Ireland, Please Do the World a Favor and Default (November 29, 2010)
Ireland would save the world from much misery by defaulting now and driving the vampire banks into liquidation.
The alternative title for today's entry is: Ireland, please drive a stake through the heart of the vampire banks which have the world by the throat. The entire controlled demolition of the Eurozone's finances can be summed up in one phrase: privatize leverage and profits, socialize losses and risk.
The basic deal is this: protect the bank's managers, shareholders and bondholders from any losses, while heaping the socialized losses and risks on the taxpayers and citizens.
While there are murmurings of "forcing bondholders to share the pain," any future haircut will undoubtedly be just for show, while the Irish pension funds are gutted to bail out the banks.
EU Outlines Bond Restructuring Plan (WSJ.com)
Here is a chart which illustrates the dynamic at play in Greece, Ireland and indeed, the rest of the world as well: leveraged speculation and mal-investment lead to asset deflation and collapse.
Here is a chart which illustrates how asset deflation leads to taxpayer-funded bank bailouts and then sovereign default. It's fairly self-explanatory:
It's rather straightforward: as asset bubbles rise, they enable vast leveraging of credit and debt. Once mal-invested assets collapse in value, then the debt remains, unsupported by equity or capital.
As the Financial/Political Elites transfer these catastrophic losses onto the citizenry, they set off a positive (runaway) feedback loop: the Central State austerity required to pay the borrowing costs of the bailout sends the economy into recession, which reduces borrowers' incomes, triggering more defaults which further sink housing prices. As prices continue falling, bank capital declines, requiring ever-larger bailouts to provide the banks with a simulacrum of solvency.
Austerity measures must be tightened to channel more of the citizens' incomes to the banks, which further suppresses the economy, lowering tax revenues and incomes, which leads to more austerity to fund more bailouts, and so on, until the haggard remnants of a once-wealthy citizenry finally rebel against their Financial/Political Overlords and topple the government which arranged the bailout.
A new populist government announces a sovereign default, to widespread huzzahs from the unyoked citizenry.
The EU's bailout of Greece and Ireland will only hasten this dynamic. The Power Elites are rapidly losing their credibility; just compare the market's euphoric reaction to the Greek bailout in May and the openly negative response to the Irish bailout.
The money is lost, and Capitalism requires those who took on the risk to earn outsized returns must take the loss, come what may. When a nation such as Ireland is running a State deficit equal to 32% of GDP, austerity cannot generate the stupendous surpluses needed to make good the vast sums which are already lost.
And even if they could, why should the citizens save the banks and bondholders from the losses Capitalism requires? Mal-investments should be sold, for pennies on the dollar if need be, insolvent banks liquidated and bondholders handed 95% losses. Managers would be sacked, bonuses cancelled and shareholders wiped out.
It's a little late to decide Capitalism is only fun when reaping gargantuan profits from highly leveraged mal-investment and fraud. Ireland, and indeed the world, will survive if all the vampire banks are liquidated. That is the end-state, and "buying time" just increases the misery of the citizens who have been yoked to save their "betters."
Ireland, please drive a stake
through the heart of the vampire banks which have the world by the throat.
By defaulting, you would be doing the world (and your own nation) an immense favor.
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