Crush Labor and Impose Austerity: ECB Head Draghi’s Real Goal for the Eurozone
by Mike Whitney
December 23, 2011
Imagine if your banker offered to lend you a $150,000 to make up for the money that you’d lost on your home since the housing bubble burst in 2006. And, let’s say, he agreed to lend you this money for 3 years at rock-bottom rates of 1 percent provided that you post the contents of your garage (ie. rusty bikes, a bent basketball hoop, an old dollhouse, and rodent-infested luggage) as collateral on the loan.
Would that seem like a good deal to you?
On Wednesday, the European Central Bank (ECB) made this very same offer to over a hundred underwater banks in Europe, awarding them $640 billion (489 euros) in dirt-cheap 3-year loans in exchange for all manner of dodgy collateral for which there is currently no market. Now you, dear reader, know that when you try to sell something on Craig’s List and there’s very little interest; you have to drop the price in order to attract a buyer. That’s just how supply-demand dynamics work in a free market, right?
Au contraire. In fact, this rule never applies to bankers. When the junk assets on a bank’s balance sheet begin to fall in value, the banks just ring-up their big brother at the ECB or the Fed and demand a bailout, er, I mean, “swap liquidity for collateral that is temporarily impaired.” But the truth is, the garbage that the banks have accumulated–particularly the sovereign bonds from Italy, Spain, Greece, etc–is not merely “impaired”. These bonds will never regain their original value because the loans were made at the peak of a bubble. So, there’s as much chance that Greek bonds will bounce back in three years as there is that that tacky $650,000 McMansion you bought in Encinito in 2005 will claw its way back to par.
That’s not going to happen.