Austerity is an ideological policy that many governments decided on when they got together when it was realised that the entire global financial system was at risk of collapsing in 2008. It is one reaction to the scenario that was hastily put together to stop the imminent collapse, originally from an emergency meeting in US with the President and Federal Reserve and with constant communications between investment banks. This policy was then copied in Europe, with just one exception, Iceland. it is also the one that was calculated to cause the least damage to the very rich and powerful, to corporations, chief executives of large companies, governments senior executives and high pay hierarchical bureaucratic structures of civil servants, health administrators and even down to maintaining a high pay entertainment industry, with advertising and sports that pay some of the highest rates of pay, and of course banks and bankers, high pay with phenomenal bonuses. The people who made the decision were closely tied to this group of people, so they were interest parties.
The alternatives were not good, as that would have been an immediate collapse of the banking system, which would have been uncontrollable and wiped out banks along with corporations with heavy investments, the global economy would have ground to a halt, but would have still existed. The fallout would have hit those with the most invested in the financial sector the worst. However like Iceland, the fundamental bases of economies, especially ones with larger public services not totally reliant on the financial sector could still have carried on with the support of governments enabling the general system to carry on, bearing in mind that the financial system of banks would have collapsed, so everyone would have been affected. But the hit would have been top down instead of bottom up, as is the way of the austerity policies. The nearest in effect would have been the way Iceland dealt with the crisis, but on a much bigger scale. There would have been a re-basing of wages for different jobs and careers, with lower paid jobs being largely unaffected, some may even have taken over current higher paying ones, due to necessity of social care jobs compared with the redundancy of bankers and lowering of pay attached to bank sponsorships, so very much the advertising industry
But many higher paying jobs would have taken big hits, at least in the short term until an alternative banking system had been re-established and a new leaner advertising and sponsorship industry had been rebuilt.
For instance the entertainment industry, movies, television, big theatre shows and concerts would not have been able to continue to pay mega salaries to many film and sports stars, advertising would have decimated, big sports sponsorships, especially baseball, baseball, tennis, golf, cricket, motor racing and any big tournaments that rely heavily on advertising and bank sponsorships. This is because many, even most banks would have collapsed.
However with fairer policies people could have kept their homes and there could have been support for at least up to a certain level of savings, but would have been enough to support all poor to middle incomes, again like Iceland. Some banks would have survived and they could have expanded along with a vastly nationalised system of retail banking, but with investment banking largely collapsed under the mark to market real value, i.e. bankrupt. Mortgages could have been underwritten by governments via nationalised mortgages and government borrowing, as happened after World War I and II.
Borrowing would have had to rise to secure homes and an economic base. Some will say this would have been unaffordable as it would have been immense. This would have been immense and unaffordable, but what they do not recognise is the cost of saving the banks, due to black holes of debt, highly leveraged products such as credit default swaps and derivatives, mean the cost is actually far higher than saving the people’s savings and mortgages, as in effect government shave instead taken on board all the banks’ bad debts and gambling losses and still have had to prop up the mortgage system.
They have also tried to re-engineer the housing bubble and equity bubbles using vast sums of money through quantitative easing and record low interest rates. In desperation for the first time even going into experimental territory with negative interest rates for banks, although for borrowers this is not the case as banks charge steep interest rate premiums to add to profits from customers.
Counties have also seen the opportunity to follow through ideological policies of austerity using excuse that the deficit is caused by spending on public services, which Is not the case, as in many cases such spending is part of the fabric of society, its services, but also the engine of the economy. The financial sector has multiplied in size to become dominant in the economy. Countries with the heaviest weighting of financial services sector are at the greatest risk, which is why Iceland was hit hard quickly, but they let the banks fail. In all other countries they have propped them up, but with smaller countries having least alternatives from central banks through QE, so Cyprus had to confiscate peoples’ savings and be bailed out by IMF loans with deep austerity conditions as is the case with Greece. Not the fault of the people, but the people are paying the price.
Stacy Herbert at People’s Parliament explains how the derivatives bubble of $1 Quadrillion debt exploded and the reactions of governments with ideological austerity and the mass investment involving oil and arms trades as well as banking in what has been termed by’ Artist Taxi Driver’ The War Machine:
‘Artist Taxi Driver’, Mark McGowan on People’s Parliament:
The derivatives bubble of $1 Quadrillion represented the largest sum in the world, as much as 20 x total world GDP at the time in 2008. Latest estimates are of a derivatives bubble exceeding $1.5 Quadrillion and record debt and investments tied up in equities to $2 Quadrillion :
By some accounts, the most up to date estimations of global derivatives in 2013 were already over $2 Quadrillion and by 2014 are even higher:
Growth in derivatives was steady from 2009 following the world stock market falls in 2008 to 2009 and emergency central bank stimulus measures of multiple QE around the world, flooding the banks with liquidity, i.e. money to speculate with. From regaining former record levels they have soared since 2011, with latest estimates up to 20% per annum by 2014 to new record highs that could exceed $2 Trillion or double what it was at the start of the global economic collapse in 2008:
When the highly leveraged banking gambles collapsed, the existent high stock market value sand high property prices imploded and governments panicked with emergency measures, which they followed through by austerity measures which were designed to recapitalise the banks from masses of people, along with reflating the bubble. Trouble is it was that being such a big bubble caused the original collapse in 2008, so reflating the bubble and now even exceeding it with new high son equity prices in stock markets and new highs in housing bubble sin many countries. This places the world at the same risk as then, but without the same tools to deal with it, in fact there are not any because counties would start the next collapse from a position of vast debts from the last collapse. She very concisely explains the position that the world now finds itself in.
Wall Street hitting new highs daily, the familiar tune
The masses largely do not anywhere near comprehend the sheer scale of the losses or amounts covered, which in fact dwarf the cost of entire welfare states, benefits, health care, education, even GDP for years of all countries following this plan. However the debt has exploded again because the problem was not resolved and no action was taken against the banks and bankers involved. They have merely partially recapitalised banks based on governments’ ballooning debts and austerity measures that have been largely symbolic and ideological have already been imposed which are like a drop in the ocean, with the world again teetering on the brink of economic collapse.
World stock markets Irrational exuberance again but requiring a more dramatic description this time round in world equity markets, with many stock markets around the world registering record highs. The only exceptions being in countries such as Japan where the meltdown was so fierce it has never regained anywhere near former values in 25 years and once down its down, its start again so lie the rest of the world the new base was in 2009 as the world banks and governments tried to convince the masses they had resolved the crisis. This has been fuelled by this pretence but also by the largest amount of money printing, infusions of liquidity through quantitative easing (QE) that there has ever been and as an index ratio to world GDP and contributed to banks ploughing in astronomical sums and the biggest rise on global equities on record in many countries.
Of the three biggest bubbles in history, the one referred to in 1999 was a technology sector bubble that was on a comparable scale with stock market history major bubbles and it collapsed in 2000, although it has been re-inflated again along with everything else in the current super-bubble. But for the general stock market in all sectors combined the current bubble is closed to the 1920’s one that led to the Wall Street Crash of 1929, with further crashes in 1930 and every time it rose in the 1930 fell back again, until WWII changed global economics, along with a human tragedy for millions, acted to boost the economy with demand, quickly followed by new developments in technology following WWII, to become post-war an age of another kind of industrial revolution, a technological one and expansion of capitalism, all before corporatism took over and technology was used to suppress the masses, with lower incomes, longer hours and mass unemployment, as opposed to improve things for them. But as bubbles go the current one is either second the 1920’s one or as the sheer amounts gambled and levels of leverage in so-called investing or rather gambling, way exceeds even the precipitous bubble peak of 1929, this is therefore perhaps the biggest bubble in modern history and more comparable to Tulip Mania or South Sea bubbles of even earlier times. But again as amounts of money in the economic system are at record levels and with vast leverage and the kinds of derivative based investment products and use of high frequency trading, places it even possibly beyond those historic bubbles, making it the biggest bubble in history
Dow closes above 17,000, yet another new record high.
Cheerleading advice given on US mainstream TV media in America was now it has reached a new plateau its time to get in:
In 1929 Fisher stated “Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau”
Wall Street has for a century been the barometer of world equities and the current position is most closely compared to that of 1929 at the height of the irrational exuberance then where markets were considered to have gone up above a new plateau before the Wall Street Crash and Great Depression.
The volume of trading is vastly larger in modern times compared to 1930’s, but if it goes wrong then so too is the absolute level of risk, with banks again involved in complex derivatives, betting using high frequency trading (HFT) . UK, US and European banks and hedge funds, but especially UK and US are heavily involved gambling and betting on the global markets. Last year on one day the Japanese Nikkei index plunged 10% possibly contributed by rapid responses of high frequency trading to perhaps even an error in the algorithmic programs dictating the trading.
As at the time of the Wall Street crash in 1929, again in 2014 investors in the stock market have also reached a record high level of margin debt:
Happy Days Are Here Again, a song that is from a film called Chasing Rainbows made in 1929 and a hit in 1930 at the very start of the First Great Depression