Friday, June 10, 2011
Story from Washingtons Blog
CNN’s Jack Cafferty notes that a number of voices are saying that – if our economy continues to deteriorate (which it very well might) – we are likely headed for violence, and civil unrest is a growing certainty.
Newsweek wrote two weeks ago:
Reality is beginning to break through. Gas and grocery prices are on the rise, home values are down, and vast majorities think the country is on the wrong track. The result is sadness and frustration, but also an inchoate rage more profound than the sign-waving political fury documented during the elections last fall.
In search of the earthly toll of this outrage, NEWSWEEK conducted a poll of 600 people, finding vastly more unquiet minds than not. Three out of four people believe the economy is stagnant or getting worse. One in three is uneasy about getting married, starting a family, or being able to buy a home. Most say their relationships have been damaged by economic woes or, perhaps more accurately, the dread and nervousness that accompany them.
Could these emotions escalate into revolt? Why are people so angry? Well, as the Newsweek article points out:
Corporate earnings have soared to an all-time high. Wall Street is gaudy and confident again. But the heyday hasn’t come for millions of Americans. Unemployment hovers near 9 percent, and the only jobs that truly abound, according to Labor Department data, come with name tags, hairnets, and funny hats (rather than high wages, great benefits, and long-term security). The American Dream is about having the means to build a better life for the next generation. But as President Obama acknowledged at a town-hall meeting in May, “a lot of folks aren’t feeling that [possibility] anymore.”
By way of background, America – like most nations around the world – decided to bail out their big banks instead of taking the necessary steps to stabilize their economies (see this, this and this). As such, they all transferred massive debts (from fraudulent and stupid gambling activities) from the balance sheets of the banks to the balance sheets of the country.
The nations have then run their printing presses nonstop in an effort to inflate their way out of their debt crises, even though that effort is doomed to failure from the get-go.
Quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve is obviously causing food prices to skyrocket worldwide (and see this, this and this).
But the fact is that every country in the world that can print money – i.e. which is not locked into a multi-country currency agreement like the Euro – has been printing massive quantities of money. See these charts.
Moreover, the austerity measures which governments worldwide are imposing to try to plug their gaping deficits (created by throwing trillions at their banks) are causing people world-wide to push back.
As I warned in February 2009 and again in December of that year:
Numerous high-level officials and experts warn that the economic crisis could lead to unrest world-wide – even in developed countries:
• Today, Moody’s warned that future tax rises and spending cuts could trigger social unrest in a range of countries from the developing to the developed world, that in the coming years, evidence of social unrest and public tension may become just as important signs of whether a country will be able to adapt as traditional economic metrics, that a fiscal crisis remains a possibility for a leading economy, and that 2010 would be a “tumultuous year for sovereign debt issuers”.
• The U.S. Army War College warned in 2008 November warned in a monograph [click on Policypointers’ pdf link to see the report] titled “Known Unknowns: Unconventional ‘Strategic Shocks’ in Defense Strategy Development” of crash-induced unrest:
The military must be prepared, the document warned, for a “violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States,” which could be provoked by “unforeseen economic collapse,” “purposeful domestic resistance,” “pervasive public health emergencies” or “loss of functioning political and legal order.”
The “widespread civil violence,” the document said, “would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.”
“An American government and defense establishment lulled into complacency by a long-secure domestic order would be forced to rapidly divest some or most external security commitments in order to address rapidly expanding human insecurity at home,” it went on.
“Under the most extreme circumstances, this might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States. Further, DoD [the Department of Defense] would be, by necessity, an essential enabling hub for the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or nationwide civil conflict or disturbance,” the document read.
• Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair said:
“The global economic crisis … already looms as the most serious one in decades, if not in centuries … Economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they are prolonged for a one- or two-year period,” said Blair. “And instability can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have on law and order, which can spill out in dangerous ways into the international community.”
“Statistical modeling shows that economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they persist over a one-to-two-year period.”
“The crisis has been ongoing for over a year, and economists are divided over whether and when we could hit bottom. Some even fear that the recession could further deepen and reach the level of the Great Depression. Of course, all of us recall the dramatic political consequences wrought by the economic turmoil of the 1920s and 1930s in Europe, the instability, and high levels of violent extremism.”
Blair made it clear that – while unrest was currently only happening in Europe – he was worried this could happen within the United States.
• Former national security director Zbigniew Brzezinski warned “there’s going to be growing conflict between the classes and if people are unemployed and really hurting, hell, there could be even riots.”
• The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff warned the the financial crisis is the highest national security concern for the U.S., and warned that the fallout from the crisis could lead to of “greater instability”.
Others warning of crash-induced unrest include:
• The head of the World Trade Organization
• The head of the International Monetary Fund (and see this)
• The head of the World Bank
• Senator Christopher Dodd
• Congressman Ron Paul (radio interview on March 6, 2009)
• Britian’s MI5 security agency
• Leading economic historian Niall Ferguson
• Leading economist Marc Faber and billionaire investor Jim Rogers
• Leading economist Nouriel Roubini
• Leading economist John Williams
• Top trend researcher Gerald Calente
• European think tank Leap2020
Unemployment is soaring globally – especially among youth.
Read full article @ http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/06/the-handling-of-the-economic-crisis-may-lead-to-civil-unrest/