Thursday, September 15, 2011

The name of the game...

Another panic attack in the markets due to the Greek debt crisis, triggered again by populist politicians and tabloid self serving media, another roller-coaster for the Euro and the Bourses worldwide. The downtrend has somehow subsided the last so many hours, as European 'leaders' Sarkozy and Merkel (where are puppets Van Rompuy and Baroso, by the way?) pledged support to the impoverished 'cradle of civilization' in the South East. How long is the windfall going to last this time? A few days? Weeks? Hours? Until another populist sneaky devil comes out with same old arguments we heard over and over. Been there done that - now what?

See, the problem is this. We've been flash-flooded for far too long by doomsday news about the troubled PIGS countries, and since recently about Italy too. The rest of us, the soit-disant Eurozone Europeans, yes, us 'prosperous' buggers in the Center and the North of the Continent, often hear that the wrongdoers should be expelled indeed from our 'prosperous' political, economic and monetary unions. We should rid them out of Eurozone, and maybe the EU too. 'They're good for nothing, anyways' we hear numerous populists claim. The media in Germany and the rest of Europe come out daily with insanities like these, and poor ignorant civilian masses (dump herds) consume their shameless barking with unseen appetite for sensation. In many of our Central European countries, nationals of the impoverished PIGS countries, who live as immigrants here, face frequent racist bullying in their daily lives more often that we'd like to admit. Comments are sometimes dressed in a pretentious blanket of political correctness, but more and more often they are quite explicit indeed. Calling myself a Greek nowadays in the company of Central Europeans will typically raise eyebrows as if I was a lazy and corrupt sonovabitch, living as a paria, at their cost. Despite the fact I paid my taxes in this country far above any other average Belgian family, and never took advantage of their unemployment benefits, because I happened to work every single day for 35 years and the weekends too. But, being Greek, 'I should burn in hell to pay for my sins', to paraphrase a Belgian populist MP as he put it 'politely' in a parliamentary debate about Belgium's position on the Greek sovereign debt just a few days ago.

However, regardless what populists and Media claim, there are some unquestionable facts:

Departure from the Eurozone. Theoretically plausible (impossible is nothing) but practically unrealistic. No explicit EU legislation was ever foreseen to deal with departing members. This was done in order to avoid the political, fiscal, economic and social fallout such an event would lead to. Considering such implications, the 'wise' founders of the European Monetary Union have therefore never provided any departure clauses for union members in their legislation. To make things even harder, to amend existing laws for making it possible fo members to quit the Union, would require national referenda in some countries, and all members would then be required to agree unanimously on the separation, even those 'condemned to expulsion'. Kinda ridiculous in terms of necessary burden on each and every member of the Union in order to reach expulsion legally...

But even if one theoretically assumed that departure from the Eurozone became legally plausible, the economic fall-out for the departing country in question and the rest of the Eurozone would be disastrous. It has been recently modeled by UBS investment strategists that if Germany departed from the Eurozone would cost them between 6 and 8 thousand euros per person resident in Germany during the first year alone. And between 3.5 and 4.5 thousand euros for quite a few years after that. A weak country departing would have to bear the cost of up to 11.5 thousand euro the first year per resident. One could certainly expect quite a bit of social unrest as result of this, even in member countries that seem fine otherwise, far and away from where the tsunami's came ashore. Should Greece be led to bankruptcy or return to, say, the drachma, a large number of European banks owning directly or indirectly Greek sovereign debt would tremble in their foundations and quite a few of them would collapse. Recapitalization in huge amounts would be necessary. Governments would intervene again with their taxpayer billions, and guarantee the risk of default in order to prevent banks from being ran by their panicing customers. If banks defaulted then many of their lenders would fall equally into bankruptcy in the process... House of cards, sort of thing. It doesn't take long that the whole banking system collapses to its knees. Bank-runs by panicking herds of civilians trying to salvage what they could, accompanied by opportunistic riots, like we saw them in London recently, are certain events of this doomsday scenario. By the way, I am not describing Greece in here. Most Greeks have seen so much of this Armageddon landscape in the last couple years, with lives lost and huge property damages that they eventually got used to it. In fact they'll be taking 'sweet revenge' on the rest of us Europeans who will suddenly find out what it meant to experience factual national bankruptcy like them Greeks. Believe me. I shit you not! This scenario is a cancerous aggressive tumor that is hugely metastatic. Unfortunately the Media shamelessly and irresponsibly continue to steer national masses, and choose to ignore these facts, or simply are too thick to understand them. Either way, they behave as criminally stupid and immensely shortsighted. Same is true for all those populist politicians who only care for their ego and re-election.

I don't know much about the situation in Portugal, Spain, and Ireland, but I think I understand a bit better the Greek issues. I am one of them you see. Immigrant in Belgium but still a Greek. I don't pretend to know the solution, any solution whatsoever. I feel quite strongly about who I think causes the problems though. Here's my opinion.

National and EU International Political Leaders. In fact, this is a serious European problem for many years. We lack descent leadership in this Continent. All what politicians care about is their re-election for as long as it goes, and to make sure that their offsprings continue the trick as well. And they ring-fence their turf with barbed wire, for sure. Allowing no outsiders inside their terrains. Just like the few blue-blooded families who provided kings and royals to the continent the last few hundred years. And created a whole generation of degenerate hemophiliacs by marrying inside the family, in order to protect their assets. In Belgium far too many of the current  'leading' politicians had their parents in similar leadership positions as well, in the previous generation obviously. Michel, Tobback, De Croo, Vandenbossche, De Clerck, Anciaux... Any different from other countries? Hell no! How about the Bushes and the Kennedy's in the US? They call them 'dynasties', like in the times of the Roman and Chinese empires. In any case, we must bitterly admit: The EU is a union without leaders. Neither cojones nor guts anywhere in sight. Pretentious political correctness, bending the rules to their benefit, all shades of gray in corruption, spineless compromises, and making as if the strip naked king dresses in his most beautiful clothes.

The Media. These are the dearly paid whores of our society, the scum of the earth. Reporters of any sort. TV, Radio or printed/online content providers. Recent revelations about few tabloids in the UK and their criminal and deeply unethical ways are a small sample of what rules their intents and work. How far would they go and how much filth would they not write just to fill another page, and make a day's miserable wages. Especially Editors-in-Chief are the worst. Most carry innocent blood in their hands. And they are either too stupid or too evil to care! Shameless sobs!

Market speculators. It takes blood sweat and tears for the financial markets to climb at all. It takes the economy and GDPs to blossom and industrial activity to demo profitable growth for success. It takes a hell lotta work. Going up the mountain needs hard labor. Gravity pulls you down. You sweat and stop to breath. You curse and continue to crawl uphill like a turtle. One step at the time. Once in the top, lose your balance and there you go in the blink of an eye downhill to bounce like a dead cat deep down the abysmal ravine. Yes sir, going downhill is easy. Requires no effort. Gravity takes care of it. Believe it or not, it's the same in the financial markets for sure. Risk taking speculators make shedloads of cash on the way down. Short-selling pays well. Especially naked short-sells. Become a millionaire by selling things you don't own. And use your friends in the rumor mills, the media, to spread the panic. Like predators with herds in the savannas. Humans seem to lose their logic when panic spreads. Run for the lives. Their survival instinct makes them ignore everybody but themselves. Fear of death turns a parent against his/her own sibling. Better believe it. That's what speculators are looking for. And today, using quant strategies and computer trading in the millions of transactions in micro-secs, they manage to push the markets even deeper, even faster. Just to make another ten million that they couldn't possibly consume in their lifetime anyway. Just for kicks. Often leading to annual comps of several billion dollars for quite a few among them Wall Street hedge fund managers.

There's a well known US joke that goes like this. Q: What do you call a hundred lawyers chained at the bottom of the ocean? A: A good start. Well, MNSHO is that if you replaced 'hundred lawyers' with 'ten thousand Politicians, Media reps and Market Speculators' you got the EU version of the joke. Who knows, maybe the joke turns into a real solution eventually. If we could only morph herds into predators... Dream on baby! Dream on!

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