Sunday, September 23, 2012

Rights of the Dead by Tricia Yeoh

Like many Malaysians, I had followed closely the developments of the Teoh Beng Hock case, who mysteriously fell to his death while being summoned as a witness by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Corruption to assist in the investigation of a minor case involving an opposition party politician.

I thought I knew everything about the case. Indeed the film shred no further insights into the case, but what I did not expect was the extend to which I could be moved by the film. What really stood out in the film was the human elements - the grief and anger of the people that are close to Beng Hock was especially hard hitting.

3 years has gone by, a Royal Commission was setup for it. But yet the case remained unresolved, at least not in the heart and mind of the people. There was a terrible sense of injustice, and the farcical and almost comical inquiries only fueled the anger of the people.

This film made me realized just how deep seated the anger towards the unholy trinity of the executive, the judiciary and the police runs. The footage of our prime minister promising the people "The whole truth, nothing but the truth" almost made me wanted to throw a rotten egg at some rotten somebody.

Thanks Tricia, for producing this excellent film. And congratulation for being a winner of the Freedom Film Fest Festival.

Next show time:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Money (6): Money - the Root of All Evil?

As elaborated in Money (4): There are more Debt than Money in our Economy, the one single defining characteristics of our current debt based monetary system is the chase for profits. The private banks that control money creation will only extend credit to a borrower when it is certain the borrower is able to eventually repay the loan plus interest.

This is the most fundamental reason why a subprime crisis in U.S. can trigger a near meltdown of the whole world. All of a sudden the banks stopped lending – because they don’t know who will survive the crisis. It created a self-fulfilling prophecy, which almost sent the whole world back to the great depression of 1929.

The farms are still bearing fruits, the factories are still fully operational, and the workers are able- bodied and willing to work. But the whole system came to standstill because a few private banks stopped lending. Such is the fallacy and insanity of our monetary system.

The massive money printing by the various Central Banks somehow prevented the world from sinking into the deadly deflational spiral, but at the expense of pilling massive debt to the respective governments. This is a classic proverbial kicking the can down the road scenario. Many analysts are already warning that a much bigger crisis is looming in the horizon. The sovereign debt crisis as we witnessed in Europe is only a foreshadow of what is to come.

Money may not be the root of all evils – but the current monetary/banking system practiced all over the word is definitely evil to the utmost degree. It is the mechanism that continuously and relentlessly funnels wealth and power towards the top. It is pointless to talk about changing the government without reforming the very mechanism that permeates all aspects of our life, corrupting everything along its way.

You may think that this subject is too vast and too encompassing, and that there seemingly nothing you can do about it as an individual. But think again. There has been enough ground swell that over threw many well established regimes in recent years. But so what if we managed to vote the old corrupt government out? The hyper rich tycoons – the real power brokers that work hand and glove with the corrupt law makers will remain untouched. They will continue to pull the strings behind the scene, corrupting everything they touched. The new government will have its hands tied in addressing the issue of wealth polarization that is tearing the world apart.

The least you can do is to educate yourself with this all issue important and spread the awareness. The reform movement is happening. If you Google “monetary reform”, you will see all sorts of groups popping up all over the world. Something big is brewing. A monetary reform to make money serving the interest of the people rather than a few elites will be incomparably more significant than throwing out a few corrupt officers.

"The world economies are held hostage by the financial terrorists. They are withholding credit-money -- the only kind of money most people think there is -- starving economies everywhere of the grease that enables commerce and provides working opportunities. But, the question must now be asked, forcefully and urgently: Should banks be allowed exclusive rights to produce the world's money supply?" Huffingtonpost - The Instant Solution to the New Depression: Debt Free Money
Below are some additional resources. Search "monetary reform", you will see many, many more.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Money (5): Endgame - The End of the Debt Supercycle and How It Changes Everything

Take a look at the chart below, the sovereign debt projections for a few developed countries as a percentage of GDP. This is another eyes popping chart.
Public Debt/GDP Projection (BIS Working Paper

The red dotted line is how it would be if situation remains status quo. The green dotted line is how it would be with serious efforts to cut down deficit spending. The blue dotted line is how it would be with inhumane level of spending cut, like pensions and social services like health care, education, etc.

I first came across this chart from a book:  Endgame - The End of the Debt Supercycle and How It Changes Everything. The authors are no doomsday prophets. This is a very serious book with lots of statistics, charts, historical trends, precedents and a comprehensive survey of the various schools of economics ever put into practice. This is one the most demanding book that I read recently.

The chart below includes private debt.

To summarize - the statistics and trends all lead to a hell of a BANG. The book gave a few possible outcome and possible actions by the various countries, but none is pretty. One thing is sure - these mountains of debt can't be repaid, and most won't be repaid.

The graph below is another way of understanding what the sovereign debt means to the people.

The interest cost is over 250 billion in 2012 for U.S., and is projected to grow to 800 billion in 10 years time. And the annual total tax income of U.S. is only 2 trillion dollars!

The question is ...

Here I would like to explore this phenomena from another angle. 

The Fantastic Growth of the Financial Industry

Size of Financial Assets as Percentage of GDP of the Host Country
Luxembourg2,461% Austria299%
Ireland872% Spain251%
Switzerland723% Germany246%
Denmark477% Finland205%
Iceland458% Australia205%
Netherlands432% Portugal188%
United Kingdom389% Canada157%
Belgium380% Italy151%
Sweden340% Greece141%
France338% United States82%
This is another eyes popping chart. How is it possible for the banking sector to grow to such an enormous size? To give you another perspective - the size of the 3 largest banks in France amounts to over 300% of France GDP. The too big to fail banks has actually increased in size and number after the 2008 meltdown! Now these banks are not only too big to fail - they are too big to bailout!

A note of explanation to those who are not familiar with the banking business. Banks are not into buying and owning real assets like land, houses and commercial buildings. Banks 'assets' are almost exclusively what other owes the banks. In other words bank assets are exactly what the rest of the world owes them.

Now just how much are the banks earning? In U.S. the banking sector profit account for over 35% of all U.S. domestic profits (down from over 40% prior to the 2008 meltdown)! Just exactly what 'productivity' do the banks add to the society to justify such a huge chunks of profits?

It doesn't take an Einstein to see the correlation between the fantastic growth in debt and the fantastic growth of the private banks. Now every country (perhaps except for North Korea) is seriously in debt. We have the grotesque situation where the whole of humanity is owing an astronomical amount of money to a few private banks.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Money (4): There are more Debt than Money in our Economy

It turns out that my calculations regarding the Fractional Reserve System could be wrong. One source I came across is stating that 1K of deposit can generate as much as 100K of loans!

Whatever the amount is, for all intent an purposes, the Fractional Reserve Banking allows practically unlimited capacity for the banks to create money. Some countries even abolish the need for reserve. UK is one example.

Now I want to bring you something that will makes you jaw drop.

There are more Debt than Money in our Economy!

I almost fell off the chair when I came across it. How is it possible? How it is possible to be debt free when there is more debt than available money?

I checked a few sources. The basic fact is true, but there is no definitive explanation of how it gets to be so and what it means. Let me try to summarize it here.

Let me bring you back the core fact about our monetary system - over 95% of our 'money' are actually created out of thin air and extended as credit to borrowers. That means that almost every dollar in circulation are borrowed from the commercial banks - and incur interests.

The amount that we borrowed from the banks constitutes our money supply, and the amount that we have to pay back eventually is our debt. The difference between them is the interest spread.

What it means that the society as a whole has to borrow ever larger amount of money to pay back the old debts. The economy can function this way - as long as the banks are willing to continue to extend credit to roll over the old debts. This is like playing musical chair. Everything will appear OK as long as the music keeps playing.

 But it should be clear the total debt will increase at a compounding rate. This is exponential growth in mathematical terms, but in reality defaults do occur, especially during the periodic bust cycle, so the rate of growth will be dampened somewhat.

It should be clear now that our society can never be free of debt. It is a mathematical certainty. Some economists argue that growth in debt is OK as long as the economy is growing at a faster rate. For example it is OK for the debt of a company to grow at the rate of 5% p.a. if the company is expanding at the rate of 7% p.a.

This is one key characteristic of our monetary system - it assumes and demands the economy to grow at an exponential rate. This is clearly an impossibility with real world constraints like limits in natural resources, the decreasing and aging population in developed countries. The periodic boom and bust cycle is inevitable with our current monetary system.

It is clear that the sovereign debt crisis the world is facing now is impossible to resolve without changing the current monetary system. No amount of austerity measure is enough to bring down the debt. The only way debt can be reduced in our economy is via massive defaults, massive reduction of our money supply, and the resulting massive recession.

The way we are trying to solve the problem now is by massive printing of money, in the name of quantitative easing. It is essentially creating more debt and injecting more of the same poison that is killing our economy.

Think about it. Every country in the world (Germany inclusive!) are seriously in debt. Please let me know if you find a country that is not in debt. But just to whom are these money owed to? Something very fishy and very sinister is happening here.

Next: Money (5): Endgame - The End of the Debt Supercycle and How It Changes Everything