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Germany Under Pressure To Create Money

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Published : May 09th, 2013
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Currently, central banks around the world are walking in lock step down a dangerous path of money creation. Led by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan, economic policy is driven by the idea that printed money can be the true basis of growth. The result is an unprecedented global orgy of currency creation. The only holdout to this open ended commitment has been the hard money bias of the German-dominated European Central Bank (ECB). However, growing political pressure from around the world, and growing dissatisfaction among domestic voters have shaken, and perhaps cracked, the German resolve. While German capitulations in the past have been welcome occurrences, in this instance the world would be better served if the Germans could stick to their guns.

Last week the statement issued by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) put to rest any expectations that Quantitative Easing in the United States would be coming to an end anytime soon. With an ambiguous, but decidedly dovish statement, the stage appears to be set for an expansion of the $85 billion per month program.  The statement further obscured the criteria that the Fed is supposed to rely on to begin a winding down of the program, leaving market participants increasingly uncertain.

Trying to outdo the Fed itself, the new leaders of the Bank of Japan have thrown all monetary prudence to the wind. Also, in just a few months Canadian Mark Carney, a dyed-in-the-wool Keynesian, is set to take the helm at the Bank of England.  Taken together, these intentions would suggest that the world is set to take monetary expansion to a new level. The odd man out has been the ECB, which had long been dominated by the Germans. Over the past few years, the ECB has elicited the ire of Keynesian economists by offering to deliver fresh liquidity only in exchange for promises of fiscal restraint by the troubled Eurozone members.  However, the massive pressure currently being placed on Germany appears to be overwhelming its resistance.

Within the seventeen member nations of the Eurozone, there are now some nineteen million unemployed, or 12.1 percent.  In Greece, the unemployment rate is 27.2 percent; in Spain 26.7 percent; and in Portugal 17.5 percent. On the other hand, unemployment in Luxembourg is 5.7 percent; in Germany 5.4 percent and in Austria, 4.7 percent. This disparity is clear and increasingly affects politics. These tensions have resulted in a string of electoral victories by left wing parties in the southern tier. However, despite their resentment of the ECB, IMF and Germany, all have expressed a strong wish to remain within the Eurozone.  (They seem to know which side of their brioche is buttered).  

But the peoples of the northern core countries have begun to chaff at the yoke. The average German sees continued bailouts as a means to reward and support what they believe to be a slothful, and politically corrupt, southern fringe. As the crisis drags on, their previously 'liberal' impulses of support are giving way to deep resentment. Political parties calling for strict controls of bailout funding and immigration are growing in Germany, the Netherlands and even France.

However, the German elite has long seen the EU as an opportunity for acquiring the empire Germany has for so long desired. Historically, empires are paid for in treasure and blood. The carnage of two world wars may have dimmed their enthusiasm for blood, but it appears that the German elite are prepared to pay for a Eurozone empire with treasure alone.  But with their own population unwilling to pay more for direct bailouts, and the indebted countries unwilling to tighten their belts, increased monetary flexibility may be the only means open to the Germans to maintain union.

Last week, EU growth projections were reduced by a further 0.1 percent to a negative 0.4 percent. Facing this grim reality and shrinking resistance from the dominant Germans, the EU bureaucracy appear to be becoming more lenient. Mr. Olli Rehn, the EU's economic chief, had been expected to grant waivers of one or even two years for Spain, France and even the Netherlands to reduce their debt to less than three percent of GDP. And right on cue, the French finance minister declared just this past weekend that the"era of austerity" had come to an end by announcing that France would no longer abide by prior Eurozone debt limits in exchange for ECB bailout funds.

As a result, it appears likely that the ECB will begin falling into step behind the Fed and the banks of England and Japan to dispense substantial QE. With all of these central bank oars pulling in the same direction, I would expect an asset boom with financials, commodities and real estate rising strongly once again. Should that boom continue, expect the financial elite to celebrate unabashedly. This week, Bill Gross, the head of the massive Pimco investment firm nicely summed up the sentiment, "Pimco's advice is to continue to participate in an obviously central-bank-generated bubble.''

I would remind all who would follow such advice to recall that the last two central bank-financed booms (Dot com and Real Estate) were brought to an end by spectacular collapses. The chances are that the next asset class to experience a similar trajectory could be fiat money itself. The fall of currency will be much more significant than falls in stocks or real estate.

Although we may all be very glad that the Germans of 70 years ago could not hold the line in Normandy, we may regret that their grandchildren could not resist similar international pressure on their monetary empire in Frankfurt.   

Order a copy of Peter Schiff's new book, The Real Crash: America's Coming Bankruptcy - How to Save Yourself and Your Country, and save yourself 35%!

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John Browne is the Senior Market Strategist for Euro Pacific Capital, Inc. Mr. Brown is a distinguished former member of Britain's Parliament who served on the Treasury Select Committee, as Chairman of the Conservative Small Business Committee, and as a close associate of then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Among his many notable assignments, John served as a principal advisor to Mrs. Thatcher's government on issues related to the Soviet Union, and was the first to convince Thatcher of the growing stature of then Agriculture Minister Mikhail Gorbachev. As a partial result of Brown's advocacy, Thatcher famously pronounced that Gorbachev was a man the West "could do business with." A graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Britain's version of West Point and retired British army major, John served as a pilot, parachutist, and communications specialist in the elite Grenadiers of the Royal Guard. In addition to careers in British politics and the military, John has a significant background, spanning some 37 years, in finance and business. After graduating from the Harvard Business School, John joined the New York firm of Morgan Stanley & Co as an investment banker. He has also worked with such firms as Barclays Bank and Citigroup. During his career he has served on the boards of numerous banks and international corporations, with a special interest in venture capital. He is a frequent guest on CNBC's Kudlow & Co. and the former editor of NewsMax Media's Financial Intelligence Report and He holds FINRA series 7 & 63 licenses.
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"However, the German elite has long seen the EU as an opportunity for acquiring the empire Germany has for so long desired."

This is a bit rich. Germans, for the most part are a hard working and disciplined lot who just happen to be very good at what they do. They made a commitment to the EU and the true test of any commitment is how it fares during a crisis. To their credit Germany has been quite good about being leant on so hard by the less successful EU nations. Calls for austerity are merely a recognition that there is no such thing as a free lunch, which most governments and central banks seem to have forgotten. Besides, I don't think the ECB has the power to simply print money ad infinitum like the U.S. Fed, whether its in Germany's interests or not.

Historically Germany were a bit late to the game of empire building - as England, France and Spain were amassing huge bounties from their colonies and conquests. A bit of North Africa was all they managed. History is written by the winners and we all seem to easily forget the atrocities by which our own empires were founded on. To make some rediculous assertion that the German elite are trying build an empire through the EU by supporting the "lazy southern nations" is going a bit far. Obama can buy votes with a welfare state but Germany can't buy votes from Italians or Greeks in a bid to rule the EU.
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"However, the German elite has long seen the EU as an opportunity for acquiring the empire Germany has for so long desired." This is a bit rich. Germans, for the most part are a hard working and disciplined lot who just happen to be very good at what th  Read more
dom1971 - 5/12/2013 at 10:31 AM GMT
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