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How My Time in Jail Helped Me Understand The Global Economy

By: David Hague | Friday, November 29, 2013

Dear reader, I must apologize for the dearth of my commentaries that are my attempt to help us interpret the complex global economic issues that bedevil our return to a normal, stable sustainable, sensible, state of global economic tranquility. My recent incarceration [more on that later] has made access to a computer somewhat problematic.


I was overwhelmed by the absurdity

Truthfully I have tried many times in recent months to apply my limited intelligence and nascent journalistic skills to analyze the current state of affairs. Each time I sat at my computer and prepared to put finger to keyboard, I was overwhelmed by the absurdity of our situation.


Laughter, derision, horror, and medication

The 52 trillion dollars of global government debt accumulated on our behalf does not merit serious discussion. Laughter, derision, horror, and medication [Jack Daniels is my preferred medication] are the appropriate responses. Perpetual debt and money printing under the guise of Quantitative Easing or Euro Stability should not be analyzed as if it is a serious economic strategy. Even Sesame Street's "The Count" would tell you that perpetual money printing and borrowing is predestined to [spoiler alert] end in tears.


Plunder and Pillage, Pillage and Plunder, It is off to work I go, sang the bankers

In addition, society has deemed that an entire class of citizen is immune from prosecution and imprisonment. Sadly, this class of citizen is comprised of the world's banking elite, who is now free to plunder and pillage throughout the global economy and banking system without any fear of reprisal. This dangerous and calamitous reality is the banking industry's equivalent of "Diplomatic immunity."


Even less frightening than a 'time out'

Dear reader, before you dismiss my conclusion as left wing socialist fear mongering I would encourage you to research the details of the 13 billion dollar fine to be levied against J. P Morgan. Alternately, one might study the 1.8 billion dollar fine levied against HSBC. To be sure, money will flow from the shareholders of these firms into the regulator's pockets but no banker will go to jail. This punishment is even less frightening than the 'time outs' I used to subject my children to when they misbehaved. There is no other conclusion that can be reached other than the fact that bankers can commit any crime they wish, in amounts that are obscene. Yet they will remain free to enjoy their staggering salaries and bonus payments. Their malfeasance contributes to the destruction or our capital markets, our economy and our way of life.


Dumber than a bag of hammers

Like any good economist I wanted to test my thesis that our current economic strategy was dumber than a bag of hammers. To do this I simply went to my local bank and explained my personal and rather desperate financial condition. I suggested that to ensure that economic growth returned to my household that despite my dire, depressing personal balance sheet, the bank should lend me $400,000 using the future income from my writing as security. This would stimulate my economy; allow me to undertake infrastructure improvements such as a new suit, acquisition of the latest I-pad etc. This deficit financing based on my negative net worth was a textbook version of the cure recommended by economists for the global economy.


Fortunately I always keep three credit cards in my shoe

Despite the current deficits I was running and the staggering accumulated debt I was carrying, it seemed logical that the bank would agree to my request. I was only suggesting an approach to my finances that was being used by governments around the world. Imagine my shock when the bank, after reviewing my financial statements, not only refused my request, but also had security frisk me and remove all my credits cards from my wallet. [Fortunately I always keep three credit cards in my shoe so the loss of the 8 credit cards retrieved by security would not prove to be a major inconvenience.] Furthermore I was informed that my lines of credit were being called immediately. Payment was due by the end of the day. The entire $750,000 balance was to be repaid.


Words like fraud, counterfeiting, insane, idiot, drunk, were flying

I was not the slightest bit concerned. As an economist I knew just what to do. First I went next door and bought a mickey of Jack Daniels, poured it in my almost empty Starbucks Grande cup, downed the contents in one gulp and headed to the nearest Fedex print store. Using my knowledge of economics I placed a 100-dollar bill in the photocopier and asked for 7,500 copies. I then took my rather large pile of newly minted cash and staggered back to the bank. [Methinks I had had too much caffeine. I was quite unsteady as I walked back to the bank]. In any event, I sat down with the bank manager and gave her the $750,000 of 'hot off the press' cash, as payment in full of my debt. I sat there smugly waiting for her to give me the receipt.


The Police were called!

Once again the reaction was not what I anticipated. Security returned to the office. Words like fraud, counterfeiting, insane, idiot, drunk, were flying and everyone seemed to be getting most agitated. The police were called!


I had a pulse and thus qualified for a car loan

Imagine my surprise, when just prior to their arrival the banker took me aside. She suggested that despite my impending incarceration the bank would be willing to lend me the money for a new car. This would be done through their sub-prime, 10-year term, and no documentation, NINJA car loan program that has become the backbone of the recovery in new car sales in North America. "How could I possibly qualify for a car loan?" I asked. She held my wrist in a professional manner, confirmed that I had a pulse and thus qualified for a car loan. I signed the papers for the car loan just before I was placed in handcuffs to become a "guest of the state" [again].


The Smartest Guys in the Room had returned

As the police cruiser made its way to the station I reflected on what I had learned from this experience. Clearly adding more debt to solve a debt problem was not a viable solution. In addition it was apparent that money printing was, in fact, illegal and certainly not an acceptable response to a credit crisis. Finally as I discussed with the police officers in the front seat what kind of car I should buy with my new car loan, it occurred to me that perhaps our financial system was in fact being run by ex Enron employees. The Smartest Guys in the Room had returned with a vengeance. However, this time it's different. 'The Smartest Guys in the Room' now enjoy immunity from prosecution.


Some economic deviations that would not necessarily be positive

The well meaning, seemingly endless debate and analysis of the relative merits of QE, government debt and ultra low rates simply serve the purpose of obfuscating the issue. It leaves 'Main Street' hopelessly confused. The debate implies that there are a number of possible outcomes to our global economic strategy ranging from success to benign anomalies and, yes, perhaps some 'economic deviations that would not necessarily be positive'. [The last phrase is how the media would spin complete unmitigated disaster, for the consumption of my fellow unwashed masses.]


Defrauding any poor soul who has the misfortune of shaking a banker's hand

In simple terms the high-minded debate between Harvard educated economists and Wall Street titans encourages us to suspend common sense and believe that wise people are in charge and looking out for our best interest. It allows people to get up in the morning and believe that good times are just around the corner. The fact that our global banking system pays billions of dollars in fines every week for lying, cheating, stealing, laundering, and defrauding any poor soul who has the misfortune of shaking a banker's hand does not seem to enter the public's consciousness. This leaves us with a criminal class running our banking system and Harvard educated economists telling us to just keep printing and borrowing money. Only a complete idiot would believe that this reality would ensure "a chicken in every pot". However a sentient individual might recognize that this reality will ensure, as our current economic strategy exhausts itself, that the 99% made famous by the long forgotten 'Occupy Movement' will be lucky to have dog food in their pot. My economic and financial experiment at my local bank proved unequivocally and conclusively that the economic strategies employed by our leaders are just plain stupid.


Cut through the fog

Dear reader I apologize for my blunt, uncouth, common, insulting and unimaginative use of the words "just plain stupid". My choice of words was an attempt to be unambiguous. It is my hope to cut through the fog created by Wall Street and the world's economists around the subject of money printing, perpetual debt and immunity from prosecution.


The Dirty Dozen

I sat in the holding cell with 12 other miscreants whose crimes ranged from fraud, philandering, pimping, Ponzi scheming, robbery, theft, infidelity, and drug dealing etc., and waited for charges to be laid. I joined the lively conversation. As is the norm in these situations, the conversation in the cell indicated that everyone was innocent. There had simply been a misunderstanding. I told them I was going to be charged with possession, assault, extortion, loan sharking, armed robbery and counterfeiting. The first five charges were simply an attempt to build up my 'street cred'. This would ensure that I would not become the subject of unwanted attention from the more sketchy individuals that were sharing the cell with me. As I listened to the conversation I added up the collective damage that these 12 reprobates had done to society. In total, this 'Dirty Dozen', had allegedly stolen 6 televisions, 10 cartons of cigarettes, sold 10 pounds of marijuana, passed some bad checks, and been involved in 3 barroom brawls. The total economic damage to society was nigh on 30 thousand dollars [plus my attempted $750,000 swindle.] The total potential sentence for the group as a collective was about 300 years.


A Harvard Scheme

I could not help but wonder why there were no bankers or economists in the room. Surely laundering billions of dollars of drug money like HSBC or attempting to make personal profit while destroying financial institutions and the global economy might also merit some time spent as a "guest of the state." Surely all Harvard educated economists who preached perpetual money printing and eternal debt as an economic action plan should join me and my "Dirty Dozen" companions in this cozy cell. The world rightly punishes those who perpetuate Ponzi schemes. Harvard educated economists have scammed the world into believing that ludicrous amounts of debt and money printing is actually a strategy. Let us call this strategy what it is, A "Harvard Scheme", the Ivy League's equivalent of a Ponzi scheme.


His statistics would prove the efficacy of whatever lunatic policies were being instituted by central bankers

Finally it was my turn to make my one phone call. I reached out to my good friend Gustavo Laframboise-Pierre, Director of Statistical Creation at the European Central Bank [ECB] who was the only person I knew with experience dealing with charges of fraud and counterfeiting. For those of you not familiar with Gustavo I should explain that his current lofty and influential position with the ECB could trace its roots back to his time as my 'bookie' and as a significant 'bookie' to members of Wall Street's elite. On a visit to New York, a senior member of the ECB placed with Gustavo, an astonishingly reckless, large and incorrect wager on the outcome of the 2010 World Cup. The only way the debt could be settled and avoid a difficult and painful meeting with Roscoe, Gustavo's "Director of Collections" was to offer Gustavo a highly paid sinecure at the ECB. Gustavo's life changed forever. His job as Director of Global Statistical Creation was to make up statistics that would prove the efficacy of whatever lunatic policies were being instituted by central bankers around the world. Curiously Gustavo's experience with numbers coupled with his complete lack of morals, allowed him to excel at his job. It was his suggestion that Mario Draghi refrains from dissembling and simply tell the world that the ECB would do "Whatever it takes" to save Europe [or at least save the bankers and the 1%].


A four-day drunk in a five star hotel

"Gustavo", I pleaded' "I am in trouble again. I need you to use your contacts and get me out of jail." I gave him a brief synopsis of my predicament and awaited his response. I could hear him moan as he tried to clear his head. I knew that he was at an important meeting of central bankers to discuss the effect to date, of their efforts to stimulate the economy. Naturally this meant he was on a four-day drunk in a five star hotel with 30 other equally inebriated central bankers. "David" he slurred, "How many times do I have to tell you that you are an idiot? You cannot keep abusing our friendship like this. Just because you know a few secrets about me that I would rather not become public don't think you can keep calling me to rescue you from your own bad judgment".


I helped him score some cocaine when we were in Davos

I laughed at his sanctimonious protestations. "A few secrets Gustavo, you must be kidding. Do I need to remind you that I know enough about you to put you away for 1000 years?" "OK David lets remain calm. What do you need?" he replied. "Gustavo, I need you to call the Central Banker whose job it is to ensure, on a global basis, that all charges, in whatever jurisdiction, for any form of financial malfeasance directed against individual bankers are dropped. I need you to get the charges against me dropped. "David, the individual in charge of that area, as you can imagine, is incredibly busy. However as it happens, I helped him score some cocaine when we were in Davos at the World Economic Forum, so he owes me. I will make the call". Half an hour later, our jailer opened the cell door and called my name. He apologized profusely for any inconvenience I might have experienced. I was impressed that they offered to give me a ride home. As I sat in the cruiser I called Gustavo to thank him. "No worries David, It was my pleasure. I cannot talk for long though".


I have been assigned to the shelter in Gstaad

He continued, "Central banks around the world have just been handed a report on the Cleanup work being done at the Fukushima nuclear reactor. All the worlds' central bankers and Ivy League economist are being transported to nuclear fallout shelters until the cleanup is completed. I have been assigned to the shelter in Gstaad, Switzerland. Thank goodness, it is a five star shelter. It is chaos here." I sighed, this sounded like more of Gustavo's incoherent drunken rambling. "What in the world are you talking about Gustavo?" I asked.


Glow in the dark

"David, as it turns out, money printing, perpetual debt and too big to jail does not matter anymore." According to this report, the Fukushima reactor cleanup has about a 1% chance of success. The disaster two years ago pales in comparison to the consequences of the slightest mistake occurring during the clean up operation. Any amount of failure will irradiate Japan, its neighbors, and the Pacific Ocean." "Slow down Gustavo, this sounds ridiculous". I responded. "David" he replied somberly, "This might be the last time we speak. Just Google "Fukushima cleanup danger" and read for yourself. The reactors are a massive pile of hot radioactive, burning waste. The crippled reactors are creating hundreds of tons of radioactive water each day. Most of the radioactive water is pouring into the Pacific Ocean. We are talking about enough radiation to make the world 'glow in the dark'. Furthermore there is a reasonable chance the reactors will simply blow-up during the clean up phase.


All bankers and economists will be evacuated to the protection of bunkers

The decision has been made, to ensure the world's survival after Fukushima blows up, that all bankers and economists will be evacuated to the protection of nuclear fallout bunkers. This serves two purposes. First if Fukushima blows up, there will be enough bankers and economists alive to kick start the global economy as it recovers from the radiation. If it does not blow up, the bunkers will protect the bankers and economists from the rage of the 99% when the perpetual debt, and money printing reaches its inevitable end state, which is of course global economic collapse."


Everyone will be most relieved to know that our bankers and economists will be safe

"Well Gustavo I am sure that everyone will be most relieved to know that our bankers and economists will be safe in the comfort of their bunkers. What about the rest of us?" I asked. Gustavo responded, "David we had to make difficult choices. There simply is not enough room in the bunkers for everyone. Bankers, Economists and uber models were the only groups that could be accommodated." The police car was pulling up in front of my house.


Now you understand the global economy

I said to Gustavo, "So if I understand things correctly Gustavo, either the global economy will collapse under the weight of the criminal behavior of our 'Wizards of Wall Street'. Or it will crumble thanks to the 'Sesame Street' guidance given to us by Ivy League economists, and their 'Harvard Scheme'. [I felt badly after I said that. It was really quite unkind of me to insult the good work done by the Sesame Street team] Perhaps it will be the imitation of the Weimar Republic disaster that is the current strategy of our central bankers that proves to be the catalyst that sends us over the abyss. And, if I understand correctly Gustavo, even before these rather gloomy scenarios reach fruition we are all likely to be irradiated by the disastrous impact of the clean up at Fukushima? Gustavo replied, "Exactly David, now you understand the global economy."

 

Author: David Hague

David Hague
Funny Business

David has divided his time unequally for the last 30 years between the financial services, education, writing and comedy. He has spent time in financial services as an investment adviser, financial planner, sales trainer, corporate entertainer, and as a teacher of investment courses. He has also taught numerous financial courses. His work in comedy includes numerous corporate events and performances at comedy clubs. His background allows him to seamlessly move between the business world, higher education and the world of comedy and sometimes, to bring the two worlds together.

David can be reached at davidhague@rogers.com

Copyright © 2012-2014 David Hague