I am Charlie Grexit

January 11, 2015

deflationThe euro has tumbled in world markets its decline accelerating in recent months from a high of $1.3993 last May to $1.1868 over the past few days stimulated by fears of a Greek exit and the failure of Mario Draghi’s negative interest rates and austerity to reverse its downward spiral.

Fuelling the decline is speculation of an imminent announcement that a stimulus of up to 1 trillion euros is on the cards.

Figures show deflation is taking hold across the euro zone.

Why this is bad, explained by Paul Krugman here http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/02/why-is-deflation-bad/?_r=0

The effects of low growth are magnified with higher unemployment rates exacerbated in the euro zone by public health, education and social security programmes eg


The cost of entitlements have a deeper effect in the euro zone than in the US where half of US citizens got little more than one day’s vacation over 2014. Morality demands the population be served by government not exploited by a slave owning elite.

Further deflationary pressures are caused by falling property prices. In Ireland this has led to pressure from the Central Bank and government to stimulate this sector through dubious means.

Asset purchases from NAMA through foreign vulture funds combined with shortages due to lack of construction, lack of lending into the property sector, a hike of 20% on required deposits for mortgages maintain asset prices through induced shortages, have created a market that has priced real people out of the market and made it the domain only of the super rich.

A market depending on the spending of the super rich and excluding ordinary people is a dysfunctional market that cannot last long. There are fears a whole generation will be condemned to renting from a rental market controlled by vulture funds and the rich as property is put beyond the reach of ordinary people.

It’s likely that austerity is the euro zone will put further pressure on indebted members to cut the cost of public health and social security programmes forcing countries to change their Health Service Executive into Trolley Service executives.

Government bonds under increasing pressure eg Greece to find buyers on international markets through negative perceptions re decline in the euro zone, will force pressure on Draghi to be buyer of last resort and thus lead to massive QE for Europe.

What are the implications of QE for eurozone?

One effect of QE is to drive bond prices higher and bond yields lower. This could have a negative effect on the eurozone. If the stimulus were a success, leading to stronger economic growth and inflation, then bond yields could rise as happened in the US as investors assumed economic growth and inflation would follow.

It’s a risky business but it may be the only card left to play in the eurozone’s last chance saloon. Its more likely to fail as countries such as Greece weighed down by massive debt forcing growth into the long stall, demand burden sharing and force default. In turn, this will create pressure on other countries such as Spain, Italy, Cyprus and Ireland.

Figures for 2014 show prices across the euro zone falling into deflationary levels. The effect of this is to worsen the plight of countries and individuals heavily in debt. Spending is put off in expectation of further price falls. Contracts large and small are forced to go for tighter profit margins. Prospect of Japanese stagnation and slow decline beckons.

Growth can no longer save economies already doomed with insurmountable debt burdens.

Add to the above mix the prospect of imminent defeat of right-wing parties in coming elections. From the certain defeat of Enda Kenny in 2016 to the imminent defeat at the end of this month of Greek premier Antonio Samaras both poster boy proponents of the poisoned chalice of austerity.

In Greece the left-wing Syriza party is likely to win. Alexis Tsipras has led Syriza with the banner of 50% write down of Greek debt.

Write-down sends shivers  leading to  euro tumbling in world financial markets.

Recent measures to build walls around the euro with the ESM are not built to withstand Greek default that can spread contagion to Spain, Cyprus and Italy.

It’s likely Draghi will try massive QE to stimulate the euro, stem the outflow from Greek debt write-down demands.

Part of the developing scenario may mean stay/go negotiations with Greece with no debt write-down on the table for Greece.

In such a situation Tsipras may steer Greece out of the euro looking for support from China and Russia with the euro zone choosing to sacrifice Greece to save itself.

Whether Greece stays or goes massive buying of government bonds through QE may then save contagion from spreading to other peripherals such as Spain, Portugal, Cyprus.

However, QE for the euro zone is not without its risks.

In Ireland we’ve experienced the side effects of US QE with foreign vulture fund activity in NAMA buying everything that moves. It’s likely that the purpose of QE to stimulate economic activity will stimulate the wrong kind of activity with negative downside.

Contagion of shadow banking with $600 billion only in collateral chasing trillions of derivatives blighted by cross puts similar to  mortgages in Ireland when paper deeds from single properties were used over and over again to leverage more and more blighted assets, is a tinder bed in shadow banking ready to ignite. Perhaps Grexit could lead to worldwide stock collapse of the bull market fed by QE.

Banks prefer the paper financial markets to real markets.

An example of wrong kind of activity is requirement by the Irish Central Bank to limit mortgages to those with 20% deposits requiring couples to pony up €80000 to acquire mortgage on €400,000 house. Rise in contract working and lack of permanent positions even in well paid employment make these mounts unrealisable for the majority.

The irony is  if prices are driven down by this requirement, if a large quick fix construction programme is begun, if NAMA releases its property portfolio into the rental market, this would have a negative impact on the balance sheet of Irish banks. The capital base of Irish banks would fall, negative equity and a deflationary spiral would ensue.

You might wonder what policy and regulatory framework gives rise to the above craziness from the Irish Central Bank?

If you are a member of the banking inquiry this might even whet your appetite to fall back to the years 2006-2008 to examine in detail the advice being given to the Irish financial markets at that time to the government, in particular the regulator, by the Irish Central Bank .

You might even want to talk to Mario Draghi or Jean-Claude Trichet to microsope  ECB involvement in the collapse of the Irish economy?

Mario Draghi has refused to come before the Irish Banking inquiry to answer such questions.

I thought there may be some answers given by Professor Honahan in his essay contribution to “Brian Lenihan In Calm and Crisis” edited by Brian Murphy, Mary O Rourke  and Noel Whelan published by Merrion Press before Xmas.

Regularly hauled out as an oracle on the Irish economy,  a  regular Rasputin to Irish tsars, the secret shadows of the Irish Central bank activities, are kept under wraps by Honahan.

No luck there, he gives no information away confining himself to prognostication on the performance of Brian Lenihan as minister for Finance under the shadowy grip of economic forces the Irish Banking Inquiry one doubts has the capacity to probe.

The Irish Banking Inquiry so far has no Judge Bailey Sean Dunne probity form. Honahan gives nothing away vis a vis ECB involvement with the Irish Central Bank.

How accountable was the ECB and the Irish Central Bank in management of the Irish financial crisis?

The compliance, subservience obedience and servitude of the Irish negotiating position is summed up by Honahan, P80, Brian Lenihan in Calm and Crisis:

“While he undoubtedly considered it a failure to have had to have recourse to a financial rescue package from international official sources, in fact, Brian deserved considerable credit for pushing ahead with negotiations without the ineffective grandstanding or attempted blackmail that some other countries have sometimes tried with the IMF. By embarking on the protection of the programme long before he ran out of cash, he enabled the Irish negotiators to settle on what has been a much more gradual path of fiscal correction than that imposed on other peripheral countries.”

Notice the way Honahan steers blame away from ECB by mentioning the IMF as lender of last resort. In fact IMF officials objected to the severity of the package offered to Ireland, but this was resisted by ECB who held sway as lenders over the IMF.

Blackmail is mentioned by Honahan, but facts show Ireland was blackmailed into agreement not to burn bondholders. Ineffective grandstanding is another contemptuous term used to try and stop comparisons between Iceland and Ireland, with Iceland succeeding and Ireland failing in falling victim to odious extortion by an elite cadre who had sold out taxpayers, to preserve their personal wealth and power base.

This is paid for currently by Irish people on trollies in A&E departments across Ireland with their health service in ruins.

Honahan’s role in vindicating the right of Irish people to fair treatment by external bondholders can be likened to that of Dermot MacMurrough circa 1120 who made his way to the Court of Henry II of England and offered to become a vassal to the King in return for military aid in retaking his kingdom.

Honahan and the Irish Central Bank negotiators retook Ireland for the ECB. They did not vindicate the rights of Irish taxpayers; they did not repudiate odious debt.

The terms of the bailout delivered to Ireland were subsequently watered down when other precedents for interest rate reductions for Greece and Portugal were set, that were less odious.

But its true, Irish negotiators gave up without a fight.

Perhaps Honahan will be brought before the Irish banking inquiry and given the same grilling Judge Bailey has given the Dunnes in the US. But I wouldn’t bank on it.33

At times, you would be forgiven for thinking Honahan was minister for Finance himself and that he had usurped that office.

The real shadow cabinet of Kenny, burton, Noonan and Howlin takes its orders from the erstwhile dictator Big Brother Mario Draghi with Honahan as underling.

For them, there is no third estate pillar of democracy with the right to freedom of information, the right to share this information with the public. This is a drift to extreme right-wing dictatorship unheard of in the past.

As if to emphasise this point during the past week, Censorship and propaganda stalked the land.


Vincent Browne has been targeted both by Fine Gael and Labour the same week Charlie Hebdo was targeted by terrorists attacking freedom of expression in the media.

“Independent.ie can reveal that the party has refused to allow of any of its candidates to take part in the debates in what has come as a major blow to the broadcaster”

Surely the seriousness of this attack on freedom of expression and blatant effort at censorship should at least warrant every independent in the Dail refusing to attend until this odious ban is lifted?

Perhaps FG/LB do not wish to be questioned on the claim of growth levels for 2015 of 5% for one of the most heavily indebted countries in the world, in the face of deflationary or no growth in Europe, hospitals without beds for citizens, teachers on strike to prevent standards from falling further, only part-time jobs in the public sector, mostly contract jobs in the private sector, induced shortages in the property sector.

After the Irish water fiasco and the burning of the Junior Cert fiasco, his refusal to allow FG/LB candidates  to appear on TV with Vincent Brown, will Enda Kenny to prevent political debate like Goebbels organise a public burning of books?


Till next time.







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