Tuesday, January 29, 2008
The current financial crisis was precipitated by abubble in the US housing market. In some ways itresembles other crises that have occurred since the endof the second world war at intervals ranging from fourto 10 years.However, there is a profound difference: the currentcrisis marks the end of an era of credit expansion basedon the dollar as the international reserve currency. Theperiodic crises were part of a larger boom-bust process.The current crisis is the culmination of a super-boomthat has lasted for more than 60 years.Boom-bust processes usually revolve around credit andalways involve a bias or misconception. This is usuallya failure to recognise a reflexive, circular connectionbetween the willingness to lend and the value of thecollateral. Ease of credit generates demand that pushesup the value of property, which in turn increases theamount of credit available. A bubble starts when peoplebuy houses in the expectation that they can refinancetheir mortgages at a profit. The recent US housing boomis a case in point. The 60-year super-boom is a morecomplicated case.Every time the credit expansion ran into trouble thefinancial authorities intervened, injecting liquidityand finding other ways to stimulate the economy. Thatcreated a system of asymmetric incentives also known asmoral hazard, which encouraged ever greater creditexpansion. The system was so successful that people cameto believe in what former US president Ronald Reagancalled the magic of the marketplace and I call marketfundamentalism. Fundamentalists believe that marketstend towards equilibrium and the common interest is bestserved by allowing participants to pursue their self-interest. It is an obvious misconception, because it wasthe intervention of the authorities that preventedfinancial markets from breaking down, not the marketsthemselves. Nevertheless, market fundamentalism emergedas the dominant ideology in the 1980s, when financialmarkets started to become globalised and the US startedto run a current account deficit.Globalisation allowed the US to suck up the savings ofthe rest of the world and consume more than it produced.The US current account deficit reached 6.2 per cent ofgross national product in 2006. The financial marketsencouraged consumers to borrow by introducing ever moresophisticated instruments and more generous terms. Theauthorities aided and abetted the process by interveningwhenever the global financial system was at risk. Since1980, regulations have been progressively relaxed untilthey have practically disappeared.The super-boom got out of hand when the new productsbecame so complicated that the authorities could nolonger calculate the risks and started relying on therisk management methods of the banks themselves.Similarly, the rating agencies relied on the informationprovided by the originators of synthetic products. Itwas a shocking abdication of responsibility.Everything that could go wrong did. What started withsubprime mortgages spread to all collateralised debtobligations, endangered municipal and mortgage insuranceand reinsurance companies and threatened to unravel themulti-trillion-dollar credit default swap market.Investment banks' commitments to leveraged buyoutsbecame liabilities. Market-neutral hedge funds turnedout not to be market-neutral and had to be unwound. Theasset-backed commercial paper market came to astandstill and the special investment vehicles set up bybanks to get mortgages off their balance sheets could nolonger get outside financing. The final blow came wheninterbank lending, which is at the heart of thefinancial system, was disrupted because banks had tohusband their resources and could not trust theircounterparties. The central banks had to inject anunprecedented amount of money and extend credit on anunprecedented range of securities to a broader range ofinstitutions than ever before. That made the crisis moresevere than any since the second world war.Credit expansion must now be followed by a period ofcontraction, because some of the new credit instrumentsand practices are unsound and unsustainable. The abilityof the financial authorities to stimulate the economy isconstrained by the unwillingness of the rest of theworld to accumulate additional dollar reserves. Untilrecently, investors were hoping that the US FederalReserve would do whatever it takes to avoid a recession,because that is what it did on previous occasions. Nowthey will have to realise that the Fed may no longer bein a position to do so. With oil, food and othercommodities firm, and the renminbi appreciating somewhatfaster, the Fed also has to worry about inflation. Iffederal funds were lowered beyond a certain point, thedollar would come under renewed pressure and long-termbonds would actually go up in yield. Where that pointis, is impossible to determine. When it is reached, theability of the Fed to stimulate the economy comes to anend.Although a recession in the developed world is now moreor less inevitable, China, India and some of the oil-producing countries are in a very strong countertrend.So, the current financial crisis is less likely to causea global recession than a radical realignment of theglobal economy, with a relative decline of the US andthe rise of China and other countries in the developingworld.The danger is that the resulting political tensions,including US protectionism, may disrupt the globaleconomy and plunge the world into recession or worse.
have you ever tried getting a medical check-up in a free medical mission? i have, and i'm sure you won't like to go thru what i've been thru. first you have to get up early in order to be first in line, and it turns out that everybody in your neighborhood is also up early to be first in line too. now, getting people to form a single line is as tough as forming a herd of cows into a holding pen. it's close to impossible, here's what usually happen, a person who stands beside the line that you have form will, in a matter of seconds be a line of it's own beside the line that you have just formed. now you have two lines of people standing waiting to get medical attention. by the time you have reached the end of the line and a doctor is finally checking you up if there's something really wrong with you, you'll be wondering if you have just contacted a new disease after hurdling the line.
Monday, January 14, 2008
i met an old friend the other day...she doesn't look different the last time i saw her which was six or seen years ago except for the streaks of white hair in her head but all in all she's still the same soft spoken lady i knew when we we're atill working together. for me,meeting old friends is like going back to old days when i don't have to worry we're will i sleep or wake up the next morning or where will the next meal come from 'coz in those days being young is a license to be free to do anything and worry free of anything. but these day's are different. it's not only you have to worry about going home early but if there's already food waiting for you when you get home or if you still have to cook it before you can eat even if your stomach is grumbling for food. yeah those days are gone and replaced by days of thundering stomachs and white hair.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Saturday, January 5, 2008
what will you say if somebody told you that you owe him 42,300 pesos? i'm sure you gonna bust the guys mouth for blabbering such nonesense, but it's true. the philippines owes international finance institutions some 3.8 million trillon pesos, and if you break it down to every filipino alive today everybody will have to shell out Php42,000 to settle that debt. no wonder even how hard we bust our asses trying to make ends meet it just won't happen. sometimes it makes you wonder if this world is really made for normal people like you and me or is this world made for moneyed people. this has to end.
Are the poor responsible for their state of poverty?
Or is society culpable for having failed them?
Is the prevailing social Darwinism - the survival of the fittest -
morally and humanistically defensible?
Or does society debase itself and drift towards barbarism
by abandoning its weakest citizens?
Are the causes of poverty located primarily at the individual and national levels? Or are the ultimate causes more of an international nature, including global market forces? Should national governments be allowed to abandon the poor and vulnerable to the vagaries of national and international markets? Or do governments have a solemn duty to protect human rights enshrined in most constitutions? Do national governments have the will and capacity to resist the inexorable impetus of neoliberal globalisation? Or are most governments capitulating to the combined might of global capitalists and transnational corporations aided and abetted by multilateral organisations like the World Bank, IMF and WTO?
Will poverty be eradicated when the benefits of an unencumbered free market system filter down through greater investment and better allocation of resources? Or will free market fundamentalism produce greater inequality, exacerbate poverty, and sound the death knell of human rights, democracy, world peace and the environment? Could benevolent capitalism and enlightened self-interest lead to a more equitable distribution of the world's scarce resources? Or is it in the nature of capitalism to encourage and entrench vicious avarice, shareholder fundamentalism and the tyranny of the market which is so devoid of humanity? Was the demise of social programmes like the New Deal and the Welfare State, with the resultant elimination of crucial safety nets for the poor, inevitable because of unsustainability and the enormous demands placed on national fiscuses? Or were these funds in fact siphoned off into Corporate Welfare for the obscenely wealthy global capitalists and transnational corporations in the form of corporate tax cuts and privatization of state assets?
2008 may find us little distracted from our objectives but this does not mean we've lost interest in pursuing our objectives it just mean that we're making a detour for refills and refueling. this day we're serving notice to all enemy and friends that we're gonna pursue our objectives with the clearest purpose and intent, make no mistake,for we have nothing to fight with but our skin.