Opinion

European austerity nothing but smoke and mirrors

J. Keith Johnson Senior Writer, The Gold Informant

Reports of a Eurozone recovery continue to make news. Austerity is doing what it’s supposed to do. Default is being avoided. We just need to give another push to get over the hump. However, just like raising the U.S. deficit ceiling, all these measures are doing is further impoverishing the working class subjects of each country.

Bloomberg recently noted, “European leaders declared a turning point in the Greece-fueled debt crisis, shifting their focus away from the budget-cutting spree that has dominated two years of rescue operations.” Perhaps a chart of some of the European stock indices might help us see how well this is working.

Maybe the indices aren’t properly reflecting how wonderfully the economies are recovering. Maybe incomes are increasing though. Agora Financial put out a chart that should help.

Out of all the European countries represented, it seems that Poland is the only one to enjoy a substantial increase in wages. Germany is enjoying a little, though they call most of the shots. But look at the bottom five; all European countries.

These figures point to a failing economic climate. Maybe we’re missing something though. Let’s take a look at real estate.

Allsop is a United Kingdom company specializing in the liquidation of distressed properties; an auction house. Business has been booming in Ireland. As irresponsible fiscal policy continues to sink the populace into deeper sovereign debt, distressed properties, commercial and residential, are becoming a greater liability for Ireland’s banks.

Last year Allsop held four auctions in Dublin, selling over 300 properties on the block. On March 1 of this year, 100 properties were on the block. If you’re looking for a bargain on the Emerald Isle, the next auction is on May 3, with 106 properties listed at this point. Does this look like a country on the mend?

Searching “Spain real estate auction” on the Internet brings up a plethora of options. The list found on the Top Tour of Spain travel site offers what appears to be excellent advice. As they pointed out, “The Spanish banks now have so many foreclosed properties on their files that most of them have set up agencies and websites dealing specifically with the sales of these repossessed properties.” Another sign of the times?

We won’t bother discussing Greece. Everyone should know by now that any efforts to save Greece are akin to rearranging the furniture on the Titanic.

What is the main problem in Europe, America and any other country that’s running a mind numbing deficit? Is it the housing? Is it the jobs? Is it stocks? No, none of these are at the root of the issue. The problem in western economies rests solely at the feet of big government’s addiction to spending other people’s money.

Like drug addicts, governments can’t see any way of getting around their spending habits without a fix. This fix is nothing more than a systematic raping of the wealth of average citizens in order to cover the irresponsible expenditures of the ruling class and “too big to fail” institutions.

In an effort to get people to spend more money, they continue to shuffle funding to banks that borrow at a rate of 1% a year. But, not wanting to take a chance on making bad loans and getting caught unable to satisfy demands, they turn around and deposit the funds at the ECB, earning 0.25%. This allows them to keep cash on hand rather than in risky loans while almost guaranteeing the continued need of infusions from the ECB. Who picks up the tab?

As the governments continue bleeding the turnip dry, they’re also beginning to examine their gold. Germany recently inventoried gold stored in central banks around the world. Switzerland is currently reviewing past gold trades, considering how they might reposition themselves. England is regretting the sale of massive gold stores a decade ago. Is it possible that they see something in gold that will weather the storm of their own making?

J. Keith Johnson’s Austrian and libertarian perspectives on current socioeconomic and geopolitical affairs are fueled by his insatiable desire to both discover and share the truth. A Goldco Direct affiliate, you’ll find his commentary on The Gold Informant website, as well as various Internet financial and news sites.