Mike Whitney: US economy soon to collapse


Richard Moore

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Bush¹s Chernobyl economy; hard times are on the way
By Mike Whitney
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Nov 9, 2006, 01:24

In the next few months, a financial crisis will arise somewhere in the world 
which will jolt the American economy and trigger a swift and precipitous decline
in the value of the dollar.

This is not speculation; it will happen and there is nothing that the Bush 
administration can do to stop it.

All of the traditional supports for the dollar have been removed by a shrinking 
economy, a massive $800 billion account deficit, dramatic increases in the money
supply, and the reckless manipulation of interest rates.

Now, the noose is tightening. Our foreign trading partners can see that we are 
bobbing in an ocean of red ink and are refusing to buy back our debt in the form
of US Treasuries. This is a death sentence for the dollar. It means that in a 
matter of months the once-mighty greenback will crash through the floor and 
free-fall through open space.

Mike Swanson of the WallStreetWindow explains the worrisome details related to 
last month¹s trade deficit, ³Just a few days ago the US Treasury reported that 
the net capital inflows from the rest of the world into the US fell for a 6th 
month in a row. Private from abroad fell to $34.7 billion in August and from 
$72.9 billion in July. Asian central banks made up for the shortfall. If they 
hadn¹t the current account deficit would have exploded. The NY Times quoted 
Ashraf Laidi, a currency analyst at MG Financial Group as saying, 'foreign 
central banks saved the dollar from disaster. The stability of the bond market 
is at thee mercy of Asian purchases of US Treasuries.'²

Swanson poses an interesting theory, but it can¹t be verified since the Fed 
stopped printing the M-3 that would provide the relevant facts about the current
cash inflows.

Jim Willie of GoldenJackass.com, offers an entirely different theory in his 
recent article ³Spent Dollar Momentum.²

Willie opines, ³Behind the scenes are the many illicit London-based firms busily
buying US Treasury Bonds with freshly-printed money from the Dept of the 
Treasury. Their tracks are covered by the blackout on the money supply 
statistic. (M-3) An isolated US government with a well-oiled printing press as 
the primary support device makes for a dangerous currency situation.²

Willie¹s theory jives nicely with the US Treasury¹s figures on the ³Foreign 
Financing of US Government Debt² (June 2006) Surprisingly, between 2005 and 
2006, our friends in the United Kingdom purchased another $142 billion of USD 
bringing their stockpile of dollars to 201.4 billion.


Why would UK investors suddenly stock up on dollar assets when everyone else in 
the currency market is moaning about the greenback¹s systemic problems?

Could it be that banks in the UK are just hiding the paper trail for friends in 
America who wanted to forestall a collapse in the dollar until after the 

Of course there is another explanation for the irregular activity in cash 
inflows, (purchase of US Treasuries) that is, that we¹re still living in a 
"faith-based" Wonderland where foreign trading partners are only too happy to 
buy an endless supply of worthless paper from a well-meaning giant who is busy 
spreading democracy to the "great unwashed" in developing world.

Of course, that is an utter fiction. The world is backing away from the dollar 
and dollar-based assets while the Federal Reserve attempts to conceal the 
details until we get through the election-cycle. It's that simple.

There is nothing accidental about the crisis we'll soon be facing. The officials
at the Federal Reserve and the US Treasury are fully aware of the devastating 
effects of massive trade deficits, increasing the money supply, and interest 
rates. They have set the country on the path to ruin as part of a broader scheme
for remaking the global system according to well-known precedents. In truth, the
plan to modify the present system has a long history; going back to the 1980s 
when many of the same actors in government today were in positions of power in 
the Reagan administration. For the last six years they have been patching 
together their strategy; producing record deficits, unfunded tax cuts, mammoth 
government expansion, and doubling the money supply.

Who can possibly argue that they did not understand the implications of their 

Did Greenspan know that by lowering interest rates in 2001 to 1.5 percent that 
he would sluice trillions of dollars into the real estate market, producing the 
largest equity bubble in history? And, if he didn't know, then how is it that 
the Fed provides the statistics which actually tell how large the housing bubble

Can¹t Greenspan read the charts and graphs his own organization puts out?

And why did Alan Greenspan support the ³no down payment,² ³interest-only² loans 
and adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs), which allowed ³high risk² people to 
qualify for mortgages when the Fed knew, according to their own figures, that if
interest rates went up, foreclosures would skyrocket?

Of course he knew; they all knew. How could they NOT know? They produce the 
facts and figures themselves! It¹s all part of a madcap scheme to shift wealth 
to the top 1 percent and drive a wooden stake into the heart of the middle 
class. When Greenspan saw that doomsday was approaching, he got ³cold feet² and 
bailed out. Now the scholarly Ben Bernanke is left to supervise the economic 
meltdown and face the public scorn.

Trouble Ahead

Currently, the U.S. economy is held together by the slimmest of threads; 
literally duct-taped together by massaging all the crucial economic numbers, 
pumping as much cheap fiat-currency into the system, and by "increasingly 
suspicious" maneuverings in the futures markets. With the elections over, there 
will be no reason to conceal the rot at the heart of the system. After all, we 
are not facing an unforeseen catastrophe, but a planned demolition intended to 
increase the disparity between rich and poor to such an extent that democracy, 
as we know it, will no longer be possible.

Nothing is more repugnant to America¹s ruling elite than the notion that every 
man, however broke and insignificant, can participate in our system of 

The Federal Reserve's bloody fingerprints are all over our present dilemma. The 
privately-owned Fed has never operated in the public interest. By doubling the 
money supply in the last seven years and keeping interest rates artificially 
low, the Fed has generated a $10 trillion housing bubble while, at the same 
time, ignoring a $800 billion trade deficit which is sucking up American assets 
and crushing American industry at an unprecedented rate.

This massive expansion of debt has increased the likelihood that an unexpected 
event, like a bank failure or a teetering hedge fund, will cause a major 
disruption in the markets, sending tremors through the global system. Even if 
nothing explosive happens, the faltering real estate market will continue to 
swoon, consumer spending will dry up, and the fragile economy will crash to 
earth. In fact, this is taking place right now; retail sales are anemic, 
residential housing dropped a whopping 17 percent in the last three months, and 
economic growth shrunk to a measly 1.6 percent in the third quarter. The only 
thing keeping the economy from collapsing entirely is the sudden drop in oil 
prices that ³conveniently² coincided with the midterm balloting.

This won¹t last. According to industry analyst Matthew Simmons the world 
production of oil may have already peaked, setting the stage for a leveling-off 
period before the inevitable decline. Simmons has data to show that ³world 
supply of oil has declined to 83.98 million barrels per day in the second 
quarter after hitting 84.35 million bpd in the forth quarter of 2005.² Oil 
production is going backwards not forwards.

No one believes the price of oil is going down any time soon. As energy prices 
rise and the housing market falls; consumer spending, which added $825 billion 
from home equity into last year¹s economy, will continue shrivel. Thus, the Fed 
will have to make the tough choice of whether to loosen the purse strings and 
lower interest rates to keep the economy sputtering along or ratchet up rates to
attract more foreign investment. (Keep in mind that the real estate market is 
already in retreat, even though the full force of the Fed¹s interest rate 
increases won¹t be felt for up to six to 12 months after they have been raised. 
The worst is yet to come)

Most economists believe that Fed Chairman Bernancke will be forced to lower 
rates sometime in 2007 to try to stimulate the economy and to affect a ³soft 
landing² in the housing market, but don¹t count on it.

I believe the Fed is more likely to either keep rates the same or raise them to 
outpace the anticipated increases in Europe and Asia. The reason for this is 
simple: it presently takes nearly $2.5 billion per day to maintain our current 
account deficit. To continue to attract foreign capital, US Treasuries must 
offer a higher rate of return than their foreign competitors. Now that the 
economies in Europe and Asia are growing, their interest rates are going up 
accordingly (to slow inflation). That means that the only way that America can 
continue to expand its debt, through the exchange of fiat currency for resources
and manufactured goods, is by raising the return on Treasuries. And, that is 
probably what Bernanke will do, even though it will skewer the struggling 
American worker and the US economy at the same time.

The secret to running the global economic system is to control the issuance of 
currency and thereby be in a position to expand one¹s own debt as one sees fit. 
The Federal Reserve must preserve its ³dollar hegemony² if it wants to maintain 
the greenback as the world¹s ³reserve currency.² To accomplish that, the dollar 
must stay one step ahead of its competitors (higher rates) and prove that it is 
on solid financial footing. This is impossible now that the US economy is 
contracting, so Washington has decided to do the next best thing; corner the oil
market. By controlling Middle East oil, US policy-makers believe that they can 
force foreign nations to accept the debt-plagued greenback regardless of the 
faltering US economy. It is no different than any other extortion racket.

If the plan succeeds the dollar will remain the de facto international currency.
But it is a difficult task and the escalating violence in Iraq suggests that the
results are far from certain.

Corporate Colonization

³Free Trade² is the Holy Grail of neoliberalism. It is essentially a public 
relations scam intended to disguise the shifting of wealth, jobs and resources 
from either the middle class or the public sector to the corporate and banking 
establishments.¹ Despite the zealous cheerleading of Thomas Friedman and his 
ilk; the basic facts have been thoroughly examined and are not in dispute. Free 
trade has been a dead loss for everyone except the people for whom it was 
originally designed; the wealthiest and most powerful men on the planet. It has 
served them quite well.

For example, ³since NAFTA went into effect in 1994, the US has lost over $4 
trillion to foreigners through its trade deficit² . . ."During that 11.5 year 
period , foreign ownership of US assets skyrocketed an amazing 400 percent from 
$3 trillion to over $12 trillion² . . ."Foreign interests now own 46 percent of 
US Treasury debt, 26 percent of corporate bonds, and 13 percent of US corporate 
equities. Now nearly 100 percent of ongoing borrowings by the government are 
funded by foreign interests.² . . ."Foreign interests also control a majority of
US domestic industries such as movies, music, publishing, metal ore mining, 
cement production, engine and power plant production, rubber and plastics and 
are major owners of US industries such as pharmaceuticals, chemical 
manufacturing, industrial machinery manufacturing, motor vehicles, and 
electronic equipment and components . . . In addition, the US has lost 3 million
manufacturing jobs over the last decade, real wage growth after inflation has 
been essentially zero,² and personal debt has never been higher. (Data from 
Thomas Heffner EconomyInCrisis.org)

Since 1980, 13,730 major companies have been sold to foreign corporations. We no
longer produce what we need to sustain ourselves.

These facts may have a mind-numbing affect on the reader, but they make a point 
that is simple and unavoidable. The country is being colonized by corporate 
predators and its main assets are being sold off to the highest bidder. This 
rampant carpetbagging is taking place in full view of the American public that 
still clings to the spurious idea that ³free trade² is generally beneficial for 
all. It is not, and we are about to experience its full-effects as America¹s 
³straw house² economy topples from its loss of manufacturing-capacity and its 
staggering account imbalances.

³Foreign investors now own 46 percent of US Treasury debt² over $3 trillion 
dollars! The Federal Reserve and its corporate wolves are planning to prolong 
the hemorrhaging of US wealth as long as possible, extracting every last 
farthing from the prostrate corpse of the waning republic.

Now, we are at the brink. Energy prices will go higher after the elections, 
manufacturing will continue to flag, and the housing Zeppelin is drifting 
towards the high-tension wires. To make matters worse, the American consumer; 
the ³engine for global economic growth,² is drowning in a sea of personal debt.

There¹s no place to go but down.

Every part of this bleak picture was anticipated by its architects. That¹s why 
they hastily slapped together the requisite legislation for a modern day police 
state. After passing the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (which allows the 
president the arrest whomever he chooses without charges) and overturning the 
Posse Comitatus Act (the president is now free to deploy the military within 
America against US citizens), the Bush administration is as ready as they can 
be. Apparently, they feel like they can manage the public shock and outrage with
detention camps and water cannons.

We¹ll see.

In any event, the trap has been set and any minor disruption in the hedge funds 
or derivatives markets will put the economy into a violent tailspin forcing our 
"Decider² president to activate his plans for the new world order.

Battle Stations, Battle Stations

Last week an article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard appeared in the UK Telegraph, 
where he stated: ³[Treasury Secretary] Paulson re-activated the secretive 
support team to prevent markets meltdown. Judging by their body language, the US
authorities believe that the roaring bull-market is just a sucker¹s rally before
the inevitable storm hits. . . . the plunge protection team is a shadowy body 
with powers to support stock-index, currency, and credit futures in a crash. 
Otherwise known as the working group on financial markets, it was created by 
Ronald Reagan to prevent a repeat of the Wall Street meltdown in October 1987.² 
. . . Paulson has set up ³a command center at the US Treasury that will track 
global markets and serve as an operations base in the next crisis.² (Members 
include the heads at Treasury, Federal Reserve and Securities and Exchange 

Evans-Pritchard adds: ³Mr. Paulson has asked the team to examine Œsystemic risk 
posed by hedge funds and derivatives, and the government¹s ability to respond to
a financial crisis . . . We need to be vigilant and make sure we are thinking 
through all of the various risks and that we are being very careful here. Do we 
have enough liquidity in the system?'¹²

And, finally, Evans-Pritchard asks, "[Do] Mr. Paulson and Mr. Cox [SEC] know 
something that we do not: whether other hedge funds are in the same sinking boat
as Amaranth Advisors and Vega Management, keel-hauled by bets on natural gas and
bonds? Or whether currency traders with record short positions on the Japanese 
Yen and Swiss Franc are about to learn the perils of the Carry Trade, a 
high-stakes game of chicken where you bet against fundamentals with high 
leverage to make a quick profit. Everybody knows it will blow up if the dollar 
goes into free fall.²

So what is Paulson anticipating?

Gabriel Kolko offers us a clue in a CounterPunch article, ³Why a Global Economic
Deluge Looms,² ³The entire global financial structure is becoming uncontrollable
in crucial ways its nominal leaders never expected. Instability is its hallmark 
. . . Contradictions now wrack the world¹s financial system, and if we are to 
believe the institutions and personalities who have been in the forefront of the
defense of capitalism, it may well be on the verge of serious crisis.²

Deregulation and reduced market transparency have created a plethora of 
financial instruments that are relatively untested and extraordinarily volatile.
By eliminating the rules of the game, market savvy investors have raked in the 
profits but reshaped the economic landscape in a way that no one can predict 
what the ultimate outcome will be. Hedge funds are now loaded with 
over-leveraged debt instruments that promise a generous return in an up tempo 
market, but certain doom in an economic downturn. Now, that all the arrows are 
pointed towards recession, the devastating effects of this new ³liberalized² 
system will be felt throughout the global economy.

No one knows what is in store for these high-risk hedge funds which have only 
been in existence for a short time and into which Americans have dumped 
trillions of their hard-earned savings. As Kolko says, ³The credit derivative 
market was almost non-existent in 2001, grew fairly slowly until 2004, and went 
into the stratosphere, reaching $17.3 trillion by the end of 2005.²

Is it any wonder why the main players at the Fed, the Treasury and the SEC are 
feeling a bit jittery?

Any shock to the markets could set off a system-wide catastrophe. Just this 
week, for example, Taiwan was bracing for a stock market crash following the 
surprise indictment of first-lady Wu Shu-chen. Even relatively small incidents 
like this on the other side of the world create the potential for contagion that
can spread rapidly in this new world of globalized markets. The danger is even 
greater when those markets are built on foundations of sand.

Hank Paulson was doubtless selected as Treasury secretary as the best possible 
³industry-insider² to oversee the unwinding of America¹s humongous account 
imbalances and flimsy ³deregulated² markets. His job is to ensure that, at the 
end of the day, US banking giants, the Federal Reserve, and western elites still
control the global economic system and that the dollar reigns supreme. Whatever 
happens to the American middle class in the process is of no consequence.

But Paulson faces an insurmountable task from this point on; fudging the numbers
only works for so long. So far, the greenback has benefited from the 
manipulation of oil prices, but that will soon end. (Better ³fill Œer up² now) 
The US economy is a shriveled shadow of its former self; housing and 
manufacturing are in a shambles and growth depends entirely on the expansion of 
debt. As GDP begins to nosedive, foreign investment will dry up, capital will 
flee to more promising markets in Asia and Europe, and the American people will 
totter into a barren world of soaring unemployment, hyperinflation, and 1930s 
type deprivation.

Unsurprisingly, the Bush administration still believes that their plan to remake
the world¹s strongest economy into a corporate fiefdom is a prudent way to meet 
the exigencies of the new century. Their foolishness defies description.

The country is now facing a Chernobyl-type meltdown and there¹s nothing we can 
do to stop it. The foundation blocks for sound economic growth and prosperity 
have been replaced by a misguided faith in military adventurism and police state
repression. The results are plain to see.

We are now more vulnerable to a seismic economic event than anytime since the 
Great Depression. The corporatists and the money-enders have absconded with the 
nation¹s wealth; gutting the manufacturing sector, creating enormous equity 
bubbles, and raffling off our vital industries to foreign predators. Their 
unchecked avarice has left the country teetering on the verge of ruin. At the 
same time, the Bush administration has sown dragon's teeth across the world; 
leaving the US with precious few friends who will throw us a lifeline when the 
ship starts listing.

Hard times are on the way; only this time it¹ll be detention centers instead of 
soup kitchens.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: 

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