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Financial Alchemy by Ian R Thorpe.
For three decades it was alchemy. Banks and corporations pullede off the equivalent of turning lead to gold by turning liabilities to assets and then using those very dodgy assets to secure loans. It could not last of course, sooner or later someone was bound to work out how the illusion of turning debt to wealth was performed. Find out how here...

Financial Alchemy
by Ian R Thorpe.
2011-01-17
CREATIVE COMMONS: Attribute, non commercial, no derivs.
KEYWORDS: economics, economy, economists, politics, politicians, left, coalition, labour, conservative, banks, bankers, corporate, business, interest, debt, credit, crash, crisis

The phrase "credit crunch" ought to be self-explanatory, "Credit crash" however conjures a yet more graphic illustration of the state of affairs in the global economy. What should concern us given there is a mountain of evidence to back up these phrases is that there is so little political will to understand quite what went wrong in the global markets over the years leading up to an off-the-Richter-scale moneyquake that has since 2008 redefined the state of western society. The democratic world became addicted to the notion that the creation of debt – any old debt, not just, or even, boring, sound investment – was the creation of wealth. While we ordinary punters have gone cold turkey, paying down credit card balances, cutting back on spending, turning down the heating thermostat and wearing an extra sweater, governments are still hooked on spending money they do not have. The Obama administration is leading the world's biggest economy to ruin. The UK's governing coalition is at it with their student loans policy, merrily lending money to individuals, instead of investing it in the institutions that educate them, because in the future – the government hope – the Treasury will get their money back with interest. The problem the government have with student loans for Higher Education is during thirteen years of Labour's mismanagement of everything Higher Education was made into a sacred cow. New Universities were opened left, right and centre and the numbers of places available on degree courses in soft subjects increased exponentially. Thus the UK now has lots of people with degrees in media studies, journalism or drama and dance earning a meagre living as burger flippers and shelf stackers while employers recruit plumbers, electricians, mechanics and carpenters from among recently arrived immigrants. This has little or nothing to do with reducing the deficit now. The institutions get their money all the same, even though the risk being taken in lending it for interest rather than investing it for future boffinry remains with the government. All the institutions have to do is attract lots of students, in a "competitive market", and charge them as much as they can get away with, up to that £9,000 a year. The only difference is instead of going directly to Universities the money goes to the students in the form of a loan. Getting a degree will be like getting a mortgage. Safe as houses. Safe as countries that thought houses were a safe investment, countries such as Ireland, the USA and our own. Ireland, supposedly the beneficiary of a "bail out" by its generous European neighbours, it is actually being allowed to borrow money that it will be expected to pay back with interest sometime. As the Irish government got into trouble because it could not afford to pay the interest on what it had already borrowed, what chance is there of the bail out loans being repaid. So the bail out of Ireland and the one that saved Greece from total economic collapse and the ones currently being arranged for Portugal and Spain are more fine investments for the future. The justification for this profligacy clearly resides in the fact that Irish default would leave European banks exposed to Irish debt to the tune of £650bn, the UK and Germany featuring large in the reckoning. Well worth putting that off until the upswing comes, and the bailed-out banks can be sold again, at a profit. The fabled upswing. The recovery that borrowing for investment (stimulus) was going to produce. Fortunately our government, having learned on assuming power that Britain was just a few weeks away from having the International Monetary Fund step in to prevent the collapse of our economy (as it had done at the end of Labour's two previous periods in government, is doing the opposite, and "reducing the deficit". Though the public spending cuts are causing much wailing and gnashing of teeth among supporters of the spendthrift left who always seem to labour under the misapprehension that when governments run short of money all they have to do is print some more, deficit reduction was unavoidable and urgent. Over and over again people who delude themselves they are intelligent repeat that the deficit was created by the bailing out of the banks. WRONG!. The money spent on bailing out the banks is part of the UK national debt, the money the government owes the people – somewhere around £350tn. The deficit is the gap between what the government is spending each year and what it is earning. This is currently nearly £110bn, money that has to be borrowed at interest each year unless it is made to go away through a mix of cuts and tax increases. The way governments raise this money is by selling bonds. Many people would prefer to shift the emphasis to increasing tax revenues, even though Britain boasts no fewer than 30 million taxpayers, all handing over more than half their income in direct or indirect tax already. Sure, tax avoidance is an issue, but one that is difficult to solve without the unlikely advent of global governance and the abolition of currency in favour of electronic transactions for even the smallest purchases. Think of the implications of that and anyone who lives in the real world will understand why it is not going to happen any time soon. A surprisingly large number of people believe there is a yet more simple solution. Money must be wrung out of the very wealthy, who have multiplied their wealth so much in the last 30 years, in some other way. One suggested solution that showed an infantile failure to understand money was to clamp down on offshore tax havens. Unfortunately offshore tax havens though they are often tiny islands are sovereign nations. Heads of greedy, spendthrift administrations in large powerful states cannot just go sending in troops to tell these tiny sovereign nations (or autonomous provinces in the case of Hong Kong) how to order their affairs. If they did it might turn out that other large powerful nations find it suits them very well to have a tax haven just off their coast. Another way to squeeze the rich that has been suggested is asset taxes. Much of the wealth the left complains 'the evil rich' are not paying tax on is money is tied up in assets – property, pieces of art, antiques, jewellery, classic cars, stocks and shares. It is surprising how little liquid cash rich people have. Now the deluded left might have no difficulty believing that every rich person is sitting in their castle or fortified manor house, musket across their knees, pistols at their side and the hilt of a duelling sabre in their hand, waiting to repel the Revenue Men in tricorn hats who could burst in at any moment to seize the sack of gold doubloons on which all rich people habitually sit of an evening. It is not so of course, though the left love to talk of fairness but cannot see how it is unfair to tax the notional value of assets that have been bought with money on which tax has already ben paid, assets that are not earning income and may just as easily depreciate in value as appreciate. Could governments relieve the wealthy of these assets, confiscate them to be sold so their cash value can be realised? Just think that through. The first few, or few hundred sequestrations might raise moderately good sums but once it was seen the market was glutted with expensive houses, fancy cars, antiques etc. there would be few sales and revenue from those would be far below expectations. Many of these assets, like the houses people saw soar in "value", in the bubble economy would turn out to be of less value once they were on the market in quantity. That's bubbles for you.So 'squeezing the rich' So how do we finance restarting the stricken economies of the west. All the chatter on the left about shutting down the tax havens, squeezing the rich and borrowing to invest is big talk, but sounds rather silly coming as it does from small, envious people. In his book Beyond the Crash, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown talks of the economic crisis becoming visible when the dancing stopped. The dancing hasn't stopped yet, though it has settled into more of a They Shoot Horses, Don't They? shuffle. There is plenty more "deleveraging" to be done in the big consumer economies, and the wealthy will be, as ever, last in the queue for pain. So how do we start to tackle the problems which in fact are getting bigger rather than smaller. It would help if people, particularly leaders would be a bit more political and less ideological. For 30 years, government in many western nations (the UK in particular) has fled from infrastructural investment, waiting patiently for the market to provide. But the market has not provided a decent transport infrastructure, for example. Now investment in our railways will be provided by the poor sods having to pay exorbitant prices to commute on the dirty, unreliable local trains that shuttle workers to and from the cities each day. About the only reason so many people use trains to get to and from work is the urban and arterial roads are gridlocked. For the future we should be aiming to make commuting a cheap and pleasant experience so people currently using their cars. Whatever one's position on climate change, oil is not going to get any cheaper as competition for supplies from the huge populations of India, China, Indonesia, South East Asia and the rest of the developing world increases so an infrastructure investment in useable public transport would benefit society in generally by making life less stressful and the business community by increasing productivity (contented workers work harder and take less time off for sickness.) In education, after three decades of waiting around for the promised market solutions, there will now be more waiting for more market solutions. Labour's plans for state funded schools to be run as businesses, competing to attract pupils in the way universities have to compete to attract students crashed and burned before it go off the ground. The Coalition's academies programme, like Labour's, is about rewarding ideologically compliant with more money. Thus under the Coalition's education regime targets and statistics would still count for more than the actual quality of the product being delivered. Coaching to test will continue take precedence over educating for life. Labour were always quick to remind us investment in education has been increasing for years. Recently the Programme for International Student Assessment revealed that Britain has slipped from fourth in science, seventh in reading and eighth in maths in 2000, to 15th in science, 25th in reading and 28th in maths. Britain is "stagnating" while other countries are improving. Surely Estonia is not spending more on education than Britain is? The left's naive belief that the more money spent on the education system the better the education is undermined by complaints from employers hiring school leavers and recently from University administrators that school leavers with excellent paper qualifications are in need of remedial education in basic numeracy, reading and writing. Where will money for all this much needed investment be found? Ireland, Portugal, Greece? Student loan recovery? The sale of banks whose assets consist of overpriced homes and the mortgage payments they can wring from their deeply indebted owner-tenants, as long as they can stave off a price collapse. The economies of the west have run for decades on a kind of alchemy, not turning lead into gold but turning liabilities into assets. The culprits are not the general population who were encouraged to abandon prudence and caution in favour of being part of a global economy based on perpetual growth in a world of finite resources through the inifinite inflation of asset values, not with the banks because they were handed an opportunity by the economic alchemists, but government, big, centralising governments. It was madness, hubris. And as always hubris, contempt of the gods, leads to the most spectacular crash. Ask Icarus if you do not believe me. RELATED POSTS:

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This page started by looking as a case of personal liberty versus gay fascism in Belfast, Northern Ireland but looks set to spread in all directions. While the Belfast Gay Cake case was, to the best of our knowledge, the first of its kind in Britain, there have already been a number of high profile cases in which the authorities have deemed that gay bitchiness trumps the civil rights of straight people,

Troika Is Manoeuvering To Rig The Greek Referendum
According to Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, the troika, the IMF, European Central Bank and EU Commission is planning to rig the outcome of the Greek referendum on whether to accept further austerity measures in return for bail out cash

Ending the Ownership of Money
It must be common knowledge by now that some of the world’s most economically powerful nations are insolvent due to the burden of sovereign debt. These economies are held together through by the faith of citizens and businesses in the currency. If that faith evaporates, the leading economies will crash as voters realise the only thing underwriting the economy is debt.

Climate Change: Physicist Asks Is a Deadly Ice Age on the Horizon?
The last ice age ended approximately 12,000 years ago, and since then we’ve been enjoying a pleasantly warm “interglacial period.” But given that an interglacial may last only 12,000 years, we’re confronted with a scary prospect: Another ice age may be nigh.

Government Paid Trolls Are Using 'Psychology-Based Influence Techniques' in Social Media
Have you ever come across someone on the Internet that you suspected was a paid government troll? Well, there is a very good chance that you were not imagining things. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now have solid proof that paid government trolls are using “psychology-based influence techniques” on social media websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Zuckerberg reveals Facebook Working On Apps 'Smarter Than Humans'
In an online Question and Answer session this week Facebook supremo and founding megalomaniacal sociopath Mark Zuckerberg announced that his company is engaged in building AI systems "that are better than humans at our primary senses."

Boko Haram attack on Nigerian village leaves nearly 100 people dead


According to eye witnesses nearly 100 people have been killed in an attack on mosques and houses in a village in north-eastern Nigerian by suspected Boko Haram militants, news feeds reported today (2 July 2015).

Sleepwalking Into Another Middle East War To Make Obama Look Good
Watching the news feeeds, we see The United States has blocked attempts by its alleged Middle East allies to fly heavy weapons directly to the Kurds fighting the Islamic State jihad in Iraq.

War, Famine, Plague and all that
It is no secret that “news” media in the developed world is owned by a few corporate empires whose ultimate owners' are financial operators whose reach extends into manufacturing, extraction industries, big agriculture and food,

The Day the Earth Died - And Why The Green Lobby Did Not Raise A Whimper In Protest
By selling their votes in return for pledges of government spending in their states the current crop of US Senators have effectively transformed their nation from a representative democracy to a dictatorship in which the President can make law on a whim.

Artificial Intelligence: Will It Kill Human Society?
The media, the so called 'experts' and politicians hail every technological advance as if it will btransport us from reality to a utopian paradise. but does Artificial Intelligence and related internet and computer technology pose theats to human society that far outweigh any possible advantages? Whateve, Google plan to put machines in our place on top of the food chain.

City of Berkeley to require cellphone sellers to warn of possible radiation risks
One of the fist themes of this blog was that mobile phones (and wi-fi etc.) do pose a risk to health. Here's the latest admission that the sceptics voices were right, from The Guardian

Have US tactics only helped to make ISIS more powerful?/b>
We have questioned the US led efforts to defeat ISIS in the middle east many times, pointing out that every time the western alliance steps up opposition to the establishment of a news Islamic Caliphate, Islamic State seem to get stronger. 'Conspiracy Theorists', our critics yell. So let's look at opinion from around the world that concurs with ours.

Refugee host school in Germany bans revealing clothes
We have asked before and no doubt will again, when the citizens of a nation are constantly asked to give up their freedoms and change their behaviour in order to avoid offending new arrivals from medievalist cultures, whose effing country is it anyway.

More Violence In Malmo As Community Centre Burned
27 'youths' arrested after shootout in Rosengård
More trouble in Sweden as the ruling elite's determination to had the country over to lawless gangsters and tribalists from barbaric third world cess pits sees violence and inter - tribal conflict continue to increase in the once peaceful suburbs of Swedish cities.

Refugeee Host School In Germany Bans Short Skirts As They Wind Up Muslim Boys
We have asked before and no doubt will again, when the citizens of a nation are constantly asked to give up their freedoms and change their behaviour in order to avoid offending new arrivals from medievalist cultures, whose effing country is it anyway.

How Ironic That Humourless Warmageddonists Will Not See The Irony
I've lost count of how many times this blog has highlighted the extraordinary consistency with which politicians and scientists working in concert manage to achieve the exact opposite of what they are aiming for. One might be tempted to think that the first step in proposing a scientific solution to any problem is to first understand what harm the unintended consequences of your solution might cause.

Saying The Unsayable
Watching BBC Question Time last Thursday, I was struck once again by the way it was left to one of the stock hate figures of the left, Melanie Phillips, to actually pronounce the great, clunking truth that the online activities of left wing hate mobs have rendered unsayable.

Mediterranean Boat People Crisis Threatens European Identity
As European leaders gathere for a summit meeting on the Mediterranean Immigrant crisis, Italy's Matteo Renzi has warned that Europe must find a solution to the ever increasing flow of migrants from third world locations or risk losing its identity.

Saying The Unsayable: Today, Melanie Phillips
Watching BBC Question Time last Thursday, I was struck once again by the way it was left to one of the stock hate figures of the left, Melanie Phillips, to actually pronounce the great, clunking truth that left wing hate mobs have made unsayable.

Russia Outmanoeuvres the west again
While mainstream media (and even some of the more rabidly fascistic left wing bloggers) have been trying to demonize Russia as a way of drumming up public sympathy for Barack Obama's efforts to start a shooting war with Moscow, we Boggart Bloggers and ...

America and UK Lead the World in Climate Scepticism Several times now it has looked as if the climate chance scare was over as the enthusiasm of climate scitentists for changing real world data to fit in with the predictions of their mathematical models has been exposed. But as the scare was never about the environment, but was a scam to redistribute wealth from rich to poor countries, the politicians are throwing their propaganda budgets behind it again.

Sham Marriages To Beat Immigration Laws Are Out Of Control
With main immigration news on being dominated by the Mediterranean boat people crisis and the masses at Calais hoping to stow away in a freight container, we forget that another way of getting somebody into the country is the sham marriage. Numbers involved may be small, but it is another indication of our governments' failure to address the immigration problem.

Mediterranean Immigrant Composite
The flow of undocumented migrants from Africa trying to cross the Mediterranean from the coast of Libya to Italian, Greek and Maltese territory seems unstoppable. Two factors in the problem however have been western (particlarly American meddling in the internal affairs of African states, and wester aid leading to a population explosion national infrastructures are unable to cope with. And of course European leaders haven't a clue how to deal with the problem.

De-Dollarization Du Jour: Russia's Largest Bank Issues Yuan-Denominated Guarantees
Leading the charge to multipolarity and de-dollarization are Russia, resugent despite economic sanctions and the rising superpower in waiting, China. The downgrading of the dollar is clearly demonstrated in the launch of the BRICS bank and the establishment of the AIIB.

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