The Virtues of Defaulting
When Debt is More Important Than People, The System Is Evil (February 18, 2012)
The Empire of Debt has only one end-point: a death spiral. It is evil and must be dismantled.
Ethics has no place in the Empire of Debt. The financialized Status Quo is careful to limit the language used to describe the situation in Greece to the subtexts of "obligations" and "avoiding chaos."
The reality being masked is that debt is now more important than people. The suffering of the people of Greece is presented as a footnote to the financial play being staged; when the suffering is noted, it is presented with a peculiar set of unspoken subtexts:
1. Looky-loo detachment of the "gosh, look at that wrecked car, are there any bodies?" sort. People slow down to look at car crashes, and they revel in videos of riots with the same detached fascination with mayhem that doesn't involve them. Tsk tsk, how awful, etc.
2. They're reaping what they sowed, "they made their bed, now they have to sleep in it," i.e. the suffering of Greek non-Elites is the richly deserved consequences of their government overborrowing.
This begs further investigation. In the normal course of affairs in corrupt kleptocracies, various Elites siphon off most of the swag and the commoners get just enough shreds to buy their complicity. In other words, it may well be that the entire populace of Greece benefitted handsomely from the massive State borrowing, but it also may well be that the private-sector Greeks received little of the swag. In this case, they don't "deserve" to be forced into debt-serfdom by their Euroland overlords.
The ethics of debt, at least in the officially sanctioned media, boils down to: nobody made them borrow all those euros, and so their suffering is just desserts.
What's lost in this subtext is the responsibility of the lender. Yes, nobody forced Greece to borrow 200 billion euros (or whatever the true total may be), but then nobody forced the lenders to extend the credit in the first place.
Consider an individual who is a visibly poor credit risk. He would like to borrow money to blow on consumption and then stiff the lender, but since he cannot create credit, he has to live within his means.
Now a lender comes along who can create credit out of thin air (via fractional reserve banking) and offers this poor credit risk $100,000 in collateral-free debt at low rates of interest. Who is responsible for the creation and extension of credit? The borrower or the lender? Answer: the lender.
In other words, if the lender is foolish enough to extend huge quantities of credit to a poor credit risk, then it's the lender who should suffer the losses when the borrower defaults.
This is the basis of bankruptcy laws--or used to be the basis. When an over-extended borrower defaults, the debt is cleared, the lender takes the loss/writedown, and the borrower loses whatever collateral was pledged. He is left with the basics to carry on: his auto, clothing, his job, and so on. His credit rating is impaired, and it is now his responsibility to earn back a credible credit rating.
The debt is discharged and the borrower must live within his means without relying on credit. But he is also free of the burdens of servicing the debt.
If the lender is forced into insolvency due to the losses, then so be it: lenders that cannot differentiate between good and bad credit risks should go under and disappear: that's what happens in a competitive, transparent capitalist economy. Fools who create credit and extend it to poor credit risks must be eliminated from the system as quickly as possible lest they destroy more capital in the future.
The potential for loss and actually bearing the consequences from irresponsible extensions of credit was unacceptable to the banking cartel, so they rewrote the laws. Now student loans in America cannot be discharged in bankruptcy court; they are permanent and must be carried and serviced until death. This is the acme of debt-serfdom.
The global banking cartel has declared Greece's debts to be permanent and its people debt-serfs. More precisely, some privately held debt will be written down, but certainly not all of it, and the debt owed to the European Central Bank cannot be written down a single euro: Greece must pay the interest on the full debt, whatever the costs to its people.
We might ask why the fully-financialized Status Quo of financial and political Elites so carefully insures no shadow of ethics passes over the Greek debt crisis: If they did, it would become obvious that when debt becomes more important than people, the system is evil and should be dismantled.
Yes, evil, as in evil empire: the Empire of Debt that now dominates the global economy is intrinsically evil and cannot be salvaged; the only way to rid the planet of its parasitic, pervasive evil is to dismantle it, all of it, everywhere.
Europe is a good place to start. The only way to dismantle the evil Empire of Debt is to stop obeying its commands: Greece should not pay a single euro on any of its debts, starting with debt owed to the Evil Empire of Debt's favorite tool, the Troika of the EU (European Union), the ECB and the IMF.
We are constantly told default and exit from the debtors' prison of the euro would lead to chaos. Unfortunately for the Evil Empire of Debt and its Eurozone army of lackeys, toadies and apparatchiks, this claim is demonstrably false. Thanks to Pater Tenebrarum of the always excellent Acting Man financial blog, we have access to a 53-page report from Variant Perception that completely dismantles the fear-mongering claims of Apocalypse for the Greeks should their government default on its debts.
A Primer on the Euro Breakup: Default, Exit and Devaluation as the Optimal Solution. The only way forward is default and exit from the debtors' prison of the euro.
Once the debt has been renounced, Greece will have to live within its means, i.e. the goods and services produced by their economy. I think a critically important point has been lost in all the fear-mongering: the value of the goods and services produced by an economy remain the same whether they are valued in euros, gold, dollars, bat guano or any other open-market measure of value.
What will impoverish Greece is paying interest on the mountain of debt. If we value total Greek output of goods and services at 100 quatloos, and this economic activity generates a surplus of 10 quatloos, the Greek people can decide to consume that 10 quatloos, invest it or some mix of the two.
If they have to pay 10 quatloos in interest, then there is no capital left to invest in productive assets. As the existing productive assets degrade, wear out and become obsolete, then the goods and services produced will decline, along with the surplus generated. This sets up a positive feedback loop, i.e. a death spiral: as production of value declines, so too does the surplus available to invest in productive assets.
This is why the only way forward is default and exit from the debtors' prison of the euro. The only way forward is to value people more than debt, and to dismantle the evil Empire of Debt.