Economics, Politics

Why is Socialism still so popular?

It is 2017, 100 years since the Russian revolution. The UK general election results are in, leaving Britain with a hung parliament just days before the start of negotiations on exiting the EU. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Theresa May was supposed to increase the Tory majority, and to build a stronger mandate for Brexit negotiations; a strong a stable government, as she put it. But her attempt to capitalise on a Labour Party weakened by infighting has backfired, throwing the country into the opposite of what she promised. Meanwhile, political punchbag Comrade Corbyn’s anti establishment rhetoric and promise of free stuff has worked wonders, especially on the young, and Labour has stolen seats from the Tories, UKIP and the Liberal Democrats. Continue reading

Standard
Economics, Money, Politics, Property

Government is Right to Fear Bitcoin; it will Remove State Monopoly Power

Government has more than its fair share of power and money. Rather than viewing the government as distinct from big business, I view them as similar beasts, it’s just that government is funded by taxpayers, while big business is funded by government and private enterprise. Continue reading

Standard
Economics, Politics

Making Sense of the Brexit Fallout

On the 23rd June 2016, the British people showed courage and fortitude; put two fingers up to the establishment and voted to leave the EU. Despite what the sore losers in the press would have you believe, the majority voted to leave the EU in order to restore sovereign power to the UK; brexit was a vote for British democracy. Let’s have a look at the brexit fallout, and try to make some sense of what’s really going on. Continue reading

Standard
Politics

A Vote to Remain in the EU is a Vote Against Democracy

I don’t know about you, but I am not a big fan of bullies. I don’t like other people being bullied, and I don’t much like being bullied myself. My major concern with the EU, and the primary reason that I cannot vote for it, no matter how much I love our European neighbours (I was born abroad and lived there for many years) is the small issue of democracy. It’s odd that such a triviality has been virtually overlooked by all who are discussing the Brexit campaign.

The EU government has very little in common with constituent parts that make Europe so special. Instead, it is seeking a sort of supra-national Euro state with no sovereignty to speak of.

The EU structure is a bureaucrats dream, it has ambitions to grow ever bigger year after year, ambitions which are not challenged and cannot be stopped. It requires more and more funding every year, which it gets (under laws it makes itself). The EU is unaccountable, run by unelected individuals, and yet it has the opportunity to legislate across the customs union borders and have that legislature implemented by majority voting. In short, the EU government is turning into a monster, the Euro currency is an unmitigated disaster, and yet nobody seems to notice the reality or care much about it. In fact, our own prime minister is wholeheartedly encouraging us to vote for a system which is fundamentally undemocratic. What does that say about him?

There is said to be a big swing towards the remain camp in the younger voting population. They seem to be interested in staying in the EU. Perhaps they don’t understand the issues. I remember when I was young. I though that Tony Blair was a decent bloke. The simple fact is, I didn’t have a clue about politics when I was in my twenties. Now I’m in my thirties I have a much better idea what they’re up to, having studied the subject at more length. I now know that Tony Blair is not a very nice person, and that he pulled the wool over everybody’s eyes on pretty much everything he did. After that performance I’m surprised they give him any air time at all. They should have tried his for war crimes and if found guilty, locked him in the Tower of London with the Ravens.

I would put it out there that the majority of the young are far too busy facebooking, tweeting pictures of their meals and most of all looking good to care about politics and economics, let alone democracy, and so they may well vote to remain, but I doubt many of them will have thought about the major issues of the Brexit vote, or would even care to.

Democracy is important, it provides accountability, giving individuals some say in the way publicly pooled resources are applied in the real world. For example, things which benefit the people should be encouraged above government pet projects. The EU is fundamentally undemocratic. It is a practical dictatorship, if a reasonably well-behaved one, at least so far. Merkel and Junker, Chancellor of Deutschland and President of the EU respectively, act like they don’t really care what the ‘Euro people’ (whoever they are) want.

They showed their true colours when Greece voted to reject the EU austerity package. What happened next? The Greeks were told to accept it. Never mind the vote, you do as you’re told Greece. This was either down to a spineless PM Tsipras, or no real interest is what the Greeks want or don’t want. Probably a bit of both. Even alopecian philosopher Yanis Varoufakis has come out to defend the EU, which has taken him to the lowest of my estimation. These politicians have no integrity whatsoever, they’re just playing a part in a play, and they change parts every six months.

If a country looks like it is going to get a right-wing party at the helm, Donald Tusk states that they will lose their influence to vote in the EU. How is this anything but dictatorship? “If you behave as I like, you will be allowed to participate, but if you don’t you will be excluded.”

It is also important to note that the Euro was designed from the outset as a weapon of mass financial destruction to achieve ‘Une certaine idée de L’Europe’, again undefined. It was designed to cause the sorts of financial instability which would lead to countries giving up their sovereignty in return for being saved from certain economic death and destruction. It is clever, and insidious, and with hindsight it has succeeded in its aims remarkably well. Don’t just take my word for it, listen to Bernard Connolly.

20 years ago Connolly, who worked as a senior economist with the European Union, published ‘The Rotten Heart of Europe’; his take on the damage that monetary union would do to the single currency participants. Shortly after the book was published, he was sacked. Why? He pointed out that you cannot have monetary union without fiscal union (money and the how it is spent must be centrally controlled), that the EU’s aims are to drive countries towards giving up their sovereignty in favour of the European identity, moving away from national sovereignty (something which people can belong to) towards an anarcho-capitalist empire (Europe).

As they have lost their national identity, as they have ceded sovereignty to the undefined vision of the EU, people are seeking out extreme right wing groups to belong to something. These organisations are typically focussed on what they are *not*, rather than on what they *are*, which as we are seeing is not going to end well. The EU, in quashing democracy is actually causing a situation which, like the anarcho-capitalist Austro-Hungarian empire before it, is more likely to lead to WW3 than to abate it.

The ‘United States of Europe’ (USE) will not become a reality without a fight, and probably a global one. Anybody who thinks they can dictate for the masses finds their plans will fall short of the mark every time. The USE or the New Soviet Union (NSU), is a concept born of the 20th century, and it clearly belongs there. Tusks’s concerns about Brexit are probably valid; that the UK’s exit will signify the beginning of the end for the EU and the Euro, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t jump from the sinking ship, and if it’s so fragile as not allow a minor player like the UK to do its own thing, the EU is clearly beyond help and its out duty to lead the exodus from the burning building.

So Donald Tusk, and more recently our own dear Chancellor George Osborne, are using threatening bully boy tactics to get people to vote remain. Meanwhile Tusk has explained that if the UK leaves the EU, there will be pain for a number of years. This makes me want to vote leave even more, to prove him wrong. What proud country would allow themselves to be bullied like this? The same goes for Osborne. The Remain camp are losing ground and have serious concerns that their pampered, subsidised lives are about to come to an end. Sh*t is about to get real. As somebody pointed out on Twitter, how would Osborne execute such a move from the back benches? Good point.

I hate the way David Cameron talks about how the EU brexit vote is a choice for ‘you the public’, that he will do whatever we ask him to, that it is not about him, it is about what the people want, and in the same breath tells us that we must vote to remain in the EU. These individuals have overstepped the mark, and their accounts should be struck from the record. When George Osborne says he will raise taxes if we vote to leave. These are dirty tricks, and rather than scaring us, they should strengthen our determination to take back our own power, not just from the EU government, but from the UK government too. We should chuck out Osborne and Cameron at the earliest opportunity for disgraceful behaviour.

When the time comes to go to the ballot box on the 23rd, remember that little issue called democracy, as it’s very future lies in the balance. It might be a bad system, but it’s the best we’ve got, and the EU is not heading towards giving more power to the people, it is heading towards an anarcho-capitalist empire with a European agenda (whatever that is) as its core aim. It will not represent the UK better than the UK can represent itself, and by showing its contempt for those countries which foolishly joined the single currency, it has provided an easy decision to exit for many who still care about democracy. If you vote remain, you are voting against democracy.

The best argument I’ve heard for voting leave was this question. “If we had a choice to join the EU now, would we do it?” I don’t think we would, and that is why I think we should get the hell out of its grappling clutches ASAP.

If you are still on the fence, watch Lord Owen’s case for brexit. Sobering stuff.

Standard
Economics, Politics

Brexit is a stand off between Conservatives and Socialists

I’ve been wanting to write a piece about Brexit for a while now, above and beyond my strong feelings about the British fishing industry which the Brussels Common Fisheries Policy has all but destroyed, but I’ve not found much time recently to put fingers to keys. The arrival of the young pup has taken up a fair bit of my spare time. It’s been good to have time to think though, as I now have more consolidated views on the subject.

First I need to talk about the Brexit coverage in the press, and while this is an obvious point, you need to remember that everyone who has an opinion on Brexit (and any other topic for that matter) is speaking from their own selfish, self-interested point of view. If I have learned one thing from my years on earth it is that people are selfishly oriented, and if you accept that as the basis of who they are what they say and do, things will go smoother for you.

Now, it is also worth saying that some of those selfish people do care deeply about other people, and so their selfish approach involves what they deem to be best for other people, but they are benefitting themselves personally at the core. When you hear politicians, the IMF, any government organisation, Scientists, Arts funds, anyone, making a view about the larger government organisation that sits above it, and from which it does or doesn’t receive funding (the EU), know that whatever view they hold is because of how it benefits them.

What is sorely lacking from the debate is how the ordinary man on the street, how you and I are going to be affected by a change to the status quo, by a severing of bureaucratic ties to brussels. Economists for Brexit have had a go, and put forward the case for Brexit, led by academic Patrick Minford, these 8 independent economists have discussed the various elements of the debate and argue for the free market, deregulated model. Essentially they are individuals who at their core believe in the economic benefit of the free market, over the protectionist customs union, and a centralised, unelected, undemocratic government. Just look at Greece). Of course we may have the very same happen to us here. We might choose, like the Greeks, to vote no to the EU, and be overruled anyway.

If you’ve read any of the articles on this site, you will know that I am vote leave. I’d even reduce the control and power of the UK government if I could. UK politicians might well choose to vote to remove power from the EU government, so that more of it returns to them. But at least we vote for UK politicians, so there is some accountability, unlike the European government decision makers. In this article I will spell out my arguments for leaving the EU, and why you might choose to also vote leave on the 23rd.

Decentralisation

This topic deserves a whole book to itself; the subject of the 21st century is decentralisation of power, physical power in the form of decentralisation of electrical power generation, decentralised mobile communications, decentralisation of publishing (kindle and ebook publishing), the media and how having a Facebook or Twitter account makes you a creator as well as a consumer of media, decentralisation of business via the internet, the decentralisation of money from banks by bitcoin and the blockchain, and now the decentralisation of government away from large bureaucracies to more and more devolution and self government. Large organisations become unwieldy, ineffective and cut off from the world, stuck in their own ideas. Like the captain of the Titanic proudly steaming forward into an iceberg field.

You can try to stem the tide of decentralisation, but you will only hold it off for so long. Just as the Scots nearly voted out of the UK, but fell for scaremongering, so a remain vote this time around would only put off the inevitable in a few years’ time. It is fair to say that we end up livingbegat the general consensus is, and if the consensus likes being part of a modern Austro-Hungarian Empire, if they like being told what to do by people who have very little understanding of the them of their specific lives, this is what we will get. Do you like self government, or do you like being told what to do? You’d be surprised how many people just want to be told what to do and follow those orders. Do you like being able to boot out politicians who don’t perform, or would you rather have them thrust upon you with little say?

The EU Economy

In case you hadn’t noticed, the EU, largely because of the terrible idea of monetary union, is in verg poor condition. The ‘real economy’ isn’t doing so badly, but the financial infrastructure which sits behind our money systems has been allowed to concoct too many, too-clever-for-their-own-good financial instruments, things like derivatives which on paper alone make for a pretty good way to hedge risk.

This problem has come about because of market meddling. When markets are not allowed to function as markets, they get skewed, and businesses which would have in the past paid for their poor decision-making with bankruptcy, instead of going to the wall they live to make another bad decision, and another, and another. They are encouraged to make ever more risky bets. Eventually we end up in a place where moral hazard prevails, because everyone is now a winner, interest rates are zero, and people are forced to look to ever and ever riskier ‘investments’ to get a return on their cash.

The financial system in the UK, US and Europe was never allowed to crash, to clear out the rotten institutions and processes which had brought it to the brink of death in 2008,  this cancker has been allowed to spread through the rest of the tree. Central banks have been pumping liquidity into the global financial system to try to revive the arresting economy, but it has done very little but pump up asset prices. Europe is a mess, USA is a mess and the UK is a mess. The banks are ready to blow up as the extent of their liabilities becomes evident. JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon is using the Brexit referendum as a handy excuse to lay off 20% of his workforce if the UK votes to leave the EU. Nice move Jamie.

There’s no point trying to pretend that the countries in the Eurozone are the same; they clearly aren’t, and trying to peg them all to the same currency is only going to end in tears for some. In normal economies, as a country excels in exporting, its currency overvalues, which acts as a natural brake, restoring balance. While poorer countries have the opportunity to devalue their currencies and become competitive. But when the south of Italy or Greece has the same currency as Germany, the stronger country is going to do disproportionately well at the expense of the weaker one. Is this a bunch of people we want to hitch our economic fortunes to? Or would leaving them to it be the best course of action?

It is clear that a political union called Europe cannot exist without a common currency called the Euro. Given what has happened in the last 24 months in Europe with the Euro, do we really want to be a part of something with such fundamental flaws? Oddly nobody seems to think that the Euro is a bad thing, that what has happened is just a blip on the radar. These are the people who read the papers and digest what they are told, never really thinking about the real issues which lie behind them, the fundamentals and how wrong they are.

The political position of brexit is a fascinating one, which is transcending even party political boundaries; we have rifts in the Tory party as politicians take sides, and each takes swipes at the other. Both the leavers and the retainers know how important the vote is, paling into insignificance even a general election which is, lets face it, pretty much like picking from a line up of ugly girls. What we are seeing is the true blue versus red. Let me explain.

Leave = Conservative

In his excellent book, Life After the State – Why we Don’t Need Government, Dominic Frisby put into words a great number of points which I had observed and desired to be different in my own life, but had never managed to put into words. Frisby is a free market libertarian, and I share many of his views on Government; namely that it should exist to provide essential public services which need to be centrally organised, but that it should not be a key decision-maker in its own right. The government should exist to carry out the will of the people. People vote, and the government does what they vote for. How novel.

Conservatism is about self-empowerment, about creating the atmosphere where individuals can make for themselves, can stand up and be counted (community charge rather than council tax bands), where individuals; husbands, wives, parents and even children are best placed to decided how they live, which laws are passed, and where they spend their money. Not given away in taxes to large bureaucratic organisations which inefficiently divvy it out to the causes that they consider to be worthy, keeping a fair chunk of it to pay for their own expenses, of course.

Conservatism is about acknowledging that everybody has value, and that they can make a success of their lives if they are only given the opportunity to make their mark on the world. What does that look like? Well, clearly it looks a lot different to the current state of affairs, because I don’t see very much conservatism going on. I see a lot of people still of the government payroll, whether the UK, or the EU superstate. Once milk is flowing from the nipple, it is hard to say no. The UK gives handouts to the underachievers or Europe, much keeping them in their wretchedness rather than demonstrating how to thrive to the rest of europe, we would rather sit in the tub with the others and do what the british do best; whinge.

I have often thought that the Brits wouldn’t appreciate a land like Switzerland where everything is logical, where things run on time, towns are clean, where money is spent transparently, where people have pride in their achievement. We Brits would have nothing to whinge about.

Remain = Socialist

Socialists have embedded deep inside them views which effectively say that there are good people in the world and bad people. The good people are poor and the bad people are rich. The good people are usually socialists, because they hace an innate tendency to agree with the unfairmess in life. They mean well. The rich, usually conservative, self empowered types apparently got their ill-gotten-gains through some bad behaviour. They took more than their fair share and so they should give some of their wealth to those who have-not.

The ‘remain’ camp either believes in the injustice of capitalism, that people can have too much money, or they are those who have benefitted from the status quo and want to keep things that way. They believe that government is good, and that centralised planning and expenditure is better than decentralised power. Either that, or they can’t be bothered to sit down and actually think about how politics works.

They believe that a centralised government is better placed to take your money and spend it on your behalf, precisely because if the government didn’t take you money and give it to these ‘good causes’ that no human being would ever choose to do so himself. Socialists believe that man is inherently bad natured, and that he cannot be relied upon to show compassion for his fellow man, and so we don’t even get a chance to try. All compassion is outsourced to the government. When we see a beggar on the street, our natural response is “I pay enough in taxes, go and get a hand out from the government like all those other sponges who don’t contribute to society.”

When you hand over your human responsibility to your fellow man to a faceless government corporation, you become less human in the process. This is the irony of socialism, in trying to make people more humane, it actually takes away their humanity.

If you’ve ever worked in or for a public sector organisation, you will be well aware that your taxpayer money is being spent in an inefficient manner. These businesses are not real businesses which have to make ends meet, if they were private sector businesses they would have folded decades ago. The people who work for them have a view that they know best, and the way they deal with the private sector is self important because they have the money, that private sector businesses want.

EU ‘Resources’

“But we get handouts from the EU government!” I hear you cry. “We can’t vote to leave the EU.” OK, and where, pray, do you think those funds come from? Do you think the EU government is a productive organisation generating its own cash? It doesn’t take long to find out where the EU gets its money from, and it won’t surprise you. On the EU website, the source of its “own resources” is clearly stated:

Traditional own resources

The EU get’s it traditional ‘own resources’ from the following:

  1. Customs duties on imports from outside the EU – [this increases the cost of our goods] – the EU takes 75% of this money – UK and other governments get 25% of this money collected to cover the cost of collection. 25%!
  2. VAT percentage levy (worth €14bn)
  3. Own resource based on Gross National Income (GNI) A standard percentage levied on the GNI of each EU country. It is used to balance revenue and expenditure. Although designed as a balancing system, this has become the largest source of revenue – €92.7bn in 2010.

Like any bureaucracy with growing aspirations, the EU budget has got out of hand and it needs more and more cash from members to fund itself and its schemes. The balancing system becomes the largest source of revenue. There is a bit more money from EU fines (usually big, successful US businesses), taxes on EU salaries, and contributions from non-EU countries. So how much do you think this giant bureaucratic machine costs to run? Well, in 2011, the EU administration costs were €8.3bn. Quite expensive, and no wonder people on the EU gravy train want to keep things ticking along nicely……

Subsidies are Phoney Baloney

The EU is a private members club, a gated city where the rich EU ‘members’ (the terminology speaks volumes) live and do business with each other. They want nothing whatsoever to do with the poor people who live outside the tall, policed iron gates, and while they could very well trade with them and give their citizens goods at a lower price, in order to keep their own goods makers rich they charge import duties on the goods coming in from oupside the trade block. The citizens of the Gated City pay more for their goods than they otherwise might, raising their cost of living.

Inefficient organisations which wouldn’t survive without this protectionist mechanism are encouraged to go on in their inefficiencies. The government of gated city believe that enriching uncompetitive manufacturing businesses is worth the high price on increased cost of living, because some of that money is paid to individuals who work for these companies and earn wage. It doesn’t stop the poor people living outside the city trying to scale the dangerously high walls to get inside to improve their lives, and they come in their thousands. Many of them die making the journey, others fall from the walls and perish before they even land foot in the city. One wonders whether it might be a better idea to just allow them the opportunity to trade with those in the gated city on a global level, thereby enriching themselves where they currently stand rather than leaving them like a beggar on the street. It’s the same argument; Socialist vs Conservative on a bigger scale.

Subsidies are the opposite of a free market, and yet the EU loves to hand out money to organisations who are not competitive, rather than allow them to adapt and improve they carry on, like a blundering public sector organisation, never being forced to adapt or die.

Regulation = Interference = Inefficiency

The EU loves to regulate. Regulation quashes the free market. Regulation affects your competitiveness, because you have rules to comply with. You can’t just get on with what you are doing, you need to comply with the regulations, much of which gets in the way of a productive, efficient output. Go and work in a public sector organisation for six to twelve months, and you will know what I mean. Very little gets done, even though there are people scurrying about all over the place, doing their best to look busy, so that they can collect their pay cheque and do the bare minimum necessary to prevent from getting sacked.

The free market is the reason I will vote to leave the EU, the opportunity to give capital a chance to work once more. Capital works though market forces to find the most appropriate place to go. I’m not saying have no regulations, I’m saying set your policy on things that matter (e.g. pollution and not CO2), immigration which encourages talent, taxation which encourages innovation and entrepreneurialism, regulation which is light enough to do the same. We want to give people a chance to make for themselves, not be reliant on handouts, whether on the dole, or benefits, or taking subsidies from the government whether the EU or the UK, or working on some phoney government project.

Is Boris Johnson paid by the hedge funds to vote for a Brexit? Possibly. He doubtless has many friends in the City of London following his stint as mayor. Removing regulation would be a good thing, as would letting banks which fail go to the wall. This is the only way to make them accountable, not by propping them up against all sensibility. I do believe that Bojo and David Cameron are both Conservatives who want a Brexit for the UK. If you don’t believe Dave wants Brexit, watch his Bloomberg speech on youtube. For some reason Cameron has changed his mind after his visit to brussels, I wonder how the conversation went?

As for the rest of them, the IMF, the OBR, the OECD, John Major, Scientists, Actors, and even Barack Obama are obviously all benefitting from the EU in one way or another. But are you, the men and women on the street? I suspect that unless you work for a protected industry, you will be better off out of the EU working in a more real economy.

If you vote to remain, you are essentially saying that you are happy to have no control over your political system, the laws and stifling regulations which will will be passed upon you by unelected representatives who we cannot remove if we don’t like.

Standard
Economics, Money, Politics

GDP: A Great Distraction for Politicians

For many years, governments have focused upon GDP, but with our current global demographics collapse , GDP growth is no longer a relevant means to measure economic health, and it’s time politicians chose a more appropriate yardstick to beat themselves over the head with. Or perhaps it’s time for politicians to acknowledge their powerlessness to affect anything more than what they have for breakfast.

Really, Who Cares?

First of all, who cares about GDP? Apart from politicians and statisticians who want to demonstrate the success or failure of a particular pet policy of the day, does anyone else really care about GDP? Of course you care if the economy is doing well, but can you even tell when it is supposed to be? The fact is, some people thrive in recessions and others lose it all in the bullishest of bull markets; it seems there’s no accounting for individual freedom to make self-informed choices in life. So for a nominal GDP statistic, you could still be living in an area where everyone is doing great business. When you pick up the papers and read about the lives of those wretched others, how much of that do you think has anything to do with you? Not very much, so mind your own business.

There was a long period of time Before GDP (let’s call it BG). People lived their lives, grew up, married, bought houses, had families and grew old blissfully unaware of the means politicians use to justify their existences. With significant global change making its presence felt, isn’t it time the OECD had a cold hard look at Gross Domestic Product, and replaced it with something altogether more befitting of a 21st century world?

I put to you that using GDP as an economic target is not only fallacious, but in our current times it is outdated; out of sync with our new normal fundamentals; an ageing population where one in four is over the age of 55, an increasing environmental awareness, and the realisation (by the younger generation at least) that money on its own doesn’t make you happy, and an impending monetary disaster based upon a mountain of debt (aka our debt based money system). People want to enjoy their lives, to live in more harmony with each other and the planet. In such a frame, why the incessant need for growth growth growth, at the expense of everything else?

Masters of the Universe, or Misguided Fools?

GDP is a hangover from industrial revolution thinking, and our debt based money system which is designed to increase competition and productivity (except with money currently worth nothing, it only encourages highly leveraged speculative activity).

Annual GDP growth as a benchmark of economic activity was given weight by the baby boomer generations. The real boom effect is observed when vastly more children are born and enter their years of maximum consumption. This economic boom coincided with central banks’ tinkering with the economy, giving them the (false) impression that they somehow initiated the success, and could pull strings to repeat the effect.

This reasoning is a bit like a stock broker working in the 80’s thinking that he was a top trader because he was making vast amounts of money, or someone buying and selling property between 1995 and 2015 thinking that they had made great investment decisions. In both instances individuals were just carried along by the crest of the greatest ever bull market in credit, and their success was down to the underlying market conditions, and nothing to do with any action anyone took. A trained monkey could have made a fortune as a stockbroker in the great bull years, and in fact, many did. Central banks have this idea that their tinkering has a beneficial impact, but it doesn’t. The economy is what it is. But when central bankers think their actions have an effect, so they look to see what those effects are by studying spurious statistics; things like GDP.

A Tipping Point

What we have seen since the tipping point of the median baby boomers entering the age of 55 in 2013, is a natural drop in consumption spending, as these boomers save for their retirements. Government controlled central bank ‘stimulus programmes’, in an attempt to keep the golden years of baby boomer consumption going, have injected trillions of new debt into the economy. But you can’t create demand by printing money any more than you can encourage someone who’s eaten their fill to eat more from an enormous buffet, no matter how delicious and exotic the food on offer.

This is what central banks and their misguided leaders are currently finding out, at great cost to their respective economies; you can’t fake demand. You can print more money and give it to banks to play with, and they will just blow up speculative bubbles in property stocks, and derivatives. But the real economy, where the people who can’t counterfeit money live and work, only receives the ‘benefit’ of inflation of the assets the money flowed into, which amounts to an increased cost of living. None of which helps them spend more money, or pay more taxes.

Are They Mad?

Central Bankers really should all be taken away and assessed for soundness of mind. They patently all believe that they have the power to control, manipulate and steady fluctuating markets. But they can’t, and any attempt to tinker just makes things worse. The economy would have fared far better if it was just left alone by the likes of Greenspan, Bernanke, Yellen, Carney. One of their most destructive policies is zero interest rates or ZIRP.

ZIRP

There is a current policy popular with central bankers called ZIRP or Zero Interest Rare Policy. ZIRP may look to be a helpful load off all debtors shoulders, and it does indeed do that, but those with the biggest debts are the financial institutions and the government.

ZIRP favours those with access to credit over those without, making the rich richer, and the poor poorer. Termed by some as an Interest Rate Apartheid; rich people get access to credit at very low interest rates, the very rich (and bankers who conjure the debt into existence) get to play with money at near zero percent interest. Everyone else gets charged more, and thrifty savers are punished for their prudence. Sound fair?

The Bank of England and the Fed have a money printing machine, but it is still debt money, and so needs to be repaid (as Greece is finding out). So the cheap money has to go to work. What do banks do with it? Whatever brings them the best return, which usually means some form of speculation. Derivatives and asset bubbles are two of their favourite ’investments’.

ZIRP also creates zombie institutions and zombie households. Like a modern day Greece, saddled with a debt they cannot repay, the solution is to default on the debt and start again! Wipe the slate clean. Instead the printing presses run, and anyone with savings has the value of their savings deposits shrinking along with the debts of the individuals who overborrowed. Does it sound fair? This point raises a question about the nature of debt money, and how it works most effectively (saving and hoarding should be discouraged to keep money velocity as high as possible)

We need governments in the Western world to acknowledge that with the baby boomers retiring, we must let their legacy statistic “GDP” do likewise, and find a more fitting means of assessing how well we are doing. There will only be a fall off in national income as the boomers retire. A better way to guide economic policy might be to do things which will actually encourage a better quality of life for all.

If you’ll indulge me, I have a few suggestions.

1. The Will of the People

What we’re talking about here is true democracy, not the crony capitalism and crony political system we have at present. Not a political party getting a tiny fraction of the vote and then doing what they see fit, often against the wishes of the voting public. Politicians need to wind their necks in, and start serving us the people, behaving as the public servants that they are supposed to be. A cryptographic voting system based on Blockchain technology would allow individuals to vote for the specific issues they wanted to see enacted, and public servants (our emasculated friends the politicians) would carry out the majority vote within their constituencies. There would be no more focussing on GDP figures to justify the government’s economic decisions. The people would be making the decisions and the politicians would merely be carrying them out.

We would still vote for individuals, locally elected representatives to carry out our wishes, and these poeple would be selected based upon their moral fibre, their character and their sense of fairness and justice. Not upon their policies, or who they know. They would be required, and would be willing to carry out the will of the people.

A lot of members of the public aren’t ready to take on this level of responsibility for their lives, having been content to outsource their decision making to politicians for many years, but once they got the hang of it, and started engaging in the democracy of their local areas, they wouldn’t look back.

2. The Death of Party Politics

The introduction of an alternative voting system (which addresses specific issues rather than political parties) will remove the politicians’ mandate to appease their funders, and put a stop to their Punch and Judy show. Current politics, and the economics which comes out of it, is all geared towards big business, banking and finance who lobby the government (pay them in exchange for legislation which benefits their cause, i.e. makes them richer) and in return they have laws passed and reform takes place in their favour. For their payment, they are given titles in the Queen’s Birthday honours, regardless of their level of integrity of public service.

Under our new voting system, the people would vote directly for their chosen policies, social, economic etc. There would be no election campaign to pay for, fewer brown paper envelopes in exchange for favourable policy, or CBE’s. The politicians wouldn’t be able to enact any law, or hand out honours to dodgy “funders”, without first seeking the mandate of the people.

For example, if people wanted to prevent commercial banks from creating the UK money supply (something which seems perfectly reasonable), it could be voted on cryptographically and enacted into law, and never mind what happens to ‘The City’, or ‘GDP figures’ or ‘London’s reputation as the global hub of money laundering’. Things would have to change, whether the banks liked it or not.

If society felt the need to prosecute certain individuals who broke the criminal law? Not fines for bank fraud, jail sentences. We could vote for that. How about banning the use of derivatives and other questionable financial ’products’ of mass destruction? You got it. Want to have a system which promotes home ownership for young families over rent-seeking buy to let landlords’ return on investment? You got it. Want an economic system geared towards having a happier (and therefore healthier) population? We can do that too. Let’s use happiness as the measure of success instead of our old destructive yardstick, GDP. When governments use GDP as their measure of success, business gets priority over the man on the street, and there’s something very wrong about that.

3. Promote ‘New’ Economy.

People, mostly those who work in politics and economics, think of GDP as productive flow of cash, but little differentiation is given to activities which truly expand the economy, versus those which are rent-seeking. As rent seeking has become largely what the UK economy is about, it’s not surprising. Creating a new business or product increases economy, lending money into existing assets, or zero-sum game bets, doesn’t. Building a new house does add to the economy, and leaves behind more than was there to begin with, increasing the economic value of the world, employing individuals etc.

Financial (rent-seeking) activities and entrepreneurial activites are viewed as the same by government when calculating GDP, when they shouldn’t be. New ventures should be counted, and rent seeking activity of the banking sector, if not penalised, should as least be seen as it is, a tax on the real economy, and subtracted from the real GDP figures

If banks were only allows to lend out 1/3 of their newly created money into residential mortgages, and if exchange rate derivatives and their (wholly distasteful) ilk were banned, banks would be forced to put their newly created money into productive new ventures, ideas which might actually make the world a better place. Your house would also be much cheaper to buy.

The UK could create new demand by actually producing products that people want to buy. Take a look at Apple. It makes over half of its profits selling iPhones. Phones. That’s a lot of phones, and a lot of money, but it works because those phones are desirable and sell all over the world. Even the guy sweeping the streets has an iPhone. What do we do in the UK? We let banks create money, lend it to the likes of you and me to buy property at ever higher prices, and then extract interest payments from us, and gamble with derivatives with essentially free money so they can pay themselves their million pound bonuses. When their gambling goes awry, they come back to their rich parents (Mark Carney and Janet Yellen) who slap them on the wrist and pay off their debts. Nice setup.

Standard
Economics, Politics

Why do we Fear a Banking Collapse?

Banks go bankrupt, that’s why there is a word for such things. But most of the banking and financial world won’t hear of it. If you cannot repay your debts, you can keep restructuring your debt, but this is only prolonging the inevitable. Default will come eventually, and you will be required to give away your assets to your creditors. Like a high stakes card game, each double or quits builds the collateral on the table until they have taken your watch, your car, your house and even the clothes on your back.

Man of the moment Alex Tsipras knows that Greece, despite looking like the European lame duck, is actually standing in a very strong position. He should be exercising his power, and fortunately for Greece, he is. Meanwhile the Germans and the French want Greece to accept more debt, money which incidentally would go straight back its creditors; Germany and France. They are bailing out their own creditors, and trying to lump Greece with the bill. I can see Tsipras’s reluctance to sign up to more ‘bailouts’.

The reason Greece is in a strong position, is because the last thing an economically weak euro zone needs is a country like Greece, laden with unplayable debts, to default and start in a short period of time to become economically prosperous again, in charge of its own currency. This would spell the beginning of the end of the euro and the ECB. When one individual stands up to the classroom bully, the illusion of power is shattered, and others feel bold enough to do the same. If Greece makes a go of it outside the euro, how many other fringe countries would follow suit?

The snap referendum is a good move, and will give the demos (people) the opportunity to have their say about which way Greece goes. If they vote for a new start, they must acknowledge the short term pain ahead, but a brighter future. Bust clears away the debt wreckage and allows new growth.

In the modern world of socially cushioning governments, and economically cushioning central banks, it seems that nobody wants to let nature take its course. People cannot be allowed to feel any kind of pain. But when an organisation or household over leverages beyond their ability to pay, nature must be allowed to take its course. Otherwise the healthy individuals suffer at their expense (as we have seen ZIRP erode savers’ cash).

My big question for the UK government is what they will do when the UK banks fail. We need a contingency plan in place where funds are transferred to a national bank account, and the bankrupt institutions are allowed to fold. No bail out. Bankruptcy. A new beginning. Where is this contingency plan? Never mind ring fencing banks, we need a national bank which can accept deposits from bankrupt banks to allow them to fail. If anyone out there has the ear of the chancellor of the exchequer, it may be worth asking him what his plans are. Any chancellor should be asking this question of their own system, as Greece is just the tip of the debt iceberg. A lack if inevitable contingency plans brings about panic, which can cause trouble.

Since QE commenced in 2009 we have been living in an economic la-la land. Nothing is real anymore. Capital has no value, and the income gap between the normal economy, and those who have access to the money in banks and financial institution for high stakes gambling, grows ever wider. Statistics used by the grand wizards of the high church of fiat currency are all but meaningless. Never fear, the smoke eventually clears. Things are about to become a whole lot more real.

Standard
Politics

The Proper Party Manifesto – a Party Manifesto for Guaranteed Election Success

On this, the day of the 2015 general election, I am interested in what will unfold over the next 24 hours, and in honour of all my earnest politician bashing, I’ve put my money where my mouth is, and written my own proper party manifesto. It’s called the proper party. Because we believe in doing what is right or proper, never mind politics, politicians or even re-election. Continue reading

Standard