Opinion: Bernard Hickey argues the global financial crisis is at a critical stage where bank shareholders and bondholders battle taxpayers over who will pay the bill for unsustainable debt. Your view?

Opinion: Bernard Hickey argues the global financial crisis is at a critical stage where bank shareholders and bondholders battle taxpayers over who will pay the bill for unsustainable debt. Your view?
European bank Credit Default Swap rates show banking stress now at Lehman collapse levels again.

By Bernard Hickey

The noise around the global economic downturn, ruinously high debt and rising inquality is deafening.

We hear every night of riots, bailout packages, bank rescues, protests, strikes and stock market slumps, but what's really going on in this 'new normal' for the global economic and political system?

It's all about who gets stuck with the bill at the end of the party.

The developed world finished a near two decade long spending spree funded with debt in 2008. The core problem was that output per person in the developed world (US, Europe, Australia, NZ) slowed its growth through the 1990s and 2000s. A lack of investment in infrastructure, a lack of progress in finding job-creating new technology, ageing populations and a shift in manufacturing to Asia saw growth in real income per worker in the developed world flatten out.

At the same time the liberalisation of financial systems in Europe and the United States allowed consumers and governments to borrow to keep growing their incomes and growing consumption, often of products made in China and Germany with money borrowed from China and Germany, or with money created by central banks.

Now the chickens are comimg home to roost. Rising debt is only sustainable when real incomes are growing faster than debt, but that hasn't been happening for at least a decade.

The Lehman Brothers crisis of September 2008 was the first chicken to land. Since then the debt problem has shuffled from bank balance sheets to taxpayer balance sheets as banks, central banks and governments have kicked the can down the road, hoping they can restart growth and fix the problem with rising growth or at least through rising inflation.

The second chicken is the sovereign debt crisis on the fringes of the Euro zone that is rapidly spreading to the core. This weekend's latest crisis summit is the latest attempt to find another way to kick the can down the road and hope to restart growth before the chickens die and start rotting.

Banks are the canaries in this chicken mine. They feel the stress first and that's what is happening in Europe as those lending to banks are getting nervous about whether all the government bonds they hold are actually worth what they are valued at on their books.

The moments of truth in this process are when banks are forced to revalue their assets. This process is often called 'getting a haircut'. That's when the banks agree with the borrower how much to write down the value of the debt. This comes after they realise the debt can never be repaid and the interest costs have spiralled out of control.

Europe is now at that point.

The question then is: who will take the losses when the haircuts are agreed? Is it the bank shareholders and bond holders? Or can the debt be shuffled onto someone else to eventually pay the price?

The latest deal in Europe was designed to reassure private holders of European government bonds that they would not be forced to take a 'haircut' again after the shock they got when Greece restructured its debts.

There are two ways to make debt go away. It can be restructured, or the debt can be inflated away in real terms by inflating prices and incomes. When it is restructured bank shareholders and bond holders take the pain. When it is either inflated away or shifted to government balance sheets then taxpayers and term depositers take the pain.

Essentially this is all a battle between the owners of banks and the public at large.

So far bank shareholders and bondholders are winning. In America they successfully arranged bailouts by the US Federal Reserve and a shift in the most toxic debt to the government and the central bank. In addition to the debt shuffle to the public, the bankers, the central bankers and politicians want to make the debt go away by increasing inflation above the level of interest rates, which are being suppressed at both ends by the US Federal Reserve in a process called 'The Great Repression.'

Now the same process is being played out in Europe. Bank bond holders and shareholders want taxpayers to guarantee their bonds will never lose money and are baying for the European Central Bank to use the same tactic as the US Federal Reserve and Bank of England of printing money to buy government bonds off the banks.

German taxpayers are revolting at the plan, as are many unemployed youth in Europe and United States. Politicians and central bankers want to avoid a collapse so are giving in to the calls for government bailouts and money printing.

We'll see whether taxpayers ultimately accept the bill that the owners of banks and their bond holders don't want to pay.

It is a battle between the 1%, who own the bank bonds and bonds, and the 99%, who are taxpayers and term depositers.

So far the 1% are winning, but the 99% are fighting back through the ballot box and on the street.

That's what all the deafening noise is about.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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Somewhere, someone, sometime said:

"The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks."

Who's winning so far?

Cheers,

 

Les.

www.changenz.co.nz

 

Please Bernard, your comment is aimed at whom...it would seem to be aimed at people who after three years have not a clue what the hell is going on...so why bother!...you might as well scream at the moon.

What we need is to have the options displayed so that we can plot the most likely path along the bottom, if indeed the economy remains stalled.

In diagram format...not a splodge of sentences.

Give us a full layout. Expose the policies. Make it in a format that invites contributions for editing and inclusion. Load in the buttons to links that open to the verbal fluff.

We need something better than just the verbal fluff.

Yes – Kiwis eat a lot of shit !

 We aren’t allowed to tell – how much shit is happening – everywhere – currently – and point the finger to the greedy establishment - because Christmas is coming – more business gifts/ consumption – paid with money we don’t have – keep the failing economy going - HA !

 The government under PM Key doesn’t have the right mix for our future and so do most other political parties. It would be therefore very foolish for Bernard to be the sole economist in this country to talk straight, in a different direction - without losing creditability/ acceptance to the NZmedia world. Sheep need to be herded to stay calm.

 Even straight talkers of this blog have been told off because of that.

 It is all talk and smile, but no substance. Considering the worldwide circumstances with a fast changing financial and economic environment, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQqDS9wGsxQ  the government must abandon megalomaniac economic projects. As some results already demonstrate excessive dairy farming, mining and drilling are not sustainable - destroying health, life’s and our clean environment. Because of debt stress we see governments increasingly take higher economic risks, which will lead into more catastrophic events. As a small and remote country we cannot financially/ operational and technically cop with such projects. This country needs more diversity, especially in the production sector. We have to go back to a green, clean and pure economic philosophy and high quality standards with massive potential for the future and our kids. Bring back real New Zealand – an economic model for the world.

------

In my inbox after that article: David Chaston – Walter control and don’t repeat your self  - you naughty boy – you are now definitely banned from this blog 

Grand to have you back on board , Walter ...... been bored with the editing & the threats of banning people around here ....... even Iain Parker copped a threat of extermination .....

... how's business , friend ..... busy for you in the lead up til Christmas  ?....

It's a shock to be back in town , and to see all the corruption & incompetence with EQC , and the uselessness of CERA , ....... the CBD of Christchurch is ugly , no other way to put it ...... the bureaucrats have taken control , sadly .....

 

Roger - so far we are doing reasonably well with the establishment – investing in art.

I cannot comment on Christchurch, but heard some horror and some great stories. I reckon there is enough room to replace Brownlee and fill in 2- 3 others for more progress.

Yes to corruption and incompetence, yes CBD ugly, still some goods things happening.

Taken a number of enterprising folk overseas and getting them established.....always a silver lining mate.

We will have them living a larger life in no time. They follow those that have already left and are doing well and expanding.

With a little luck they will matain a presence and links with NZ and we can have some spill over benefits back here.

Its enterprise so don't expect many here to get it.

"We aren’t allowed to tell..."

That's not the real problem. No, the real problem is that almost nobody wants to be made aware of these things. They prefer total ignorance. It's why so many try so hard to shoot anyone suspected of being a messenger.

A lot of words.

Just one example of many.

http://www.covec.co.nz/sites/covec.tst/files/Coal%20Price%20Report.pdf ...and then all of a sudden things change and high ambitions are gone of several, often unpredictable reasons.

Pike River Coal has started to mine coal for export and is expected to be operating at full capacity by the end of 2009. It will export approximately 1 million tonnes (c.3.3 PJ) per annum of hard coking coal and has contracts for 55% of its production over the next 18 years to India.

In addition to my earlier comment.

Hi Wolly

Been away overseas for a bit and just back. Sure not much changes around here however... I could ask why it has taken you so long  to get to this point of frustration... :-)

Get you point... however I'm reminded frequently the value of this site on the number of people recently introduced here who have used this site to become informed and altered their financial position in response.

This site and those that contribute do make a difference.

It's banned in the Beehive Speckles....!

I suspect the typical arrogance you find there means its a self imposed ban.

Oh Wolly, even things that are perfectly obvious still need to be said, and this situation is far from obvious to most of us.

Bernard, you have laid out the problem fairly well. Not many people see the direct linkage between the debt mess and the failure of the 'west' to maintain healthy production and infrastructure. I would like your discussion to also include a mention of cheap oil being used up, which maybe is why the production and infrastructure was left to rot while we borrowed our standard of living.

It might be extremely difficult to chart a course for the future, but we can see where we are not going, and that is going on the way we have been. The exponential growth of energy consumption we've seen since 1650 cannot be continued forever. At the rate we have been going, regardless of the energy source, we'll boil off the oceans in 350 years or so.

http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/11/growth-has-an-expiration-date/

More screaming at the moon please, maybe some zombies will hear and wake up, lol.

Don't delete that DGC...in a years time you will be able to post the same comment...and in 013....likewise 014......! Get the picture....it usually exposes everything.

What is unsustainable will fail, history rhymes, it doesn't repeat.

Wolly, not everyone is as wise and right thinking as you, is your middle name Soloman?

Muzza...the diagram can convey the information better than repetitive written comment. That is why the rates are on this site on a table....though I think the cartoons are here just for a laugh...for many, the cartoons are the information.

An interactive diagram that allows for surfing off down the links and for controlled input by punters MIGHT be very helpful.

 "An Italian cat named Tommasino has become the third richest animal in the world.Maria Assunta died last month aged 94 and left her fortune to the stray cat she found and looked after because she loved animals.Tommasino is worth $18 million.The richest animals are a German shepherd and a chimpanzee" herald

Isn't that the piigs hole the NZ taxpayer is soon to be forking out $1.5billion to under a dumb agreement between the NZ govt and the International Monetary Farce.

Is your pussy worth that much Gummy?

Who says that the debt is unsustainable , Bernard ? ...... is that your opinion ?

...... I reckon that the debt is very much sustainable .... no problems there ...

Someone's debt is someone else's credit ..... very sustainable ....

Gummy, what are your thoughts on this? A popular opinion expressed here from a number of contributors is that when banks lend money on a mortgage for example, they, the banks, create the money (credit) out of thin air by just increasing the numbers in the borrower’s bank account. Hey presto there’s suddenly 250,000 extra in your bank account at the press of a computer key. If that is the case, although such an approach doesn’t explain why the banks still need to borrow billions offshore, why don’t the banks simply cancel that debt by doing the reverse, and delete those numbers from a borrower’s bank account? After all, that money never existed in the first place, right, so the bank is not actually destroying someone’s money that money never existed in the first place.  Debt problem solved, right? The only thing the bank would be foregoing on in doing that would be the interest income it picks up on those loans? Or are things not really quite as simple as the popular opinion suggests?  

In fact , Oz madman Steve Keen has some bizarre theories along these lines ..... and he's pushing for a " debt jubilee " , whereby the government will dictate the banks to take a haircut on massive swathes of their loans , to bail-out residential mortgage holders ...

.... freaky stuff , these voodoo economics wonks ... and naturally , Bernard has taken the bait , and joined their merry circus ......

Gummy is made of simpler stuff , believing in double entry book-keeping & all that , banks borrowing and then on-lending those monies , eveyone being accountable ....  

You're absolutely right Gummy, that guy Keen is Krazeeee in my inexpert humblest of left-leaning personal finance opinions...

BTW, When are you going to come back to NZ and serve your country proper outside of a virtual sandbox opinion platform?

Well Amanda GBH and I are currently looking for capital investment to build a biosphere, to the specification of a Doomsday Vault from which Bernard and Co can comfortably wait out the inevitable while broadcasting the all important message.

"Nyaa na na na naaa ... told you so.  "

While gloom is big business down under ,it appears to be in talking about it ,rather than proactivley getting involved in creating any physical or tangible Gloom idols of worship.

That said we are confident many posters here will search their hearts and pockets to ensure Hickesteria is built  and Bernard installed as Deacon before  the earth vanishes in a blip.

Lol. I'm pretty sure there's already a picture of Bernard riding a stallion with a fiery goblet in his hand on the internet. Anyway, don't either of you run away in your escape pods. I need my daily pick me up.

You know Amanda...that's the weirdest thing . I have a Crimson Pink Statue of Quixote on his stallion...some years ago I broke the lance rendering it incomplete.

 Funny thing is every time I look at it I think of Bernard.....don't tell though, he get's tetchy about the quixotic thing.

 That said Quixote intentions were always honorable. 

Amanda : If you see a cane-toad reptilian item , Gollum 'like , slithering the streets of Rangiora ....... 'tis I , the Gummster ..... returned to assist Mummy Gummy in shifting her clack as the ceremonial Gummy homestead is renovated , room by room ....

..... the Hickster means well , he has a strong heart , but ( sadly ) a weak head , and as the Big Head ( initials of Bernie Hickey ! ) of this ephemeral virtual interent platform ... he has some creedence amongst the left wing liberal Labour intelligentsia ....

..But if he just suspended all judgement and ingrained knowledge , and followed the chosen one , all would be well ...

... praise be the Wolly , for the Wolly's shalt inhabit the mirth .

Amanda - can you outline the arguement that makes you say, "that guy Keen is Krazeeee"?

Cheers, Les.  

Happy xmas Les..." The major influences on Keen's thinking about economics include Hyman Minsky, Piero Sraffa, Joseph Alois Schumpeter, and Francois Quesnay. His recent work mostly concentrates on mathematical modeling and simulation of financial instability"

wikim

Hey and maybe even pay taxes....

regards

David, Roger - good points, but see third stream here:

"The neoclassical vision of saving and lending — the standard model being taught in universities — causes economists to be blindsided by the dynamics of debt in the economy, according to Steve Keen. In part 3 of the INET interview, Keen talks about the role of private debt in the economy.

It is true that one person’s debt is another person’s asset, but it is equally true that banks create money when they lend. This kind of endogenous expansion of debt, Keen says, drives economic activity, and most economists are completely oblivious to it. "'

http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2011/12/05/inet-interview/

Also his paper:

http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2009/01/31/therovingcavaliersofcredit/

to read about "endogenous expansion of debt" and look for paper he did with Mish called 'Fictional Reserve Banking'

Obliviously yours, Les.

  

The problem Steve Keen faces is one of credibility .... ever since his little walk up Mt Kosciousko , due to a loss on his failed prediction that Australian house prices would collapse .... luckily for Keen , he doesn't reside in NZ , Mt Cook would've re-orientated his bravado somewhat ......

..... after so many years of flapping his arms & gums , and warning us all of  the imminent collapses , Keen does not appear to have achieved many correct guesses to his theorems , none at all , infact ......

The proof of the pudding is in success , he needs to actually get something right , Les . Then we'll resume taking notice of his hectoring .

He still gets paid Gummy!!!!

That is where Steve Keen is infinitely smarter than the Gummster : He has tenure !

.... Gummy gets the boot , everytime he stuffs up at work ....... think I'm becoming a good keen man . Tenure , huh ?

His prediction failed becasue teh OZ govn panicked and did another first time buyer pork fest....you know gummy the things you hate....handouts.

Try looking at his charts showing each first time buyer handout, the chane in the market is quite easy to spot.....

LOL, credibility, success, now Im not suprised the likes of you are now slagging him off.....he looks to be right, which means of course another nail in the laissez faire coffin.......so the vitriolic right will be busy trying to destroy someones rep....

Just remember gummy, academics have a tendancy to sue to protect their reputation......so always be truthful........

regards

Steve Keen just happens to be the " expert " we're booting in the bum today . The guy's unaccountable for his weird theorems , he's free to wax hysterically at the status quo .... yet never seems to reproach himself for always being wrong ......

...... at least Bernard had the good grace to admit he'd prognosticated incorrectly .....

But if you wish to change targets , no probs . We could have a field day hoeing into the pronouncements of the " experts " on CNBC & on FOX ..... Jim Cramer , Larry Kudlow , Ben Stein .......

David

Banks are only interested in the concept of moral hazard when it works for them. As in the parable, it isn't the Emporer who proclaims the blindingly obvious, even though he also has supressed feelings of unease. He just gets carried away with himself, isn't that it?  And in the end he believes his own sh!t. The Aussies are less polite than us and hounded our boy out of town.

Sorry, forgot, such simple explanations only work in hindsight...

"when banks lend money on a mortgage for example, they, the banks, create the money (credit) out of thin air ............ If that is the case, although such an approach doesn’t explain why the banks still need to borrow billions offshore"

Good question, here's how (I think) the thing works.

There is no doubt that "money" is almost entirely created as debt issued by the private banks. Actual cash is issued by the reserve bank. Just using a credit card creates "money". The bank's balance sheet is kept in balance almost instantly when the loan money is  deposited as it's drawn down. It doesn't have to be the same bank as the loan is now an asset on the banks books - it can now borrow from the bank the money was deposited with. This is how money/debt can expand so easily and to the point of being completely unsustainable. The only real restraint is the general propensity to go into debt.

The NZ banks need to net borrow offshore because we run a current account deficit. If we had no long term current account deficit the banks domestic and foreign assets and liabilities would be in balance. For forty years now we have, collectively, had to net borrow from our overseas creditors.

Of course the current account deficit must show up as rising debt levels to NZ's households, businesses, farms and/or governments. At the moment it's the central government that's going deeply into debt. In the noughties it was the private sector. Despite all this talk of deleveraging it's impossible (across all sectors) if you're running a CA deficit.

BTW, Amanda, what makes you think Steve Keen is crazy?

 

I just love it how you try to twist things to try and make something look not what it is and then try and make it look farcical.

Contributors who read and comment off academic work....its an acadmic view point that IMHO makes sense.

So after the banks create credit they then go out and borrow to make up the leverage.

Its really the equiv of naked short selling...

and there you go trying to calim you have a PhD or something...but ive seen no original thought or analysis from you......ever.

regards

You is your comment directed at Steven? It doesn't appear to make sense.

Yep I see Cristina Fernandez just swore in for a second term in a landslide...between her and her  dead hubby not bad for a coupla defaulters who told the IMF just where they could shove their austerity package.

 rampant inflation sure ...but a flourishing economy...that seems to exist in spite of  a lack of IMF input.

 Yes the world keeps turning ...! the pure shock of it all eh... 

As per usual GBH you have the classic neo-con / economists view point, and this is why by ignoring private debt we are on the brink of a 2nd Great Depression.

regards

The whole freaking monetary system is unsustainable.  Get the philosophers out of economics, we need real solutions, that are workable, demonstratable, and repeatable.  Scientists can engineer an economy that actually economises.  All philosophers can do is create ideas in their head that do not work in real life. 

The current economic model fails big time once you apply the scientific method.  Nor do any of the other mainstream economic theories, liberalism, Keynsians, communisim, free markets, capitlism etc, they are all leading to crisis after crisis, this is retarded.

I am changing my bame to Tomisino and getting a DNA change...meeow

..... what's a " bame " ? .....

It's pussy speak Gummy...you know pussy speak!

.... oooh that , yup . As Sarcosy whispers to that hot little minx Angela Merkel , " what's new pussy-cat , meow " ........ and she snarls  , " thwarted again , the English have bested us once more , mon ami ..... "

Sorry Bernard, got lost in your avian-themed metaphors: "Banks are the canaries in this chicken mine." Chicken mine? That's..um... gold.

I think the real problem is that there is little real conflict between taxpayers and banks because bankers are taxpayers and taxpayers are deposit holders and deposit holders are invested in banks and no-one can seriously "make the other guy pay/suffer (even if justified) because they just will end up hurting themselves anyway.

Canarie in the Coal mine, ie what they didn't have at Pike River.

what's a Canarie...? skudiv, I believe you meant Can of Rye...

This guy is far too wise for most people.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qlgzTlAvOo 

Excellent link! Very informative guy. 

The guy is just another idiot idealist.

I understand Cunliffe is deeply concerned that bloody squint is going to let him down again in his bid for the Leadership...what with summer coming on and some hired goon of Shearer's running around pulling up the shades at  the last meeting . Cunliffe is now understood to be donning the polaroids while in the toilet to mittigate some of the aggrivated squint muscles from remaining in spasm.

It's certainly tough out there...just like it was back in Somalia dealing with warlords who were notorious squinters......you never really knew what they were thinking....damn squinters.!

36 hours to lose the leadership of a failed party destined to fail forever...what's to lose! Cunny should slice the old order in half and walk the plank, followers in tow.....followers in tow I said.....hey that aint fair....where'd they go.....arrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhh.......splosh.

2014 : Labour will become the new government in NZ , easy peasy . And David Shearer will appeal to voters just as Jolly Kid does now , as a decent , affable sort of guy .

... The days of smarmy , smirkiness are over ...... the populence has a radar finely tuned to the nuances of arrogance and know-it-all-itis . Sorry Cunny .... you cannot be leader . But hey , behave yourself this time ( actually back leader Shearer ! ) , and you'll be in the cabinet mix , no problem .

I agree with that Gummy...014 and Shearer is a shoe in....all he need do is sweap away the marxist twaddle and set a course to avoid Keynesian madness...he can take the Swedish route and win the future....send cunny to Cairo as Ambassador post 014 with duties in Somalia....

 

Yet Keynes describes how to get out of a liquidity trap and avoid a 2nd great depression.  Never mind, most Govns seem hell bent on avoiding that Keynesian trap as well.....so we are screwed.  

We get to watch how badly performing the alternative is....

 

regards

 

Talking of unsustainable debt...if you wanna know the real reason the Merkozy mob are fuming at Cameron's "NO"...take the time to read this...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8948303/All-Britain-is-isolated-from-is-a-looming-eurozone-disaster.html

 The important decisions? The first was that Germany finally got France to go along with its view of how the future of Europe should look. There would be no more bailouts of any type without serious reforms. Sarkozy is in a bind. French banks are essentially so bankrupt that they are too big for France to backstop all alone and maintain its AAA rating. Plus, France's deficits are nontrivial and its ability to raise taxes with any real effect is rapidly dwindling. France needs help. Merkel simply held her ground. In the end, Sarkozy had to agree. To not do so would doom the European experiment and any French hopes for future relevance (more later).

The meetings between Sarkozy and Merkel and "announcement" give Sarkozy the political points he needs to demonstrate that he did not actually cave in. I am sure he in fact did get a few points in, here and there. But not the key points and certainly not what he was asking for this past summer. But he has elections coming up in five months. He can't appear to be weak when negotiating with the Germans.

Germany would have liked to have all 27 EU members agree to a major treaty change, essentially giving up some sovereignty to a new European entity (or the current one with more teeth) that could enforce budgetary controls on individual members. Britain could and would not agree. So, since we don't want to kick anyone out, Germany simply goes around the Maginot Line of the present treaty and says it will get an agreement from each individual country. They will each write into their national constitutions or laws binding rules that commit them to fiscal controls and austerity. If you want to be in the club you have to play be the rules. If you don't agree, you cannot be part of the eurozone and get access to the central bank and larger agreements on aid.

Each member has to take steps to help themselves before they can apply to the EU for help. If you want the ECB to buy your bonds and support your markets, then you need to get control of your fiscal situation. The carrot and the stick. The carrot is 1% financing for your banks, which can then buy your bonds at 4-5-6% (depending on the country). That makes it easier for your banks to get whole.

Remember, it is not just French banks. Almost without exception, every European bank has bought massive amounts of various European government bonds. Leverage of 30 to 1 is common. (This has the rather bizarre effect of making large US banks look conservative.)

 

 http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article32047.html

"He had no choice. Financial services are a far more vital part of the UK’s economy than they are of any European country. The City provides services to a large part of the world, and financial services are our biggest sector for employment, taxes and exports."

Which sums up Britain's position...it has nothing else.

regards

Doh....why would any one of the 26 need to apply to the EU for help once they have control over their fiscal mess....!

This is Europe....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwcD7t-CfHo&feature=g-logo

Funny.....

regards

"Banks are the canaries in this chicken mine."

Whoa ... that's one hell of a mixed metaphor.

Whose going pay for the debt. Simple...The savers will lose out. This is becuase inflation will rise partly to inflate away the debt, and savers will take a bath as the value of there savings has less and less buying power. I now say enjoy your money now, as you don't know what will happen in the future.

Buy quality land/property Rob...it's a better long term option than cash at bank.....

Agreed, buy good agricultural land, it's what I've been saying for about 6 years. Bought an acreage already, looking around for more, closer by. I'm waiting a bit to see what happens to property values first tho, might take a temporary dive around here when it becomes nearly impossible to get a mortgage.

Wondering about buying gold for now - never have been an 'investor' before, but times are changing. My guess it's likely also to take a temporary dive, as the debt bombs go off and whoever is left behind has to sell their gold to pay for the mess. How's that for wordy fluff.

Saw an interesting term in a comment: "In Lowland Scots, we call this a "fankle" or in English a handmade problem of great magnitude with no obvious solution."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8949665/Bundesbank-rejects-Europes-IMF-funding-ruse.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/interactive-graphics/graphic-of-the-day/8868729/Graphic-European-debt-crisis-explained.html

This is a really cool graphic. Click on a country, it turns blue, and other countries change colour based on who that country owes money to. Purple is bad. Eg click on the UK and you see it owes Spain and Germany a lot.

I would like to see a similar graphic with the euro countries as one bloc, and who they owe money to externally.

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