(Fund)Raising Resources to help Eurozone Members in Need?

Well, it might appear that my smug headline in the post below may not have been so appropriate after all. At least I find the news from the FT today that Eurozone members, headed by France and Germany, are considering to set up an internal IMF type fund very significant.

(from the FT)

Germany and France are planning to launch a sweeping new initiative to reinforce economic co-operation and surveillance within the eurozone, including the establishment of a European Monetary Fund, according to senior government officials.

Their intention is to set up the rules and tools to prevent any recurrence of instability in the eurozone stemming from the indebtedness of a single member state, such as Greece. The first details of the plan, including support for an EMF modelled on the International Monetary Fund, were revealed at the weekend by Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister.

“I am in favour of stronger co-ordination of economic policies in the EU and in the eurozone,” Mr Schäuble told newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

If France and Germany can agree on such proposals – long urged by Paris – they are likely to set the basis for the most radical overhaul of the rules underpinning the euro since the currency was launched in 1999. The German thinking emerged as George Papandreou, the Greek prime minister, flew to Paris to seek the support of Nicolas Sarkozy, French president, for his government’s drastic austerity programme.

“We must support Greece, because they are making an effort,” Mr Sarkozy said before the meeting. “If we created the euro, we cannot let a country fall that is in the eurozone. Otherwise there was no point in creating the euro.”

His words appeared to underline the greater readiness in France than in Germany to provide some sort of financial support or guarantee for the Greek economy. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, insisted that no such support had been sought or discussed when she met Mr Papandreou on Friday.

Both France and Germany agree Greece should not turn to the IMF for support, so the idea of an EMF has clear attractions for Paris, though it could hardly be set up in time to help Greece. Mr Schäuble said: “We are not planning a competitor . . . to the IMF, but we do need an institution for the internal equilibrium of the eurozone that would have at its disposal both the experience of the IMF, and comparable intervention mechanisms.”

According to German thinking, the plan could include tough penalties for eurozone members that fail to curb deficit spending or run up excessive government debt. Ideas include cutting off countries that fail to curb deficit spending from EU cohesion funds, temporarily removing their right to vote in EU ministerial meetings and suspension from the eurozone.

Those may prove very difficult for France to swallow, given its own record of greater fiscal laxity than Germany.

Needless to say, this would draw the wrath from Euro skeptics and those, in general, opposed to tighter cooperation among Eurozone member countries. However, as Munchau argues splendid in another FT piece today; a monetary union needs a tight political and fiscal supranational framework to really make it work. Now, we must choose which solution we prefer.

Consumer Debt and the Supply-Demand Dynamic

I was recently reminded of the old argument about Say’s Law, and that reminded me that it was Keynes who twisted Say’s theories around to create the ridiculous argument that supply created its own demand, which I say is a load of crap, which pretty much sums up a lot of what Keynes did, probably because he was an egotistical idiot-savant who erroneously thought that he could put economics and human behavior in terms of absolutes that you could turn into equations, a particular, arrogant stupidity that has, nonetheless, fascinated generations of economists since then, all of whom childishly delight in equations and computers, whether it means anything or not, which it doesn’t, which I can actually prove – prove! – with an entire storage area full (the “supply”) of ashtrays made out of dried dog crap, which nobody wanted to buy (the “demand”), proving that supply does NOT create its own demand.

Instead, it is actually true that demand created its own supply, like the “supply” of new “neighbors” at the storage place are demanding (“demand”) that I get that stinking, festering fecal mess out of there or they are going to sue me or something, to which I said “Great! I’ll pay you off with some of these ashtrays, which will make wonderful gifts for your friends and family!”

I bring this up not, as is often rumored, as a last minute appeal to you, the American consumer, to buy a bunch of these dog-poo ashtrays with their “keepsake quality”, and take them off my, literally, stinking hands, but to show you that one of the reasons why the economy is doing badly is that the latest unemployment numbers are Bad News Aplenty (BNA), as people do not buy as much stuff (demand) when they don’t make as much as much money, and the people who make stuff (supply) are then laid off, proving, once again, that supply follows demand.

And, since we are talking about it, people are not buying as much stuff, which I cleverly conclude from the fact that consumer installment debt has been going down since September 2008 as the American consumer is gradually, slowly, ever so slowly, almost glacially, paying down some of their super-sized, staggering $2.5 trillion in consumer installment debt.

How much? Consumers have, in a year and a half, paid down a measly $135 billion! Hahaha!

At this rate, one wonders, at 20% interest on the unpaid balance, how many freaking lifetimes will it take just for consumers to pay off their $2.5 trillion in existing debt, which doesn’t even count the debt they are going to incur in the future, just trying to buy the basics, as the inflation in prices from the insane inflation in the money supply makes things so costly that they get to the choice of debt or starvation, and even then, most people will buy food instead of gold, silver and oil.

Hoping to gently motivate them, and to provide the apparently necessary motivation delivered in a non-threatening, person-centric, positive way, I say, “Hey! You could stand to lose a few pounds there, chubby! Stop eating for a couple of days and use the ‘found’ money to buy yourself some gold, silver and oil, you moron!” but even then, they always act upset, like I said something wrong! See the kind of stupid crap I have to put up with around here all the damned time?

Anyway, their only hope is that everything survives a massive inflation, so that $135 billion dollars is, in terms of buying power, less than a week’s average minimum wage or something like that! Hahaha! Problem solved! Hahahaha!

In case you were curious, I put a lot of it down to the unholy combination of moronic do-gooders trying to save my life and greedy governments trying to drain my blood, as they, all over the place, raised cigarette taxes by several dollars per pack, so that the quarter of adults (54 million) who smoke a theoretical carton a week, have $40, $50, $60 sometimes more than $70 a week less money to spend on everything else, which comes to, at an average of $6 per pack, $3.24 billion per week, or a tidy $168 billion a year in lost spending power!

In short, tobacco addicts stopped buying other things so as to afford one thing that has become so expensive.

If they were smart, smokers would be spending their money on gold, silver and oil, waiting a little while until their prices soar as the government deficit-spends the massive, monstrous amounts of money that the Federal Reserve creates, and THEN taking up smoking when they could easily afford cigarettes at any price, the higher price for insurance, and the needed medical treatments, also at any price!

It’s enough to make you say, “Whee! This investing stuff is easy!”

Consumer Debt and the Supply-Demand Dynamic originally appeared in the Daily Reckoning.