Thursday, April 2, 2009

When Good News is Bad News

The G20 met today. Apparently there was a breakthrough agreement that sent global markets skywards. But before we celebrate, we would be wise to heed the words of Adam Smith:
People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.
Emphasis mine, of course, and it was never truer of any trade but the politicians. Is there any subject on which the politicians the world over could find unanimity but to expand their own powers and fleece the public? But I forget, it was the fleeced who sent them to the meeting, and will no doubt allow them to return without so much as a dirty look. Could we all not just agree to let them all stay there? I for one don't want my representatives back. At any rate, expect the "price of government" to get much, much higher. The reforms proposed were predictable:

G20 leaders from the largest developed and emerging economies ticked off a raft of actions on politically sensitive topics -- -- new rules on bonuses, publishing a blacklist of tax havens that could lead to sanctions, imposing oversight on large hedge funds and on credit rating agencies. The tax havens marked a victory for France and Germany.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd hailed the actions. "Today's agreement begins to crack down on the cowboys in financial markets that have brought global markets undone."

I love the quote:
"We've also rejected the protectionism that could deepen this crisis."
Imagine that: the world's political elite have agreed to band together in their attempt to foist international socialism on us, rather than succumbing to the temptation of devolving into rivalry by seeking to placate the desires of those they each supposedly represent. They must have realized that this is what messed them up last time around, and led to that whole Axis and Allies thing. They've decided to hold hands and take the path to fascism all together, rather than each by his own separate ways. It's neither going to be free trade nor protectionism, but trade managed by our beautiful, shiny, perfect politicians and their army of bureaucrats. Agreed to by everyone! Note that they trotted out the same old tripe: it's the fault of the cowboy capitalists and the free market, and it is regulation and bureaucracy that will save us. It doesn't matter that command economics are what caused the problem, and have always failed and always will; command economics is what is desired, and it is what we are going to get. And just in case you thought any of the propositions might make some sense:
Markets, desperate for good news when the global economy is shrinking for the first time since World War Two, reacted positively to imposing headline of $1.1 trillion that boosts financing through the International Monetary Fund and for trade. Much will be directed to emerging markets increasingly sucked into the global economic turmoil. Its size was unexpected.
Because as we all know, all the other billions that have been lent to the third world have had such tremendous effect at lifting them out of poverty that they are still third world! And since the developed world's balance sheet is brimming with cash flow right now just begging to be lent out, why the heck not? The problem here is that there simply isn't yet enough debt. We've now flushed trillions down the tubes of the mortgage and equity markets, so naturally the solution is to flush more down third world toilets. I sure wish I was a third world dictator right now. I'd get the benefit of a low interest rate loan right before mass inflation. So, just in case I actually decided to pay it back (hey, this is a hypothetical question after all), it would be inflated dollars! But I suppose that since the Swiss will be out of business, I'd have to find another way to squirrel away the proffered funds:
Addressing a key demand from France and Germany, Brown said the leaders agreed "there will be an end to tax havens that do not transfer information on request. The banking secrecy of the past must come to an end."
I guess you can't have it all.

Speaking of funds:

The new funds available through International Monetary Fund and other institutions included $250 billion of IMF reserve units called Special Drawing Rights. In addition, the IMF would see its own resources tripled, with up to $500 billion of new funds, of which $40 billion would come from China -- a significant step for the world's third largest economy.

Much of that is likely to go to struggling poorer countries, notably in eastern Europe.
Translation: Western Europe has lent Central Europe fantastic amounts of money that it can't pay back. If the world's taxpayers don't bail them out, European elites stand to lose a lot of money. We simply can't have that. And in case you think I am exaggerating:
"Since Bretton Woods, the world has been living on a financial model, the Anglo-Saxon model -- it's not my place to criticize it, it has its advantages -- clearly, today, a page has been turned," France's Sarkozy said, referring to the landmark conference that created the post-war economic order.
...and the crooked dollar exchange standard that made the US dollar the world's reserve currency that is now coming undone thanks to the same crooks that set the system up so they could milk it dry in the first place. G20 to the world: We hate freedom! We hate British liberalism, and we're going to pretend that's what Bretton Woods represented. The days of British liberalism and its contributions to mankind are over. We've drugged it up, watered it down, beaten it up, regulated it into its very antithesis, blamed it for all the ills of the world, and now we are going to slaughter it for all time! Now it's our turn, and it's going to be Continental fascism for everyone!

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