Italy Going Down the Drain. So Who Is Next?

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Its amazing how many people can shake their heads in despair at the European debt crisis and then continue urging the US to do exactly the same things that got the Europeans into this mess.

  • Doug

    Our printing presses are bigger and faster than Italy's, that's why!

  • John Cheek

    Actually,I thought our liberals were much smarter than their liberals.Haven't some of the European countries been warning us not to go down the socialized medicine path?

  • me

    Spain.

  • me

    Also, technical, US debt is denominated in US dollars, which makes all the difference. The only people who'll get seriously hurt are folks with savings. Like, say, me :(

  • Ted Rado

    With our current USG financial management, we seem to be bent on destroying ourselves. The USG merely needs to do what every responsible head of family does: Keep expenditures below income. Period. No ifs or buts. An individual does not promise his family things that will result in bankruptcy and chaos.

    The politicians have stolen my retirement income via low interest rates. Next, they will steal the principal via planned inflation and/or taxes. It would be simpler if they just invaded my home and stole everything. At least they would be up-front crooks rather that sneaky crooks.

    If the object of the politicians is to destroy the citizens' faith in our government, they are doing a bang-up job!!

  • me

    Interesting commentary about OWS from Taibbi: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/how-i-stopped-worrying-and-learned-to-love-the-ows-protests-20111110

    The point that struck a chord most thoroughly is one made in the latter half of the article: the amount of law enforcement thrown into the way of a movement that explicitly is going for peaceful protest is already disproportionally larger than the amount of money thrown at prosecuting the financial crime leading to the above raid on every American savers savings. Touche. No matter how douchbaggy and naive a lot of the protesters are, that hit home.

  • Emil

    debt maturity is more relevant

  • Roy

    @me: Yeppers. I visited local version of OWS. More savvy than what I've read other groups saying. But still without stated alternative to presented problem, still ignorant of basic realities of freedom and enterprise and (especially) gov't limitations vis a vis production of goods and services. Yet I still find myself having to consciously restrain sympathy with them flowing mostly from recognizing that imbalanced response you've mentioned.

  • J Cuttance

    I wonder if Berlin's OWS has a more pronounced anti-bailout tinge?

    Even I'd join a protest about money-printing. Germans spotted that everything was more expensive after they ditched the Mark. Their more distant currency history makes them particularly sensitive, and arguably wiser to it all.

  • http://www.raggedindividualist.blogspot.com Craig

    "Its amazing how many people can shake their heads in despair at the European debt crisis and then continue urging the US to do exactly the same things that got the Europeans into this mess."

    Ah, but we're different. "How so", he asked. Well, I don't know; but I know we are.

  • Gil

    "Would you say it's time for people to crack each other's heads open and feast upon the goo inside?"

    "Yes."

  • Slocum

    ...the amount of law enforcement thrown into the way of a movement that explicitly is going for peaceful protest is already disproportionally larger than the amount of money thrown at prosecuting the financial crime leading to the above raid on every American savers savings.

    Neither relying on an implicit U.S. government guarantee to take excessive risks nor receiving bailouts when the high risk bets fail are criminal offenses. A system of privatized profits and socialized losses is terrible, but it's not a criminal offense.

  • me

    @Slocum.

    Yup, sorry, my mind works in mysterious ways: if you take my money without my consent, I consider it theft. Doesn't matter if you're doing so with an army of lawyers and the active support of the law or by stealing my wallet. And I know that this is a slippery slope, and I know that this argument could as well be applied to taxes, but in this case my sense of right and wrong says "WRONG" in capital letters.

    However, do look at SEC enforcement and the near complete lack of prosecution of the folks making off like robber barons on the back of tax payers despite their earlier regulatory and illegal failures (think autosigning, active pushing of loans guaranteed to fail, negligence and lack of regulatory compliance), compare to investment into clubbing peaceful protesters into the pavement (I am sure most of you have seen the Berkeley video).

  • epobirs

    Who took your money without consent? Nobody was made to take out a mortgage at gunpoint, nor was anyone coerced into buying the mortgage backed securities created from dubious loans. None of this stuff happened without willing marks lining up to be fleeced.

    Simple rule: if it sounds like bullshit, it likely is. Applying that rule would have saved a vast amount of financial loss in recent years and on many occasions prior. Consider Madoff's victims. How did so many people, many of them highly successful in fields to be able to be part of this in the first place, yet only a tiny number got nervous and pulled out (when Madoff could still cover their supposed stake) and fewer still sought to draw regulatory attention to what was happening. The trick was that they told they had joined an exclusive club. That they were special and thus could enjoy ROI absurdly higher than the common folk.

    That same elitist attitude was widespread among those who sucked up the MBS offerings. Anybody rational who looked at this closely had to see a crash was unavoidable but the investors so consumed with their own cleverness thought they could time it just right. They'd be like Bug Bunny and jump out of the air plane just seconds before it crashed into the ground.

    To prosecute those who set it up you'll need to produce evidence of intent that nothing short of mind reading could hope to provide. Being an idiot who crate a bad investment is not a crime in of itself. You'd have just as much luck prosecuting the politicians who inculcated the attitude that no risk was too great because government intervention would pick up the pieces if it went bad. Meanwhile, lots of economically disadvantages people were becoming homeowners. Washington loves to hear about such great results. Just don't bug them about the consequences.

    A more productive area to investigate may be the Credit Default Swaps. I find it utterly baffling that this is legal. It seems equivalent to taking out a life insurance policy on a complete stranger.

    In general though, if you want somebody prosecuted you're going to have to consider who made it possible for them to commit the alleged crime and who put that person in power. Personally, I think we could greatly improve things by raising the voting age to thirty. Twenty-five at the very least. There is now good evidence that the human brain is not fully mature until that age, especially in areas controlling judgement.

    Good luck proposing disenfranchisement of a major chunk of the population.

    Another potential improvement is pass-through voting. Rather than picking a single candidate, you pick them all in order of preference. When the candidate with the least votes is eliminated, those votes pass tot he next choice. If we had this in operation in the 90s, Bill Clinton would never have been elected because nearly all of the Perot votes would have passed to Bush or Dole in those elections. OTOH, Clinton would likely have picked up most of the Nader votes but that was a pretty small group.

  • me

    @epobirs: with interest rates close to 0, the dollar devaluing by about 50% against the other major currency I am interested in and the tax consequences of the rough 1.4T in bailout money given to failing enterprises to be paid from my future taxes, I am pretty certain that a lot of taking-my-money-without-consent has rather drastically happened.

    As far as candidates for prosecution go, GS, AIG, BS and LB management. Plenty of good material about culpability and lack of prosecution available via google, no need to rehash here. (In essence lots of variants of sales under false-pretenses and outright fraud). One relevant quote from http://www.npr.org/2011/07/13/137789065/why-prosecutors-dont-go-after-wall-street:

    "
    That's a result of new guidelines issued by the Justice Department in 2008, which have allowed prosecutors to take a "softer approach" to corporate crimes. The guidelines — known as deferred prosecution agreements — have permitted financial companies to avoid indictments if they agree to investigate and report their own crimes.
    "

    I wonder what happened if we saved ourselves the bother of a police force by all agreeing that anyone just ought to investigate and report their own crimes.