[Editor's note: Glenn Beck had originally planned to examine these issues on his GBTV program tonight at 5pm. However, he threw his back out while on the set before going on air. Monday's show was cancelled (get more information here). Be sure to tune into GBTV later this week to see Beck discuss the topics below.]
“Fascism is coming” and “people are moving into insane investments.” These are two thing Glenn Beck recently said. What is he talking about? What has him convinced that fascism is on the rise and that investment trends are out of control?
For those who think these two claims might be a little “over-the-top,” please consider the following.
Despite some relatively quiet weeks, the eurozone crisis looks as if it’s about to mutate into something far more dangerous than previously anticipated.
But is it really all that bad? It would certainly seem that way.
As reported earlier on The Blaze, the financial crisis in Greece has taken on epic (and sometimes violent) proportions. Their debt levels are unsustainable; Prime Minister George Papandreou resigned after causing a stir by calling for a “bailout” referendum vote; the current Prime Minister, Lucas Papademos, is a former Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Columbia economics professor and career banker; and let’s not forget reports of the Greeks resorting to starvation diets and/or rioting.
The situation is so bad, in fact, that crisis-hit Greece plans to sell bonds with state property as collateral to buy back sovereign debt and postpone a privatization drive under unfavorable market conditions, a report said on Saturday.
The Hellenic state asset development fund, an agency set up last year to manage Greece’s asset sales, plans to create a privatization bond to buy back part of the country’s enormous debt on the secondary market.
For every €1 billion earned by the planned bond, the state will be able to buy back older debt worth €2.5 billion given the currently depressed value of Greek debt, unnamed agency officials told the Greek newspaper To Vima.
They are at the point where they are putting up state property as collateral. Let that sink in a moment.
Perhaps things wouldn’t be this bad if Greece hadn’t created an unsustainable culture of entitlements. Perhaps public sector employees wouldn’t be taking to the streets and rioting over austerity measures if, say, Greek Parliament had never promised them jobs that were “constitutionally guaranteed for life.”
Greece has no money, a rock-bottom fertility rate, and generations of retired public sector employees expecting to collect pension checks from a workforce that won’t exist.
“Greece is at the point in the plot where the canoe is about to plunge over the falls,” conservative author Mark Steyn writes in “After America.” “Chapter One (the introduction of unsustainable entitlements) leads eventually to Chapter Twenty (total societal meltdown); the Greeks are at Chapter Seventeen or Eighteen.”*
Athens last year pledged a sweeping privatization drive in return for bailout loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
However, many IMF and EU leaders believe that a Greek bailout would simply be throwing unstable money at an even more unstable situation. Even French President Nikolas Sarkozy openly admitted that although he supports reforms intended to allow Greece to remain in the euro, it was a mistake to let the country join the single currency a decade ago because the country‘s economic figures were false and it wasn’t ready, the Guardian reported.
“The EU is now throwing an extra trillion dollars at countries which by any objective measure are insolvent, and are unlikely ever again to be anything but—at least this side of bloody revolution [emphasis added],” Steyn writes.**
Greek state debt, which has exploded to over €350 billion ($447 billion), is currently trading up to 35 percent below its face value, To Vima reports.
“When you binge-spend at the Greek level in a democratic state, there aren’t many easy roads back,” Steyn adds.
One of the greatest problems with the Greek financial crisis is the fact that it has become a contagion that is bringing down the entire eurozone. This has lead to infighting between the leaders of Germany, France and England.
In fact, much of the pressure has fallen squarely on the shoulders of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel because Germany has the most sound and robust economy of any EU country. However, it is unlikely that Germany can untangle this mess all by itself.
And the financial contagion continues to spread. Just look at Italy.
The situation in Italy is in many ways just as bad (if not worse) as the one in Greece. They are suffering through the same debt problems; they ousted Silvio Berlusconi, the scandal-prone joker of a Prime Minster; and they have experienced fierce and violent unrest.
Things have become so unstable that everyone from George Soros to David Walker, the former head of the Government Accountability Office, have said that EU’s downward spiral “cannot be stopped” and that it will affect all countries — America especially.
Whether or not their statements are entirely accurate is debatable. What is not debatable, however, is that fact that the eurozone crisis has investors running scared.
On the one hand, you have reports that diamond prices “are poised to rise for the next four years, outpacing gold, as increased spending on luxury goods in China, India and the Middle East outpaces supplies of the precious stone,” according to The Vancouver Sun.
“We expect emerging nations, first and foremost India and China, to drive demand for diamonds in the upcoming years, while consumption among developed nations is likely to moderate,” said Vladimir Sergievskiy, an analyst at Moscow-based Finam Investment. “On the supply side, the commissioning of new mines should be largely offset by depletion of mature ones.”
And on the other hand, you have rumors and worries about a possible third quantitative easing in the U.S. About 75 percent of investment experts surveyed say QE3 may be coming in 2012 due to damage the European debt crisis is set to inflict on the U.S. economy, writes Forrest Jones of Newsmax.
Seem hard to believe?
Consider the fact that infamous market speculator George Soros was a major buyer of gold in late 2011, according to recent Emerging Money reports. This would seem odd considering he sold almost all his shares in the SPDR Gold Trust and the iShares Gold Trust exchange-traded funds in the first quarter of 2011, Bloomberg reports, citing SEC data.
But if the Fed actually rolls out another round of quantitative easing, the dollar would weaken and gold would soar later this year — which means that Soros was very clever to move back into gold.
“Even though gold closed the year at a six-month low, Soros and other gold bulls such as Steve Cohen of SAC Capital will be rewarded if Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke launches into a third round of quantitative easing,” Jonathan Yates writes Emerging Money.
Even Jim Rogers, the former partner of George Soros as the Quantum Fund, says that a so-called QE3 or third easing round has already begun, Yates reports.
And then there’s this news (via Zero Hedge):
…last week…there was a record monthly dump of Treasury paper from the Fed’s custodial account amounting to some $69 billion, the week ended January 4 has seen yet another outflow, this time amounting to $9 billion in U.S. Treasurys.
This is the 5th week in a row of foreigners selling U.S. paper, and while it has yet to match the record 6 weeks of outflows from October…the consolidated outflow notional is now a record high at $77 billion, higher than the previous record of $52 billion.
Needless to say banks from around the world are repatriating dollars. The question is what they are converting the USD into, and how much longer will the go on for: the last thing the U.S. can afford is a wholesale dumping of its Treasurys.
…the traditional diagonal rise in foreign holdings of U.S. paper has not only pleateaued, but it is in fact declining: a first in the history of the post-globalization world.
“They are slamming the doors closed and I will tell you: it is just now beginning,” said Glenn Beck.
“They are converting dollars into something. We don’t know what,” Beck said. “It could be gold, could be diamonds could be — we don’t know! Meanwhile, we are trading just like MF Global. Our U.S. dollars! While our Fed is giving our dollars for crappy euros, the Europeans are at the same time taking our U.S. treasuries and dumping them.”
It gets worse.
An even more frightening (indeed, perhaps the most frightening) development in the EU is the possible resurrection of fascism. Many analysts fear that some eurozone countries, Italy especially, will revert to fascist-style systems of control in a desperate bid to cope with their financial crises.
“In August this year, CLSA’s Russell Napier wrote: ‘Italy is scary – yields will rise when governments chose to take money from their savers – what Russell calls THE GREAT THEFT – Expect massive capital flight,’” writes Zero Hedge.
“Yet while Russell was commenting on Italy’s opening move in repressing private capital by raising the capital gains tax, but not on gains of government debt,” Hedge adds, “the situation has moved with such speed over the past 5 months that the emergence of the first Fascist regime following the 2008 crisis can probably now be associated with the new Monti government.”
These troubling developments in Italy should have alarms going off.
“They put in an unelected government — no accountability, no time to elect — they will be there for unspecified amount of time. We have a university professor who used the state to slowdown corporations that got too big. This guy was with Goldman [Sachs]!” said Glenn Beck.
So what are the implications?
“He believes in state over individual,” Beck said. “And the scariest part: he is one of the original architects of what the world is going through. In 2001, he said, ‘I am sure the Euro will oblige us to introduce a new set of economic policy instruments. It is politically impossible to propose that now. But some day there will be a crisis and new instruments will be created.’”
According to several reports, Italian leadership is practicing what it preaches.
“These guys have gotten together and made cash transactions over more than $1,000 dollars illegal! That’s phenomenal!” Beck said
“The existing regime, the new technocrats in Italy, indicated this level will be progressively reduced to $300. Basically, almost every transaction will be monitored and tracked. They are closing down anything that needs to be traded, credit card companies track everything and banks are allowed to stop withdrawals of more than $10,000.”
This sounds pretty serious.
“It’s already happening here in America. They track you. In Italy, they can deny withdrawals. In Switzerland, they have placed cameras at the physical borders to register all license plates,”” Beck added.
Image courtesy Zero Hedge.
Indeed, the way things are trending in Europe, one should be deeply unsettled.
“The country that gifted Fascism to the world in the 1930s was widely admired even by FDR, who held Mussolini in high regard and was no doubt inspired in many of his own policy choices,” writes Zero Hedge. “Will Italy lead the way once more, as politicians in Europe and the US watch to see what oppressive policies they may get away with?”
Unless something serious is done in the EU, something short of a miracle, the situation does not look like it will improve — and many blame it for bringing down the world economy.
“Italians may want to get themselves out as well before the current group of Professors slams the gates shut,” the Hedge warns. “Things are moving even faster than one of the world’s leading financial historians could foresee.”
When you add everything together, scared investors and the rise of overbearing controls, perhaps those two Greek officials weren’t too far off when they said, “It’s all over. The government is about to collapse,’ and “The sh*t has hit the fan.” Perhaps they were unaware of how much their grumbling applied to the world economy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
*Mark Steyn, “After America: Get Ready For Armageddon.” (Washington, D.C: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2011) 104.