Armstrong Economics Blog/Sovereign Debt Crisis
Re-Posted Apr 16, 2018 by Martin Armstrong
I have been warning for years at the World Economic Conferences that interest expenditures will reach the point that they will crowd out everything else. Well at last, as we enter 2019 and the War Cycle heats up, interest expenditures will now EXCEED even military spending. Welcome to the SOVEREIGN DEBT CRISIS. I have also stated for years that we elect people to run a government with absolutely NO QUALIFICATION whatsoever. There were people who want Oprah to run for President because she is (1) black and (2) a woman. This is the standard of expertise far too many people apply when it comes to politics. I have also made the analogy that this is like asking a cab driver to conduct open-heart-surgery on you because he smiles nice and holds a good conversation.
Historically, society has always gone through a major debt crisis. Perhaps that is why the Bible talked about a debt jubilee where debt is simply forgiven every 49/50 years. One question that jumps out at us is rather blunt. Does the Old Testament Debt Jubilee present a solution to our modern financial crisis? The mere fact that this is in the Bible suggests that there must have been major debt crisis even before the Bible. We do know that Hammurabi’s Law Code imposed regulation on interest. It also imposed Contract Law and required people to reduce agreements to writing that were witnessed. By implication, such a law must have meant that one person said he lent money and the other denied it. We have legal records that have survived from Babylon which even demonstrate they had an active futures market where people bought a crop for future delivery creating even options.
One of the earliest Debt Crisis in recorded history that is well documented by contemporary writers was the Debt Crisis in Athens of 354BC. Corruption between government and the bankers is nothing new. The banks were the Temples since money was donated to the gods who had no use for it. Typically, the government would borrow from this hoard of Temple money to fund wars. The priests became the bankers. In Athens during 354BC, there was one of the early banking crisis events involving what we would call the Secretary of the Treasury so to speak and his banking friends. The money grew to a vast sum in the Temple which kept all these donations in the Opisthodomos. The Temple was not earning interest on its hoard of money which just sat there funding the lavish lifestyle of the priests. The treasurer agreed to lend the money to personal banking friends who would then pay the treasurer interest that he could then personally put that in his pocket. When the banking crisis hit and there was a liquidity problem, the banks could not repay the loans to the Temple.
Most of the loans were going to real estate. When the business cycle hit and real estate turned down, people could not pay their debts and could not sell the property in a down market. Suddenly, the bankers could not repay the priests so they then tried to cover up their scheme by setting fire to the Opisthodomos. Nevertheless, the scheme was detected and the Treasurers of the Temple of Athena were seized and imprisoned, about 377-376BC. In 1989, government ministers of Crete pulled the same scam. They were depositing government funds in the Bank of Crete and interest was being diverted to themselves. It was the failure of the Bank of Crete that exposed the scam (See NY Times, 9/21/89, A14; 9/27/89, A3). So you see, history repeats like a Shakespeare play – just the actors change over the centuries while the storyline remains unchanged.
Obviously, debt and contracts have been around for thousands of years. Is there a dramatic and simple way out of all this? Some argue that there is a “debt jubilee” they take from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, the concept derives from the biblical injunction for a day of rest one day out of every week, a “sabbath” day. There appears to be a fractal system which is laid out in the Bible. The next injunction is for a Sabbath year every 7th year. Here, people are to not work. The next injunction appears on the year after the 7th of those sabbatical years, i.e. the 50th, (one year after the 49th). This is where we find there would be a jubilee year during which any slaves would be emancipated and everyone would return to their land and family to live off of natural providence. A clear implication of this teaching is that all obligations, including debt obligations, would be forgiven in the process. I do find it curious that this lines up fairly closely with the Economic Confidence Model (ECM) and its 6 waves of 8.6-year intervals which build up to major events every 51.6 years. Is the Bible saying that there is a debt crisis every 50 years where the solution is to default on all debts? The next 51.6-year target on the ECM will come in 2032 and our model does show that the West will yield the crown of the Financial Capital of the World to China. So does the Biblical Debt Jubilee suggest we “should” forgive all debts at the 50th interval of the 7th year or does it forecast that debts will be forgiven simply because everything will crash at that point?
I have further warned that our elected officials could not even run a bubblegum machine as a business. When they spend all the money they took in on themselves, they have nothing left to buy more gum to refills the machine. Their solution is just to raise taxes and refill the machine and spend it all again on themselves with lavish perks and pensions. The Sovereign Debt Crisis is alive and well. This is now when it is going to begin to surface to where it will become more obvious to people around the world. Indeed, I am off to Europe today for this very reason with two weeks of meetings. The risk is beginning to become obvious as interest expenditures will crowd out everything other areas of spending. Governments will try to keep the debt revolving by raising taxes and this will only further reduce both the economy and our living standards. We are being walled-in by our own debt with no place to go except default if we do not act NOW!!!!!!!