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Daily Digest - Apr 8

Wednesday, April 8, 2009, 10:22 AM
  • World Economy Falling Faster Than in 1929-1930 (I wouldn't miss these charts)
  • NYSE Defaults On Small Gold Bars! (H/T DamTheMatrix)
  • Report: Stress Test Results Delayed
  • Top CEO Poll: Fire People As Fast As Possible
  • Wasting a Good Crisis: Result - $200 Oil
  • Max Kaiser's Latest - keeping his eye on the ball...(Videos)
  • Good Bank(er) vs. Bad Bank(ers)
  • Report: IMF to Warn of $4 Trillion in Losses
  • I.O.U.S.A. DVD
  • More Reasons to Worry About Inflation
  • Cyber"Security" Legislation (H/T PineCarr)
  • Decoupling Set to Increase (H/T PineCarr)
  • Happiness Index: Nebraska Nabs Top Spot (H/T Christopher Peters) 

Economy 

World Economy Falling Faster Than in 1929-1930 (I wouldn't miss these charts) 

Barry Eichengreen, an expert on the Great Depression, and Kevin O'Rourke, take issue with the notion that the current downturn is less severe than the Great Depression. While the slump in the US is not as bad, that mis-states the global picture. 

Note that many economists expect the US to suffer less than the big exporters, namely China, Germany, Japan. The reason is that the economic adjustment required of surplus nations is greater than that of debtors. Similarly, in the Great Depression, the US, then a major exporter, was harder hit than the overconsuming importers such as Britain, who defaulted on their debts.

The one bit of cheer is that this time around, government action is more aggressive, but it remains to be seen whether it is sufficient. 

NYSE Defaults On Small Gold Bars! (H/T DamTheMatrix)

In summary, there is now so much demand for delivery of the mini-contracts that the exchange can no longer deliver 1 kg bars. When the wording was changed, a flurry of complaints resulted. Technically, in my opinion, if you bought a mini futures contract from an NYSE-Liffe clearing member, prior to December 31st, you could bind them to their legal contract with you, and force them to either deliver the 1 kg bar, or pay for you to obtain it on the open spot market. Based upon the original wording, NYSE-Liffe and its clearing members are legally obligated to deliver that 1 kg bar per contract, whether they want to or not, and regardless of the internal rules of the exchange. Whether anyone will force compliance, however, is an open question.

Absent legal action, clearing members are now being allowed to hand out little slips of paper, called "warehouse depository receipts" (WDR). These are being substituted for "vault receipts" (VR). The WDRs, in contrast to the VRs, merely promise the customer that he owns a 1/3 interest in a 100 ounce bar. The customer is not allowed to take delivery, unless he can accumulate 3 WDRs, which equals 1 VR.

And so it begins -- the NYSE has now defaulted (in the expected sleazy, weasely, lawyerly way) on a key gold futures contract.

Report: Stress Test Results Delayed

From Reuters: Source: Bank 'stress test' results delayed (ht Branden DD49)

The U.S. Treasury Department is planning to delay the release of any completed bank "stress test" results ...

The Treasury is still talking about how results of the regulatory stress tests on the 19 largest U.S. banks will be released, and may disclose them as summary results that are not institution-specific, the source said.
...
The source ... said officials do not want any test results released before the earnings season wraps up for most U.S. banks on April 24.
The original time frame was no later than the end of April, so this is still on schedule. We definitely need institution-specific results.

Top CEO Poll: Fire People As Fast As Possible

The Business Roundtable is a small group of CEOs, but it is an elite one. Its members are chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies with more than $5 trillion in annual revenues and nearly 10 million employees. Member companies comprise nearly a third of the total value of the U.S. stock markets.

The most recent survey of the group, which looks at their outlook for the next six months, does not yield very optimistic results, particularly in the arena of job cuts.

When asked "How do you expect your company's U.S. employment to change in the next six months?", 71% said that they would cut people. To the question" How do you expect your company's U.S. capital spending to change in the next six months?" 66% said that they plan to decrease what they will spend.

The news is a strong indication that the largest, most well-capitalized companies in the US are still planning plenty of layoff, and that means that the notion that the rate at which unemployment is growing is not likely to abate.

Wasting a Good Crisis: Result - $200 Oil

Max Kaiser's Latest - keeping his eye on the ball...(Videos)

Good Bank(er) vs. Bad Bank(ers) 

As long as humans do the lending and borrowing, banking crises will always be with us. We can only hope to limit the systemic damage of the mistakes that will inevitably be made during each cycle. Sure, some sensible new rules (e.g. less leverage) would help, as would the less comatose enforcement of existing ones. But bankers with solid values and sound judgment are even more important to the health of our banking system. Goodness knows the next generation needs to learn less about financial engineering and complex models and more about role models. Maybe Harvard and the other business schools will soon use Beal bank as one of their famous case studies for future MBAs. "How a bank can achieve an above market ROE with below market leverage" would be a snappy title. Wouldn't it be wonderful if it attracted students in droves? 

Report: IMF to Warn of $4 Trillion in Losses 

From The Times: Toxic debts could reach $4 trillion, IMF to warn 

Toxic debts racked up by banks and insurers could spiral to $4 trillion (£2.7 trillion), new forecasts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are set to suggest.

The IMF said in January that it expected the deterioration in US-originated assets to reach $2.2 trillion by the end of next year, but it is understood to be looking at raising that to $3.1 trillion in its next assessment of the global economy, due to be published on April 21. In addition, it is likely to boost that total by $900 billion for toxic assets originated in Europe and Asia.
It just keeps getting worse ... 

I.O.U.S.A. DVD

More Reasons to Worry About Inflation 

Many deflationistas believe that the wealth being destroyed by the bursting of the global credit bubble will swamp the money being created by fiscal and monetary authorities for the foreseeable future, thus eliminating the threat of inflation, at least in the near term. 

But what they seem to be discounting is the effect that a contagious loss of confidence can have on the value of a fiat currency, which is, after all, dependent on the continued faith of those who accept it as a medium of exchange and a store of value.

If, for example, enough people start to believe that a government is embarking on road-to-ruin economic policies, hordes of those who hold the currency may suddenly start stampeding for the exits, altering the supply-and-demand equation and leading to a contraction in its purchasing power.

In "Inflation Prospects In An Emerging Market, Like The U.S.," Baseline Scenario's Simon Johnson highlights circumstances where changing demand stemming from altered perceptions might spawn a serious inflation problem. 

Cyber"Security" Legislation (H/T PineCarr)

Decoupling Set to Increase (H/T PineCarr) 

This week, the leaders and finance ministers of the 20 most economically important nations, or G-20, will convene in London to develop coordinated policies that they hope will prevent a worldwide depression. The leaders will also consider greater transnational regulatory oversight of the financial industry and the future of the U.S. dollar as the world's 'reserve' currency. By any reckoning, this meeting will be the most important international economic conference since Bretton Woods in 1944, or the Great Powers economic meeting in Rome in 1922. 

All the leaders are now acknowledging what was formerly in dispute: that the world is facing a severe recession. But as is evident by the pre-meeting media blitz, the London G-20 will reveal a split of the group into two opposing camps.

On one hand we have the Americans and the British who have been calling most loudly for a 'team' approach, in which all nations 'pull together' in support for spending-based remedies. To some extent we are indeed all in it together. The shock currently felt by the American consumer is has translated into massive losses for exporting countries around the world. But this does not mean that all favor massive government spending along the lines envisioned by Pennsylvania Avenue and Downing Street.

Happiness Index: Nebraska Nabs Top Spot (H/T Christopher Peters) 

It ranked 2nd overall in lowest number of foreclosures, it ranked 2nd in lowest unemployment rates, it ranked 5th in lowest percentage of non-mortgage debt by income.

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17 Comments

Davos's picture
Davos
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 8

Figure 1. Energy Consumption by Source, 1635-2000

Oh boy

 

cwixom's picture
cwixom
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 8

For all of you who listen to the Financial Sense Newshour and have a
hard time keeping focused I have something for you that helps me and
saves time. 

If you use Windows Media Player to listen to the broadcast replay you
can speed up the playback by either hitting Ctrl+shift+g or right
clicking on the screen and selecting Play Speed from the menu. 

You have to concentrate more to keep up with the fast dialog and you
save about 20 minutes for every hour of playback at the normal speed.

 

Crystal's picture
Crystal
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Happiness Index

While misery over lack of life's necessities could certainly form the basis for an unhappiness index, I do not agree that happiness = employment, lack of debt, etc. Financial security may engender peace of mind. Happiness and fulfillment are more an effect of what we bring to life, though. As Abe Lincoln said, "People are as happy as they make up their minds to be."

A. M.'s picture
A. M.
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 8

Davos,

On that chart, X looks to be time, but what unit is the Y axis representing?

Cheers!

Aaron

 

Ready's picture
Ready
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 8

Davos,

Where was the link to Wasting a good crisis supposed to go?

Thx,

Rog

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Jarhett
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 8

Next Wave Of U.S. Mortgage Defaults

capesurvivor's picture
capesurvivor
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Posts: 963
Re: understanding subprime greed video

This is an amazing graphic video on the subprime mess that explains it so that anyone breathing can get it:

 

http://crisisofcredit.com/

 

SG

bluestone's picture
bluestone
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 8

Can you explain what are agency loans.

what is the difference between option ARM loans and unsecuritizied ARM loans.  Which type is a greater risk of default?

Doug's picture
Doug
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 8

As a native Nebraskan, I've always respected the innate conservatism of the state.  (not what has passed for political and economic conservatism for the past few decades)  I don't know how "happy" they are at present, but I suspect that most Nebraskans have their priorities straight.  Work hard, live right and go Big Red.

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wroth5
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 8

Here is an explanation for the supposed default on gold bars from the comment section of the original article. Clearly there has been no default.

:

 "I work in corporate communications for NYSE Liffe US, and would respectfully like to clarify and correct some of the statements in your post.

First, some background: NYSE Liffe US began operations on Sept. 8, 2008 after the CFTC approved it as a Designated Contract Market on August 21, 2008. As a result of the CFTC’s approval, NYSE Liffe US became officially licensed to trade 100 ounce gold futures, 5,000 ounce silver futures, options on 100 ounce gold and 5,000 ounce silver futures, and mini-sized 33.2 ounce gold and 1,000 ounce silver futures. This suite of precious metals products was previously known as the CBOT Metals Complex, which NYSE Liffe purchased from the CME Group. As part of that transition, NYSE Liffe US also acquired the existing rules and processes applicable to the CBOT Metals Complex.

There are some material inaccuracies in your post regarding NYSE Liffe US that warrant clarification with respect to our market:

• There has been no default in the delivery of a NYSE Liffe US Gold Futures Contract whether 100 ounce or Mini-Sized, since NYSE Liffe has taken over the operation of the market from the CBOT. Any assertion to the contrary is inaccurate.

• Our delivery process for physical gold is sound and robust. We monitor the performance of our Clearing Members’ obligations and have procedures to address issues relating to the performance of their obligations under the terms of our Contracts and Exchange Rules.

• The assertion that we changed the contract specifications on Dec. 31st is also incorrect.

• The contract specifications and related rules have not changed since we took over the operation of the market on Sept. 8, 2008. Those specifications and rules state that a market participant who is short one or more Mini-Sized Gold Futures Contracts has the option to deliver one or more Warehouse Delivery Receipts (or WDRs) in satisfaction of the short’s delivery obligation. In addition, the WDR program has from Sept. 8, 2008 also required that 3 WDRs be submitted to receive a vault receipt, which can be used to take Gold out of a vault.

• NYSE Liffe Notice 8/2008 issued on Sept. 4, 2008, expressly sets forth the requirement that the cancellation of WDRs in favor of vault receipts requires the presentation of 3 Gold WDRs to the Exchange Registrar to receive a vault receipt.

• This was the CBOT rule that NYSE LIFFE US “inherited” when we took control of the exchange on Sept. 8, 2008.

• The post misconstrues the meaning of the Mini-Sized Gold contract specification’s phrase “contained in no more than one bar.” That merely means that the Gold delivered on a Mini-Sized Gold Contract has to be in one bar of at least 33.2 ounces (give or take applicable tolerances), as opposed to 34 one ounce gold coins, for example. Under the WDR program, delivery of 33.2 ounces of gold in one 100 ounce bar as represented by one WDR is, and has been, as long as we have operated the market, acceptable.

• We issued a NYSE Liffe Notice 1/2009 on Jan. 8, 2009 (found here: www.nyse.com/pdfs/NYSE...) where we reminded the market of this policy that Gold WDRs may only be exchanged for vault receipts in multiples of three.

• If anyone has any questions, please contact the NYSE Liffe NY office at 212.656.4300.

NYSE Liffe US appreciates the opportunity to serve its customers and the broader marketplace. We look forward to offering the best products and services for futures trading and we strive to ensure that our policies and process continue to best serve the interests of our valued customers. Thank you for the opportunity to clarify the record. "

http://seekingalpha.com/user/384431/comment/442839

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
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yeah right...

US economy to expand 'slowly' next year: Reserve

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/04/09/2539037.htm?section=justin

The United States recession is expected to ease this
year, with the economy beginning to grow "slowly" next year, according
to minutes of a Federal Reserve meeting released overnight.

Members of the central bank's policy-setting Federal Open Market
Committee (FOMC) reviewed staff projections that lowered gross domestic
product (GDP) estimates for the second half of 2009 and in 2010, said
the minutes of its meeting on March 17-18.

"Real GDP [is] expected to flatten out gradually over the second
half of this year and then to expand slowly next year as the stresses
in financial markets ease, the effects of fiscal stimulus take hold,
inventory adjustments are worked through, and the correction in housing
activity comes to an end," the minutes said.

The minutes in particular highlight significant uncertainty about
the prospects of the world's largest economy, which slid into recession
in December 2007.

Most participants at the meeting saw "predominating" downside
risks in the near term, mainly due to potential "adverse feedback
effects" as reduced employment and production weighed on consumer
spending and investment, while the slowdown boosted the potential
losses of financial institutions, leading to a further tightening of
credit conditions.

At the meeting, the Reserve held its base interest rate at a
historically low range of zero to 0.25 per cent, where it has been
since mid-December, and announced a $US 1.15 trillion ($1.6 trillion)
initiative to unblock frozen credit.

-AFP

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 8

Electricity Grid in U.S. Penetrated By Spies

[Robert Moran monitors an electric grid in Dallas. Such infrastructure grids across the country are vulnerable to cyberattacks.]
Associated Press

Robert Moran monitors an electric grid in Dallas. Such infrastructure grids across the country are vulnerable to cyberattacks.

WASHINGTON
-- Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind
software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according
to current and former national-security officials.

The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these
officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the
U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven't sought
to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.

"The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid," said a senior intelligence official. "So have the Russians."

The espionage appeared pervasive across the U.S. and doesn't target
a particular company or region, said a former Department of Homeland
Security official. "There are intrusions, and they are growing," the
former official said, referring to electrical systems. "There were a
lot last year."

Many
of the intrusions were detected not by the companies in charge of the
infrastructure but by U.S. intelligence agencies, officials said.
Intelligence officials worry about cyber attackers taking control of
electrical facilities, a nuclear power plant or financial networks via
the Internet.

Authorities investigating the intrusions have found software tools
left behind that could be used to destroy infrastructure components,
the senior intelligence official said. He added, "If we go to war with
them, they will try to turn them on."

Officials said water, sewage and other infrastructure systems also were at risk.

"Over the past several years, we have seen cyberattacks against critical infrastructures abroad, and many of our own infrastructures
are as vulnerable as their foreign counterparts," Director of National
Intelligence Dennis Blair recently told lawmakers. "A number of
nations, including Russia and China, can disrupt elements of the U.S.
information infrastructure."

Officials cautioned that the motivation of the cyberspies wasn't
well understood, and they don't see an immediate danger. China, for
example, has little incentive to disrupt the U.S. economy because it
relies on American consumers and holds U.S. government debt.

But protecting the electrical grid and other infrastructure is a key part of the Obama administration's cybersecurity review, which is to be completed next week. Under the Bush administration,
Congress approved $17 billion in secret funds to protect government
networks, according to people familiar with the budget. The Obama
administration is weighing whether to expand the program to address
vulnerabilities in private computer networks, which would cost
billions of dollars more. A senior Pentagon official said Tuesday the
Pentagon has spent $100 million in the past six months repairing cyber
damage.

GregSchleich's picture
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Re: understanding subprime greed video
capesurvivor wrote:

This is an amazing graphic video on the subprime mess that explains it so that anyone breathing can get it:

 

http://crisisofcredit.com/

 

SG

Thanks Cape. I'm living (breathing) proof!    Excellent video.

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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 8

The Quiet Coup - The Atlantic (May 2009)

Quote:

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.

by Simon Johnson

ONE THING YOU learn rather quickly when working at the International Monetary Fund is that no one is ever very happy to see you. Typically, your "clients" come in only after private capital has abandoned them, after regional trading-bloc partners have been unable to throw a strong enough lifeline, after last-ditch attempts to borrow from powerful friends like China or the European Union have fallen through. You're never at the top of anyone's dance card.

The reason, of course, is that the IMF specializes in telling its clients what they don't want to hear. I should know; I pressed painful changes on many foreign officials during my time there as chief economist in 2007 and 2008. And I felt the effects of IMF pressure, at least indirectly, when I worked with governments in Eastern Europe as they struggled after 1989, and with the private sector in Asia and Latin America during the crises of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Over that time, from every vantage point, I saw firsthand the steady flow of officials-from Ukraine, Russia, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, and elsewhere-trudging to the fund when circumstances were dire and all else had failed.

Every crisis is different, of course. Ukraine faced hyperinflation in 1994; Russia desperately needed help when its short-term-debt rollover scheme exploded in the summer of 1998; the Indonesian rupiah plunged in 1997, nearly leveling the corporate economy; that same year, South Korea's 30-year economic miracle ground to a halt when foreign banks suddenly refused to extend new credit.

But I must tell you, to IMF officials, all of these crises looked depressingly similar. Each country, of course, needed a loan, but more than that, each needed to make big changes so that the loan could really work. Almost always, countries in crisis need to learn to live within their means after a period of excess-exports must be increased, and imports cut-and the goal is to do this without the most horrible of recessions. Naturally, the fund's economists spend time figuring out the policies-budget, money supply, and the like-that make sense in this context. Yet the economic solution is seldom very hard to work out.

No, the real concern of the fund's senior staff, and the biggest obstacle to recovery, is almost invariably the politics of countries in crisis.

Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason-the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit-and, most of the time, genteel-oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders. When a country like Indonesia or South Korea or Russia grows, so do the ambitions of its captains of industry. As masters of their mini-universe, these people make some investments that clearly benefit the broader economy, but they also start making bigger and riskier bets. They reckon-correctly, in most cases-that their political connections will allow them to push onto the government any substantial problems that arise.

...

Becoming a Banana Republic

In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (and only in emerging markets): South Korea (1997), Malaysia (1998), Russia and Argentina (time and again). In each of those cases, global investors, afraid that the country or its financial sector wouldn't be able to pay off mountainous debt, suddenly stopped lending. And in each case, that fear became self-fulfilling, as banks that couldn't roll over their debt did, in fact, become unable to pay. This is precisely what drove Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy on September 15, causing all sources of funding to the U.S. financial sector to dry up overnight. Just as in emerging-market crises, the weakness in the banking system has quickly rippled out into the rest of the economy, causing a severe economic contraction and hardship for millions of people.

But there's a deeper and more disturbing similarity: elite business interests-financiers, in the case of the U.S.-played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.

...

The Wall Street-Washington Corridor

Of course, the U.S. is unique. And just as we have the world's most advanced economy, military, and technology, we also have its most advanced oligarchy.

In a primitive political system, power is transmitted through violence, or the threat of violence: military coups, private militias, and so on. In a less primitive system more typical of emerging markets, power is transmitted via money: bribes, kickbacks, and offshore bank accounts. Although lobbying and campaign contributions certainly play major roles in the American political system, old-fashioned corruption-envelopes stuffed with $100 bills-is probably a sideshow today, Jack Abramoff notwithstanding.

Instead, the American financial industry gained political power by amassing a kind of cultural capital-a belief system. Once, perhaps, what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Over the past decade, the attitude took hold that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country. The banking-and-securities industry has become one of the top contributors to political campaigns, but at the peak of its influence, it did not have to buy favors the way, for example, the tobacco companies or military contractors might have to. Instead, it benefited from the fact that Washington insiders already believed that large financial institutions and free-flowing capital markets were crucial to America's position in the world.

...

The Way Out

Looking just at the financial crisis (and leaving aside some problems of the larger economy), we face at least two major, interrelated problems. The first is a desperately ill banking sector that threatens to choke off any incipient recovery that the fiscal stimulus might generate. The second is a political balance of power that gives the financial sector a veto over public policy, even as that sector loses popular support.

...

Two Paths

To paraphrase Joseph Schumpeter, the early-20th-century economist, everyone has elites; the important thing is to change them from time to time. If the U.S. were just another country, coming to the IMF with hat in hand, I might be fairly optimistic about its future. Most of the emerging-market crises that I've mentioned ended relatively quickly, and gave way, for the most part, to relatively strong recoveries. But this, alas, brings us to the limit of the analogy between the U.S. and emerging markets.

Emerging-market countries have only a precarious hold on wealth, and are weaklings globally. When they get into trouble, they quite literally run out of money-or at least out of foreign currency, without which they cannot survive. They must make difficult decisions; ultimately, aggressive action is baked into the cake. But the U.S., of course, is the world's most powerful nation, rich beyond measure, and blessed with the exorbitant privilege of paying its foreign debts in its own currency, which it can print. As a result, it could very well stumble along for years-as Japan did during its lost decade-never summoning the courage to do what it needs to do, and never really recovering. A clean break with the past-involving the takeover and cleanup of major banks-hardly looks like a sure thing right now. Certainly no one at the IMF can force it.

In my view, the U.S. faces two plausible scenarios. The first involves complicated bank-by-bank deals and a continual drumbeat of (repeated) bailouts, like the ones we saw in February with Citigroup and AIG. The administration will try to muddle through, and confusion will reign.

Boris Fyodorov, the late finance minister of Russia, struggled for much of the past 20 years against oligarchs, corruption, and abuse of authority in all its forms. He liked to say that confusion and chaos were very much in the interests of the powerful-letting them take things, legally and illegally, with impunity. When inflation is high, who can say what a piece of property is really worth? When the credit system is supported by byzantine government arrangements and backroom deals, how do you know that you aren't being fleeced?

Our future could be one in which continued tumult feeds the looting of the financial system, and we talk more and more about exactly how our oligarchs became bandits and how the economy just can't seem to get into gear.

The second scenario begins more bleakly, and might end that way too. But it does provide at least some hope that we'll be shaken out of our torpor. It goes like this: the global economy continues to deteriorate, the banking system in east-central Europe collapses, and-because eastern Europe's banks are mostly owned by western European banks-justifiable fears of government insolvency spread throughout the Continent. Creditors take further hits and confidence falls further. The Asian economies that export manufactured goods are devastated, and the commodity producers in Latin America and Africa are not much better off. A dramatic worsening of the global environment forces the U.S. economy, already staggering, down onto both knees. The baseline growth rates used in the administration's current budget are increasingly seen as unrealistic, and the rosy "stress scenario" that the U.S. Treasury is currently using to evaluate banks' balance sheets becomes a source of great embarrassment.

Under this kind of pressure, and faced with the prospect of a national and global collapse, minds may become more concentrated.

The conventional wisdom among the elite is still that the current slump "cannot be as bad as the Great Depression." This view is wrong. What we face now could, in fact, be worse than the Great Depression-because the world is now so much more interconnected and because the banking sector is now so big. We face a synchronized downturn in almost all countries, a weakening of confidence among individuals and firms, and major problems for government finances. If our leadership wakes up to the potential consequences, we may yet see dramatic action on the banking system and a breaking of the old elite. Let us hope it is not then too late.

jrf29's picture
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 8

In the Rockefeller-Snowe cybersecurity legislation memorandum, I particularly like the note:

"The legislation would require the Advisor to review the feasibility of an identity management and authentication program, to include recommendations regarding civil liberties protections."

Davos's picture
Davos
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 8

All in the name of "security" and suddenly stuff that has been floating around Wired for years and years is now a mainstream news issue.

Davos's picture
Davos
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 8

Posting it on the 10th but this is a really good video. She has guts. http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2009/04/elizabeth-warren-tarp-congressional-oversight-panel/

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