Sunday, July 5, 2015

UPDATE-1: Now is the time to observe, learn, and act

I've always said Greece is the canary in the coal mine of the collapse of industrialized economies in the face of limits to growth. There is much to be learned from the events occurring there now in many regards, from the likely behavior of "creditors" when push comes to shove, the power governments have in the face of such creditors, the reactions of people both prepared and unprepared, the methods of survival, the development of community, the formation of gangs, and much more.

Learning about the true nature of freedom and democracy

The naked brutality of a financial dictatorship should be visible for all to see which is especially ironic following the Ukraine situation in which it was "European Democracy" the Ukrainians were supposedly in desire of running from Russian "totalitarianism". There is no true democracy, not in Europe, not in the U.S., and not in Canada, we're all slaves to infinite growth and international finance ponzi-conomies where at the end of the day the only thing that matters is repaying the debt chain all the way back to the primary bond holders at the top, the true "leaders" of social direction and policy.
Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, said the EU authorities may have to prepare emergency loans to keep basic public services functioning and to prevent the debt-stricken country spinning out of control next week. 
"Without new money, salaries won't be paid, the health system will stop functioning, the power network and public transport will break down, and they won't be able to import vital goods because nobody can pay," he said. 
Mr Schulz earlier called for the elected Syriza government to be replaced by "technocrat" rule until stability is restored. 
The alarmist warnings are part of an escalating pressure campaign by European leaders as Greeks decide their destiny in what has become – despite attempts by Syriza to present it otherwise - an in-out vote on euro membership after five years of economic depression and mass unemployment.
I hope the western Ukrainians are paying attention because while "the institutions" may be perfectly happy to loan Ukraine "money" without the same sorts of conditions a "democratic member" like Greece has to conform to to secure an important NATO position on Russia's doorstep there certainly isn't any "democracy and freedom" waiting for them in Europe with the sorts of debts they're racking up.

While many in the media make a point to describe SYRIZIA as "extreme left" as though that somehow explains their actions defying the ECB what Greece truly exposes is at the core of it all it's not left vs right. All IMF aligned countries have forfeited the public creation of their currencies, either to private lenders or the ECB (which is also basically private lenders). It's creditor vs. citizen and any government right or left truly working on behalf of the Greek people would have no choice other than to do what SYRIZIA is trying to do. As opposed to say the last Greek government which blocked their government buildings and banks off with riot police and beat the people as they worked in league with the creditors to bury the Greeks in multiple generations of debt and keep their place in the status-quo.

Learning about the true nature of "anti-terror"

Yanis Varoufakis is perfectly correct to label what the EU and IMF mafia of bankers is doing to Greece as terrorism.
"What they're doing with Greece has a name: terrorism. Why have they forced us to close the banks? To frighten people. It's about spreading terror," he told El Mundo.
You are now seeing the true world terrorists at work. The people behind the coup in Ukraine, the people behind arming the CIA asset al-Qaeda to overthrow governments and provide the excuse of ISIS needed both to bomb Syria and enact further "anti-terror" laws like C51. In fact Greece provides an example of what the anti-terror laws are for too.
The Greek police counter-terrorism unit located and arrested two of the three people said to be involved in a bank robbery in Distomo last August, during a special operation held on Friday afternoon in Nea Anchialos, Volos, Central Greece. 
Georgios Petrakakos, Spyridon Christodoulou and Spyridon Dravillas are the three men identified as the bank robbers. 
Christodoulou and Petrakakos did not resist arrest after police invaded their hideout while Dravillas refused to surrender and committed suicide with an AK-47 assault rifle. 
The Distomo bank robbery suspects have allegedly cooperated with infamous terrorist Nikos Maziotis and runaway convict Vassilis Paleokostas. Dravillas was specifically the one who helped Paleokostas escape from Korydallos prison Hollywood-style by helicopter.
Yes, bank robberies are now terrorism, too. Do you see how more and more "criminal acts" and "terrorist acts" are becoming one and the same? And what makes them terrorists? Well they "allegedly cooperated" with some high profile terrorist. There's no way to know for sure as really anti-terror units could just say that, couldn't they? It's not like they have to prove it as it'll now be "proved" in the secret anti-terror tribunal where circumstantial bullshit evidence is just fine.

Yes for now the state is not going to abuse it's power and arrest masses of people arbitrarily. For now. Those thinking that because the Canadian government for instance hasn't started going out and rounding up activists because C51 is now law don't understand how governments slowly acclimate you to tolerate more and more abuse gradually. The first step is to make criminal activity terrorist activity, because nobody likes criminals and thus most people are ok if they're treated like shit and not given due process. They'll start with severe criminals and slowly but surely make more and more mundane criminal acts terrorism too.

Once the transformation of criminals to terrorists is complete the government will be in the clear to abuse anti-terror powers as all "criminal" proceedings will now follow the anti-terror form of due process instead. Secret trials, planted evidence, entrapment, the works. You're never going to see "innocents" arrested as terrorists on TV, you can be sure utilizing the "disruption" abilities in C51 and other anti-terror laws they will now be able to make anyone look like anything. Those looking for the government to obviously display it's abuse simply don't get how these things work and are ignoring history and even when the government does display it's abuse such as with the G20 all they require is some excuse (like a riot that lasted for an hour and a half which 10,000 police didn't try to stop), and a few low level patsies to throw under the bus and they're in the clear. Hell you might even end up as an MP.

Learning the true nature of the importance of preparation

Long lines at ATMs have almost become the symbol of Greece at the moment, it's the favorite image being used by media to scare the people. These lines do exist, plenty of Greeks were completely unprepared for this event having been lulled into a false sense of security by the former government. It's important to realize, however, that the Greeks not standing in line at the ATM are not being shown in the media. Plenty of Greeks were prepared for this event, plenty of Greeks have been growing their own food and haven't had money in the bank for quite some time.

When the events of Greece eventually arrive at other countries you do not want to be the one standing in line at the ATM. You might think I sound alarmist in the idea this could happen in the U.S. or in Canada, my response would be: that's probably what those standing in the ATM lines said too.

Greece also demonstrates the important of owning gold or silver as already alternative currencies are emerging from private companies to pay their workers and are in turn arranging private agreements with grocery stores and shops to accept the currency they're issuing. Aside from Euro's which are getting scarcer by the day the only other universal currency you could possibly trade for one of these private currencies a grocery store might accept would be gold and silver, or bitcoin, though in the longer term bitcoin might be a bit riskier to hold on to.

There isn't going to be some sort of "Grexit" event, the Grexit is a process and it's already begun, as Frances Coppola writes in an excellent piece on the subject.

In some ways the Greeks have been far luckier than the nations that will subsequently be sucked into this vacuum of debt the system has created. The world financial system has spent significant resources trying to prop Greece up as it's really the linchpin in an entire domino effect of sovereign debt that will have far reaching consequences for the status-quo economies all around the world. It has been during the slow destruction of Greece that low interest rate policies could actually go "lower" and where central banks were still getting some sort of growth "return" for their "investment" of your future labour. These resources and financial "tools" will not exist for subsequent nations and as such the collapse of ponzi-conomies will be a lot swifter.

Learning about the long term risks of re-localization

While the local economy in Greece re-asserts itself there are certainly long term risks to losing immediate access to the global trade market (so long as it remains stable, that is).
"Luckily we have six months stocks of oil and four months stocks of pharmaceuticals," he told The Telegraph. 
Mr Varoufakis said a special five-man committee from the Greek treasury, the Bank of Greece, the trade unions and the private banks is working feverishly in a "war room" near his office allocating precious reserves for top priorities. 
Food has been exempted from an import freeze since capital controls were introduced last weekend. Grains, meats, dairy products, and other foodstuffs should be able to enter the country freely, averting a potential disaster as the full tourist season kicks off.
It is here where the importance of peak oil begins to emerge, which also serves as a good basis for understanding the order in which industrial ponzi-conomies will collapse.

As I pointed out in a post earlier this year on the Bank of Canada interest rate cut (yes we'll be getting to the predictions of recession in Canada shortly) the price of oil - despite the system's rhetoric to the contrary - being "cheap" isn't really cheap at all barring the relatively new phenomenon of extremely expensive prices over the last 10 years. Here is that chart again for your convenience:

For a modern economy to operate it needs oil. It is the very foundation of everything we have here today but with the advent of peak conventional oil (which is what peak oil was always about before you say "but fracking" or "but oilsands") the dynamics of energy have changed. It now costs more to consume, it costs more to produce, and there are fewer and fewer conventional oil producers and more and more unconventional oil producers. That is the very essence of the problem with peak oil, the problem was never oil depletion but rather that as cheap conventional oil depletes we have to more and more turn to unconventional oil to supplement demand and this unconventional oil is more expensive to consume (which has the effect of raising the price of all oil as in supply and demand terms it is all weighed equally).

This increase in the price of energy represents a huge additional cost for countries which can not produce it and Greece is a prime example. At the end of the day if Greece wants oil they're going to have to buy it and unless they can produce something greater in value that can also account for all of their other required imports they are looking at either a permanent deficit, or a significant reduction in their standard of living. But it's not only Greece.

Countries in this situation have one tool to counter this global trade imbalance, tourism. Through tourism Greece can operate an enlarged service sector as relying on tourism essentially translates to relying on the production and trade of other nations to supplement globally acceptable currency reserves - up until recently this was largely the U.S. dollar, or the Euro. Pretty well any "tourist destination" would accept U.S. dollars and most still do and thus by tourists coming and spending U.S. dollars the economies were constantly being injected by new liquidity that could be used in global trade.

Tourism in the face of a world economy which on the whole is having issues is not going to sustain the needs of the nation as the capacity for consumers of other producing nations to engage in tourism decreases.

The capacity for tourism will decrease because of the positive feedback loop that is in play. Let's for a minute jump to Canada's situation which is essentially the polar opposite of Greece's. Greece is having a major debt issue and problems sustaining their economy, while Canada on the other hand is having issues kick starting it's economy due to the export market. Of course to export, you're going to need to need someone to import. Simplifying the situation for visualization purposes if Canada has oil (which it does, very expensive oil to produce I might add) and Greece needs oil then Greece has to purchase it adding to the deficit.

The entire reason oil became the foundation of our society is it's the most condensed portable form of energy we have available. The huge return on investment of conventional oil also meant it was the cheapest to extract. But with the new era of pricing for oil as well as the volatility what was once a workable trade arrangement is having significant problems today both for indebted importers and exporters relying more and more heavily on unconventional oil production which if the global economy is going to "grow" will require more and more of the oil supply to come from unconventional sources to meet demand.

The primary risks of re-localization for countries like Greece means unstable access to oil supplies and other needs. Just because it's a risk however doesn't mean it's a "bad event". As one Greek proudly proclaims:
What it means is an adjustment of expectations. It's not easy, but it is freeing in the right frame of mind.

The next "global recession"

In February I wrote a post with a part on the 'great deflation' that had just begun (and which I have been mentioning in the years before). This great deflation is now in full swing which the report that Canada is likely entering a new recession, despite Joe Olivers claims to the contrary, likely confirms.

Of course in reality we're not re-entering recession as we never truly left the last one. The growth has been an illusion fueled by central bank currency printing the world over but the desired escape velocity where there is enough momentum and expectations of growth to turnover the credit system and drive new loans hasn't happened. The recession is becoming visible now because with 90% of the industrial world at 0 or near zero percent interest rates there is nowhere left to go.

The magic trick is largely over and now the world will be left to reap the consequences as the bond bubble we've been creating for the best 7 years unravels and all of the old junk debt we thought we swept under the carpet comes back to say hello. It wasn't long ago that "Greece was saved", and in that same fashion old friends like the 'fiscal cliff' will be making cameo appearances in the next act.

If the last major recession swept the legs out from under debt ridden consumer countries then it is this coming recession where countries have already deployed most of their recession fighting tools that will sweep the legs out from under the major producers. It's very likely this recession will be the biggest and last as well as the final blow to the current U.S. denominated global monetary system. It's perhaps ironically coincidental that the week Greek banks closed, the new Chinese lead AIIB opened.
BEIJING — Underscoring its growing global heft, China launched an infrastructure bank for Asia on Monday, receiving the backing of 50 countries for an initiative that seeks to boost the region’s economy but also put Beijing at the center of its development. 
Representatives from Britain, Germany, South Korea and Australia were among those who took part in a ceremony to sign the articles of association in the Great Hall of the People, with the United States and Japan the most notable absentees. 
Many U.S. allies joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on Monday — despite Washington’s initial objections — in what was seen as a major diplomatic victory for President Xi Jinping.
Which may ultimately bail Greece out...


Greece should be watched very closely, and as you're watching ask yourself "what would I do in that situation?". Ask yourself: "are you prepared if the ATMs one day close?". Put your thoughts into action and prepare. It really does no harm to prepare for an emergency even if you don't expect or want it to happen, It's an extension to your fire extinguisher or first aid kit.

I know, it seems silly when surrounded by the illusion of security and stability our society represents but the just-in-time ponzi-conomy is a lot more fickle, and fragile, than most probably believe and life support is quickly running out. Don't get stuck in the lines.

‘EU leaders see Syriza as threat to neo-liberal Europe’


Following his resignation Yanis Varoufakis wrote an article in 2012 on the true state of the Eurozone which touches on much that I have here.

Some choice exerts:
Grasping how this GSRM worked and why it perished is a prerequisite for coming to terms with our current global predicament — which, in turn, is key to understanding why Greece has become so prominent in the headlines. 
Sustainable growth in a capitalist economy is a rare blessing that is predicated on the successful recycling of surpluses. Every nation, every trading bloc, every continent, indeed the global economy itself, is made up of deficit and surplus regions. 
California, Greater London, New South Wales, and Germany will always be in surplus vis-à-vis Arizona, the North of England, Tasmania, and Portugal, respectively. Given this chronic chasm, which market forces can never obliterate, the deficit regions are unable to maintain demand for the goods and services of the surplus producers. Thus, without surplus recycling, stagnation beckons for surplus and deficit regions alike. 
Surplus recycling is commonplace at the national level. In the United States, for example, military procurement often comes with the precondition that new production facilities are built in depressed states; the Australian welfare state ensures that Western Australian and New South Welsh surpluses end up propping up demand for their goods and services in Tasmania. However, at the global level the issue of surplus recycling becomes more pressing and harder to institute.
The postwar era was remarkable in that two GSRMs saw to it that the world economy achieved unprecedented growth. The first GSRM lasted from the late 1940s to the early 1970s. The United States exited the war with enormous surpluses, which it quickly sought to recycle to the rest of the Western world in a multitude of ways (the Marshall Plan, wide-ranging support for Japanese industry, endless backing of the European integration project, and so on), effectively functioning as a GSRM itself. 
Alas, this first postwar GSRM broke down, predictably, when US surpluses turned into deficits toward the end of the 1960s. The loss of that meticulously planned GSRM threw the world into the 1970s crises which did not subside until a new — most peculiar — GSRM was put in place, again courtesy of the United States. 
This time the nation absorbed the surpluses of the rest of the world, running ever increasing trade and government deficits. Those deficits were, in turn, financed by capital flowing into Wall Street, as the rest of the world recycled its profits by investing them in the United States.
Since then, the best paid plans of Central Banks, G20 nations, or the IMF have failed to restore the rude energy of the wounded beast. Without a functioning GSRM, the crisis that started in 2008 will continue to migrate across continents and sectors, regularly threatening us with imminent collapse.
One ought also to fear that such a move will only manage to achieve an uncontrolled disintegration whose end result will be massive recession in the European north, a gargantuan stagflation in the European periphery, and the descent of the global economy into a postmodern 1930s. Europe has managed twice in the last hundred years to drag the rest of the world down with it. It is about to do it again, with Greece as a convenient scapegoat.

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting and insightful analysis, Richard. Thanks. Until recently I didn't pay much attention to this but, when I did, I was astonished at the IMF and Euro Bank stupidity, and the bloody mindedness of Merkel. I did a lot of insolvency work in my practice years, more than enough to know that no one can accept a deal they have no prospect of ever satisfying. The terms that were dictated were nothing short of imposing perpetual penury on the Greek people. Even Der Spiegel which is far from sympathetic toward the Greeks stated that the deal left the Greeks with more debt than they could ever repay.

    I think you're right, Richard. In one area after another, one crisis atop the so many others, this whole rotten business is coming apart at the seams and it's probably unstoppable now. I think much of that is reflected in the increasing number of failed states and the pretty rapid spread of illiberal democracy, including in the West.