The thrills and spills of the Olympic Games circus have rather distracted attention from the thrills and spills of the economy. Something bad is happening out there with currencies and the world economic outlook is in decline, but no one really notices as we praise competitors who win and commiserate with those who lose. What is happening in the economy of the world right now? The problem of the economy is created by other specific problems.
The banks have managed to quietly achieve another crisis as Standard Chartered is accused of laundering billions of dollars in trades with Iran. The problem with dealing internationally with the US dollar is that it is not a free currency. All movements of currency in US dollars must be shipped through the USA, so that if you want to send US dollars from say Germany to Nigeria, the dollars are routed through the USA which makes them subject to US money laundering and due diligence regulations.
The problem of having the dollar as a currency that is no longer freely moveable and there no longer freely tradable is that the USA laws and regulations about international trade get imported into the laws and regulations of other nations whether we like it or not. For example the US has an odd attitude to trading with Cuba. Cuba is a small and rather poor nation, but it offended the USA some sixty years ago when it threw out many US businesses (including those run by organised crime) and since then this poor nation has been subject to a trade embargo from the US. Other nations do not have trade embargos with Cuba but for fear of offending the mighty US large trade with Cuba is de facto quite difficult.
The matter is worse when it comes to Iran. Apparently Iran is a great threat to the mighty USA and therefore no US business or US connected business is allowed to trade with Iran. Like a good puppy the UK government, while not actually banning all trade with Iran does not encourage it but makes it terribly complicated so to do. Further, if you business has any links with the US trading with Iran would inevitably have the US government make sanctions against your business even though you were doing something which was perfectly lawful where you operate.
Now the world does not seem to have realised that the dollar is not freely tradable or if it does it still uses the dollar as the lingua franca of money notwithstanding its disadvantages. The world cannot use the Euro as an alternative to the US dollar because while the Euro is freely tradable, unlike the dollar, it is a currency in which no confidence reposes. If the Olympics were not such a distraction the papers would be leading on the latest bailout plan for the Euro, which like all plans before it, is as flawed as trying to bail out a boat with a bucket without a bottom.
Other currencies are too small to handle the volume of world trade.
Nations in the traditional developed world are spending more than they can afford. Even the United Kingdom with is many heralded cuts in public expenditure is borrowing about a quarter of its annual expenditure. Other nations such as Italy, Spain and France have become basket cases of borrowing; the leaders are giving their people bread and circuses but are borrowing to buy the bread and pay the circus performers. Whatever you think of cuts in public expenditure you have to realise that continual borrowing is not the way to run a country, because in the end the people become slaves of the money lenders.
Taxes are simply too complicated and sporadically enforced. Also it seems to me that the tax rates are high because governments are very good at wasting money and large corporations are very good at “sheltering” profits. Companies like Google and Apple pay very little tax; that is obviously only for the little people.
The rates of tax act as a disincentive to many people, especially those who find that they can get nearly as much from State benefits by sitting at home and watching the Olympics than they could by working five days a week.
Gambling Addiction Problems
Gambling was once thought of as immoral and very bad. When I was a child in England it was only possible to legally bet at events; there were no book makers or book making premises. Today there are many book making premises in almost every high street; the poorer the high street the more book making premises there are.
When I was a child there were only lotteries in poor countries. Today rich countries have lotteries which are in effect a tax on those who are poor at mathematics.
The greatest gambles however are taken by institutions with other people’s money. Banks, Investment houses, hedge funds and insurers all gamble. They are buying and selling forward more commodities each day that the planet produces in a decade. They are buying and selling forward more currencies each week than any central bank has issued in its history.
Gambling is simply another device to move wealth from the poor to the rich. In economic terms gambling is parasitical and those who control it, whether banks or bookmakers, merely parasites.
Unlike the Olympic Games the economy is not going faster higher and stronger, by slower, lower and weaker, and will remain in this path until we address the fundamental problems, rather than trying to use those buckets without bottoms.