German bankruptcy? When will Germany default?

Moody’s threatens Germany downgrade. According to "Die Welt" there are 4 faults that doom the Euro. No heroic attempts will save the Euro. Rather will doom Germany, too. Germany is giving loans and guarantees assuming a Trillion Euro in guarantees for doomed countries. Several times its yearly budget of just over 300 Billion Euro. And this is before the unlimited rescue packages for the bigger countries like Italy and Spain. 

german-bankrupt-euroMistake 1: All people are equal. Germany developed solar and wind energy, while Greece, Spain and Portugal have much twice as much wind and sun. The latters simply lack the inventiveness and energy of the Germans.

Mistake 2: Lower interest (in Southern Europe) decrease cost of government debt and create growth. Changing from Drachma, Escudo, Lira to Euro decreased interest rates from 10% to 2%. Instead of using the gains to pay back government debt, these countries went on a spending spree. High government expenses please voters. Greek government salaries doubled in 10 years. Note that Germany, Sweden manage austerity measures (see Mistake 1). Spending and growth were based on borrowing, while the economy was destroyed by cheaper and more efficient German production.

Mistake 3: one same interest 2% level levels differences Germany’s support payments caused a boom in Spain. 2% interest loans with 3.5% inflation really invites overspending. Germany should have lower interest rates of 1% (and thus more growth and consumption. Southern countries should have had 6%-7%. interest rates.

Mistake 4: One currency leads to same wages. The lower quality of French cars was offset by lower prices due to currency devaluation of the Franc. Now Peugeot is closing factories because they cannot decrease their cost to compete against better German products. (source "Die Welt")


.Target 2 debt owed by the South to the North accumulated to about 1 Trillion Euro of unpaid (and unpayable) debt. The signs of doom were visible for a decade, but were swept under the rug until the problems became huge and unmanageable. The unavoidable doom of Greek, Spanish and other countries finances will be delayed by Germany taking unmanageable unlimited risk. Thus Germany might sink together with these countries. The iron-clad "no bailout clause" was simply violated, just as debt limits. So there is no reason to believe that any new agreement will be kept, in the long run.

Human-Stupidity Analysis

The Euro was doomed from the start. The idea that a common currency can join Europe into a unity has proven to be flawed. It is destroying European countries and create serious irreparable hostilities between nations.

False dogma and political correctness cause suffering.

Germany is guaranteeing several years of its federal budget to other countries.
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The Euro destroys Europe. Euro breakup necessary to save Europe.

Inflation and production cost differences cause irreparable financial desequilibrium and  cause havoc in Euro zone

Countries with different inflation rates are are bound together into the common Euro currency. No more corrective currency devaluations !  Production cost differences create serious permanent economical and financial imbalances and fan hostility between nations. Germany resents paying and guaranteeing crippling amounts of money, worth several years of federal government budget. Greece resents forced austerity, wage reductions and severe recession. The Euro causes suffering, injustice and resentment among European nations. The Euro should have never been introduced as common currency for economically diverse nations.

Euro breakup scenarios

A breakup would be painful. Germany has guaranteed and loaned too much. Loans are too. The European central bank bought lots of potential default papers, in order to transfer losses from banks to the tax payer.

But every year these loans increase further.  Greece, Italy, Spain have become too uncompetitive and indebted. `Germany’s currency is under-valued, salaries are too low, leading to enormous export surpluses. 

Coins and bills of Greek, or German currencies would need to be minted, causing serious logistic problems. .

Finland leads the way

Finland could leave the Eurozone rather than pay other nations’ debts, says Jutta Urpilainen

The finance minister stressed that Finland, one of only a few EU countries to still enjoy a triple-A credit rating, would not agree to an integration model in which countries were collectively responsible for member states’ debts and risks.

She also insisted that a proposed banking union would not work if it were based on joint liability.

 

"We need A Europe of sovereign nations", said General DeGaulle’s

DeGaulle, French hero, general, and ex-president,  had the right vision. He wanted collaboration of sovereign nations, not forced equalization of European nations.

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Different cultures, differing inflation, same currency. The Euro aggresses cultural identities, thus creates animosity.

Over the year, Northern and Southern European nations moved further and further apart, in prices, productivity, production cost. German exports became cheaper, because German workers get paid too little in a currency that is undervalued in Holland and Germany, and overvalued in Greece and Italy.

Cultural diversity, the obstacle to Euro’s functioning

Northern and Southern European countries always had different attitudes towards work, savings, inflation, leisure, strikes, and thus very different inflation rates.

Inflation rates always were differentHistorical Inflation Rates before and after Euro
Production cost (Unit Labor Cost) and accumulated inflation drifted apart further and further, year after year. Target 2 debt owed by the South to the North accumulated to about 1 Trillion Euro of unpaid (and unpayable) debt. The signs of doom were visible for a decade, but were swept under the rug until the problems became huge and unmanageable.
The Euro will only work if European diversity gets destroyed: Let Greek and Italians work harder then the Dutch, and Germans, And Germans need to spend more then Southern Europe. Equal attitudes would not suffice. It is not enough if Italian and Greek productivity and inflation move in unison with Germany, Holland and Austria. 13 years of divergence have to be undone.

Germany’s production cost increased 8% over 13 years, and Southern European cost increased 33%. This obviously causes a permanent and lasting trade imbalance.

Production Cost becomes more divergent over time

Unit Labor Cost (determines production cost and thus competitiveness) differ more and more over time, turning Southern European products too expensive to compete, German products relatively cheap

All proposed solutions involve European central government interference to force nations to change their traditional ways. Government interference in wages, prices, borrowing habits. The  Greeks need to get forced to work and save like the Dutch, and the Germans enticed to increase wages and spend like the Italians. 

Rules and agreements have been broken before (debt ceiling, no-bailout-clause, ..). There is no reason that new rules will finally be kept. Nor is it clear that such discipline is desirable and useful for the offending Southern European nations. Not only is the population fiercely protesting against austerity. They are right, austerityis strangling these nations and leads to recession.

Currency devaluation and revaluation due to market forces have been eliminated with the advent of the common European currency. Devaluation was the old and tried solution that maintained trade and debt equilibrium and needed no government interference.

Relative value of Euro against national currency has always moved in opposite directions
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Diversity of European Cultures dooms the Euro. Greeks need to work like Germans, Dutch to spend like Italians for the Euro to function.

Train strikes in Italy

I was about to leave Italy, by train, when I was surprised by a country-wide railroad strike . Luckily I was near the France border and made it out on next day’s only train. That train happened to pass through a short stretch of French mountain villages and allowed me to continue the trip in France.

My European train trip prevented me from posting last month. And this strike made it clear to me why the common currency, the Euro, can not work.

This strike clearly showed to me what is wrong in Europe. Italians (Greeks,Spaniards, Portuguese) strike to prevent austerity even in the face of imminent bankruptcy. Germans (Austrians, Durch) traditionally accept austerity measures and voluntary restraint, just for stability’s and employment’s sake. German labor unions accept wage cuts, increased retirement age, while their southern counterparts fight teeth and nails for every possible advantage. It has always been this way.

The Italians don’t understand the Germans, and vice versa. In the Euro debt crisis, century-old incompatible cultures clash. Italy defines itself as connection to a person. Not the structure is relevant, but a personal relationship. The Italians know how to take advantage of the Germans (Anton Börner)

Europe’s amazing diversity of cultures and life styles is being threatened

Europe’s amazing diversity of cultures and life styles is being threatened by the Euro. Countries have vastly differing attitudes in hard working vs. relaxed life, ,workers unions’ strikes vs. self worker’s self restraint, sacrifice for the common good vs. self-interest.

Southern European countries’ inflationary tendencies, relaxed attitude towards work, punctuality, price stability were corrected by frequent devaluation of their currency. High interest rates (in their native currency) restrained tendencies to happy-go-lucky overspending.

Germany on the other hand has a hard working,population, willing to forego pay raises,and a very disciplined central bank. Historically, the German Mark regularly appreciated in value. Like the Swiss Franc, which is still appreciating against Euro and Dollar.

This has always been like this, and will not change drastically.

The Euro is an example of human stupidity. Politically correct thinking can not fathom that cultures have totally different life styles and attitudes which can not be tied to one single currency. Argentinia failed catastrophically afther they tied their currency to the dollar.

Germans need to spend more then the Italians and Spanish,. Greeks need to sacrifice and work more then the Germans.

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Germany’s Central Bank against the World of unlimited money printing

jens-weidmann-bundesbankGermany has, tacitly and automatically, already loaned € 547 Billions to Southern European countries.  Add to this the hundreds of Billions in bonds the European Central Bank already bought, in violation of their charter. Germany is responsible for 27% of all these. For more if other guarantors fail to pay. In addition to Germany being a net payer for the EC budget, year by year, to aid moneys to weaker countries. Plus German  guarantees for Greek and other bonds that probably will never be paid.back. 

    Most significantly for German public opinion, Weidmann’s message spoke about possible losses for the Eurosystem of member-country central banks caused by growing internal imbalances among European central banks generated by capital flight from southern EMU members. Weidmann’s letter, which found its way into the columns of the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, appeared to suggest more secure collateralization for the overall ECB credits to weaker EMU central banks, which now amount to more than €800 billion under the ECB’s Target-2 electronic payment system.

    The latest Bundesbank figures show that the Bundesbank’s share of these credits rose from €498 billion to €547 billion in February, pointing to continued capital flight from the southern to the northern members of EMU. Weidmann reawakens debate on Bundesbank’s power

The German Bundesbank is owed  € 547 Billion in target claims the European Central Bank. This is € 13,000 Euro per employed German.

Our life insurance policies and savings accounts now are owed more than 13,000 € per German worker from open target claims against the other central banks in the euro zone. These demands can not be made due, get an interest rate below inflation, and will prove to be wholly or partially worthless, if the Euro breaks or if Euro countries go bankrupt. 2

Germany is still haunted by the memory of the hyperinflation of the 1920s. That's one reason why many Germans are so opposed to printing money to solve the euro crisis.The world blames Germany for attaching conditions to loaning or rather giving away money they legally should never give in the first place. The world wants Germany to bail out all of Europe, to give enormous guarantees that some day might become due as true financial liabilities for Germany. Risk Germany’s bankruptcy to bail out Europe.

Saving the Euro

Germany’s Central Bank against the World

Jens Weidmann, the new president of Germany’s Bundesbank, is strongly opposed to making the European Central Bank the lender of last resort in efforts to prop up the common currency. It’s a lonely fight, however, and the pressure from Germany’s European partners is intense. Some warn that Weidmann’s course could end up destroying the euro. By SPIEGEL Staff.

Hasn’t the Euro already been destroyed by insane spending and borrowing?  World wide, governments borrow money with no intent to ever pay it back. Rather they pay it with the next loan.

And then they are unable to afford the new loan because the interest increased. This is not unexpected, it has caused insolvency in Latin America 20 years ago.

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Acta in the UK: 10 years in jail for a download. Copyright running amok.

The movie industry, record industry, and yes, the porn industry have some legitimate concern about  illegal unpaid downloading of their intellectual property. Unfortunately, they try to stem the tide by draconian punishment for minor crimes like downloading. Dangerously, industry interests coax politicians to enact overcriminalization laws that seriously hamper internet freedom and mete out harsh prison sentences, like SOPA in the US and ACTA in Europe.

See this YouTube movie

 

Human-Stupidity Analysis: historical precedents and alternative solutions

Interestingly, we had similar problems when Gutenberg invented printing, when the shellac record was invented, with advent of the copying machine, the tape recorder etc.

When we download something we really like, we would love to pay for it. Unfortunately we don’t know how. An easy mechanism for voluntary pay should be created. Furthermore, many countries introduced a tax on blank DVD, CD, copying machines, DVD recording machines that was to be used exclusively to pay off copyright owners. As a solution to the copyright dilemma, a similar monthly tax has been proposed on computer equipment. Harsh but much better then criminalization of an entire population and internet surveillance.

Human-Stupidity, tongue in cheek, wonders if these taxes are evenly passed on the the porn industry, which disproportionately suffers from illegal copying.

We also want to remember that it is morally unjust and illicit money grabbing, when copyright owners charge the SAME prices for downloads (that cost almost nothing) then for physical CD and shellac disks that entail huge production, transport, distribution and storage cost. This is the same as if we were charged the same price for books as they cost when someone had to copy them in hand-writing, before the advent of printing. Prices ought to drop considerably due to technical progress.

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Women Would Get 42% of Male Pension, if Unsubsidized! Brazilian Retirement Fund for Government Employees to Subsidize Women’s Earlier Retirement.

To reform the Brazilian retirement system, various plans are under discussion. All of them allow women to retire 5 years younger and/or with 5 years less of paid contributions to retirement funds.

Without subsidy, women would get 42% of male pension!

5 years less compounding in pension fund means women should get 65% of men’s pension.  Women live 20 years in retirement, men only 13, lowering women’s unsubsidized pension to 39% of male pension. (0.65 times 13/20). Even if women were retiring at the same age, they would get 65% of male pension, if paid according to insurance mathematics proportional to their input to the system and the expected payout. That is for women with equal salary as the men. If women earn less, and thus pay in less,  would further lower the expected payout, if normal insurance rules applied. The numbers might change a bit with more sophisticated math, but the differences are shocking, nevertheless.  Use your country’s life expectancy tables for 60 year old males and females, and years worked at age 60 or 65 by gender.  In countries where men retire at the same age as women, the differences get much smaller.

By this model, a woman with 55 years of age and 30 years of contributions, for example, might begin to receive retirement benefits. The same goes for other combinations, provided that the sum is 85. [55 + 30 in this example]
In the case of man, the age of 60 and 35 contribution, the employee could retire, for example. Also other combinations, keeping the sum of 95 years [ 60+35 in our example]
1

Men to subsidize women’s shorter work years and longer retirement years

Brazil now plans a capitalizing retirement fund for government officials.

"The biggest concern is the question of women. They contribute, but retire five years earlier. It is a capitalization fund, but they lose 35% to 37% in favor, because they would have five years unless the capitalization," admitted Gabas, who attended the lunch with the allied base.
But there is already agreement to another type of fund: The fund called survival. Would allocate a small percentage of the contribution to a special reserve, for cases in which living retired more years than the average time period for which stipulated and contribute. 
2

The only solution is for men to pay more. Nobody even considers to require women to work equally long as men, in order to justly equitably earn their own retirement benefits.

Another fund should be created to benefit women and federal police. The text states that both categories retire with 5 year less minimum contribution. "They are still entitled to retirement, but would have five years less capitalized and thus would have a big loss," said Gabas. The government’s contribution to this second fund is not yet clear, according to Vaccarezza. 3

Click here to see the complete table of nations' retirement ages

Women retire earlier, contribute less and live much longer. In Brazil and world wide.

They don’t even mention that women live about 4-7 years longer, thus exacerbating the financial advantages women have over men. You can see from the graphic that in most countries in the world, women retire at least 3 years earlier.

The difference between the survival rates of men and women remains large: while girls born in 2010 they hope to live 77.32 years, the rate among boys is 69.73 years, due mainly violent deaths such as accidents traffic accidents and homicide. […]

At age 22, the chance of a man dying was 4.5 times higher than that of a woman, considering last year’s data. According to year 2000 rates, the probability of male death at the same age was four times higher than for a female. (O Globo, Friday, December 02, 2011)

What_is_the_minimum_pensionable_age_for_women-There is no logical reason why women should retire earlier then men. It seems to stem from a historical artifact, that wives are 3-5 years younger then husbands. So in order to enjoy retirement together, the different retirement age was introduced. (anyone has better sources then hearsay for this explanation?)

Of course, only Human-Stupidity would would propose women to work 5 years longer, to finance the retired husband. So a woman could make up for the years she took off work during childbearing age. Women should retire 5 years LATER then men.

Only Human-Stupidity dares to say the mathematical and sociological truth: women should retire LATER then men, because

  1. women have better health,
  2. women survive to much older age,
  3. women take more years off work, and
  4. women contribute less years to retirement.

Then they would get equal number of years of pension benefit and equal number of financial contribution to the pension fund as men. Equal rights and equal obligations.

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No bailout! European differences in work ethic and culture can not be overcome by transfer union

Different work ethics and morals cause different monetary politics, and make Northern and Southern European economic policies incompatible. Transfer Unions between West and East Germany, Northern and Southern Italy have only wasted money. Bailout attempts will spread bankruptcy to healthy countries. Germany would be the last to fail under the debt of all of Europe. USA and Switzerland function perfectly with clear no-bailout policies towards their states and cities.

 

Greek-CrisisThe European Divide

In Northern Europe, culture, quite aside from the law, supplies a sin and guilt control mechanism. We have set rules for moral and ethical behaviour which we expect everyone to adhere to. The core value of a need to achieve is a stimulus for entrepreneurship and economic development. It is our psychological mainspring. Governments build their policies around this fundamental core value which affects the entire socio-cultural system. The Swedes ‘carry Luther on their shoulders’ and believe they need to do a good day’s work before they can partake in any reward – as do all the Nordic countries.  Success equals personal achievement, the drive to get things done, and accumulating capital to gain status and wealth.

In Southern Europe, shame tends to be the control mechanism, with one’s relationship to other people and to the group determining acceptable behaviour.  Ethics is more related to the situation and who is involved, so ‘rules’ as we perceive them are often ‘broken’. Style is everything; manliness (machismo) counts and should be displayed; dignity and honour must be maintained.  The Cultural Value of “The Public Man” is the desire to be someone rather than do something.Success equals social power; being someone personally important, being surrounded by people who look up to you and are dependent on you.

Just across the Channel and beyond, being who you are counts for more than what you have achieved; security comes not from individual effort but from reciprocal relationships which mould your expectations of lifestyle and your place in society.  Friendships are formal and a great amount of time is given to nurturing these.   Large, extended families, including distant blood relatives and close family friends, are the norm which have strong emotional ties, giving a powerful commitment to family rather than the rest of the world. Taxi drivers and hotel receptionists often try and impress upon us, the foreigner, how well connected they are to give themselves status.

In cultures like these, WORK per sé holds little value and is to be avoided if possible.Developing friends and connections is THE form of capital investment – not ‘personal development’ as we know it in the UK.  The genteel pursuit of leisure gives status – not the image of industriousness and efficiency as in the North.  3

Different Ethics, incompatible financial and economic attitudes

flags-germany-europe2The Southern European countries have a different pay and work ethic then Northern European countries. Southern Europeans strike more for wage increases, for lower work hours and earlier retirement. They use more borrowed money, like there is no tomorrow, for instant gratification.  Maybe it makes the Southerners  happier and more humane then the Northern European work animals. The northern countries have more self discipline, work ethic, self sacrifice.

Historically, before the Euro, the southern European currencies regularly suffered devaluations to re-instate an equilibrium.  Now putting these countries into one currency simply leads to Southern Europe having too high salaries, too high cost, and being too uncompetitive. These are not the countries where all citizens voluntarily lower salaries, and happily increase work hours and retirement age.

Spain Labor Market Incompatible With Euro

Well, reading thru Op-Ed pieces in the New York Times I came across a short piece by U Maryland economist Gayle Allard who explains a core problem with Spain’s economy as a member of the Euro: The country needs periodic bouts of inflation to undo the distortions caused by very powerful unions. This makes Spain’s entry into the euro zone an act of enormous political folly for all involved.

While it was doing its fiscal homework, however, Spain overlooked a key requirement for the currency area: staying competitive without a national exchange rate. Spanish labor costs chronically rise much faster than productivity.

Spain needs bouts of inflation as long as collective bargaining remains highly politicized. A country that needs periodic bouts of inflation should not share a currency with Germany. One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist running complex computer models to figure that out.

No state and city bailout in USA and Switzerland. No major transfer Unions

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