Back in the late 1970s, I’d meet up with a group of pals to play poker. All up, I contested eight games in a three-year span, which always consisted of six players. The band requirements for these engagements were quite simple. First, it cost two bucks to run. Second, each player started with the same size bank of anything between $200 and $300. Third, when your kitty was empty, it was a case of bye-bye sweetie pie. The other hard-and-fast rule was that the last two players would fight to the last chip. Therefore, one of us would end up with a collective pool of around $1200 to $1500.
However, there was a compensatory factor for those of us who got scunned of our loot, which was that the victor had to pay the cost of a night out for losers and their wives or girlfriends. The purpose of the victor having to shout the cost of a night out (for a dozen of us) meant that a big chunk of the pot – at least half – was channelled into a social event pool. Effectively, the losers only lost about half of their input.
So, this leads me to ask: Where in heaven’s name do the hundreds of millions (let alone billions) of dollars go when the value of stocks or crypto-currencies is ‘wiped away’ as a result of a crash in the market? For surely, if either a stock or crypto drops in price, just as it is with a poker game, then it must have gone into someone’s pockets.
Well, the reality is that a great chunk of the ‘losses’ didn’t go anywhere, and a sizeable swatch of the figure purported to have been lost, apart from the capital that was invested in either orb, never actually existed in the first place. This is so because “it” (sic) only existed on paper, which is commonly defined as being in the realm of the futures markets. In simple terms, the value of a stock or, alternatively, real estate is primarily buttressed on speculative projections.
Apropos to real estate, albeit that real estate is conspicuously different to either stocks or crypto, due to property having a tangible asset to trade. But even so, the innate correlation with stocks and real estate prices is that either value is most often an arbitrary figure. Put simply, the value or the price of either is what they’re projected to be worth in the future. Alas, now that QE is morphing into QT [Quantitative Tightening] and duly being exacerbated by interest rates rising, it has exposed it to be a Ponzi scheme.
Before the early 1990s, the prospect of virtually anyone that you’d encounter at any stock exchange, anywhere on the planet, buying, trading, or just observing activities there was from a ritzy suburb, with a heritage of ancestral investors. But from that point onwards, members of the nouveau riche began to put their money into stocks and ventures. This culminated with millions of souls right across the globe eagerly jumping into what I call the “El Dorado ring”. This entails an array of investment portfolios encompassing anything from stocks, real estate, and, more recently, bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Whilst it’s certainly tragic that people have lost their money in failed ventures, I don’t have too much sympathy for these dupes when it comes to crypto. After all, only an idiot couldn’t have realised that crypto and its conga-line of derivatives were a con-job of extraordinary degrees. This is so because none of these aspects was buttressed by an invention or innovation [Tesla or Edison], which had the potential to generate a product or service that could eventually be consumed and provoke revenues.
In the six weeks up until May 25/22, bitcoin and its affiliate confluences crashed in price (note, I say price, as opposed to value) by around 50%. In the ensuing weeks up until June 13, they slipped further into the mire. In turn, real estate prices in the United Kingdom, North America, Australia, and New Zealand, among other places, are expected to fall by 10-25% over the next 12-15 months, assuming central banks continue to raise interest rates to combat inflation.
(To assuage a reference to predicting and, indeed, castigating crypto nuances, comes to pass with Bill Mahar in his “And, finally” segment – which, as I recall, was broadcast about a year ago in, perhaps, May 2021 – where he ripped into the dangers of channelling your hard-earned into this.) To further substantiate these pending catastrophes, they are readily accessible in a veritable plethora of exposés from media outlets right across the world—particularly from April. While the crash in stock prices is bad enough, the pending upheavals in real estate prices are of far more ominous consequences. This is because if real estate values collapsed by 15–25%, it would severely affect hundreds of millions of people stretching across North America, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, and Europe.
But how did affairs get to such a calamitous situation? Of course, this is no mystery, and it’s due to governments since 2008 greatly ramping-up quantitative easing processes as the means to counter the GFC, stimulate economies, and prevent them from crashing into the fiscal abyss. But in early 2020, due to the emergence of the COVID pandemic, governments were forced to initiate further quantitative easing programs. In convergence with QE measures being boosted, central banks around the world chopped interest rates to virtually zero. In a few cases in Europe, rates were reduced to the negative.
With hindsight, and to be balanced, these extraordinary circumstances that were inaugurated were cases of, “You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t,” as being the means to obviate total economic mayhem. But, as the saying goes, “For every action, there must be a (comparable) reaction.” Thus, because governments around the globe created (collectively) trillions of dollars and pumped this money into their economies to stave off a catastrophic economic collapse, the loot created had to find roosts to inhabit. This occurred either via welfare payments or with the banks’ lending it to borrowers to purchase real estate. With pertinent regards to the latter aspect, this ran in confluence with central banks’ cutting interest rates to ludicrously low levels.
In the Friday, June 10/22 edition of the Fin Review, there are 4 articles, which pertain/cover all of these issues, and they are: ‘Mortgage loan slump fears extend bank losses’, Ayesha de Kretser; ‘Price of lettuce is not Labor’s only issue’, Jennifer Hewitt; ‘Sydney house prices to drop 11pc: CBA’, Nila Sweeney and; ‘Pandemic savings to help ease pain in global housing’, Valentina Romei.
Nevertheless, that pertinent quartet of perspectives is but a mere speck of a gargantuan brief of opinions that have been espoused by economists and journalists in the past few months. Again, I stress that there were no other options available to governments and central banks to invoke to prevent economic and, therefore, sociological pandemonium befalling the entire world.
However, these drastic measures were inevitably going to reach their terminus. With that said, I’ll make it clear that I, as indeed it is with all the wise seers in central banks and governments, don’t have wands to wave to be able to ameliorate the dire economic labyrinth these processes have spawned.
Quite obviously, governments can no longer create money and dole it out (in a rendition of Rome’s Bread & Circuses situation) to the masses, to allay a quasi-revolution arising, culminating in societal collapse coming to pass. As previously stated, there is now an urgent need to implement what banker/investor Jamie Dimon refers to as “quantitative tightening [QT],” which is simply the inverse of QE., QT will inevitably prompt severe economic and, indeed, sociological consequences too. Effectively, it’ll be the bitter overwhelming the sweet. As painful as that will be for the multitudes to endure, there is no other alternative to consider, because it’s a gross fantasy for some to have imagined that QE, come MMT, had anything but a very finite life span to traverse.
But there is one measure that governments in some major economies will eventually have to impose, and that is to force “all the able-bodied people” within their spheres to take up the jobs that can’t be filled. The great bulk of these jobs here in Australia are menial and mundane occupations, such as truck drivers, baristas, kitchen hands, cleaners, etc., etc. Since January 2014, under the previous LNP coalition, these positions have been seized by low-skilled migrants in Australia on temp visas. A very significant component of these temp-visa holders were international students, who were compelled to work to survive.
Numerically, of the 950,000 international students in Australia in November 2019, around 650,000 were employed in any of the nominated spheres. However, virtually all worked beyond the 20 hours per week that their visas permitted them to do. Thus, they were ruthlessly exploited with their rates of pay because their visas only permitted them to work a designated 20 hours per week. This culminated in these ISs working between 20–30 hours a week over what their visa conditions permitted them to do, for hourly rates of pay as low as $12, but usually around $15 ph.
Unfortunately, here in Australia, there are an estimated 200,000 people between the ages of 25 and 40 years of age, of the total 770,000 currently receiving Newstart, with either no worthwhile skills or no motivation to obtain full-time work, who are wallowing in a dire world surviving on about $700, plus rent-assistance. I’m not advocating for welfare to be summarily rescinded for people in these orbs. That would certainly engender social upheaval.
But what I’m proposing to inaugurate here in Australia – and also in Britain and the US – is to invoke the system that exists in Singapore. Whereby, within 8 to 10 weeks of someone becoming unemployed or with those young people who are joining the labour force but can’t find employment, the Singaporean government finds them work in an array of livelihoods. These range from spraying still-water lots to contain mosquitoes, right through to pruning trees and cleaning streets and public quarters.
Of course, this costs the Singaporean government more to pay these people for working than it would if it just gave them dole payments. But it’s done for two specific reasons. First, it must make it clear to its citizens that there will be no long-term freeloaders on the public purse. Secondly, and most significantly, having people working rather than them moping around gives them a sense of purpose and dignity. They feel that they’re part of a team and are contributing to their society.
Apropos in the New Daily on June 10/22, there’s a piece by Sezan Bakan, the Financial Writer, titled: “Mutual Obligations Are Being Overhauled: Job Seekers are confused and fearful.”
Therein, Bakan conveys several relevant facts and opinions of those who are on the front lines of this arena. But the most significant factor is that at least THREE-QUARTERS OF A MILLION people in Australia are on Newstart. However, according to an ABC report, only “169,000 are job-ready.” For whatever reasons they may be, there are 590,000 people who aren’t “job-ready”.
No doubt, perhaps 100,000 people would be too old and unfit to cope with physically demanding chores on a construction site. Or, perhaps they can’t cope with dealing with modern means of working in a warehouse where it’s imperative to be capable of functioning with computers to process activities. However, other convergences seriously inhibit Australians from having opportunities to gain employment.
And this occurs with the highly surreptitious agenda of how low-skilled jobs, whether they be in cafes, restaurants, or kitchens, right through to warehouses and a variety of jobs such as cleaners, etc., are given preference to international students. This occurs because a prime imperative that was needed to lure the great majority of full-fee-paying international students to come to Australia was for them to obtain work to survive. Hence, from January 2014, when the former LNP federal government – in cahoots with state governments – implemented an agenda to massively increase the number of international students in Australia as an insidious means to inaugurate its economic agenda to propel GDP growth, the result was that they gained jobs in various spheres in low-skilled occupations in front of Australians.
The collective of low-life scum, who have profited from selling their country down the drain (for what will inevitably be a very short-term pecuniary bonanza for them), claims that “Australians don’t want to undertake jobs in the spheres that foreigners do/did.” However, the indisputable truth about this scenario is that starting in January 2014, a high-level conspiracy was invoked whereby foreign students were innately preferred to gain employment in factories, warehouses, cafes and kitchens. Hence, due to the COVID pandemic, because those foreign interlopers were either forced to return to their cradles or, indeed, they haven’t arrived here, it engendered a shortage of labour in these fields.
But if, as these treacherous cretins who’ve sold the country out by claiming that “Australians don’t want to undertake jobs” (in menial and mundane occupations), then how do they explain away the reality that, from the mid-70s, when café culture took off and became a very significant part of Australian culture, how is it that Australians of Anglo/European cradles comprised at least 90% of the workers? Whereas in recent times (primarily in the past decade), Asians have so overwhelmed many aspects of the café sector (by business migrants swarming into Australia in their tens-of-thousands and usurping Australians in these businesses) that about 25,000 Australians have been made redundant in cafes by these interlopers.