Don’t Feed the Debt Zombies …


Read the newspapers!

There are three big news stories…

No. 1: the Greeks are making a ‘last ditch’ effort to get more money from their creditors.

After countless delays, it looks as though the spark and the fuse will come together this weekend. Things could get hot.

Your intrepid reporter loves a financial blow-up. So he’ll make his way to Athens tomorrow to see it for himself.

No. 2: we’ll let the Financial Times tell it — ‘Rebound in China equities spurs rally in US and across Europe.

The rally in the US was nothing to write home about. The Dow was up just 34 points (about 0.2%).

On Friday, Shanghai stocks rallied by almost 6% — the biggest single-day gain since 2009 — after the government threw the kitchen sink at trying to save the stock market from utter collapse. And overnight, Shanghai stocks surged another 4.5%.

Although the Shanghai Composite was still down 25% since its June 12 high — officially, bear market territory.

No. 3: the British government has unveiled its budget and revealed a proposal to increase the minimum wage to £7.20 ($11.20). This will rise again to £9 ($14) by 2020.

Simpleminded narratives

But these headline reports give you only the public stories — simpleminded narratives that even voters can understand.

The hidden story — and the real story — is that these are all clashes, battles, and skirmishes in the Great Zombie War.

On the one side: honest workers, businesses, entrepreneurs, and households.

On the other: fixers, meddlers, thieves, layabouts, and criminals.

Is it really that easy to understand?

Probably not. But it helps us put things in perspective.

Take the proposal for a higher minimum wage. The Financial Times (Britain’s equivalent of the Wall Street Journal) is usually wrong about everything. But it is right today: ‘Politicians cannot “magic up” a national pay boost.

From the dawn of time until the moment you read this, politicians have never added one single cent to the wealth of the world.

They can move it around. They can suppress it. They can steal it and destroy it. But if you could add wealth by legislation, they would have gotten the hang of it long ago.

Everything has a price — and a value. You can change price by passing a law. But you can’t change value. And when the price gets out of line with the value, it triggers distortions, shortages, or hoarding.

So why is a minimum wage the ‘law of the land’ not only in Britain, but also in the US and many other developed nations?

Because the way the news media tells the story you’d think the politicians were protecting workers from greedy employers. But it really just helps the zombie politicians keep the masses in line.

A debt-addled economy

The British government’s push for a higher minimum wage is just one more front in the Great Zombie War.

In China, the zombies in power are desperately trying to prop up a debt-addled economy by goosing up the stock market with borrowed money and empty promises.

According to Anne Stevenson-Yang, a leading China expert and the research director of J. Capital Research, Chinese government debt is 300% of GDP.

The average interest rate on Chinese debt is about 7%. So, the economy would need to grow in real terms by between 14% and 21% just to service its government debt alone.

Officially, the Chinese economy is growing at roughly 7% a year. According to London-based economic forecast consultancy Lombard Research, average GDP growth was about 4.5% after-inflation.

And according to Lombard’s calculations, the Chinese economy suffered its first quarter of negative economic growth since 2009 during the first three months of this year.

But that hasn’t stopped the Chinese debt binge. There are even reports that Chinese investors can pledge their homes as collateral for their stock market loans.

Why is keeping stock prices high so important for Beijing?

Because asset prices are the collateral backing the entire capital structure. The zombies’ credit depends on it.

In Greece, the Tsipras government tries to keep the credit flowing its way, too.

Greece is already so deeply in debt that its creditors are threatening to cut off any further emergency financing.

Why is Athens so eager to borrow more?

Because that’s the only way to keep the zombies on the state’s payroll fed.

A zombie nest

What about the London Underground?

We were walking through the City of London on Friday at about 6pm.

The sidewalks were mobbed. A 24-hour strike by unionised London Underground workers had left hundreds of thousands of people to make their way home as best they could.

Public employee unions have become nests of zombies. The market should set their wages near their real value.

But zombies aren’t content with market wages; they want the politicians to set the price. And they’re willing to bring London to a standstill to get the wages they want.


Bill Bonner,

For The Daily Reckoning, Australia

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Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Best-selling investment author Bill Bonner is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter companies. Owner of both Fleet Street Publications and MoneyWeek magazine in the UK, he is also author of the free daily e-mail The Daily Reckoning.
Bill Bonner

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