Andrew Lilico in the Telegraph (via McArdle, via Insta) has a sobering look at what will happen when Greece defaults (“It is when, not if”). It starts out:
Every bank in Greece will instantly go insolvent.
The Greek government will nationalise every bank in Greece.
The Greek government will forbid withdrawals from Greek banks.
And then gets even less pleasant, including martial law and the European Central Bank going insolvent. The real European crisis hasn’t happened yet, and when it does, it will probably be much worse than the current U.S. recession.
Meanwhile, Greeks continue to protest long-overdue austerity measures. I am doubtful Greece is willing to actually implement real austerity. After all, the Greek government only recently decided that it might want to stop paying pensions to the dead. instead of solving the problem of an out-of-control welfare state, the ECB and the IMF have decided to let Greek slip even further into debt in exchange for implementing reforms and austerity they’ve shown no signs at all of being willing to implement; in other words, to kick the can down the road and hope that gives the other PIGS time to get their respective houses in order before the Euro collapses.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s crisis is so severe that not only are they going to start taxing private pension funds, they’re actually going to start fining trustees that don’t hand over pensioner’s money. “Threatening scheme trustees with huge fines that are not covered by trustee indemnity insurance if they refuse to or cannot collect the levy, is a guaranteed way to stop anyone coming forward to be a trustee. I expect the other consequence of the Finance Bill (no 2) 2011 will be the resignation, post-haste of hundreds of scheme trustees.”
The chances that various transnational and euro bureaucrats will succeed in rescuing all the PIGS (and thus the Euro) is slim to none: “The ‘troika’ [ECB, IMF, EU] is doubling down on its losing bet in Greece and is playing with the dice loaded against them.”
How bad is it going to get?
Austerity is going to mean hellishly bad deflation, high and rising employment, and depression in the indebted countries.
There is $600 trillion in derivatives now loose in the world. Who knows which banks have written them and to whom? Who are the counterparties? We did not fix this with the last political fix. The next crisis has the potential to be just as bad or worse than 2008, which is why I think Europe’s leaders are so dead set on avoiding a day of reckoning. If you look under the hood, as they most assuredly have, it must be frightening. And with pushback from voters?
Contagion, thy name is Europe. And with the US economy slowing down, it might not take much to push us over the edge
And that’s the best case scenario, the one where the PIGS actually bite the bullet and implement austerity. It’s entirely possible that one or more of them will reject austerity measures and, in doing so, set off a run on the Euro.
Also via Insta comes news that China has divested itself of 97% of its holdings in Treasury Bills. As Mark Steyn has pointed out, where Greece is now is where Obama wants to take us, with ObamaCare as just the down-payment on a full-blown European welfare state. We’re not nearly as far along as Greece is to financial collapse, but our debt is already starting to look like a bad bet.
Certainly we’re not so far along that we can’t turn back, but the Paul Ryan Roadmap is probably the minimum we need to be doing to get our debt under control. Less than that and we’re asking for serious trouble. It’s already looking like Carter era stagflation is here.
As the recent Texas legislative session showed, it is in fact possible to actually shrink the size of government, not just slow the rate of increase. Or at least it’s possible when you have Republican Supermajorities in the House, Senate, and Executive branch. By contrast, the Obama administration and Harry Reid’s Senate have shown no sign of being willing to address the problem, or even to admit it exists. They too want to kick the can down the road and keep piling blocks of debt onto the backs of your children. But, as the Euro crises shows, such actions have a way of catching up with you sooner rather than later.
You can only kick the can down the road so far before you run out of road.