Following the announcement by the Italian Cabinet of additional austerity measures to include plans to combine all 1,963 towns in Italy with populations of fewer than 1,000, some mayors protested by turning in their honorary keys to the city while others began developing marketing plans inviting immigrants to their towns in order to raise their town’s population above the 1,000 minimum and remain independent.
Luca Sellari, mayor of Filettino, had different ideas: he decided to create an independent monarchy with himself as prince, and a new currency, the fiorito (which means small flower) with an exchange rate of two fioritos to the Euro (about 72 cents each).
The austerity plan would eliminate the jobs of 54,000 elected officials and save some money. Sellari wants to remain independent, however, and is moving to take Filettino (population 598) private.
Those who are hoping for a more optimistic report of the global economic future should probably not read on. According to a report released by the Union Bank of Switzerland entitled “Euro Break Up-The Consequences,” the death of the euro is inevitable and the long-term effects of such an event will potentially include civil war, the collapse of international trade and sovereign default.
The report lays the foundation of its assertions by declaring, “Under the current structure and with the current membership, the Euro does not work. Either the current structure will have to change, or the current membership will have to change.”
It goes on to reveal that the Union Bank of Switzerland has virtually no faith in the system to which they are ultimately connected. What makes such an assertion so frightening is that the UBS has a “hegemonic influence over the world economy,” notes The Blaze:
The global economy is facing a meltdown, according to World Bank President Robert Zoellick. “We are moving into a dangerous period,” Zoellick said to Bloomberg Television at a Singapore interview. The likelihood of an American recession is made increasingly likely by the danger of an economic implosion in the euro zone.
“I believe the U.S. will have slow growth, I don’t believe it will move to a double dip, but these things are very hard to predict because if you have events trigger uncertainty in Europe, that will flow back to the U.S.,” Zoellick noted, mentioning that the success of the euro zone “depends on the political decisions moving forward.
He added: “Sometimes people hope that you can muddle through by providing financing and liquidity, in the case of Europe, from the European Financial Stability Facility or the European Central Bank.
Information cited in a leaked 2009 diplomatic cable from the U.S. embassy in Beijing shows the Chinese regime knew about American and European suppression of gold prices to maintain dollar hegemony, but that it was buying more of the precious metal anyway. The purpose of increasing its gold reserves, according to report cited in the document, was to encourage other nations to do likewise while making China’s currency more appealing internationally. Another effect of the strategy, analysts noted, would be to weaken the U.S. dollar’s status internationally.
Gold-price manipulation by Western central banks — and the Federal Reserve in particular — has been somewhat of an open secret for decades. But the cable released by WikiLeaks triggered significant interest among metals investors and analysts, some of whom expected the news to cause another surge in gold prices.
The announcement by the Federal Reserve of an “enforcement action” against Goldman Sachs for engaging in “a pattern of misconduct and negligence” in its handling of home mortgage loans was entirely predictable. Charges of such misconduct go back for months when it was first discovered that mortgages and other mortgage-related documents had been “robo-signed” and foreclosure documents hadn’t been properly reviewed and that Goldman’s Litton Loan Servicing unit took actions “without always confirming that documentation of ownership was in order.”
The ruling requires Goldman to write down some mortgages that it holds, pay an unstated restitution, and provide “remediation” to homeowners who were hurt in the collapse. The ruling doesn’t preclude other enforcement actions from state banking regulators who are continuing their investigations into the matter, either, so additional sanctions may reasonably be expected soon.
In banking, few values count more than consistency and integrity. The sovereign debt crisis in Europe, however, appears to have watered down those values in the case of some banks. The International Accounting Standards Board has stated that some European banks used the value provided by the Greek government in determining how much value Greek bonds should be counted in the assets of the bank. That would mean the bonds would be worth about 21% less than than the original valuation.
Those bonds on the open market, IASP Chairman Hans Hoogervost wrote in a letter to the European Securities Markets Authority — the organization responsible for regulating securities valuation — have much lower values than that. “This is a matter of great concern to us” the August 4th letter, which was made public on August 29th, warned. “It is hard to imagine that there are buyers willing to buy those bonds at the prices indicated by the valuation models being used.”
Punch and Judy Show continues — this time in South Africa.
Former Federal Reserve boss Alan Greenspan made headlines this week when he said gold is indeed a currency and noted that the euro was falling apart, contradicting top officials on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Gold, unlike all other commodities, is a currency,” he told attendees at a conference in Washington D.C. on August 23, saying he did not think the precious metal was in a bubble despite recently reaching a new record above $1900. And a flight to safety amid inflation fears is what’s causing soaring gold prices.
“The major thrust in the demand for gold is not for jewelry,” Greenspan explained. “It’s not for anything other than an escape from what is perceived to be a fiat money system, paper money, that seems to be deteriorating.”
Since its inception almost a century ago, the Federal Reserve has enjoyed a cloak of secrecy that has grown more opaque over the years. When the economy imploded in 2008, Bernanke’s Fed swung into action behind the scenes, handing out immense sums in bailouts to a host of ailing financials, through direct loans to the very biggest banks — what Robert Litan, a former Justice Department official, called “the aristocracy of American finance.” The exact figures, however, have been a closely guarded secret, until now.
It took a Freedom of Information Act request, months of litigation, and even an act of Congress, but dogged investigators at Bloomberg News finally gained access to the figures, and, after crunching the numbers, concluded that the Fed — unilaterally and with zero congressional oversight — had doled out as much as $1.2 trillion in taxpayer monies. That's about $500 billion more than the separate, hotly contested, and widely publicized $700 billion bailout pushed through Congress at the same time.
In 1941, the United States was first assigned the so-called “triple A” or AAA rating, a reflection of the widespread belief, at least in the free world, that the United States government could be relied upon absolutely to pay its debts. At the time, the United States had recently grown into the world’s largest economy. The dollar, after the end of the Second World War, became the world’s reserve currency under the terms of the Bretton Woods agreement. Other hard currencies were to be convertible to U.S. dollars, which were in turn convertible (for international investors, at least) into gold (the so-called “gold exchange standard”).
The general perception of the dollar as the world’s backstop currency and of U.S. government debt as being as good as gold survived President Nixon’s closing of the “gold window” in 1971 and the decade of economic malaise — which included significant inflation — that followed. This is surprising in hindsight because Nixon’s action certainly fulfilled the criteria for a partial default, being motivated by the inability of the United States to service debts incurred in the Vietnam War.