By unwittingly tying together their fortunes as they pursued their own interests, the 2 nations have put themselves on an economic path of mutually assured destruction.
Over the past decade, Americans were able to outspend their incomes by easily rolling their debts forward through serial home refinancing. The situation was never ideal, but it worked as long as the value of their collateral — their homes — kept rising.
Madoff clients’ households crashed, and now one-time millionaires are broke. The reality is that they were always broke; they just didn’t know it yet.
“People need to realize that China doesn’t actually have any real U.S. money,” Das says. “Unless they can turn in their bonds and exchange them for something else, they’re only paper assets. Yet if they try to exit the position, they’ll destabilize the dollar, and the value of the rest of their assets will plunge. And that’s not even their biggest problem. It’s that they also need to keep buying Treasurys, or interest rates will go up and their capital losses will be terrible.”
In short, Das says, Beijing thought it had discovered the perfect scheme for establishing independence from the West, yet it has instead made its dependence worse than ever. And he observes that one unspoken reason that China has gone whole-hog on its massive, $650 billion fiscal stimulus program — creating more factory capacity in a country that is already reeling from overcapacity — is that the effort gives it cover to stockpile copper, oil, iron ore and other hard assets that it considers to be better stores of value than dollars.
There is only one solution left: a long, slow, boring, lonely, soul-crushing process of digging out from under the piles of debt that got us into this mess.
The Seigniorage Curse
by Gregor MacDonald
Another country that now looks quite arrested in its development is the United States. But not because of an Oil Curse. Rather, the United States appears to have finally succumbed to its multi-decade “advantage” via dollarization. In dollarization, the US Dollar has been the world’s reserve currency, and the United States economy has “enjoyed” the freedom to borrow and print ad infinitum without the usual penalties.
Seigniorage had allowed us to stop earning our living, and eventually we “bundled up and packaged” our real estate. Interestingly, it’s only in the aftermath of the burst housing bubble that we observe how many Americans are being ‘forced to sell” their homes. In fact, Americans had already sold them.
Washington’s Dilemma: This Isn’t a Recession, It’s a Collapse
by Gregor MacDonald
Nothing in the public record since the year 2000 indicates that Larry Summers, Ben Bernanke, or Tim Geithner understood that we had been building a skyscraper of private sector debt in textbook blow-off style, since the deflation scare of 2001. Now, two years after FED repair operations began on the broken credit system, and over 3 years since US real estate topped in price, major portions of the country are staring at further home price declines in most major markets. Indeed, it appears that the same macro cycle of the last two Autumns is about to repeat, with more waves of foreclosure, more withdrawals from savings and investment to pay for living expenses, and the attendant bailouts of financial institutions that comes around each time.
“Free is coming to an end.” -Gregor MacDonald