12 October 2010

Empire and its imminent demise

Glenn Greenwald writes today that the U.S is a collapsing empire. As evidence, he points to a number of surveys and studies showing the rapid decline in life expectancy, infant mortality, literacy in math and science, and the "soundness" of our banks and, by extension, financial system. He wrote a column a few months back on the same topic, though the examples provided there were more direct. On the bright side, though, he points out in the current column that the U.S. is only fifth in the world in executions and continues to best all comers in incarceration rates.

In addition, a few days ago, Ron Paul said that he thinks that a collapse of the U.S. currency system is "95% likely" and that a war with Iran would only hasten its demise. This all has a very "the sky is falling!" ring to it, but look back at the bank "soundness" rankings, mentioned earlier. The U.S. ranks 108th in the world, out of 133 countries on the list. That puts it 63 places behind Greece, a country that just received a 146 billion dollar bailout from the EU.

Peter Schiff, on a related subject, writes about the massive inflationary expedition on which the Federal Reserve is about to embark. Even I wrote about this a week or so ago. Unlike me, Mr. Schiff researches and writes about this stuff for a living (and does quite well at it), so when he speaks, it's probably a good idea to listen. Aside from the normal, "gold, silver, and commodities are rising; the dollar is falling" talk, he explains why bonds are currently acting the way they are:
A confounding factor is the strong performance of US dollar-denominated bonds. When the Fed creates inflation, that erodes the value of fixed-asset investments like bonds, which can't adjust their returns to the new price level. So many commentators are pointing to the record low bond yields as evidence that inflation is not a threat. But this is a misreading of the situation.

What is overlooked is that when the Fed prints more dollars, it typically uses them to buy bonds. Traders know this, so they are stocking up on bonds at ridiculous prices just to flip them to the Fed. They don't care that, in the long run, the Fed's policies will destroy the bonds' value because in the short run, the weak dollar policy serves as a tremendous subsidy to bond sellers.
I'll leave you with this quote, attributed to George Washington, and let you draw your own conclusion(s) about where our government is headed:
The last official act of any government is to loot the treasury.

1 comment:

  1. there are parallels to the fall of the Roman Empire too - privatization of large segments of the military, overextension of military beyond the capability to financially support it, destruction of a middle class, concentration of wealth, the curse of affluence - citizenry becomes unable to compete against hungrier groups.


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