conceptualizer

April 30, 2008

Prognosis for the Economy

What is the prognosis for the economy?
There are three fairly obvious possibilities:
Firstly, some people think that most of the problems for the financial services have happened and so are we are near to a turnaround. This sentiment is evidenced by the current vacillating of the share markets.
Secondly, other people think that the financial services have precipitated a wider economic recession and now that will take over to drag down the economy into a deeper hole. As the economy is enabled by financial services that could certainly be true and consumer spending is changing, showing increasingly parsimonious spending patterns.
Thirdly, others believe that recent activities by central banks have staved off a potentially deepening crisis. Certainly, making more credit available to banks reduces the risks of further banking problems, which would pique the lack of confidence. However, has enough been done and are there other techniques that could be employed.

Which View is Correct?
The fact that the financial services sector was jointly at the heart of creating the problems and the fact that they are vacillating now over its depth means that they don’t have a clear vision of if we are at an economic low point, even though they are the ‘experts’. Central bankers seem to be at least as much in the dark as the financial services gurus, because they didn’t see the problems coming either. They have made increasingly strong efforts to avert a cascading of the problems into the wider economy and this indicates they too don’t know how far this will go. A preponderance of others have commented that they expect things to get worse before they get better. It would seem that the ‘clever money’ would be on a deepening of the current macro economic problems, exasperated by falling property prices along with rising food and fuel prices.
The full effects of problems on this scale do take time to ripple through an economy, so it is likely that even if we have reached the nadir of the original problems for the bankers, they may yet be revisited by their wider effects. So although none seems to have a full understanding of this problem plexus, we can expect the shockwave to ripple through the economy for some time. An important question is: will the after shock feed back to the financials strongly enough to initiate a new vanguard of problems.
My own view is that this crisis will deepen. Lending is constricted by tightening positions in financial services leading to tighter loan conditions. Many people have become comfortable with living at the edge of financial solvency and have started to find their newly restricted position forces them to cutback hard. This pruning of expenditure will denude businesses at marginal operational viability, which in turn will feed costs to the economy through unemployment. Fortunately, the businesses that are least viable and able to ride out a slowdown will tend to be small and although there will be a constant flow of them, they will have less of a confidence damaging effect than mass employers making redundancies. Also, people love to buy stuff and have a short memory for problems. As soon as their positions stabilise they will be back with what credit they can get and there will be creditors with money to lend. Further, service dominated economies are quicker to respond to demand, so for example the US and UK economies should bounce quicker than manufacturing based economies. Therefore, although I expect things to worsen, I also expect that they will flip back quickly to growth. Financial stability and solvency are less of a concern for many today and that combined with faster and more free flowing information than ever will resolve to a faster turnaround in the economy. We will soon return to the consumer dream, not because I want it, or think it is a good idea, but because most people want it. Given the desire for something and the opportunity for others to make money from that desire, there will be a race to make sure they get it, as soon as possible.

What should central bankers do?
Firstly, they must restore confidence. Confidence is the most important factor for a healthy financial services sector and central banks have moved to improve it. So much of the economic success of a country now depends upon its financial services sector that it must be unencumbered. Therefore, improving the stability of financial institutions with government backed loans is a possible scheme. However, this tardy tactic is essentially printing money and hence inflationary. Central banks know that the excessive valuations placed on residential property must be normalised. Price growth has exceeded wage growth and that leads to a bubble that draws in a disproportionate percentage of overall income to service that debt. This is not good balance and balance, after confidence, is most important. The central bankers should be encouraging the rapid normalisation of this over valuation to quickly restore parity. Drawing out normalisation will only delay the return to a balanced growing economy and I am concerned that a government statement about preventing people from losing their homes could do just that. They have not detailed how they plan to do this and it could be empty rhetoric, but if not and they start to intervene at this point they could stifle recovery for some time. An interventional strategy would have been much better to prevent the bubble. Intervention now should be to encourage a property market decline.
Secondly, they must address the root causes of the original crisis. They are manifold, but two stand out as significant: Excessive speculation using residential property, especially by people who do not understand investment markets. A poor pension system which encourages people to look for other ‘stable’ savings vehicles, in this case property investment was used.

What can we do as individuals?
As a general strategy, buck the trend. Be a saver when all about are spending big. The best time to spend big is when everyone else is not, you get the best deals then. Particularly, you should be looking at the big things: buying a house or moving to a better one, buying shares and a nice car at a bargain price. So, property will soon be a much better deal, shares already are, but will probably become better still and slightly used luxury cars will soon be everywhere at great prices. Simple really, just difficult to do.

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April 21, 2008

Financial Insecurity

The current money market and housing market problems are underpinned via a common root problem, so I will treat them together. Government plans to solve the woes of the money markets and housing market are short term tactics, probably designed largely to get the government past the next general election. These plans don’t recognise the underlying problem and its causes. Also late in arriving, they instead treat some of the obvious symptoms. So, as it is unlikely that the government will do what is needed, we must recognise how best we might adapt our plans. Although the root problem for both market systems is the same, the symptoms are different.

The Symptoms

The housing market symptoms have increasingly been affordability issues for first time buyers and recently price falls leading to the infamous negative equity trap for some. Government plans to tackle affordability for first time buyers by allowing them to own a fraction of a property exasperate rather than alleviate their problem. People will commit what they can to get a house, so enabling fractional ownership simply allows the same financial commitment for a fraction of a house. Obviously, this in turn increases the price for the whole house. No one wants to spend any money on buying a house, prices are dictated by how much people are allowed to spend by lenders. Fractional ownership simply increases that allowance. There are no direct plans to help those in the negative equity trap, which reduces the mobility of the workforce and so is bad for the economy.
The financial services industry has a crisis in confidence that has stifled the free flow of money. Money is a vector for the flexibility and growth of an economy, so this impediment will have far reaching implications for the UK and is the biggest single problem we face now. Government plans to restore confidence to the money markets using bonds in exchange for property backed debt are not solving the root problem. Instead this tactic dilutes the problem by spreading it over time and distributing losses to the public purse. Another possible tactic seeks a quick correction of the problem by compressing the problem in time and localising its effects. The latter tactic, although less intuitive, has a number of advantages, prime among them is returning the economy more rapidly to a better state. As a result, even those most impacted have time to recover and more obvious measures can be enacted to restore confidence, which is certainly one of the most important qualities of a market based system. Now the problem exists one of these tactics must be employed, as the over valuation of property has to be normalised, implying losses for those that bought in late. The only question is how much to dissipate and slow those losses. It should also be noted that as the government does not in fact have money reserves to back these bonds, so their effect is ultimately inflationary. Also the drawn out tactic using bonds disengages the debtor from the consequences of their poor judgment, which has obvious negative effects.

The Root Problem

The use of residential property as an investment vehicle is at the root of both the money markets and the housing market problems. There is a complex interplay of many causes, but the two most prominent are: Firstly, pension savings are inflexible, not protected and are subject to means-testing. The lack of confidence people have in pensions has encouraged them to find alternative savings vehicles. Secondly, poor understanding of investment markets by amateurs who have access to them with residential property. Profiteering using markets is as old as humanity, but amateurs using them with residential property is a bad idea. Stability of residential property supply is too important to allow it to be used as a tool for speculation which inevitably leads to the decoupling of prices from earnings.
So how should the government tackle this twin causes. Firstly, they must introduce a government backed flexible pension scheme linked to contributions that is not means tested. Importantly, these savings must be ring-fenced and protected in law to prevent misuse. This will provide a safe haven for people with savings and reduce the tendency to use inappropriate savings vehicles as pensions. Secondly, the residential property market is too important to be used as a speculative investment tool by people with a poor grasp of its consequences. Strong controls need to be applied to the total percentage of income and its sources used to repay residential mortgage debt. Naturally, to discourage the inevitable attempts to circumvent these controls significant penalties need to applied to transgressors. It will be difficult to fabricate this control and it will need continual tinkering with to perfect, but it is essential. The ideal time to apply these controls is approaching when we reach the bottom of a property price dip. This root problem will keep recurring until it is addressed by providing a sensible pension scheme and controls designed to strongly correlate residential housing prices with earnings.

What Can We Do

Given that the government is unlikely to see the light and tackle this problem correctly as I outlined above, what can we do for ourselves.
On housing, timing is important. There will be a bottom to the housing market price falls. If you are planning to get into the property market or move, the best time to do so is at the bottom a price slump. In the end it is not the relative price of a house that matters to you, it is the amount you borrow to pay for it. That amount is always going to be lowest at the bottom of a price dip. If you want a house that costs twice as much as your current house is worth, that is easier to fund if for example your house is worth £100,000 rather than £200,000. Naturally as we get further from the bottom the less good a deal we get, but caution need only be exercised where there have been years of house price rises above wage growth. This is very difficult to do when prices are rising rapidly, but that is the time to save until the inevitable price crash. Those who are brave enough, or have no choice can get in and try to get out when they feel a good profit has been made. However, this is a very risky venture because typically the sums of money involved are large relative to income. If you do try this approach, a mercurial nature is essential. On sensing the market is topping out, sell fast and strongly discount your price to ensure a quick sale. If the price is not good enough and you are left holding the property too long you will have to discount even further later.
The financial sector has experts that understand their problems well enough. Unfortunately, those experts are not directing the businesses and so short-term and badly formed strategies still get used. It is in the interests of their directorships to ensure that directors and senior management making strategic and significant tactical decisions are well enough educated in the fundamentals of their business. General businessperson and salesperson types without the correct background simply do not have the depth of understanding required. In addition the board should sponsor multiple technical reports on the viability of any significant shift in strategy. They should also have clauses in the contracts of the most senior figures that prevent severance payments in situations where it is considered a poor strategy has lead directly to losses. This will not discourage good people from competing for these positions, in part because nobody takes one with the expectation of failure.

March 24, 2008

Deification of Youth

Postulate

Youth and its concomitant culture and attitude has come to dominate all media output to the point of deification, despite the increasing average age of the population. This increasing discordance has a negative social impact for at least three reasons:

Firstly, youth deification tends to encourage the empowering of young people and the granting of rights to them, despite the fact that they are the least well equipped to wield power and use those rights. For example, recently there was a proposition to confer voting rights two years earlier in life at 16. Although I doubt most people are well equipped enough at 30 to vote in an informed way, age is not the correct criteria. The criteria should be: experience, knowledge, intellectual balance, intelligence and sanity; all (except perhaps the last) characteristics that tend in increase with age. In another example 16 year olds are allowed to have children of their own, this is almost certain to be a disaster. The criteria that I suggested in the first example also applies to this, but one can add to them: financial security, compassion and emotional balance, emotional stability and social skills. Again these extra criteria tend to be more prevalent in the mature person. Handing out power and rights temerariously to people who are ill equipped to have them (predominantly the young) leads inevitably to problems. This fashionable lust for youth is too widely applied and indeed is misguided in almost all aspects of life. Society and its administrators are too quick to see the value in youth.
Secondly, youth deification distorts people’s ability to make unbiased judgements about their life. People are encouraged to make decisions that tend to portray them as youthful. Clearly this will have the largest affects at the margins, where a balance of judgement could be tipped by the pressure to be youthful. For example, the attitude toward responsible drinking. Alcohol is a drug that has social acceptance and its youth informed over use is one of the most negative features of modern British society. People are swayed too easily to see the value of youth in their own lives.
Thirdly, ageism favouring youth consigns useful members of society to minority roles when the have great experience to offer. People are too ready to see youth in others as an advantage over experience and stability.

Justification for the Postulate

How and why Youth Deification came about and spread

The visibility of youth in media output began as a result of the increasing economic independence of younger people being targeted as a distinct group by enterprising businesses. For obvious reasons youth combines easily with the pan-generational preoccupations of health, personal hygiene, beauty, sport, fitness and optimism about the future, amongst others. So naturally usage of young people was extended to marketing using lifestyles and images which have those preoccupations as important elements. As most popular lifestyles and images employ some of those preoccupations, most tend to celebrate youth.

How Youth Deification became dominant

People like to be optimistic and popular, so naturally they are attracted to popular trends that promise a better future. As more people like something it tends to inflate its popularity. This inflation process has occurred with some images and lifestyles and so by association has the significance of youth. Youth is also associated with some negative and failed images and lifestyles, but they tend to be forgotten more easily because peoples focus for their own aspirations is on the optimistic and popular. Youth is also obviously associated easily with the future. Combined these factors tend to emphasize youth as a positive human state, even though in practice its virtues are mostly trivial.

Exaggeration

Competition in marketing tends to encourage exaggeration of what is popular. So inevitably utilising youth led also to the use of youth culture and youth attitude, all of which are exaggerated in the advertising arms race. For example, it is often visually manifest in advertising images as people who are carefree enough, that they have their mouths agape and are laughing so hard they have lost control of what they are doing. Another example is juvenile attitude and behaviour, such as drinking so much it can do you harm. This attitude is portrayed as a normal or even aspirational in some subcultures and yet must (or should) be considered extreme behaviour by the majority of society.

Unrepresentative

There are few areas of popular culture that youth, youth culture and youth attitude are not applied to. However, pervasive youth culture in marketing is not an accurate reflection of the composition of society. In fact, the average age of the population is increasing and so omnipresent youth culture is increasingly incongruent. This contradiction implies that youth culture is far too prevalent and important, one might even say it has become deified.
The dominance of youth culture in popular culture is in part a reaction to the increasing, sometimes onerous, complexity built into our lives. Managing complexity requires application, experience and responsibility, which are not easy to obtain and difficulty is not popular. A youthful carefree attitude helps to differentiate from the unpopular aspects of social complexity. Hence, by differentiating ones self from unpopular facets of life one possible inference is that one is associated with the popular facets of life. This can be reinforced by adopting other features of popular culture. The need to be popular may in turn be a dependency of insecurities.

Conclusion

The progression toward younger customers is still continuing and the internet provides a relatively easy means to allow it to continue. At the same time older people, although representing a larger fraction of society, are becoming marginalised. Eventually perhaps we should expect a correction to the status quo, when the large unattended mass of older people become tired of the continued dominance of youth culture and flex their voting and collective financial muscle.

October 31, 2007

Advanced mathematicians required by the public sector

Wow, what a lot of people got involved in this debate.
It must be so important, or vote worthy!
I would be pleased if we could just find some people who can count.
Can it be that complex to organise counting people on and off an island?
Another bloody shambles!

October 30, 2007

Lets hide the debt problem!

Filed under: Economics, Musings, Observations, Worries — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — conceptualizer @ 5:16 pm

The Master Liquidity Enhancement Conduit (MLEC) fund has been created by several big US banks with between $75bn and $100bn (depending upon who you believe) to buy up debt from Structured Investment Vehicles (SIV) which in simple terms are mortgage providers. The debt is largely in the form of Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (RMBS) and Collateralised Debt Obligations (CDOs) – i.e. mortgages. SIVs, which own about $400bn of assets, are investment pools used by banks, but most enthusiastically by Citigroup who originated them in the 1980’s. It is now clear SIVs have been too keen to offer debt to financially dubious property buyers. The MLEC is an attempt by the private sector to mitigate some of the risks associated with bad debt incurred during the US property price bubble. That bubble was inflated by the poor lending strategies of the SIVs and ultimately those that initiated them. The MLEC fund will be accepting only the best risks, leaving the worst in the SIVs, so they will flounder rather than the banks. It is interesting to speculate as to why this cause was not taken up by the IMF, whose role it is to promote international financial stability. Perhaps they do not see it as a big enough problem.

So can this fund help? Well as an attempt to reintroduce confidence to the market and hence stability, to some extent that is going to happen, especially as it has the tacit approval of the US treasury. However, ultimately the problem is rooted in lending money on the basis of economic growth that was not there. Now that position has to unwind and the costs of the overestimate will have to be dissipated. This fund can only act as a buffer, trying to spread and slow the normalisation cost, it still has to happen. So in that sense it is more like an attempt to convert a painful punch into a protracted uncomfortable pressure. The problem has to be handled and it seems that somewhere someone has made the decision that the drawn out normalisation approach is the better option. So as we get used to the inevitable slowdown, the remaining market confidence will be subdued rather than demolished. In that sense it is a better strategy as stability and confidence are perhaps the most essential assets of a reliable economy. Ultimately the costs of this failing will be carried by everyone, the banks will ensure that, rather than just their shareholders.

October 24, 2007

Unpaid police

Why should the ISPs have to take on an unpaid policing role? It is for government to arrange policing. Laws exist on copyright and patent, but they are not effectively policed by the public sector. I think the ISPs should be paid for checking and again for each infringement they find. Lawyers are also required to act as unpaid police. They must apply money laundering checks to their clients.
The UK government is increasingly making business carry the costs of policing laws. This effectively makes services and products more expensive and is yet another stealth tax. It also makes those products and services less affordable to the lower income members of society and so discriminates against them. However, in principle I like the shift of policing to the private sector, as they will doubtless do a better job of it than the public sector. So to make it work well and discriminate less against the economically poorer members of society, there need to be incentives to catch law breakers. The current approach is to penalise the unpaid enforcer for any failure. If there is some benefit to this kind of work then it should be reflected in compensation for doing it. Payment is also likely to encourage a better enforcement process. The well known carrot and stick approach!
Ultimately we must decide if policing laws should be funded by public taxation or fees applied to those who seek the protection afforded by them. Clearly some enforcement is for the good of us all, where some is only for the good of a few. I would suggest for example that enforcement of fraud laws be publically funded, where copyright of music be privately funded. The latter need not be mandatory, but non-payment = no protection.

October 10, 2007

Taxation Simplification

Filed under: Concepts, Economics, Ideas, Observations — Tags: , , , , — conceptualizer @ 12:02 pm

Although only a small improvement, it’s nonetheless good to see some simplification of taxation. Complexity increases the costs inherent in collection and administration, adding no value to the economy while adding opportunities for avoidance and evasion. The honest tax payer is pursued relentlessly, while the difficult target reduces their tax burden. Simplification can be a blunt tool, but by reducing avoidance and evasion it can also be more even-handed. Taxation should be funding the public sector of the economy, but in part has become a tool of the moralist. Differential taxation is used to punish success, hard work and spending on what a few have decided is not good for us. Taxation should be refocused on its purpose and needs to become simpler, less bespoke.
There is a strong case for drastic simplification in taxation. I suggest a gradual migration to zero personal taxation with all tax revenue raised from business. The simplification would produce huge benefits for the economy, but the total tax burden on the economy would remain the same, less the saving in administration costs. It would also encourage a dynamic economy as spending patterns would not be stymied and it would encourage people with money to move to our economy. Business would benefit from simplification of taxation and as a whole be no worse off, because the extra tax they pay will be offset by reductions in wage bills. There will be those businesses that come off better and worse. Those at the extreme ends of the ratio of taxable revenue to employee pay, but it would also tend to encourage reinvestment in research and development as companies seek to minimise their tax bill.

October 9, 2007

Confidence Needed

A vital element of any market based system, especially those trading nonessential items, is confidence. Firstly, confidence in the reliable operation of the market place and secondly that the items traded have some stability in value. Lower confidence and fewer people will be prepared to use the market. It seems the significance of this axiom has been lost on the various interested and influential parties in the Northern Rock debacle. They need to refocus on this fundamental. Further, I suggest that reviews and action should be proactive rather than reactive.

September 29, 2007

International economic interdependence and the probability of war

Filed under: Debate, Economics, War — conceptualizer @ 1:40 pm

Will the current level of interdependency between national economies deter their leaders from promulgating war on each other? If not and that interconnectedness increases could it reach a point where war would be too drastic to consider?

September 27, 2007

Education and the Economy

Filed under: Economics, Ideas — Tags: — conceptualizer @ 3:57 pm

Empirically speaking, nations are advantaged by application of advanced technological understanding and high gearing of that understanding. Such a system requires specialists. The quicker we can create specialists the greater and longer will be the advantage. The current UK education system is too loosely structured, it needs a tighter focus, it needs to be purposeful in its direction of students toward their chosen area of interest. Specialisation should begin as soon as interests are identified, not at some prescribed age. General qualifications should be incidental. Such a highly directed focus will not only benefit the economy but also the individual as they narrow quickly onto what interests them. Naturally there needs to be some constraints, we can’t have a large fraction of the male population training as footballers. There is no reason why people could not have several specialisations, or continue in generalist education until they decide.

September 21, 2007

Mad as a balloon!

Filed under: Economics, Worries — Tags: , , , , , , , — conceptualizer @ 12:38 pm

We are all encouraged to sell our work before we have even done it, for those nice shiny things. Lenders understand human nature and the future of money management ~ see Debt to save the world. If you are a prospective first time UK house buyer I sympathise, you are trapped. It has become a competition of who dare take on the largest debt. There are plenty of 125% mortgages available and several 130% offers! Those of us who are not trapped need to resist the temptation, or at least understand it.
This crazy situation can only be reversed if financial services regulators prevent large salary multiples, high loan to valuation, very long repayment periods and fractional (shared equity) mortgages being used to calculate the acceptable size of a loan. Unfortunately such regulation would be a very unpopular move with lenders and in the short to medium term with borrowers. Perhaps it is best implemented at the bottom of a house price cycle when there will be more acceptance of it, especially if it were be phased in gradually.
I will not be surprised when lenders start offering us mortgages before we have even left school. That way lenders can extract even more from the most successful in society; people will always go the extra mile for their children. This will, like private schools, tend to perpetuate advantage and an elite successful class, making the idea of social mobility even more farcical.

September 11, 2007

Jobs for which Britons?

Filed under: Comments, Economics, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — conceptualizer @ 4:34 pm

Does Mr Brown’s notion of “British jobs for every British worker” perhaps exclude the hundreds of thousands of people already working in Britain that the labour government allowed in from abroad in recent years? It certainly seems to disadvantage future economic migrants. Meritocracy not birth right is the way forward, I seem to remember something like that was a Labour party principle in the past. A job for everyone should be the goal and preference given to those who are best suited to the job.
This country has always had a dynamic population coming from all over the world. It occurs to me that in every trip to London I can recall almost every job I came across was taken by someone from another country. If we rigorously enforced this principle London would be deserted.
I think setting entry requirements is a good idea and they should certainly check for criminal records. We have enough feckless and criminal types already. I think if they are serious about this they should not give any money to anyone without some form of work done, even if it is simply litter collecting or cleaning.

Debt to save the world!

Are you wondering how the problems in the US sub-prime market can be so pervasive? I am. Surely that market can’t be that big and not all of those borrowers are going to default. I suspect the problem is more to do with a lack of confidence afflicting the markets. They have had such a good run for so long people are suspicious and looking for that next crash. This probably says as much about human nature as it does about debt. However, in general the amount of debt is increasing while savings decrease (lowest household savings ratio since 1960), so should we be concerned? If we extrapolate carefully from this situation we can uncover some interesting trends that will impact on us all.
The US sub-prime problem is a personal debt problem rooted in the combination of: widespread lending to people at the limits of their ability to cover repayments, at low interest rates, with high loan to value conditions, in a confidence lead rising property price market with big property development programs. Later, increased interest rates were the trigger that pushed those closest to the edge over it and once enough had succumbed the price bubble burst. With increasing repossessions, declining property values and high loan to value conditions lenders suffered big loses. They then tried to increase their margins to recover their positions by increasing interest rates on their most risky situations and pushed more borrowers into the red exacerbating the situation.
Significant personal debt was once a facility only available to a small fraction of people, but recently it has become available to almost all people. This broadening of the debtor base to include less wealthy and financially sophisticated customers tends to encourage debt commoditisation. Commoditisation reduces profit margins, consequently money is chasing larger customer volumes and larger fractions of the market. This change militates against the small lender, increasing pressure to consolidate into fewer global money managers (GMM) providing credit and debt services. When they become large enough their financial power will eventually succeed even that of central banks to influence interest rates and so governments will gradually relinquish some economic control to them.
In addition to growing personal debt, governments are not shy about creating a public debt on our behalf. This has been the case for a long time, such as when financing the second world war effort, for which we could not reasonably have been expected to save as we did not plan it. Outside of unplanned costs like war, how can it be that a whole country can’t live within its means? Like any individual, government should save for expenditure rather than use the more expensive option of borrowing. Unfortunately, saving is a long-term strategy that is not encouraged by our current system of government. It is much easier to ride a wave of popularity fuelled by spend from debt than to tell everyone we have to save. The end effect of this is again to imbue the GMM with greater control as they increasingly own the money lent to the individual and the state.
The rise of the GMM will have some interesting consequences. Firstly, interest rates are facing long-term downward pressure as the GMM seek to encourage every person and country to become a customer, essentially owning some of their generated wealth. So the GMM will seek to make debt easier to afford with lower rates and savings are going to be less remunerative due to tighter margins between their credit and debt services. This will be a problem for savers (who fund the GMM) if inflation is not restrained. One corollary to this situation is increasing pressure on governments to keep down inflation. This will lead to tightening on expenditure, for example leading to more frequent disputes with public sector workers over pay. Another corollary to this is that those seeking higher rewards will increasingly become financial instrument market speculators, so we should see an explosion in speculation management services specialising in certain sectors of the markets and on specific classes of investor. For similar reasons as in the creditor consolidation, international financial market consolidation is inevitable and already ongoing. Protectionists economies lack vision and will find their markets increasingly sidelined until they capitulate, but then their influence will be much smaller. Secondly, economic power will increasingly rest with the GMM, with governments forced to recognise their influence. This should eventually resolve in GMM taking a moderating role in international disputes, becoming the ultimate non-partisan authorities that no government ever can be.
So, in the short term those debtors existing at the margins will have a tough time in several countries, but the problem is too small to cause lasting or widespread damage. In the medium term this is a lesson about hubris being tolerated. In the long run the GMM will ultimately convert our own desire to get things without saving first into a stabilising international force. The emergence of the GMM and their concomitant economic power is a defining characteristic of our age.

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