Saturday, 8 May 2010
The numbers just roll so easily off the tongue
Firstly one of my favourites – Greece. The Greek finance minister on Thursday said that Greece was just two weeks away from defaulting on part of its debt worth 8.5 billion Euros. That’s 12 billion dollars or 120 pallets of $100 bills. But it gets worse. The loan they are chasing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and their European partners (maybe that should be suckers) is 110 billion Euros, which is 142 billion dollars or 1,420 pallets of $100 bills. Let’s look at it another way. The population of Greece in 2008 according to the World Bank was 11,237,094. This loan alone is equivalent to a debt of 9,789 Euros for every man woman and child in the country. The average annual salary for a manufacturing employee in Greece is around 15,960 Euros. So in one single go the government just borrowed around 2/3 of this average person’s salary.
So that’s just example from Europe. Let’s now head over to the United States. On Thursday Freddie Mac, which once upon a time used to be a publically listed company, asked for an additional $10.6 billion to stem its losses on bad loans. That’s 106 pallets of $100 bills. But don’t worry it’s all ok [sic] as the US government has pledged to provide unlimited support to both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae over the next three years. That is just amazing. Boy I wish that my private company gave me free access to as much money as I wanted. Since 2008 both these institutions have consumed $136 billion in US tax payer’s money which is 1,360 pallets of $100 bills. But it gets even better. Over the next 10 years these two institutions are likely to consume $400 billion or 4,000 pallets of $100 bills. So with a population of 307,006,550 according to the US Census Bureau these two companies require $1,300 from every man woman and child in the US.
Of course in both instances these debts/losses will be paid for by yet more borrowing. Greece will take their money from the IMF who will get their money from places like the UK who are already running deficits meaning that this new loan will come from yet more borrowing. The European partners are already running deficits and so their contribution will also just come from more borrowing. The debt is just moving around while it gets bigger and bigger. The US is also in hock up to the eyeballs so their generous contribution to Fannie and Freddie is again just sourced from yet more borrowing. This is all going to end in a mess. It’s just a matter of when not if in my opinion.
Some day someone is going to have to pay this back. Unless of course the traditional developed nations choose to just default like Argentina in the past. If they do decide to pay it back then that little responsibility will fall on the young of today or the children of tomorrow. They really aren’t going to be best pleased. The irresponsibility of the current generation really does shock me sometimes.
As always DYOR.