Last Friday the German parlaiment passed the EuroBailout, and the markets went on to have a calm day; no interventions.. the DOW up 160 or so. Despite the victory Friday, I fear it only a matter of time before something forces this rotten, corrupt, over-indebted structure to crumble apart. There will come a time in the not too distant future when an event.. often called "black swan" events, will trigger a complete collapse of the (very weakened) global economic system.. banking and currency systems the world over collapse within a few days. Here's a video of US Rep Kanjorski talking about TARP and what almost happened in Sept '08: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5HOscRbNwM
Because I myself think that this type of event has a better than 50/50 chance of happening in the next few years, I'd like to take a few minutes to examine this scenario. Lets take Spain, a nation with 20% unemployment and $1.1 trillion in debt, which just announced yet another austerity package to assure the markets, which is enormously unpopular. Its then that a young, aspiring politician begins to question why bother paying the debts if we're already in a depression !! Within a month or so, he's attracting very large crowds of angry citizens who agree, and their parlaiment notices.. as do the markets. The cost of insuring Spanish debt reaches Greek levels; Spain becomes essentially unable to borrow on the open bond markets and the EU steps in.. but asks Spain to agree to another austerity package. The Spanish people, led by our young politician, explode with anger.. violent strikes paralyze Spain. Meanwhile, large marches take place in Munich to protest Germany's part in the upcoming bailout, burning Spanish flags along the strasse. These scenarios on TV are too much for the Spanish Prime Minister, who has arrived at the Rubicon.. and he stops answering Sarkozy and Obama's phone calls and at a news conference announces that Spain will stop paying on it's debts owed to foreign banks and investors and would like to begin negotiations on default with institutions. By morning, European stock markets are in utter turmoil as a dozen very large banks and/or financial institutions, beginning with Spain's Santander and BBVA, are essentially insolvent and threatening dozens of other entities by way of loan defaults as well as credit default swaps. The Crash is on, and by 1pm the European governments have halted trading on their stock, bond and currency markets despite European Central Bank intervention, which cannot keep up with a dozen collapsing stock, bond & currency markets within a matter of hours. The markets open up in New York, but don't stay open for long.. (rightly) worried that the trillions of credit default swaps written by American banks on the European banks will crash our own banking system, and by noon the markets here halt trading as the chaos is complete. It is Thursday. All trading is halted throughout the weekend. The vast majority never saw it coming, and with the FDIC limiting withdrawals to $100/day, they are pretty angry and fearful.. and well they should be. Prices soar (gas in particular); some merchants simply close up shop rather than risk being paid in a currency that could soon be worthless. Gas stations begin rationing gas purchases by order of the state. Many are sent home from work for the last time. The very basic function of modern economy.. the exchange of currency for goods.. is in doubt; frightened people begin hoarding what they can with the cash they have.
Over the weekend, it become rather obvious that the heads of the governments and central banks cannot come up with a united front; the markets are again not allowed to open, thus collapsing any confidence and ensuring that the entire system is doomed. At this moment, an MI5 plan is brought up.. a plan to essentially reboot the entire system, with everyone's (people, government and companies) debt zero'd out. People own their homes, ensuring societal stability. Every nation's sovereign debt is now zero. But by the same token, anyone who owned stock and/or had money in the banks are wiped out. An international currency standard is agreed upon by major powers within the week, based on a basket of commodies. The world is about to enter into a Depression. Overnight, unemployment in the US hits 20%, on it's way to better than 33%.. fully half of all adults are not working; taxes on those who are working are crushing. Such is the fate of nations who borrow from their children's future for a more prosperous present.
The question is.. do societies hold together during this ? Simon Schama, a Brit historian that made one of my favorite TV series "A History of Britain", examines this in an article in the FT: