Sunday, December 7, 2008

When the Smoke Clears, Who Will Still Be Standing?

The Bank Panic of 2008 will once again prove what should be common knowledge: a nation that makes nothing is worth nothing. It will also prove what the British Empire learned after parliament in 1861 allowed British business to go to the colonies to seek cheap labor: impoverishing your own people for the sake of a small elite and de-industrializing all lead to disaster. A nation of shop owners is just that, a nation of shop owners. It is not a nation of power. Long ago, if the British had not become obedient lap dogs of the Americans, Britain would have become a quaint little second/third rate European power.

As it stands, the zenith of British power was fully demonstrated for the world in the Falkland Wars where the British strained every resource they had just to reach the islands and then fight a second rate and half way demoralized Argentine army. Yes they won, but that was as much of a victory worth celebrating as the American victory over the Iraqis.

So again, the question stands, who will be left standing when the last crag of the dieing financial empires falls from the weight of its own paper and the dust finally settles upon it? It will be the nations that have retained or built up their industrial base and who first and foremost service their own citizenry. Thus it will be Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Russia, Germany and France and maybe just maybe India but not China nor America.

First and foremost, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, France and Germany have an updated industrial base that first services their own population and then that of the export markets. In other words, they can meet their own needs. The Germans in particular were also very careful about their banking behavior. The central German bank will spend a whopping $12 billion over two years to fix up the economy and that's $12 billion it actually has and does not have to borrow.

Russia too, with an old soviet industrial base, that was ravaged by the West, has been rebuilding its foundations for the past 9 years, with an annual rate of industrial growth of 7-8%. It too is now in a position where it first and foremost services its own internal demand. To most Anglo-Saxons, this may come as a shock, as the propaganda they have been fed is of a collapsed Russian economy dependent only on oil. However, the Russian boom started in 1999, long before oil broke $20/barrel.

India will be harder pressed as much more of its industry is based on export. However, unlike China, it has not developed as much consumer goods industry solely for exports and is still more focused internally. This may give it a fighting chance to come out of this disaster poorer but with a foundation to build on.

China is a disaster in progress. Over 100,000 factories have closed, civil unrest is sky rocketing and a possible civil war is never out of the question. This is because, outside of the 200 million that make up the Chinese middle class, the billion plus can not buy nor afford the trinkets that the industry produces not to mention the more expensive items. With American and, to a smaller extent, European demand drying up, at an incredible rate, the Chinese production capacity, which fed them, is a pointless weight. The local population can not afford to absorb the capacity, since wages were kept as low as possible, many less than $.25 per hour. The working poor now being laid off will only grow angrier and more rebellious.

As for the Americans and the British, this is a disaster from which it will take generations to recover. Both nations have de-industrialized and can barely provide the base necessities of industrialized goods for their people. By bare necessities, we do not mean TVs, electronics and other such things, but processed foods, clothing and shelter. Even their defense industries are dependent on foreign subcomponents. Luxury items, such as consumer electronics, furniture, etc are all imported. The Anglo-Sphere has long ago built its future on the false promise of paper wealth, a wish that while at first bringing a sweet high like heroine, in the end will cost dearly in withdrawal.

The Americans in particular will now face the same challenge as the Soviet Union, a nation which while it still had some capacity to produce large heavy machinery and military equipment, was totally unable to satisfy its people's cravings for consumer goods and who with little real wealth available, was no longer be able to purchase it abroad. It is moments like these that even the tame peasants of the Anglo-Sphere may actually rise up in rebellion.

In the end, the Anglo-Sphere's and Sino-Sphere's economic theories of paper wealth and mass export industrialization will be both proven to be evolutionary dead ends. Once more merchantalism will be proven as one and sure economic end game that has and still does work.

7 comments:

Aleks said...

Interesting romanticism about Russia. I think Russian uprising in recent years is a lot of hot air fueled by staggering oil prices. As oil prices go downward, so does the Russian economy. And, rather than invest the surplus money into the infrastructure and industry, Russia decided to spend it on restoring its former Soviet, or perhaps, Imperial glory in the "near abroad," a term that ironically is no longer in common use in Russia.

And that is no propaganda. It is not a surprise that the central bank is talking about "controlled depreciation" of the ruble, which is in fact, a devaluation of the Russian currency. Most recently, on Friday, the central bank lowered the currency rate by 1 percent, thus continuing the gradual devaluation process. It is also telling that on the same day, the prices for oil fell to $36/ a barrel.

If indeed it was all propaganda and Western lies, it doesn't explain the action of the Russians themselves who would rather keep their savings in the foreign currency.

Revenues from oil has been the most profitable item on the Russian federal budget. Oil and oil-related products make up 65 percent of the Russian exports. The budget is not funded by tax revenues from industries, or small businesses, or production of goods. In a way, it makes the Russian Federation less similar to Germany, Britain or the US and closer resemble Saudi Arabia.

This is why, perhaps, Russia is suffering through a much harder fall as the oil prices go down.

Stanislav said...

Hardly. Russia's economy was in full rebound by the end of 1999 early 2000. When did oil break $30? Shortly in 2000 before heading back down. It was not until AFTER the US invasion of Iraq that oil prices shot up.

As for the Russian infrastructure, the only way you can believe it has not been improved is to get your views and news from the Anglo-Sphere news, which, incidently, has been predicting Russia's economic demise every single month for the past 7 years, ever since Khodorkovsky was arrested.

Devaluation of the currency is the best thing for Russia and what saved Russia in 1998, when US/EU goods became to expensive. Except it is even a better position now that Russia has almost no outside debt to the world.

A weaker ruble, will have little effect on products produced in Russia with Russian inputs, this is basic economics. It will also make Russian exports (of which the US only has 4% of trade) much more attractive.

As for oil revenues, you are right, oil is taxed at 90% above $30/barrel and because of that, all other industries are taxed at 24% and people at 13%, compare that to the ravenous socialism of the Anglo-Sphere and their Weimeresk printing of money...hope you have your wheelbarrow handy to carry your cash for bread.

As for exports, you make the typical mistake to think that just because Russia does not export something it does not have it. Silly really. First of all, Russian industry and foreign industry in Russia, has not sated the local market demand on many items, though it was well upon its way. You expect Russia to be a mini China to show wealth by exporting the majority of its production while its people can't afford their own goods or for Russia to be like the anglo-sphere that exports its industry, jobs and paper debt?

No, Russia will be more like the Germans, who take care of their own economy first instead of following silly Trotskyte economics. Enjoy the Western collapse, the roller coaster is just picking up speed.

Stanislav said...

By the way, Germany resembles the failed Anglo-Sphere in nothing. This is why the Germans, unlike you, have retained the vast majority of their industrial base and why over all Germany is having spend a whopping $12billion on their economy for the next 2 years. You spend that amount almost daily.

Tim said...

What the Neocon Oligarchs did in Russia actually had very little to do with Russia. If it were just about Russia they would not have done the same looting here in America (look at our manufacturing and banking prior to the 70's--totally different).

Of course, we could say they loot and destroy everything they get they hands on. It is a mindset we in America call: "Parasitic Mercantilism".

Russia is now fine after getting rid of them. Russia will make it through ok as long as the Neocons in London and America don't get back in power in Moscow.

Aleks said...

Russia's economy was in full rebound by the end of 1999 early 2000. When did oil break $30? Shortly in 2000 before heading back down. It was not until AFTER the US invasion of Iraq that oil prices shot up.

Oil has been the driving factor of the economic growth in Russia. It had little to do with the price of oil, but rather with economic policies a year before. After the default of 19988, the economy has nowhere else to go but up. It is hardly surprising, the Russian government is considering the same move again - devalue (or shall I call it gradual depreciation) the ruble to increase the economy's competitiveness. It is no wonder that Russians themselves do not believe in their currency and, by default, of course, their government. Devaluation is not just an economic term, it's a painful experience not only for Russians, but for those countries that trade with Russia. Granted, after the default of 1998, my home country of Latvia has turned from depending on Russian trade to sending its goods to the West. Asa result, of course, Russian political weight here has diminished,compared to the pre-1998 years.

Given the banking crisis that appears to be more acute in Russia, fueled by Russians' own distrust in the banking sector, Russian economy has entered a recession.

And the other important question to consider: how diversified is the Russian economy? Take away the oil and gas industry, what else does the Russian budget can depend on for revenues? If Russia does have anything else to export as you seem to suggest, it would be foolish not to do it. But all I hear on my Russian TV from the Russian government is blaming the US for the global crisis,shifting the responsibility from themselves. But then again, taking the responsibility for their own mistakes have never been a Russian government's trait where patriotism is rooted in beating yourself in a chest to show how great the old Empire is. Added together with its own identity and inferiority complex, it makes it interesting to watch.

Stanislav said...

Devaluation is not just an economic term, it's a painful experience not only for Russians, but for those countries that trade with Russia. Granted, after the default of 1998, my home country of Latvia has turned from depending on Russian trade to sending its goods to the West.

Latvia has done everything it can to become an enemy of Russia with the NATO as a defender, of course.

As for the default, seems your economy, in severe recession will be doing the same. The simple fact is, since Russia rerouted exports around the Baltics, your economy has suffered since there is absolutely no transport tariffs to raise.

What exactly do you produce in such quantities that competes with European goods?

Latvia's economy is $40.05 billion with a 10.1% inflation rate, with a per capita GDP of $17,700, which is only $2,900 more than Russia's.

Exports: wood and wood products, machinery and equipment, metals, textiles, foodstuffs.

Oh and as for Europe and trade(2007):
Lithuania 15.1%,
Estonia 13.8%,
Russia 13%,
Germany 8.3%,
Sweden 7.4%,
UK 6.5%

Pissing off 13% of your export market and the main provider of your energy, is never a good thing.

Aleks said...

Latvia has done everything it can to become an enemy of Russia with the NATO as a defender, of course.

Oh really? How do then explain the Latvian-Russian border treaty? The agreement on social security? On taking care of Russian graves in Latvia and Latvia's graves in Russia? The agreement to maintain the monuments? The constant cultural exchange?

And surely the big and mighty Russia is not afraid of a small Latvia with its two planes on loan from its allies?

As for the default, seems your economy, in severe recession will be doing the same. The simple fact is, since Russia rerouted exports around the Baltics, your economy has suffered since there is absolutely no transport tariffs to raise.

What exactly do you produce in such quantities that competes with European goods?


Our own recession has nothing to do with the Russian transits that have been rerouted since like 2005. It has to do with internal economic policies. When the years were good, the government set nothing for the rainy day.

As to competitive goods, I can only think of business like Brivais Vilnis, a sprat producer that was banned on technicality to import to Russia. It turned its production to the eastern Europe, like Czech Republic, Poland, etc.

And think about it - a small Latvia with little to no production enjoys a much higher GDP rate than a wealthy Russia in spite of its rich natural resources that Latvia does not have.

As to the energy provider, the Baltics are working on it. No one here is interested to depend on Russia for energy, thus talks about Ignalina, and alternative sources of energy. The Baltics have supported the EU move to unbundle the energy providers to liberalize the market.

And Russia is interested in having customers that pay their bills. This is why since the independence no gas was turned off to Latvia and even that other enemy Estonia. It's a relationship of mutual benefit, but no one trusts Russia here.