Greece and Goldman Sachs

The Greeks have been over-spending for decades. I mean stupid stuff, such as allowing civil servants to retire in their 40’s, and permitting their unmarried or divorced daughters to collect their pension after they have died. Government-owned and hugely unprofitable Olympic Airways, government-owned and unprofitable utilities, hundreds of benefit programs and subsidies of every sort, have made Greece the classic example of government gone wrong, thanks to politicians, naturally. The same has gone on in most nations, and especially Portugal, Spain, Japan, Ireland, the UK, and of course The United States. Not a single citizen in any of the beleaguered nations with debts to the sky, voted for these debts. I didn’t vote to make America have a $13 trillion current debt, did you? I am certain that not a single Greek voted for out of control spending either, but once all these ‘programs’ and bailouts were in place, it is virtually impossible to ever get them off, at least without riots, strikes, and violence, which happen to be going on right now in Greece. It will happen here too, and especially in the big cities, mark my words.

In order to make their huge payment due in early May, the Greeks didn’t know what to do other than beg and borrow. They cut programs and bailouts, but that’s resulting in civil unrest. Germany has a strong economy, and its government thought seriously about bailing out Greece. The Germans howled in anger over that proposal, but it happened anyway. Forget the opinion of the populace! The IMF loaned, as did other foolish national treasuries, so Greece has been saved…for a short time. How can Greece ever pay back the loans? Any euros it borrows will command huge interest rates, because its credit rating has been reduced to “Junk.” I wouldn’t loan Greece an ounce of gold, and I am sure you wouldn’t either. Too big a risk. Quite a quandary for Greece, repaying the loans, and believe me, the exact same thing will happen to Spain, Portugal, Japan, the UK, and of course right here in America. Spain is in virtually the same predicament as Greece, and it has an economy five times as large as Greece. All thanks to stupid, greedy politicians…and in this case…Goldman Sachs. How?

From a February article in of all places, the New York Times, comes the crookedness of both Goldman Sachs as well as Greek politicians. From the Journal piece:

“In order to use the euro as currency, a nation can not have more than a certain portion of its economy in debts. Greece was way over the limit. Goldman Sachs came up with an answer which would merely push off the day of reckoning till a future date. The first thing they did was to fabricate an instrument which would push Greece’s health care debt far into the future, similar to a homeowner taking out a second mortgage. It had worked before. In 2001, just after Greece was admitted to Europe’s monetary union, Goldman helped the government quietly borrow millions, people familiar with the transaction said. That deal, hidden from the public view because it was treated as a currency trade rather than a loan, helped Athens to meet Europe’s deficit rules, while continuing to spend beyond its means. As in the American sub-prime crisis, financial derivatives played a role in the run up of Greek debt. Instruments developed by Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase, and a wide range of other banks, enabled politicians to mask additional borrowing in Greece, Italy, and possibly elsewhere. In dozens of deals across the continent, banks provided cash upfront, in return for government payments in the future, with those liabilities left off the books. Greece, for example, traded away the rights to airport fees, and lottery proceeds for years to come. Wall Street did not create the Greek debt problem, but bankers enabled Greece to borrow beyond their means, in deals that were perfectly legal.”

The Senate grilled Goldman Sachs big shots, and never did get a good answer to their questions. They did a perfectly ‘legal;’ thing, and that was to sell junk to the unwary, shallow, vote hungry politicians, and then short on the deal, and make a lot of money. Did Goldman make a lot of commissions helping Greece get into trouble? Did they profit hugely from the shorts after selling the instruments? Of course, and it was perfectly “legal.” Did any citizen or group of citizens vote for it? Of course not! Who will pay? The only political answer is, MORE TAXES! Politicians are so god-awful stupid, and economically illiterate, that the bunch of them should be voted out today, not in November.

Now, the Obama clique is speaking of a VAT (value added tax) which taxes an item at every single stage of its manufacture or production. I have an idea: CUT SPENDING! The Tea Party Movement has nothing to with race, but about both Republican and Democrat wild spending, just like in Greece. All the spending over the decades since FDR, has given us and other nations, an underclass, which depends on the handouts, public housing, food stamps, and all sorts of government freebies, paid by us in the form of declining dollar value and outrageous taxes, to simply live, copulate, and produce endless more numbers of the underclass. When the s–t hits the fan, and politicians finally decide to cut spending to pay at least some of the debt, the underclass will riot, burn, and ransack. Get out of the big cities, and protect yourself with gold and silver, against a surefire, oncoming, hyper-inflation.

Don Stott
for Whiskey & Gunpowder

May 7, 2010

The Daily Reckoning