The Obama Great Depression

16 01 2016

 By Timothy D. Naegele[1][2]

Soon after the presidency of Barack Obama began—on April 8, 2009—the  McClatchy-Tribune News Service published an article of mine entitled, “Euphoria or the Obama Depression?”[3]  In it, I wrote:

Barack Obama is euphorically optimistic, but neither he nor the leaders of other countries can hold back an economic tsunami, just as mankind is helpless to stop the wrath of natural tsunamis in the oceans.

. . .

According to the Rasmussen Reports, most Americans—53 percent, in fact—believe the United States is at least somewhat likely to enter a 1930s-like Depression within the next few years. If so, the repercussions are unfathomable.

. . .

Years from now, economic historians may look back at this era and conclude that the world’s central bankers were overwhelmed and Depression-era “safety nets” did not work; and global market forces ultimately determined the depth and duration of the economic meltdown, not the politicians in Washington or anywhere else.

The tsunami that was released when the housing bubble finally burst may not run its course until about 2017-2019; and its effects will be devastating worldwide. There are no legislative solutions or quick fixes to the problems. The carnage between now and 2019 will approximate the Great Depression. . . .

. . .

America and other nations are in uncharted waters; and their politicians may face backlashes from disillusioned and angry constituents that are unprecedented in modern times. Also, the limits of godless secularism and paying homage to the false gods of materialism may become self-evident.

It is interesting to reflect on these comments and others contained in the article, as well as those in an companion article that I wrote for the American Banker—the daily newspaper of the U.S. banking industry—and in an interview that I gave on these subjects.[4]  Today, it is as though the economies of individual countries are “careening,” creating a “cascading” effect.

This is not 2008 all over again. It may be much worse, even eclipsing the Great Depression of the last century.  A “perfect storm” has been gathering for a long time now; and when it hits with its full force and fury, 2008 may seem like a “blip” by comparison.  America’s Fed and the other central banks of the world will be overwhelmed; Depression-era “safety nets” will not make any difference; and panics may ensue.

The biggest worry in Washington for many years has been that there would be runs on the big funds, which are uninsured, and that a “liquidity crisis” of unfathomable proportions would occur—which would be unstoppable.  Americans and people of other countries have lost trust in their governments, which will only compound the problems.

Hold on tight. Things will get very scary between now and the end of this decade.[5]  Whatever happens will be attributable principally to Barack Obama’s failed presidency.  Indeed, there are so many tragedies he has spawned that it is impossible to do justice to each of them in a short article like this one.

For example, he has set back race relations in the United States by years if not decades. He has been a divider, not a healer.[6]  With respect to his so-called major policy “accomplishments”—such as Obamacare, limited gun control, and the Paris man-made “global warming” accords—they can and probably will be undone by executive orders on Day One when the next American president takes office less than a year from now.  Americans are clamoring for this to happen.[7]

Obama may go down as the worst president in American history, even eclipsing Jimmy Carter, which is a remarkable feat unto itself.  History may record that Obama became a “transformative” or revolutionary president, which is not what the majority of Americans wanted. Perhaps because he was not raised on the U.S. mainland, his perspective is not that of most Americans . . . even blacks.[8]

With the global economy imploding, and Obama being an impediment to the U.S. growth that has occurred, his place in American economic history may rank next to or below that of Herbert Hoover.

Today, Barack Obama is like a minstrel wandering the land, with respect to whom no one will listen.

© 2016, Timothy D. Naegele

Obama-gone

_______________________________________________

[1]  Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass). He and his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, specialize in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/documents/TimothyD.NaegeleResume.pdf). He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal. Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com; see also Google search: Timothy D. Naegele

[2] Note: This article is an expansion of earlier articles and comments at this blog.  See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/ (“The Economic Tsunami Continues Its Relentless And Unforgiving Advance Globally”) (see all of the comments beneath it) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/#comment-8016 (“Barack Obama: A Failed American Presidency”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/#comment-8011 (“Helter Skelter Is Arriving With A Thud, Sell Everything”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/#comment-7614 (“Doomsday Clock For Global Market Crash Strikes One Minute To Midnight As Central Banks Lose Control“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/poverty-in-america/#comment-7646 (“The Surging Ranks Of America’s Ultrapoor”) and  https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/#comment-8006 (“The EU’s Collapse In 2016?“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/global-chaos-and-helter-skelter/ (“Global Chaos And Helter Skelter”)

[3]  This article has been republished by RealClearPolitics, and can be found at the links that follow.

See http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/tms/politics/2009/Apr/08/euphoria_or_the_obama_depression_.html (“Euphoria or the Obama Depression?”) and http://www.naegele.com/documents/Commentary-EuphoriaortheObamaDepression.pdf (“Commentary: Euphoria or the Obama Depression?

[4]  See http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/173_212/-365185-1.html and http://www.naegele.com/documents/GreenspansFingerprints.pdf (“Viewpoint: Greenspan’s Fingerprints All Over Enduring Mess”); see also http://marketshadows.com/2012/05/21/greenspans-legacy-more-suffering-to-come/ and http://seekingalpha.com/instablog/2951-market-shadows/31177-interview-with-timothy-d-naegele and http://www.naegele.com/documents/InterviewwithTimothyD.Naegele-ilene–SeekingAlpha.pdf (“Greenspan’s legacy: more suffering to come”)

[5]  Not factored into these comments explicitly are the effects of (1) the terrorist strikes on Paris and elsewhere in the world; (2) the immigration issue that is tearing Europe and the Middle East apart; (3) the military implosion that is taking place in the Middle East, with much worse yet to come; and (4) the effects of our adversaries (e.g., China, Russia, North Korea, Iran) on peace, and on the American and global economies.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/we-are-all-parisians/ (“We Are All Parisians”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/emp-attack-only-30-million-americans-survive/ (“EMP Attack: Only 30 Million Americans Survive”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-death-of-putin-and-russia-the-final-chapter-of-the-cold-war/ (“The Death Of Putin And Russia: The Final Chapter Of The Cold War”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/china-is-americas-enemy-make-no-mistake-about-that/ (“China Is America’s Enemy: Make No Mistake About That”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/the-next-major-war-korea-again/ (“The Next Major War: Korea Again?”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/28/human-trafficking/ (“Human Trafficking”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/06/islamophobia-is-un-american/ (“Islamophobia Is Un-American”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/is-israel-doomed/ (“Is Israel Doomed?”)

[6]  See, e.g.https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/#comment-8016 (“Barack Obama: A Failed American Presidency”)  and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/ (“Is Barack Obama A Racist?”)

[7]  See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/a-34-trillion-swindle-the-shame-of-global-warming/ (“A $34 Trillion Swindle: The Shame Of Global Warming”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/abortions-and-autos-kill-more-in-america-than-guns/ (“Abortions And Autos Kill More In America Than Guns”)

[8]  See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/03/edward-w-brooke-is-dead/#comment-7434 (“Disappointment In Obama Leads Some Blacks To Ask Whether Voting Is Worth It”)





China Is America’s Enemy: Make No Mistake About That

13 01 2011

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

While it would certainly be nice to think of China as a benign, friendly, democratic nation, if not an ally of the United States—which makes the computers and cellphones that Americans use, and provides most of the products sold in Walmart stores—the fact is that China is our enemy, now and in the future.  A failure to recognize this fact has serious national security implications for our great nation.  Those who cavalierly dismiss this and similar assessments, as nothing more than the rantings of “Cold Warriors,” may be condemned to repeat and relive the world wars of the past.

Does this mean that we will be in a shooting war with China any time soon, or that we should gird for war in the future?  No, but it means that we must maintain and strengthen our military might, and do nothing to diminish it.  We face deadly challenges elsewhere in the world too: for example, from North Korea, Iran, Russia and terrorists.  However, we must never underestimate the threat from China, America’s rising Asian rival globally.  Among other things, there is a “disconnect” between China’s civilian and military leaderships, which may grow dramatically—and it does not bode well for the future.

As the Wall Street Journal reported:

China conducted the first test flight of its stealth fighter just hours before U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates sat down with President Hu Jintao here to mend frayed relations, undermining the meeting and prompting questions over whether China’s civilian leadership is fully in control of the increasingly powerful armed forces.[2]

In early 2001, at the beginning of George W. Bush’s presidency, China’s military tested his metal by forcing down one of our spy planes near the island of Hainan. There were serious questions raised then—as they are being raised now—about whether China’s civilian leadership was fully in control of the country’s military.

Also, the New York Times had a fine article recently, which stated in part:

Older Chinese officers remember a time, before the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 set relations back, when American and Chinese forces made common cause against the Soviet Union.

The younger officers have known only an anti-American ideology, which casts the United States as bent on thwarting China’s rise.

. . .

Chinese military men, from the soldiers and platoon captains all the way up to the army commanders, were always taught that America would be their enemy.[3]

Viewed in its starkest terms, China has threatened a nation-ending EMP Attack against the United States already—which went largely unnoticed by most Americans, even though such an attack might kill all except 30 million of us.[4] In addition to its submarine forces that have been expanded greatly in the past decade, China’s military is deploying new ballistic missiles that can sink U.S. aircraft carriers, and are potentially game-changing, unprecedented threats to our supercarriers and their carrier battle groups.[5]

Also, China is preparing to build an aircraft carrier, which symbolizes the ambition to move far beyond its own shores[6].  Its growing anti-satellite capabilities and quite soon its fifth-generation fighter, not to mention its ongoing Cyberwarfare and economic warfare, are alarming to say the least.

Barack Obama manipulated the 2010 lame-duck session of Congress to ratify the “90 percent useless and 10 percent problematic” New START Treaty with Putin’s Russia—from which the next Republican administration should withdraw[7], just as George W. Bush withdrew from the ABM Treaty, which had expressly prevented major American advances in missile defense.  However, the United States’ focus must be on China, not on an essentially-Third World, backwater country like Russia.[8]

As one China military-affairs specialist put it:

Clearly, China’s communist leadership is not impressed by the [Obama] administration’s ending of F-22 production, its retirement of the Navy’s nuclear cruise missile, START Treaty reductions in U.S. missile warheads, and its refusal to consider U.S. space warfare capabilities. Such weakness is the surest way to invite military adventurism from China.[9]

On the positive side, China represents an enormous consumer market.  Yet, even on that front, caution is advised and prudence is required.  As the Wall Street Journal noted:

It’s tempting for U.S. companies to believe they can rely on access to hundreds of millions of new consumers in China and other emerging-market countries for the lion’s share of future profits. But they had better be prepared for a wide variety of unforeseen barriers.[10]

The United States has other issues and problems with China, including but not limited to Chinese adoption policies that foist “sick” children on unsuspecting, needy American adoptive parents, leading to tragic human suffering and other consequences[11]; China’s human rights abuses, including political prisoners who often serve their terms in an archipelago of labor camps scattered across the country called Laogai[12]; North and South Korea—and their respective international protectors, China and the U.S.—which might be heading for a showdown in the future[13]; and China’s expanding influence in the world, such as its willingness to bail out debt-ridden countries in the euro zone[14].

China has a violent history, which is of recent vintage.  Indeed, the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin and China’s Mao Tse-tung were the most ruthless killers of their own people in the 20th Century, and perhaps in the entire history of mankind.  Mao was directly responsible for an estimated 30-40 million deaths between 1958 and 1960, as a result of what his regime hailed as the “Great Leap Forward.”[15] Even though human rights activist Liu Xiaobo won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize—after having been sentenced to prison for putting his name to the “Charter 08″ human-rights manifesto, which says that the Chinese people “see clearly that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values”—he was denied the right to have a representative collect the prize for him.[16]

Perhaps the best hope for a democratic China at peace with the world rests with the expansion of human rights in the country, as well as consumerism and capitalism; and greater civilian control over the country’s potentially-renegade military.  Whether this hope comes to fruition, or ends up as a pipe dream, remains to be seen.  Will China’s bluster and swagger lead to war, or dissipate over time; and are the United States and China on a collision course in the Western Pacific and elsewhere?[17] Only time will tell.  However, one can never forget that China’s violent past was only a short time ago, and its human rights abuses continue to this day.

© 2011, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, which specializes in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g.www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com

[2] See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704428004576075042571461586.html?mod=WSJ_hp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsTop

[3] See http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/12/world/asia/12beijing.html?_r=3&hp=&pagewanted=all

[4] See, e.g.https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/emp-attack-only-30-million-americans-survive/

[5] See, e.g.http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/dec/27/china-deploying-carrier-sinking-ballistic-missile/

[6] See, e.g.http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fa7f5e6a-09cc-11e0-8b29-00144feabdc0.html#axzz18PUuKHZh

[7] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-1014: see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-1167 and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-1245

[8] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/

[9] See http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/dec/27/china-deploying-carrier-sinking-ballistic-missile/

[10] See, e.g.http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704852004575258541875590852.html?mod=WSJ_hp_editorsPicks

[11] See, e.g.https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/problems-with-foreign-adoptions/; see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-348 and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-434 (“[B]oth Russia and China have used the U.S. as dumping grounds for their ‘sick’ children”)

[12] See, e.g.http://www.naegele.com/documents/BretStephens-FromAthenstoBeijing.pdf (“How strong can China be if it is terrified of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo?”); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-824

[13] See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/the-next-major-war-korea-again/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-1012

[14] See, e.g.https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-1177

[15] As I have written:

Like Stalin, Mao’s crimes involved Chinese peasants, many of whom died of hunger from man-made famines under collectivist orders that stripped them of all private possessions.  The Communist Party forbade them even to cook food at home; private fires were outlawed; and their harvests were taken by the state.  Those who dared to question Mao’s agricultural policies—which sought to maximize food output by dispossessing the nation’s most productive farmers—were tortured, sent to labor camps, or executed.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/06/the-silent-voices-of-stalin%E2%80%99s-soviet-holocaust-and-mao%E2%80%99s-chinese-holocaust/

[16] See infra note 12; see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liu_Xiaobo#Nobel_Peace_Prize

[17] See, e.g.https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-1188





The Economic Tsunami Continues Its Relentless And Unforgiving Advance Globally

27 09 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

The Wall Street Journal has an article about the EU entitled, “Currency Union Teetering, ‘Mr. Euro’ Was Forced to Act,” which is worth reading and reflecting on seriously.[2] It represents an excellent discussion of what has happened in the past.  However, its conclusions are sobering and ominous:

[F]our months later, the root causes of the Greek crisis remain: There is no central authority to even coordinate national tax-and-spending policies.

In the past month, financial markets have turned their sights on Ireland and Portugal. Doubts remain over the solvency of banks on Europe’s stricken fringe. That leaves them dependent on [the European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet]’s largesse, in the form of “temporary” lending facilities introduced by the ECB when the crisis first hit.

Despite Mr. Trichet’s assurances that the bond-buying program is a stop-gap, it not only continues but has also increased in recent weeks—with no end in sight.

Put succinctly, Europe is still on the brink. It is foolish to believe otherwise. The “green shoots” that have appeared recently are an “illusion” and merely a brief respite in the midst of a maelstrom, which economic historians will describe as the “Great Depression II” (or by some similar name) 20-40 years from now.

Americans and their counterparts around the world have lost faith in their governments, and rightly so[3]; and the governments have come closer to exhausting all of their viable economic options. As this becomes increasingly clear, and as governments thrash about trying to find solutions that do not exist, and as politicians continue to lie—which after all is what they are most proficient at doing—the economic tsunami will continue to take its toll and run its course worldwide during the balance of this decade.

It will get very ugly, economically, socially and politically. Barack Obama will be swept out of office in the United States, and this process has begun already. It will accelerate with November’s elections. He is caught in the twin pincers of an economy in decline that he cannot influence except negatively, and an Afghan war that cannot be won. Republicans and Independents do not support him now; and his own Democrats are deserting him.

The slippery slope out the White House door will follow, like it did for Lyndon Johnson prior to the presidential election of 1968, when the political consequences of the Vietnam war made him unelectable.  Obama will return either to Chicago or Honolulu to lick his wounds and set up his presidential library, and assume an “elder statesman” role—similar to Bill Clinton—after only one term in office.

The efforts of Jean-Claude Trichet, or “Mr. Euro,” will prove similar to measures undertaken to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.  Trichet is not “Superman,” and he will lack the necessary skills; and the policy options will have been exhausted. Panics may ensue in the financial markets; and the recent crises may seem like child’s play by comparison to what is coming. The “Band-Aids” that Trichet, America’s Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and others applied will be ripped asunder as the economic tsunami continues its relentless and unforgiving advance globally.[4]

Hold on tight. It is apt to get very ugly. The euro zone will unravel, which is likely to be a relatively small but critical part of what will be happening worldwide; and financial turmoil will engulf the euro-zone nations. There will be nobody of consequence in charge economically or politically in the United States or other countries. And the human suffering and chaos will be unfathomable.[5] Throw military and national security issues into the mix, and the results may be explosive.

 

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, which specializes in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.comand http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g., http://www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com

[2] See http://www.naegele.com/documents/CurrencyUnionTeeteringMr.EuroWasForcedtoAct.pdf; see also http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703467004575464113605731560.html?mod=WSJ_hps_MIDDLETopStories

[3] See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/washington-is-sick-and-the-american-people-know-it/

[4] See also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/are-afghanistan-iraq-and-pakistan-hopeless-and-is-the-spread-of-radical-islam-inevitable-and-is-barack-obama-finished-as-americas-president/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/16/will-the-eus-collapse-push-the-world-deeper-into-the-great-depression-ii/

[5] See also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/the-great-depression-ii/#comment-750 and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/the-great-depression-ii/#comment-745





Will The EU’s Collapse Push The World Deeper Into The Great Depression II?

16 05 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

“For want of a nail . . .  the kingdom was lost.”[2] Will Greece’s debt crisis lead to a Greek debt default and the collapse of the euro and an ensuing collapse of the 27-member European Union (or EU), and trigger the next round of crashes that will be described by economic historians decades from now as “the Great Depression II”?[3] The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife in Sarajevo, Serbia brought the tensions between Austria-Hungary and Serbia to a head.  In turn, it is said this triggered a chain of international events that embroiled Russia and the major European powers; and World War I broke out in Europe.[4] Will Greece’s debt crisis set a series of events in motion that sends the world into a downward economic spiral of unfathomable proportions?

For years, I have wrestled with the question of whether the Europe would collapse economically, politically, socially and militarily.  Sounds absurd, you say?  The countries are too interwoven and mutually dependent now for that to happen, and at the very least they will muddle along, making the worst of the best situations, and achieving the lowest common denominator?  The United States of Europe, they are not and never will be, but they have achieved a degree of cohesiveness that I never thought was likely years ago.

I believed jealousies and rivalries and, yes, the hatreds of the past would linger barely beneath the surface, coming unglued at the most inopportune times when it really mattered the most.  When the chips were down, I felt the EU would splinter and fall apart; and that its participants and the world would write it off as a noble experiment that failed, much like the League of Nations.  After all, its successor—the United Nations—is considered to be a colossal joke by Americans, many of whom would love to see it shipped to Europe, and its building on the East River in Manhattan bulldozed and turned into a park, or made into co-ops or condominiums.

The bitter hatreds of the past seem to have subsided in Europe though, and it has become a cultural melting pot, more and more.  Airbus was the first tangible sign of economic integration that I never thought would be possible.  To see the Germans and French working together, and genuinely enjoying each other and producing competitive aircraft on a global scale, was something to behold.  The economic interdependence and booming economies covered up a myriad of sins, mistakes and weaknesses.  It all looked very rosy until the economic tide in Europe and worldwide began to turn.  Then, potholes showed up where there had been rose gardens; and recriminations began to occur that had been buried beneath the surface.

Today Greece is teetering, and anger is intensifying over proposed cuts that are to be made as part of the EU deal to save the country’s economy.  It is the age-old battle between the haves and have-nots, and between those who will bear the burden of the cuts and the wealthy who will escape them.  However, anti-American sentiments are growing because the International Monetary Fund (or IMF) is viewed as a tool of the U.S., which is carrying out American policies.  Like the U.N., the IMF has taken on more powers and responsibilities than were ever envisioned; and it needs to be curbed, and its U.S. support diminished.[5]

Perhaps a recent editorial by the Wall Street Journal best captured the “contagion” that began with Greece:

It hasn’t been a week since the terms of Athens’s . . . bailout were set, and already the reviews of this latest Greek drama are saying it’s a flop.  Yesterday the euro sank to its lowest level in a year.  Stock markets across Europe fell nearly 3%, and the carnage spread to Wall Street and beyond.  Greek interest-rate spreads climbed higher again, and market players have turned their attention to the euro zone’s other weak sisters as everyone tries to figure out who is most likely to follow Greece down the road to national insolvency.

The bailout, in other words, hasn’t stopped the much-feared contagion. If anything, it has spread it.[6]

The Archduke revisited—and hardly encouraging to a world that is in the process of revisiting the Great Depression.  And reason enough for panics, with many more to come.[7]

In another editorial, the Journal added:

The real gamble is being made by politicians who are calculating that, by taking the risk of sovereign default off the table for now, they are giving the global economic recovery time to build and making it easier to address Europe’s fiscal woes.

. . .

In the euro’s first serious test, the political class blinked.  The resulting moral hazard will haunt the single currency for years and reduce the incentive for governments to keep their fiscal houses in order.[8]

Even more troubling is the prospect that the 16-nation (out of the 27-EU member states) shared euro currency may be headed for disintegration.  “The euro is doomed,” said one market analyst.

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel observed, Europe is in a “very, very serious situation”; and the U.K.’s new Prime Minister David Cameron and his coalition partner, Nick Clegg, may have major problems keeping the left wing of the Liberal Democrats and the right wing of the Conservatives (or Tories) in line, and a new election may be called before year-end.[9] Also, it is predicted that “China’s economy will slow and possibly ‘crash’ within a year as the nation’s property bubble is set to burst”—which may have troubling implications for whether China will continue to buy and hold our government debt.[10] In turn, this is a major economic and national security risk.

The economic tsunami that former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan unleashed has produced consequences far beyond those that were ever envisioned—and far beyond American shores—which will last through the end of this decade, and possibly a generation.  Giulio Tremonti, Italy’s Minister of Economy and Finance, has said: “Greenspan was considered a master.  Now we must ask ourselves whether he is not, after [Osama] bin Laden, the man who hurt America the most.”  These words speak volumes; however, they fall short of describing the global dimensions and consequences of Greenspan’s actions and inactions.[11]

The central banks of the world are essentially out of options, and the worst is yet to come.  Hold on tight.  It will not be pretty—and global citizenry anger may be truly mind-boggling![12]

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles

[2] The proverb, “For Want of a Nail,” states:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For want of a horse the rider was lost.

For want of a rider the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/For_Want_of_a_Nail_(proverb)

[3] See, e.g.http://apnews.myway.com/article/20100408/D9EURADO0.html and http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?sid=aL3SiaURK8dQ&pid=20601087

[4] See, e.g.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Archduke_Franz_Ferdinand_of_Austria

[5] As the London Times points out:

Even greater social unrest is expected as resentment simmers among poorer families at being told to tighten their belts when wealthy Greeks can protect their fortunes by moving their money abroad, some of it into property bargains in London.

See http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article7113941.ece The Times article adds:

Mikis Theodorakis, the 84-year-old musician who composed the score for the film Zorba the Greek, calls for revolt against what he sees as an American plot to turn Greece into a “protectorate”.

[6] See http://www.naegele.com/documents/TheGreekBailoutFlop_000.pdf

[7] On May 6, 2010, the Dow Jones Industrial Average “ended down 347.80, or 3.2 percent, at 10,520.32, after being down as much as 998.50 earlier, the Dow’s biggest intraday drop on record.”

See http://www.cnbc.com/id/36988229

The CNBC article added:

“We’ve seen a crisis start in a country—Greece—become regional, impact the whole of the Euro zone and is on the verge of truly going global,” said El-Erian, CEO of the world’s biggest bond fund.

. . .

There is simply a growing recognition that Greece has got to default, said Rochdale banking analyst Dick Bove. “The riots in the streets showed the decision to repay the debt was not going to be made by the people in Germany, France and Switzerland, it’s going to be made by people in Greece and they’re not going to repay it,” he said. “Anyone seeing the riots is going to recognize that this government is going to be thrown out and anything replacing this government is going to be far more leftist leaning and they’re going to repudiate.”

See id. A Wall Street Journal article added:

The velocity of the plunge in stocks was breath-taking. Investors fled everything from stocks and risky bonds to commodities and poured money into safe assets such as U.S. Treasurys and gold.

. . .

“You worry about the a domino effect, from Greece to Portugal to Ireland and Spain,” said Richard Schottenfeld, general partner of Schottenfeld Associates, a New York hedge fund. “Pretty soon those kinds of losses are bigger than housing.”

Investors said they were worried about potential contagion from Greece’s ongoing problems, and whether eventual losses could even exceed those of the U.S. housing collapse.

See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704370704575227754131412596.html?mod=WSJ_hps_LEADNewsCollection

[8] The Journal’s editorial added:

The real euro crisis, in short, is one of overspending and policies that sabotage economic growth. Sunday’s shock and awe campaign has merely postponed that reckoning—and at a fearsome price.

See http://www.naegele.com/documents/TheRealEuroCrisis.pdf

[9] See http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aqquuYOAN_sE (“European policy makers last week unveiled a loan package worth almost $1 trillion and a program of bond purchases in an effort to contain a sovereign-debt crisis that has threatened to shatter confidence in the euro.  . . .  By resorting to what some economists have called the ‘nuclear option,’ the [European Central Bank, or] ECB may open itself to the charge it’s undermining its independence by helping governments plug budget holes”)

[10] See http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Analysis/2010/05/07/Commentary-Fiscal-WMD/UPI-69801273233877/

[11] See http://www.philstockworld.com/2009/10/11/greenspan’s-legacy-more-suffering-to-come/ and http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/173_212/-365185-1.html and http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/tms/politics/2009/Apr/08/euphoria_or_the_obama_depression_.html

[12] See also http://www.naegele.com/documents/MatthewKaminski-EuropesOtherCrisis.pdf (“Germans no longer feel obliged to pay for the sins of their forefathers by bankrolling Europe.  . . .  ‘The EU is falling to pieces'”) and http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Spain-debt-downgraded-by-apf-1816859080.html?x=0&.v=27 (Spain) and http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6f696c52-456a-11df-9e46-00144feab49a.html (“Soros warns Europe of disintegration”) and http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703525704575061172926967984.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read (“Europe is entering unprepared into a serious economic crisis—and the nascent global recovery could easily collapse due to the unsustainable and Ponzi-like buildup of government debt in weaker countries.  . . .  The issues for troubled euro zone countries are straightforward: Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain (known to the financial markets, and not in a polite way, as the PIIGS) had varying degrees of foreign- and bank credit-financed rapid expansions over the past decade.  In fall 2008, these bubbles collapsed.  . . .  Since these struggling countries share the euro, run by the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, . . . they are left with the need to massively curtail demand, lower wages and reduce the public sector workforce.  The last time we saw this kind of precipitate fiscal austerity—when nations were tied to the gold standard—it contributed directly to the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s.  . . .  Ireland’s banks are today probably insolvent. Who can afford to repay their mortgages when wages are falling and unemployment rising?  Irish house prices continue to speed downward.  This is not an example of a ‘careful’ solution—it is a nation in a financial death spiral”) and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1250433/Greece-debt-bailout-EU-leaders-split-euro-crisis.html and http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/business/global/14debt.html?hp=&pagewanted=all