Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Global Crash on the Horizon

International Business editor for the UK Telegraph, Ambrose Evans Pritchard, summed up yesterday's action in the Asian markets: "The global credit crisis has hit Asia with a vengeance for the first time, triggering a massive flight to safety as investors across the region pull out of risky assets. …

'This is a severe warning sign,' said Hans Redeker, currency chief at BNP Paribas. 'Asia ignored the credit crunch in August but now we're seeing the poison beginning to paralyze the whole global economy.'"

The credit storm that began in the United States with subprime mortgages has spread to markets across the globe. In fact, the train has already crashed. What we're seeing now is the boxcars piling up on top of each other.

According to the Wall Street Journal: "Chinese authorities are slamming the brakes on bank lending, in their latest attempt to curb the runaway investment threatening to overheat what is soon to be the world's third-largest economy. In recent weeks, regulators have quietly ordered China's commercial banks to freeze lending through the end of the year, according to bankers in several cities. The bankers say that to comply, they are canceling loans and credit lines with businesses and individuals."

China is awash in US Dollars and that surplus is causing a steady rise in food and energy costs. This could be mitigated by allowing their currency to "float" freely. But a sudden, steep increase in the Chinese yuan's value could also send the world headlong into a global recession. For now, the lending freeze and price fixing appear to be the way out.

In California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has joined with four mortgage lenders to freeze adjustable interest rates (ARMs) for some of the state's highest-risk borrowers; another unprecedented move. The Governor hopes to avoid a collapse of the California real estate market which has gone into a tailspin.

Jon Basile, economist at Credit Suisse, summed it up like this: "There's a heck of a lot of bad news out there." Indeed.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Sinking Currency

The euro, worth 83 cents in the early George W. Bush years, is at $1.47.

The British pound is back up over $2, the highest level since the Carter era. The Canadian dollar, which used to be worth 65 cents, is worth more than the U.S. dollar for the first time in half a century.

Oil is approaching $100 a barrel. Gold, down to $260 an ounce not so long ago, has surpassed $800.

Have gold, silver, oil, the euro, the pound and the Canadian dollar all suddenly soared in value in just a few years?

Nope. The dollar has plummeted in value, more so in Bush's term than during any comparable period of U.S. history. Indeed, Bush is presiding over a worldwide abandonment of the American dollar.

Nor is there any end in sight to the sinking of the dollar.

[Excerpt of an article by Patrick J. Buchanan]

Sinking Currency, Sinking Country

The dollar is plunging because America has been living beyond her means, borrowing $2 billion a day from foreign nations to maintain her standard of living and to sustain the American Imperium.

The prime suspect in the death of the dollar is the massive trade deficits America has run up, some $5 trillion in total since the passage of NAFTA and the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1994.

A sinking dollar means a poorer nation, and a sinking currency has historically been the mark of a sinking country. And a superpower with a sinking currency is a contradiction in terms.

What does this mean for America and Americans? As nations realize that the dollars they are being paid for their products cannot buy in the world markets what they once did, they will demand more dollars for those goods. This will mean rising prices for the imports on which America has become more dependent than we have been since before the Civil War.

Americans traveling to the countries whence their ancestors came will find that the money they saved up does not go as far as they thought. U.S. diplomats stationed overseas, students and businessmen are already facing tougher times.

[Excerpt of an article by Patrick J. Buchanan]