George Soros, billionaire financier, chairman of a Cayman Islands based private hedge fund, and Grand Master of the world’s chess board, is weighing in on the European crisis and details some of the problems faced by Europe, as well as some proposed solutions. Love him or hate him, Mr. Soros is a major player and holds significant influence, therefore we stress that his comments should not be ignored.
By all accounts, the situation in Europe is very serious, though news coverage suggests (and has continued to suggest for nearly two years) that the crisis is just days from a final resolution.
While Europe is an ocean away and their problems are seemingly isolated to only the Eurozone region, we simply cannot ignore the implications of a European collapse on the American economy. History provides a clue as to how bad things can get even when the triggering events happen in other countries. While we often look back at the catalyst for the Great Depression as being the October 1929 stock market crash, the reality is that the Great Depression went global and full force when European nations defaulted on their debt obligations and their economies crumbled. The situation is starkly similar to what we face today, and according to Soros, may go full circle very soon:
To resolve a crisis in which the impossible has become possible, it is necessary to think the unthinkable. So, to resolve Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis, it is now imperative to prepare for the possibility of default and defection from the eurozone by Greece, Portugal, and perhaps Ireland.
Source: Thinking the Unthinkable in Europe by George Soros
Greece, Portugal, Ireland are toast. They’re finished and there is nothing that can be done to save their economies. But they are not the only ones. Spain and Italy are in the same boat, with many smaller EU countries also facing serious debt problems:
“It appears the authorities have reached the end of the road with their policy of ’kicking the can down the road’,” he [Soros] says.
“Even if a catastrophe can be avoided, one thing is certain: the pressure to reduce deficits will push the eurozone into prolonged recession. This will have incalculable political consequences.”
Source: Raw Story
The catastrophe, unfortunately, cannot be avoided, and the consequences will be civil unrest across Europe and the real possibility of a complete collapse of the EU economic, monetary and political systems. Mr. Soros puts forth a solution, which he believes may be Europe’s only hope. As you may have guessed, this would involve even more centralized control over the entire region, complete with a single monetary governing body and tax collection apparatus:
“There is no alternative but to give birth to the missing ingredient: a European treasury with the power to tax and therefore to borrow.”
“Once the principle of setting up a European Treasury is agreed upon, the European Council could authorize the ECB to step into the breach, indemnifying the ECB in advance against risks to its solvency,” he says.
“That is the only way to forestall a possible financial meltdown and another Great Depression.”
Back in 2008, Secretary Henry Paulson, et. al. suggested that we were facing the legitimate possibility of another depression and one Congressman actually said on the House floor that Congressional leaders were told there would be martial law on the streets of America. President Obama’s administration and their mouthpieces in mainstream media have told us that they actually prevented this Greater Depression from taking place.
Yet, global political and financial leaders continue to suggest that a Great Depression is imminent. Of course, they never run out of “solutions” for the problems we face, leaving the majority of the public in Europe and America holding on to the idea that they know what’s best, and if given carte blanche over the governments and central banks of the world, they will save us.
We disagree with Mr. Soros with respect to resolution to these problems. What we’re talking about here is not your average recession – it’s not even a prolonged recession. The financial collapse of essentially the entire industrialized world cannot be forestalled by more centralization. Whatever the solution, however, it will not come without a lot of pain being inflicted on the people of The United States, Europe and the rest of the world.
We are heading now into what may prove to be the worst crisis in modern history. We saw what happened at the culmination of the global great depression of the 1930′s. By the time it was all over, tens of millions were dead.
It is our hope that a similar result can be avoided now. Our greatest fear, however, is that the problems are so severe, and the global economies and political systems are so intertwined and fragile, that there is simply no way to stop the cleansing and re-balancing of decades of excess that is to come.
In his book The Crash of 2008 And What It Means, Soros writes:
The year 1944 was the formative experience of my life. I shall not give a detailed account of it because my father has done it better than I could. Imagine a child of fourteen, coming from a middle-class background, suddenly confronted with the prospect of being deported and killed just because he is Jewish. Fortunately my father was well prepared for this far-from-equilibrium experience. He had lived through the Russion Revolution in Siberia, and that was the formative experience of his life.
When the Germans occupied Hungary on March 19, 1944, my father knew these were not normal times and the normal rules did not apply.
The Crash of 2008 And What It Means; pp. 12 – 14
Every few generations throughout our history, we have experienced what Soros refers to as “far-from-equilibrium” situations – or, “unthinkable” situations – when the political, economic and/or social stability of entire nations or societies is threatened.
Prepare yourself, because by all indications the “unthinkable” is exactly what we are facing today.
Let us not ignore the lessons of history, but rather, use them to survive and thrive when the world around us falls apart.