Certain central bankers are coming out of the closet admitting that their favorite shenanigans—ultralow interest rates and printing money with utter abandon—can’t solve the very problems they were designed to solve, which has been obvious for a long time. What they’re not yet admitting massively, though some are starting to hand out hints, is just how much havoc these policies are wreaking.
An unrelenting, horrid wave of scandals about toxic ingredients in foods and medicines in China shows that regulators are unwilling and incapable of controlling it. It also shows a penchant—some evil tongues say it’s cultural—for pandemic cheating in order to get ahead in some way. And Chinese economic data falls into that category.
One thing Greek politicians have taught other European leaders: fear mongering for the purpose of extortion is the way to go. It might not work, and it might be counterproductive, and it might destroy confidence in the economy and give investors goose bumps and blow up markets, and it might cause spooked consumers to hold back on purchases and worried businesses to freeze hiring plans, thus exacerbating the situation, but it’s nevertheless the way to go.
Poor Angela Merkel. The beleaguered German Chancellor just can’t catch a break. She has already committed hundreds of billions of taxpayer euros to bailing out collapsing countries. In return, she wants them to live within their means and restructure their economies so that the bailouts wouldn’t have to continue ad inifinitum. For that, she joins the Axis of Evil. And then the Swiss Minister of Defense speaks up.
The fiasco playing out in the natural gas industry doesn’t happen often in a free market, and when it does happen, it’s usually short: namely, prices below production costs. In the shakeout, less efficient or poorly capitalized producers get wiped out. Part of capitalism that weeds out weaker elements through sweeps of creative destruction. But in natural gas, the price has been below production costs for years, and the damage is huge.
During the French presidential election, it became clear that François Hollande would try to align other Eurozone countries, particularly Italy and Spain, into a southern front against German Chancellor Angela Merkel—to fix the problems of the Eurozone à la française. Now that he has won the election, he has set out on his pre-charted collision course with Germany. And yet, a revolt is brewing at home: “We fear a programmed strangling.”
The G-20 summit last November in Cannes, France, was all about bailing out Greece, and it turned into a fiasco. Now at the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, tiny Greece is still front and center, but the summit has been escalated: it would be about bailing out the entire Eurozone and its currency. And President Obama made his agenda clear: he wanted everybody else to do “what’s necessary to stabilize the world financial system.”
Every car sold in the US contains Chinese-made components. But suddenly, in the middle of a heated presidential campaign, the White House decided to show its dentures. “We’re certainly looking at that,” said Tim Reif, general counsel in the US Trade Representative’s office, though he insisted that the election had nothing to do with it. Yet, the culprits for the horrendous migration across the Pacific are everywhere.
While we’re sitting on the edge of our chairs, waiting breathlessly for the Greek election, or for Fate to swallow Greece and send financial Armageddon over the Eurozone, stock markets rallied. Not because of a sudden plethora of good economic news, but in anticipation of how central banks might react to the Greek vote—that’s how far this farce has come! As if sheer artificial liquidity could wash away the putrid odor of decomposing debt.
“If Greece doesn’t get its next loan installment, the Eurozone will collapse the following day,” scowled Alexis Tsipras, leader of the left-wing SYRIZA. By threatening the entire Eurozone with its demise, if he won the election, he ratcheted up the bailout extortion racket a few more notches. So the run on the banks turned into panic, and Eurozone heads of state, who’re already on edge, threatened in return. Everything is coming to a head.