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Another Word on the Greek Crisis

By Gary Howard

The Greek crisis (which I reiterate is quickly becoming a European crisis, sure to become an international crisis) continues to devolve into a scene from a movie about the end of days.

Greek ‘workers’ are protesting austerity measures that the Greek government must take in an attempt at fending off a total collapse. Their idea of protest includes firebombing local bank buildings and killing the people in them. For those who have been sounding the alarm about fiscal sanity for years, this may be just a prelude to something much more wide spread, and we should pay closer attention.

Why should we pay attention? Because Greece and the majority of European nations are an example we have yet to take to heart here in the U.S.

We have been living beyond our means and have continued to delay the needed corrections, making the ultimate outcome much worse and prolonging the agony once it arrives.

Just like us, Europe has shouldered future generations with mountains of debt with no end in sight. It is an example of some of the worst tendencies of Keynesianism on display for us to take heed. Though, I doubt it will be heeded.

Our leaders will continue to believe that spending more money we don’t have will get us out of the hole we are in — because we spent money we didn’t have–to prop up systems we cannot afford.

Greece borrowed heavily at artificially low interest rates to pay for an unsustainable welfare entitlement system (that would take a book to explain fully). Does this sound familiar?

The alarm bell on the U.S.’s unsustainable entitlement system has been sounding for a very long time. The government not only spends too much, but it encourages the reckless behavior of everyone from large institutions down to individual borrowers by creating moral hazard through interest rate manipulation by the Federal Reserve–then bailing them out when those bad bets fail. This is what caused our most recent financial crisis and what will keep us in recession.

Unfortunately, we have not learned from our troubles or from those of Greece and Europe at large. The rest of Europe, beginning with Spain and Portugal, is moving in the same direction as Greece.

What happens when they all begin to falter? Who bails them out?

What about us? The Federal Reserve continues to set artificially low interest rates, incentivizing people to persistently take bad risks on everything from inflated real estate to complicated currency exchange schemes.

All this while the world, including the US indirectly, bails out Greece just to continue the charade of the whole unsustainable system.

[Can you blame the guys at Goldman Sachs for recognizing the flaws in the system and playing it the way it’s been set up, as opposed to being duped and leaving their clients to go broke? Maybe.]

After getting removed at the last minute, the Senate may have a chance to vote on a strong amendment to audit the Fed, but will be adding it to a piece of financial reform legislation that will do absolutely nothing to address the true issues. We all know that the ONLY true reform that is needed is the transparency contained in HR 1207/S 604 –Audit the Fed- then End it. That is the only reform that will work.

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