The real problem is debt. In Ireland, for example, investors, householders and bankers all lost their heads in the bubble era. Your editor bought a house in Ireland in 2006. He knew perfectly well it was overpriced. He had walked the streets of Dublin. He had seen storefronts offering property, not just in Dublin…but in Dubrovnik. He had heard people say that “property never goes down.”
Now his house is worth about half what he paid for it – if he could find a buyer. There is no reason to expect that house to ever recover – at least in real terms – to the level it was 3 years ago. That wealth has disappeared. Along with it went the banks’ collateral and the value of the debt it backed. It is all dead. It is no more. It has ceased to be. It is past tense. But, rather than let the banks’ bondholders take the losses they deserved – in rushed the financial authorities with guarantees and more credit. Ireland’s deficit rose to a staggering 30% of GDP. Its national debt will rise from 100% of GDP to 120%.
Meanwhile, California is moving closer to bankruptcy – and borrowing more too. The state is $25 billion in the hole, with no plausible plan to get out. The Milken Institute says unfunded pension liabilities will rise to $10,000 per capita by 2013 – the equivalent of an extra $40,000 mortgage for every household. Like Ireland, California cannot pay the debts it has incurred. The federal government will offer a bailout…but with strings attached.
And soon, the bailers will be in trouble too. According to The Wall Street Journal, a combination of 15 major national governments will have to borrow a total of more than $10 trillion next year, to finance deficits and repay maturing bonds. That’s 27% of their total economic output. It also is equal to about twice the entire world’s annual savings.
Join us on our
Share this page with your friends
on your favorite social network: