Just a few weeks ago the world was wondering if we were about to be pitched into a deadly Black Hole created by CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Europe.
Relax. The machine has broken down and will not be cranked up again until the spring.
Strange then that another Black Abyss stretches before us today in the shape of a virulent debt deflation of almost unimaginable ferocity.
Take these words by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in today’s UK Telegraph:
We face extreme danger. Unless there is immediate intervention on every front by all the major powers acting in concert, we risk a disintegration of global finance within days. Nobody will be spared, unless they own gold bars.
In case you think that smacks of hysteria, this is a man who has called this crisis correctly ever since the late summer of 2007. He adds:
“During the past week, we have tipped over the edge, into the middle of the abyss. Systemic collapse is in full train. … Central bankers still paralysed by a misplaced fear of inflation – whether in Europe, Britain, or the US – have become a public menace and should be held to severe account by our democracies. The imminent and massive danger is now self-feeding debt deflation.”
What this crisis shows is that world prosperity was built on a giant illusion: that there was real value in other people’s promises to pay at some future date, and that you could pass the parcel at a vast profit.
Time has run out and a bubble the size of an asteroid has landed and exploded in the centre of our civilization — the banking system.
The Sage of Omaha, Warren Buffett agrees, “In my adult lifetime, I don’t think I’ve ever seen people as fearful.”
Evans-Pritchard is lacerating about the EU and its Central Bank. It offered no “cover” to the Fed when Ben Bernanke slashed rates to 2 percent. The ECB simply raised its rate to 4.25 percent into a steep downturn, making oil inflation even worse.
As a last resort, it seems, the American authorities will use Bernanke’s famous printing press “to expand the menu of assets that it buys.” In the worst case, that could lead to a massive run on the dollar by foreign creditors and no end of misery for us all. But it may be necessary nonetheless.
At home, I have absolutely no confidence in the British government under Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. They have been woefully slow to act, their policy to hide their heads under a pillow hoping it will all go away.
If Brown had even a small slice of a leader’s courage he would put together a massive package to recapitalize the British banking system; disown the “mark-to-market” accounting agreement, which forces banks into insolvency by estimating their assets on depressed valuations; take immediate control of interest rates by reducing them to 2 percent; begin to prepare for withdrawal from the useless European Union; and work closely with the Americans, who are, at the very least, fully aware of the immense dangers we face.
The Kraken is awake and bearing down on us fast. Over coming months and years we may wish that the Hadron Collider had swallowed us all up when it had the chance.
Update: The British Government has announced a variety of measures to recapitalize the banks and get the inter-bank lending markets working again. It amounts to a $900 billion bailout, eerily identical to the Paulson Plan for a country five times the size of Britain.
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