American Economic Calamity Predicted in 1857

The Great British historian, Lord Macaulay, predicted the future unraveling of the United States economy in a letter written in May 1857. Macaulay’s prediction was based on his analysis of American institutions. Discussing the life of Thomas Jefferson with an American author, Macaulay wrote, “You are surprised to learn that I have not a high opinion of Mr. Jefferson, and I am surprised at your surprise. I am certain that I never wrote a line, and … uttered a word indicating an opinion that the supreme authority in a state ought to be entrusted to the majority of citizens [counted] by the head; in other words, to the poorest and most ignorant part of society.”

According to Macaulay the United States was becoming increasingly democratic throughout the nineteenth century. And this tendency, he argued, was dangerous to liberty and to the country’s economic well-being. As Macaulay explained, “I have long been convinced that institutions purely democratic must, sooner or later, destroy liberty or civilization, or both.” Continue reading

Germany’s ascendancy over Europe will prove short-lived

Although the article has a point and the population is truly in decline, Germany should not be counted out. Germans have the know-how, a very modern infrastructure, are still the most industrious and forward thinking people with a vision that no other on the European continent has or can be compared to. It didn’t literally give its manufacturing base to the Chinese.

Germany has peaked. Its hegemony in Europe is a “power illusion”, a confluence of fleeting advantages soon to be overwhelmed by the delayed effect of error and the crush of historic forces.

If demography is destiny, it may be clear within five years that ageing Germany is going the way of Japan. Within 20 years it may equally be clear France and Britain are regaining their 19th century role as the two dominant powers of Europe, albeit a diminished prize. Continue reading

Fitch says China credit bubble unprecedented in modern world history

China’s shadow banking system is out of control and under mounting stress as borrowers struggle to roll over short-term debts, Fitch Ratings has warned.

The agency said the scale of credit was so extreme that the country would find it very hard to grow its way out of the excesses as in past episodes, implying tougher times ahead.

“The credit-driven growth model is clearly falling apart. This could feed into a massive over-capacity problem, and potentially into a Japanese-style deflation,” said Charlene Chu, the agency’s senior director in Beijing.

There is no transparency in the shadow banking system, and systemic risk is rising. We have no idea who the borrowers are, who the lenders are, and what the quality of assets is, and this undermines signalling,” she told The Daily Telegraph. Continue reading

Rare Earths Rouse Pentagon Fears

Specifically, to buy rare earth and other minerals that are crucial to the U.S. defense industry, and whose supply is currently at the mercy of China and its opaque political system. Japan, for example, was starved of rare earth elements during a maritime dispute with China in 2010. The United States wants to hedge that risk, given the damaging consequences an abrupt clampdown could entail. Continue reading

Italy paralysed as Grillo plots exit route from euro

Italy plunged deeper into political chaos this weekend after Beppe Grillo, the quixotic former comedian who holds the balance of power in parliament, suggested that the country may have to abandon the euro and return to the lire.

The rebel comic’s warning came amid a growing rebellion among grass-roots supporters of his Five Star Movement, with 150,000 signing a petition calling for him to open up dialogue with the centre-Left Democratic Party, the biggest force in parliament. Continue reading

Eurozone suffers double-dip recession

Latest figures show that gross domestic product slumped in the three months to September.

The eurozone is officially back in recession after three years of sluggish growth as the sovereign-debt crisis continues to impede recovery. Continue reading