. But as soon as the same obligations are shifted to the private sector they become future profits rather than future debts. No matter that people might not be able to pay for them – accountants are not paid to worry about such details. To you and me it might seem daft to think that by moving things from one column to another , from public to private that this will suddenly make things better. And of course it won’t. The private sector will argue it will be ‘better’ because they are so much more ‘efficient’. Believe that if you like.  But the main thing is the acounting exercise will make the number in the public debt column go down.

The important thing for any discussion of public debt levels, is that removing these ‘obligations’ from the public account suddenly cuts the future public debt. Freeing up all that now uncommitted future debt to be available for pumping into the private financial sector . Which it would suddenly make ‘good economic sense’ to help, given the now very buoyant future demand for private health, pensions and welfare provision.

Public debt is always seen by the financial world as a drain, an obligation. The same obligations re-cast as serivces are seen as a source of future profit. Thus I think we will see in the next few years an all out attack on every aspect of public service provision.  Libertarians amoung you might cheer at this point. I think you will not cheer when you see what is going to replace what you currently dislike.

I believe the era of the Nation-State is coming to an end not because of attack from outside enemies but because Nation-States are being dismantled from the inside – by the  State itself.  But the State has no itention of losing power. It is simply changing jobs and employer. The big welfare state is being dismantled but in its place is going to come an even bigger and certainly more repressive Corporate State.

But the End of the Nation-State and the emergence of a global system of  Technocratic, Managed rather than democratic Corporate-States is a larger discussion I am still writing.

 

Global Debt, Global Currency » Golem XIV – Thoughts

Global Debt, Global Currency » Golem XIV – Thoughts. (source)

With the latest installment of the ‘US debt ceiling’ melodrama over, for now, perhaps it’s a good time to ask, what was it all about really?

I know that officially it was supposed to be an edge of your seat, high stakes thriller about how much debt the US government can carry before some disaster strikes, and who has the authority to decide. But I think that behind the lumbering domestic stage show there was actually a different, larger battle, with different stakes, being played out. The debt ceiling debate was, to my mind, something of a proxy war. Real for those caught up in its angry rhetoric, but seen from further away, clearly just a local manifestation of something deeper, and something being directed by different people than those making speaches in the spot-light.

Actually I think the fight over the US debt ceiling is a proxy for who controls the world’s real reserve currency. And that currency is not the dollar. I suggest we would understand events more simply if we recognized that the world’s real reserve currency is debt -pure debt.  We should not be confused by the fact that debt, globally, is denominated in several forms. Much like the dollar comes in bills of ten and twenty,  so the debt currency comes in dollars, euros, Yen and Yuan. But they are not the currency itself they are just the different bills it comes in.

In Britain we have pound notes issued by the Bank of England but also by the Royal Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale and Ulster Bank, but they are not different currencies, they are all pounds no matter whose logo in on the notes. I think globally we are now in the early and perhaps not quite recognized days of a similar situation. It is debt which is globally traded and used to settle and value all deals everywhere. The problem is this global debt system is not yet fully formed. It is still umbillically tied to the old system of national currencies and their issuers. And like mummies everywhere the old issuers like to think they are in charge long after they no longer are.

If you are willing to accept this idea, at least for argument’s sake, then the domestic dramas in different countries over how much of this or that kind of debt backed note, with this or that logo on it, should be permitted, take on a different character. I am not saying that the domestic arguments over how many dollars or euros can be printed up, how much debt should be carried are unimportant. They are important and do have profound real life consequences for people and businesses. But I am saying that the driving logic is not domestic and nor is it controlled or even understood by most of the domestic players.

Think of the Vietnam war. In Vietnam it was North vesus South. But for the wider world North and South were just proxies for a much deeper conflict of Communism versus America. And the politicians of South Vietnam were not really in charge of very much. I think this is increasingly the situation of domestic politicans when it comes to finance, debts and currency. Only they don’t yet know this one vital fact. Thus we have the dis-spiriting spectacle of watching the fag ends of our representative democracy argue about things most of them do not understand. An endless stage show where the actors strut and fret, and deliver their lines with gusto, pulling with all their puffed-up might on the familiar levers of power available to them, expecting applause. Yet all the while their drama and the levers of power they squable over are less and less connected to the actual engines of change.

The Democrats and Republicans think they are arguing over who should control the amount of debt the Fed will take on. Not realizing that neither of them, neither Republican nor Democrat controls the matter over which they are arguing. Neither do they realize – not fully at least – that theirs is no longer a theatre of power, it is mostly just a theatre. Power, fundamental power,  has moved elsewhere.

What the debt-celing debate was about, I suggest, was a fight between those who think they control the Fed and the currency (because once they did) and those who do control it but would prefer we not quite realize this.

I think the real battle going on is between the financial players led by the global banks, assorted funds and Insurers, all of whom are very much addicted to fiat debt-money, and a dwindling cadre of politicians who still think central banks control the currencies and elected officials decide how much debt is enough.

This latter group seemingly cannot understand why they can’t get the Fed or the ECB to do what they both said, ever since 2008, they would do, which is to ‘exit’ or to use the prefered term ‘taper’ the ‘extraordinary’ and ‘temporary’ measures they took in 2007, then took again in 2008 and again in 2009 and again in 2010 and 2011 and 2012 and 2013. Which is, let’s be fair to our puzzled politicans and pundits, a confusingly frequent use of ‘extraordinary’ and a long time for ‘temporary’. Hence their confusion.

What our politicians – most of them but crucially not all of them – seem reluctant to underdstand is that neither the FED nor the ECB nor any other central authority, can limit the amount of debt that is issued into the global markets. The banks issue the debt not governments. But that debt, conjured into existence by extending loans does then, particularly in periods of market uncertainty, ‘need’ – or rather or ‘demand’  – backing from a national currency. This creates a pressure on central banks to ‘issue’ more sovereign debt paper to provide the backing for the ALREADY created debt.

The big banks issue the reserve currency. It is a global reserve currency and replaced the dollar some time ago, only no one noticed becaue they kept the old brand name going. It’s not even as if it is just American financial intitutions which issue dollar debt which the Fed finds itself being forced to cover – foreign banks do it to. And anyone who issues dollar denominated debt has a hand on the strings which move the Fed around. Obviously the same is true for other major currencies and their central banks.

The governments and central banks can try to influence the creation of debt though interest rates or ‘stress tests’ and setting levels of ‘regulatory capital’ that must be held. But all of these can be and are gamed by the banks. And when gaming is not sufficient then a debt crisis can be brought in to play to force the reluctant politicians to do what they ‘must’. And that last ploy is the debt ceiling.

Once private debt has been created the central banks are under-pressure to create public debt with which to back it. They know this is how it works they are on record as saying so. But they are caught in a dilemma. The politicians and the public think the government and central banks are in charge and can tell the markets how much debt is enough. The central banks know they do not really have this power because in reality it is the markets not the central banks who are in charge and  decide how much debt is good for THEM.

What can the central banks do? Nominally they work for the government. The people even think they work for them (ho ho!) Whereas the logic which controls lies in the markets and the levers are in the banks. If the Central banks were to come clean and tell the government and the public who is really in charge, who they really work for, what would happen? So they don’t come clean, at least not in public, leaving the poltiicans to argue fatuously amoung themselves for our entertainment.

There are only a limited number of end games I think. The issuance of debt will go on despite the increasing drama of the decisions. The question for the banks will be how best to manage it with the minimum of fuss and least chance of the real situation becoming too clear too early.

Debt issuance will go on because the present economic system, fueled as it is by debt, requires growth above the rate of interest they are all charging each other. The Pension companies require more growth than that because they have long term obligations to pay out at a higher rate. In boom times growth takes care of itself. In bad time that growth ‘must’ be provided by ‘stimulus’ AKA public debt. The minimum growth they want for the headlines is 3%. Which seems reasonable till you do the maths and find 3% growth means a doubling every 17 years. Given the frequency of ‘busts’ built into the debt based system and how much they cost the public each time – (and they are built in – I explained one aspect of this in the last part of the Securitization series. (For completeness here are parts 1 and 2.)  This series is my take on the same logic than Minsky had of course already come to before and more fully) – it is clear how much ‘growth’ is going to be based on public debt. So the debt will grow.

But while it does, other parts of the economic system and their political friends will complain about the size of the debt. So there will continue to be a pressure to stop the debt ‘getting out of control’. How to sqaure this idiot’s circle? The answer is already here only in its infant form. Public Debt created to back private debts will be ‘required’ to grow. Public debt for other things will therefore be under pressure to be cut. So far what has been cut has been the easy and the small beer.

The sums ‘saved’ have been tiny in comparison with the sums created in order to ‘help’ the financial system, even though the misery created in cutting them has been huge. But who cares about miserable poor people when you’re a rich happy one? Nevertheless the sums saved through ‘austerity’ are not going to be sufficient over even the medium term of the next decade. The ‘savings’ need to be orders of magnitude greater. For that the only option is to target the long term, ‘unfunded commitments of health, state pension and long term welfare. These are what the bankers will target when people have been softened up and the next bust hits.

The option I think they will go for is complete privatization of health, welfare and state pension.

All these long term ‘unfunded obligations’ as they are called appear in public debt accounts as future liabilities, future debts. But as soon as the same obligations are shifted to the private sector they become future profits rather than future debts. No matter that people might not be able to pay for them – accountants are not paid to worry about such details. To you and me it might seem daft to think that by moving things from one column to another , from public to private that this will suddenly make things better. And of course it won’t. The private sector will argue it will be ‘better’ because they are so much more ‘efficient’. Believe that if you like.  But the main thing is the acounting exercise will make the number in the public debt column go down.

The important thing for any discussion of public debt levels, is that removing these ‘obligations’ from the public account suddenly cuts the future public debt. Freeing up all that now uncommitted future debt to be available for pumping into the private financial sector . Which it would suddenly make ‘good economic sense’ to help, given the now very buoyant future demand for private health, pensions and welfare provision.

Public debt is always seen by the financial world as a drain, an obligation. The same obligations re-cast as serivces are seen as a source of future profit. Thus I think we will see in the next few years an all out attack on every aspect of public service provision.  Libertarians amoung you might cheer at this point. I think you will not cheer when you see what is going to replace what you currently dislike.

I believe the era of the Nation-State is coming to an end not because of attack from outside enemies but because Nation-States are being dismantled from the inside – by the  State itself.  But the State has no itention of losing power. It is simply changing jobs and employer. The big welfare state is being dismantled but in its place is going to come an even bigger and certainly more repressive Corporate State.

But the End of the Nation-State and the emergence of a global system of  Technocratic, Managed rather than democratic Corporate-States is a larger discussion I am still writing.

 

Bond bubble threatens financial system, Bank of England director warns | Business | guardian.co.uk

Bond bubble threatens financial system, Bank of England director warns | Business | guardian.co.uk.

 

RBS Canada drops challenge over release of LIBOR scandal records – Business – CBC News

RBS Canada drops challenge over release of LIBOR scandal records – Business – CBC News.

 

Central Banks Join The Herd, Openly Buying Stocks In Record Amounts | Zero Hedge

Central Banks Join The Herd, Openly Buying Stocks In Record Amounts | Zero Hedge.

 

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