By Ron Holland
December 22, 2010
There are many ominous parallels between Argentina and the U.S. and the question often asked is can America avoid the economic consequences that Argentina suffered from a fascist government combined with government debt and currency collapse? I believe the answer is likely NO!
"There are a lot of ways to ruin an economy. Argentina has experimented with most of them. It has devalued its currency, and revalued it. It has pegged it, and then knocked down the peg. It has regulated, controlled, inspected, taxed and confiscated. Following the 2001 crisis, earnings fell by 30% – with half the nation slipping below the official poverty line. What is remarkable is that the Argentine economy has survived at all." – Bill BonnerDown Argentine Way was the 1940 film that made a star of Betty Grable, who played an attractive young woman on vacation who fell in love with a wealthy racehorse owner. The storyline actually reflected a common occurrence during the 25 years prior to the film debut.
In the early 20th century, "as rich as an Argentine" was a common expression, often used in connection with poor British aristocrats attempting to marry off their daughters to wealthy Argentinians. Argentina was indeed a wealthy nation; for example, we all know about Harrods Department Store in London. Few realize that during this period of Argentine prosperity, Harrods also ran a store in Buenos Aires.
Buenos Aires is still a beautiful and interesting city. If you visit, you'll learn that despite all the doom and gloom we hear concerning Washington debt and the dwindling dollar, there is life after debt repudiation and currency collapse. The same thing has been proven in Russia, Germany and other nations numerous times. It has even happened twice in the United States.
"May you live in interesting times" – A Chinese CurseSince 2008, we've certainly lived in interesting times both in politics and in the markets. The US has tried standard Keynesian economic solutions with exploding deficits and trillions in government debt to solve the problems of mania, bubble and bust in real estate and the economy.
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." – Albert EinsteinIf you haven't noticed, the world is full of people who appear normal but by Einstein's standard are insane. The problem for us is that many of them are politicians and government "leaders."
Let's Take A Quick Look At Some Insanity Closer To Home
Do you really think voting Democrat or Republican is going to give you less government or more liberty?
Will Americans ever vote in overwhelming numbers for a third-party candidate in a national election?
If you continue to lose money with a particular investment advisor, why do you count on the performance improving next year?
The US has been accumulating trillions in national debt since World War Two. Why would we think this will stop with the latest GOP victory in the House of Representatives or with the success of a few Tea Party candidates?
I believe America will continue down the same road toward less liberty and more debt until we reach the end of the road. There is no political solution using our special-elite-interest-controlled two-party system. We will trash the dollar and keep building up our national debt until the world stops buying our Treasury obligations.
In recent weeks, China, Brazil, Germany and France have warned the US to get its dollar and debt problems in order, to no avail. This will continue for quite a while, but just as our current foreign policies are opposed by most of the world, so our financial policies are now being questioned by world leaders and economists. One day the world will have had enough of our dollars and will tire of financing our debt. The dollar will cease to be the world's reserve currency.
There is no way to know when this will happen; it could be next year or a decade from now.
My view is before the dollar free-falls and investors flee Treasury debt, the Washington politicians will be reaching hard for your wealth, to buy more time for their Madoff-style Ponzi schemes. We will see this begin with the 2011 Congress, and do not let your guard down because a few principled GOP candidates were elected — most are no better than the Democrats.
There is nothing unique about what we are going through as a nation; it has happened many times throughout history, to other countries. Here in the U.S. we have had so much prosperity that we forget that wealth confiscation and economic collapse are more the norm than the exception.
Look Back At Argentina in 1913
It was an important year [see 1913 Was a Very Bad Year].
While the British Empire was first in economic size, only the United States challenged Argentina for the position of the world's second-most powerful economy. The nation was blessed with abundant agriculture, millions of acres of farmland, navigable rivers and an accessible port system.
The country's level of industrialization was substantially higher than in many European countries and railroads, automobiles and telephones were commonplace. Argentina was one of the ten richest nations in the world, and the rate of economic growth from 1870 to 1913 far exceeded that of the United States or Germany.
In 1913 Argentina's GDP reached 72% of the US level. But by 1998 it had fallen to 34%. What went wrong?
Politics and corruption, inflation and currency depreciation were in double digits from 1945 to 1952, from 1956 to 1968 and from 1970 to 1974. And they were in triple digits and then quadruple digits from 1975 to 1990. In 1989, the inflation rate peaked at 5,000%! In one month the Argentine currency fell 64% against the dollar. Finally, on April 28, 1989, the printing presses were shut down because the government ran out of paper for banknotes and the printers went on strike.
Argentina's government defaulted on its debt twice between 1870 and 1914 and again in 1982, 1989, 2002 and 2004 (to foreign creditors). It led the world in selling IOUs to foreign investors, just as America does today.
On December 23, 2001, after GDP had declined 12% for the year, the government announced a moratorium on all foreign debt – $81 billion worth. It was the largest default in history. The 500,000 foreign creditors finally agreed to accept 35 cents on the dollar. China and other creditors of the US government should be looking at what happened in Argentina very closely.
More Ominous Parallels Between Argentina Then & America Today
In 1916 a new president was elected in Argentina; he had a foreign sounding name I can't hope to pronounce it but it is spelled Juan Hipólitodel Sagrado Corazón de Jesús Irigoyen Alem. He led a party called the Radicals, and their slogan was "fundamental change," with an appeal to the lower middle class. Doesn't this platform and campaign rhetoric sound familiar? "Change we can believe in" with a different phrasing.
He advocated a mandatory pension program, like the mandatory or "automatic" IRA" being pushed by the Democrats and some Republicans (including deep thinkers at the supposedly conservative Heritage Foundation). He wanted mandatory health insurance and supported construction of low-income housing to stimulate the economy.
Basically, like the American bailouts of 2008, in Argentina the state assumed control of a vast swath of the country's economy and began assessing new payroll taxes to fund its efforts.
Does This Remind You Of the United States Today?
With an increasing flow of funds into these entitlement programs, the Argentine government's payouts quickly became overly generous. Soon the government outlays surpassed the value of the forced taxpayer contributions. Put simply, it quickly became underfunded, much like our Social Security and Medicare programs are today.
The death knell for the Argentine economy, however, came with the election of Juan Peron. He preached a fascist and corporatist philosophy much like Mussolini in Italy. He and his charismatic wife, Evita, first targeted their populist rhetoric at the nation's rich. But as time went on the targeted group expanded to include most of the propertied middle class, who also became an enemy to be defeated and looted. Under Peron, the size of government bureaucracies exploded through massive programs of social spending and by encouraging the growth of labor unions.
Again, does this sound familiar? Remember that the automobile industry bailout was directed far more toward supporting unions and their underfunded retirement and health plans than helping GM or Chrysler. It was the same on the GOP side when Washington bailed out much of the corrupt and failing big players in the American and foreign banking systems. Trillions for Wall Street and zero for main street.
In Argentina, high taxes and economic mismanagement continued to take their toll, even after Peron had been driven from office. His socialist/populist rhetoric and ignorance of free-market economics remained on the political scene as Argentina's federal government continued to spend far beyond its means, just like America today.
Hyperinflation exploded in 1989, which is usually the final stage of collapse brought on by protectionist policies, inflated salaries and bureaucratic regulation of the economy. The Argentinean government's practice of printing money to pay its debts crushed the economy when inflation reached heights reminiscent of the Weimar Republic. Food riots were rampant; stores were looted; the country descended into chaos.
By 1994, Argentina's public pensions – the equivalent of Social Security – had imploded. The payroll tax had increased from 5% to 26%, but it wasn't enough. So Argentina implemented a value-added tax (VAT), new income taxes and a personal tax on wealth. These crushed the private sector. I fear we will soon see a similar increase in Social Security payroll taxes over the next decade in the US.
A government-controlled "privatization" effort to rescue seniors' pensions was attempted. But by 2001 even those funds had been raided by the government, the monies replaced with defaulted Argentine government bonds. (You can read more about how this could happen in the United States in my Get Ready for the Obama Retirement Trap.)
By 2002, the Argentine government's fiscal irresponsibility had produced a national economic crisis as severe as America's Great Depression.
Our problems promise to produce worse. The dollar is still the world's reserve currency, and our fall will resound in a way that Argentina's did not. Germany, China, France and other nations have warned us that there is limited tolerance for continued U.S. money printing. The jury is still out; but if the printing continues, America is not going to like the verdict.
America Runs the Risk of Being Blamed for the Greatest Depression
There are, as we have seen, parallels between Argentina and the road the US has taken. Following the 2008 meltdown, the entire world is in a tough situation. The US, predictably, has decided on currency depreciation to "solve" its problems. Germany, China and Russia express their displeasure.
The United States, doubtless, will be blamed for the coming meltdown. Other countries fear quite rightly what they have seen before, a tidal wave of repudiation and currency depreciation that could dramatically change the world. They know the US will postpone the inevitable – but sooner or later the cumulative impact of profligacy, waste and corruption will become unstoppable. The US economy will likely implode, taking the current world order with it.
We are living in the midst of a paradigm shift; the Internet is having an impact on politics, information and financial markets. Such a transformation has happened before, with Gutenberg's printing press in the 1500s, which destroyed the existing power structure and left Europe in turmoil. The invention of the press did to the religion, to the state and to the economy of the 16th century what the Internet is doing to Western society today.
This is an exciting transition period, when every established institution, from the FED to the two-party political system to Wall Street to our banking system, is being questioned and challenged by the alternative press of which we are part. Truth and change may be good in the long run, but in the near term they stress the system much like national bankruptcy and debt repudiation did in Argentina.
America Is the New Argentina!
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to always tell the difference." –Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-FiveRight now we can't change the direction our nation is heading, but with courage we can still take action now to defend our wealth while we work toward political change. The economic lesson to be learned from the Argentina experience is wealth and resources can be destroyed by big government and financial mismanagement. The United States is following a path similar to Argentina's. Our political and financial leaders are doing the same thing that those in Argentina did and somehow expecting the outcome to be different this time.
The results will not be any different. Protect your wealth, and help us warn and educate the public through your support of the foundations like the Mises Institute and the Foundation for the Advancement of Free-Market Thinking.
January 18, 2011
There is nothing very complicated or prophetic about forecasting how Washington plans to steal much of the remaining private wealth of most American citizens over the next decade or so. This is the norm in history and politics throughout world history and this has always been the major function of governments.
While the Anglo-American establishment has whitewashed this part of history, politics and information over the last 150 years, today with the internet, the truth of our history is apparent to anyone willing to do the research.
Just as the citizens of America and Great Britain have in the past financially benefited from living under the Anglo-American Axis in many ways, today in these twilight latter-days of the empire so we will suffer under the wealth confiscation and likely retribution from the rest of the world due to the accident of our birthplace and citizenship.
As the American national debt grows larger, here are 15-plus probable attacks on your wealth over the coming ten years.
Your assets, benefits and future prosperity will be forfeit to Washington's elites as they try to buy time to right a sinking ship -- and to no avail. The impact on our wealth and future prosperity will likely dwarf what has happened before in Argentina, during the Russian collapse and in Germany with the post First World War Weimer republic.
This essay will discuss the threats and possible new taxes, penalties and controls designed to transfer wealth from the private sector to the federal government.
- Social Security Theft - As we see today in France, Social Security retirement ages will be further extended into the future. Wealthy Americans will be "means tested" and entirely forfeit their benefits, and Washington will eventually end cost-of-living adjustments for all but the poorest Social Security recipients.
- Manipulate Cost of Living Adjustments & Statistics To Steal Your Wealth - Even those receiving existing benefits will find their cost-of-living adjustments dramatically reduced over time with false inflation statistics just as we see today.
- The End of Capital Gains - The severe depth of the recession has bought US investors a couple of years extension of capital gains, but this will not be a permanent benefit regardless of the party in power. First, favorable capital gains treatment will likely be ended for all privately-owned investments except for US domestic stock and bond investments. Foreign stocks and bonds will be taxed at regular income tax levels while domestic securities, other than (non-productive assets) including mining and natural resource companies, will still be provided favorable capital gains treatment. If they are able to manipulate the stock market to new highs, then expect an eventual end to capital gains for US equities.
- The Probable Imposition of a Non-Productive Asset Gain Tax - Americans with highly-appreciated precious metals investments (including numismatics and collectibles) will find a substantial amount of their gains charged with an emergency non-productive asset gain tax. Not only will you lose capital gains treatment but expect an additional high penalty tax on gains as the last thing the establishment wants is hard money investors benefiting while the rest of population find their investments collapsing in value.
- This Tax Will Likely Be Extended to Mining and Natural Resource Stocks - Another reason to take your profits sooner rather than later in a crisis situation where the public with conventional investments will clamor for this type of retroactive tax.
- A Two-Tier Gold Price Structure - At the very least, there may well be a government enforced set or internal price for precious metals sales that operates outside the free-market pricing outside the jurisdiction of the United States. This could be handled by the non-productive asset tax mentioned about or used during a time of government gold confiscation to pay lower prices to American investors than the price outside of America. This is what happened during Roosevelt's earlier gold confiscation; and don't expect Congress to help you.
- The Risk of Private Gold Confiscation Will Continue To Increase - When the dollar and Treasury market crashes, Washington will enact legislation or use Presidential Executive Orders against gold investors to curtail your profits, add a confiscatory non-productive asset tax or confiscate your gold with some type of fiat currency exchange. In any case, they plan to end up with your gold as this will be the basis of a fake gold standard which may be used as the pretense to confiscate your gold. This will take place during the coming bond and dollar crisis by Presidential Executive Order. (Next month's letter will have a discussion on Presidential Executive Orders past and future.)
- The Fed & Washington Might Manufacture A Fake Gold Standard - Free-market public and private currency competition should replace the failed fiat currencies in use around the world today, But Washington will not give up their monopoly on currency creation without a fight and fraud against the American people; and in the latter stages of a dollar crash we can expect some type of complicated, fake gold standard or backing as a final fallback position. Just plan on this happening and it may well be the excuse used for outright gold confiscation.
- Washington Will Confiscate Large Private Retirement Fund Balances - Hungry, Bulgaria and Poland are already seizing private retirement funds to meet budget shortfalls. This will take place in the United States. Read the current report on the European pension seizures later in the newsletter under "What You Might Have Missed in the Press".
The long-term confiscation and control idea is to eventually force all retirement benefits under the new automatic/mandatory IRA program where everything will be combined with and managed like your Social Security benefits. Wealthy and productive Americans will find their retirement benefits used to support the trillions in underfunded union, state and local government employee plans.
- Remaining Retirement Funds May Be Forced Into Mandated US Treasury Obligations - As in Europe, you can expect a percentage of your remaining retirement funds, and new required contributions in the proposed Automatic IRA accounts, will be forced into government bond obligations; and your funds will become the buyer of last resort of US Treasury debt. While the Chinese, Japan and offshore nations, central banks and investors are dumping Treasuries, your retirement security will be sacrificed to provide liquidity for investors selling the debt obligations.
- All Productive Working Americans Will Be Forced Into A Mandatory, Automatic IRA Scheme With Required Annual Contributions - Americans with limited or no savings may actually benefit with this program while those of us with substantial retirement assets will find our benefits stolen to prop up the retirement programs of cities, states and unions.
- Home Values May Continue To Decline From the Bubble Levels - There are still substantial levels of foreclosures and short sales on the market, which will be followed by more homes (currently held off the market due to low demand ) being listed for sale during any temporary price upturn.
- An End to the Home Interest Deduction - Proposals in Congress are already putting the home interest deduction on the table of deduction to be reduced or eliminated in the future. I project the home interest deductions will first be eliminated for wealthy homeowners and later expanded to the middle class. This will create further downward pressure on real estate values; and the current weakness may buy some time for homeowners.
- Rising Income & Estate Taxes - We have already seen this play out during the Lame Duck session of Congress. Estate taxes have been restored; and the only question is, will the rate remain at current levels or go up. Second, the Bush tax cuts have been extended for two years due to the bad economy, but both parties will soon raise income taxes due to revenue needs.
- A National Sales or VAT Tax Is Coming - Most western nations already have a VAT tax, and this is also already in discussion stages by Congress. Expect an initial tax rate of 5% or more in addition to existing state, county and city sales taxes; and the rates will only go up from there.
- State, Municipal & Union Bankruptcies & You Pick Up the Bill - Note that these costs, which will be bailed out by the federal government in many cases and ultimately by the taxpayers, will be in addition to the coming bailout on their existing retirement and health benefit plans. Note that there is finally some good news on this front as many Democrats and Republicans are attempting to curb the growth and powers of parasitic public employee unions.
Everyone with any intelligence in the US and around the world knows that there is no way for Washington to manage the tens of trillions in debt and unfunded liabilities short of ultimate repudiation or hyperinflation. Thanks to Wall Street, bankers, and the Anglo-American financial elite, our ruinous debt-financing Ponzi scheme has been exported to most Western nations as their politicians have made a compact with the devil in delivering vote-buying programs and postponing the interest and debt reduction to future generations.
Watch the cuts and subsequent riots in Greece, Ireland, the United Kingdom and you'll see just a little of the future for the United States with its faltering world reserve currency status.
The question is, should the citizens and the formerly sovereign states of the United States wait for Washington's foreign creditors to seize the remaining government and private assets left after our politicians have finished with us?
Our politicians are in the process of totally bankrupting the country, individual states and municipalities; and in a less than a decade will have confiscated most private wealth and placed tens of trillions of more debt on future generations. Should we act now before Congress and our politicians loot our personal, retirement and real estate wealth; destroy our Treasury obligations; and kill the dollar? Should we democratically take matters into our own hands before the looming dollar and debt crisis?
One alternative is for Americans in the individual states to organize and work toward a "Washington National Debt Constitutional Amendment" and repudiate much of the Washington government debt before it bankrupts every private American citizen. Otherwise, the massive increase in the level of indebtedness due to the meltdown and depression may first bring down the Treasury market followed by the US dollar; and this will destroy the American economy for decades to come.
The American people need to meet the problem on terms which will make the best of a difficult situation for the nation and our personal financial security instead of allowing foreign creditors, our financial establishment, and Washington to buy more time for them through the confiscation of our private wealth, financial security and liberty.
Only a grassroots effort by the American people through state-nullification or the constitutional amendment process have any hope of success. The alternative is to expect those who are destroying our economy and nation to solve the problem they created without sacrificing us in the process. This is just wishful and foolish thinking.
On December 21, 1913 the New York Times stated,
"New York will be on a firmer basis of financial growth, and we shall soon see her the money center of the world."This was one day before the Federal Reserve Act was hurriedly passed and signed into law with limited debate by a Congress controlled by Washington and banking special interests.
These undemocratic tactics were designed then -- just as today -- to thwart the will and overwhelming opposition of the American people to expensive handouts for Wall Street and those shadowy few who stand behind the banking system.
Now, Washington's illegitimate national debt is growing exponentially due to the bailouts and stimulus bills as Congress tries to jump-start a depression threatened economy. This additional debt load will, within the next decade, bankrupt our nation and impoverish most productive, working Americans.
The Federal Reserve, together with the above financial elites, essentially manufactured the credit and real-estate bubble. The result: continued enhancement of foreign investment in their Treasury debt Ponzi scheme along with obscene profits for Wall Street at the expense of the American people.
This scam by our financial establishment makes Bernard Madoff's despicable actions look like Mother Teresa's charity operation in comparison. An unintentional consequence of these actions was the meltdown in markets, the credit crisis and spreading global depression when the bubble finally burst.
Now there is a cover-up of the cause and coming global run, crash and probable collapse of US Treasury obligations because of the dramatic increase in Washington's national debt to unsustainable levels. This economic tidal wave threatens the financial security and wealth of every American along with their savings, real estate, retirement plans, investment portfolios as well as their promised Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Concerned Americans must bypass a corrupt Congress and the leadership of both political parties often controlled by special interests at the national level and seek a debt solution through the constitutional amendment and nullification process starting at the state level.
Repudiating the illegitimate national debt of Washington politicians and special interests will allow existing treasury-debt-obligation owners and investors time to dispose of the unlawful debt created only to profit special financial and corporate interests. They own and control majorities in the House and Senate, much of the party leadership positions, and the Federal Reserve System ...
Bankrupted States = Constitutional Convention and the Proposed Constitution for the 'Newstates of America'By Nancy Levant, NewsWithViews
December 24, 2008
The strategically planned and forthcoming Constitutional Convention, which will address “a balanced budget,” is quite a cover story. Therefore, let us consider the truth behind this elaborate usurpation scheme.
As the country is failing in every direction -- from the former individual in America to each and every individual state in the country, the total economic crash of EVERYTHING -- and all converging at the very same time and as we speak -- is, let us say, extraordinarily convenient.
Add this convenience to the fact that on March 27, 1969, President Richard Nixon divided the country into 10 regions via the Government Reorganization Act. Then with Nixon’s Executive Order 11647, the nation was divided up into 10 administrative regions on February 14, 1972 (Federal Register February 12, 1972, Vol. 37, No. 30), which also established the Federal Regional Council for the newly designed 10 regions.
Now, why did former President Richard Nixon redefine the United States? He did so because the United Nations passed a resolution that the United States must reorganize into 10 regions. Can you name your regional directors? Who are these councils, and where are their office buildings? Actually, you don’t know because they were not “elected,” nor are they mentioned on your tell-a-visions. Your regional councilmen are “appointees.” Can you tell me who appointed them to regional power? Bet you can’t.
And the reorganizing of our former nation, achieved more than 25 years ago, and of which you know nothing, certainly suggests that “government” as we knew it changed a long time ago. With all this information now in hands, ask yourselves what would happen in the event of a really big, national “crisis?” What powers do your states hold, or for that matter, your counties or local governments hold -- especially since they are all bankrupt AND have regional managers.
Add this to your plate: now that you know your nation has been redrawn and redistributed, what if I told you that a new constitution was written at the same time the country was divided into 10 regions? Ever heard of the Proposed Constitution for the Newstates of America?
In 1964, the Ford Foundation funded an outfit called the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions to write a new constitution for our nation. After 40 drafts, a staff of 100+ people, and at a cost of 2.5 million dollars a year, a decade later (1974) the Proposed Constitution for the Newstates of America was finished. Mind you -- a ten year, $25,000,000.00 project…let us therefore assume that the funding foundation(s) were very serious about this investment. And two years later, in 1976, Mr. Nelson Rockefeller, who at that time was the president of the Senate, introduced HCR 28, which called for an unlimited Constitutional Convention -- the perfect tool whereby to dissolve our current constitution and implant the handily written new constitution -- and all without congressional oversight or public knowledge.
Didn’t go well for Nelson in 1976, but guess what? A new Constitutional Convention is right around our corners again -- with 32 states requesting the Con-Con, and with only 34 required for it’s convening -- and with most American states now totally, conveniently, bankrupt.
Look at it this way: the Feds can not possibly bail out 50 states because they’ve already given all our money away -- right? And we can’t pay taxes anyway because we have no jobs. Gosh…what can the Feds possibly do to rectify this horrible situation?
Dialectically speaking, they’ve had their answer of choice in the wings for decades. It’s called dissolving state, county, and local powers for centralized power. Gosh…it’s the United Nations mandate for one world government and regionalization of the United States -- as commanded in the 1960’s. Do tell, folks…do tell.
The current economic “crisis” is the tool, the highly planned and patient tool, to set up the global governing bureaucracy for real and for certain with the second convening of the Constitutional Convention in the wings. The big wigs tried it before in 1976, and they are trying again, but this time having manufactured national bankruptcy as public fear-based appeasement.I suggest you read your forthcoming constitution, which is also your forthcoming nightmare. Here is just a taste of your global privileges from your Constitution for the Newstates of America:Article 1A Sec. 1 - 'Freedom of expression shall not be abridged except in declared emergency."
Article 1A Sec. 8 - "The practice of religion shall be privileged."
Article 1B Sec. 8 - "Bearing of arms shall be confined to the police, members of the armed forces, and those licensed under law." See the note below from a respected teacher [and friend] in the UK:
"Britain is already divided into regions. The region of Kent includes a bit of France. Most of our laws now come from Brussels. We have never agreed to this. After Heath lied to get a 'yes' to the Common Market in 1879 or so, Lib Lab Con in the house of Commons have steadily, traitorously handed over government of our land to Brussels. We do not elect the officials in the regions. Most people are unaware they exist.... MPs have given up representing us. Many people are just TV fodder."