By Lowell Ponte, Special for USDR
After a fearful weekend that emptied the cash from almost half their nation’s ATM machines, Greeks on Monday morning found their stock exchange and banks CLOSED and their accounts inaccessible (except for €60 per day ATM withdrawal starting Tuesday).
Greece may have just reached the breaking point to which we are headed in the United States – a once-free market nation where banks are now required to report you to the government for making any unusual withdrawal; where banks may now refuse to let you withdraw your account in cash; where former House Speaker Denny Hastert was arrested for failing to tell FBI agents what he had done with his own withdrawn money; and where carrying more than a small amount of cash might lead to government confiscation of your money via asset forfeiture laws.
The Greek government has imposed emergency capital controls to prevent a full-blown bank run from bankrupting and destroying its financial institutions. Are we witnessing “E-Day,” the day the Euro began to die?
When a similar bank closure happened on the Greek-speaking Mediterranean island of Cyprus in March 2013, it was a test of the “bail-in,” a new legal doctrine in which bank accounts can be seized to cover bank debts or pay government fines.
Last year, President Barack Obama, at a meeting of the G-20, the world’s ruling economic powers, agreed that this ominous new “bail-in” principle would apply to the United States and other advanced nations.
We warned in our 2014 book Don’t Bank On It! The Unsafe World of 21st Century Banking that such things were already starting to happen here.
In our new free White Paper The Greek Showdown, and in our next book, out this summer, We Have Seen The Future…And It Looks Like Baltimore, we explain how the events now underway in Greece and elsewhere are an ominous glimpse of our own possible future. We also show how individuals can protect their assets against the global avalanche that could be starting now in Greece.
Nearly four centuries under Muslim rule transformed once-brilliant Greece into a culture of Flat Earthers. Today, Greek politicians rationalize Asiatic corruption and elitism with the rhetoric of Progressive socialism. They have created a society in which few sane people have been willing to invest money or create prosperity. This is what all of Europe would have become if ancient Greeks had not defeated invading Persian forces.
Today’s Greece still makes its living off tourism and spectacular sites, such as the Parthenon, that the Athenian ruler Pericles built 25 centuries ago.
Today’s Greece is a living example of Friedrich Bastiat’s observation that “Government is the grand illusion by which everybody tries to live at the expense of everyone else. What they forget is that government lives at the expense of all of us.”
Socialism has failed to produce prosperity in today’s Greece.
The adult unemployment rate in Greece today is above 25 percent, slightly higher than it was in the United States during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Youth unemployment is above 49 percent. The nation’s debt is approximately 176 percent of its entire Gross Domestic Product.
More than 27 percent of those who still have jobs are public employees whose protected employment exists because of higher and higher taxes on investors and the private sector. These government workers are constituencies of Greece’s various ruling socialist or neo-Marxist political parties, which have favored them with younger retirement ages and fatter pensions than in other, more prosperous Euro-welfare states.
These “Progressive” political parties, like today’s ruling Syriza (whose name is an acronym from Greek words meaning “Coalition of the Radical Left”) Party, adamantly oppose cutting government jobs or pensions.
Despite government-imposed fat pensions, the average Greek depending on a pension is poor. Government corruption is rife, as is the high rate of tax evasion among the citizenry. As Bastiat implies, a high proportion of Greeks expect to be given more in benefits than they produce by working.
We see this same pattern rapidly growing in the United States, where 49.5 percent of households now have at least one member who receives government benefits.
Many in the Western world no longer believe in the fundamental economic reality that they cannot tax, spend, and borrow their way to prosperity. This Progressive road to welfare state serfdom may be paved with good intentions….just like the road to hell. Another Golden Age will require people willing to work hard to earn gold.
The Euro’s Secret
Greece may be historically predisposed to collectivist values; but Europe’s most economically-powerful nation helped create today’s Greek chaos, as we explain in our free new White Paper The Greek Showdown.
This wealthy nation made it possible for Greece to borrow more money more easily than ever before. The effect was like giving whisky and car keys to teenage boys.
Because of this, Greece and several other southern European nations, all with a history of Muslim rule, borrowed and spent their way deep into debt – debt that after the world economy nearly collapsed in 2008 became too much for low-income, profligate Greece to pay.
Today’s Greek crisis is happening because Greece’s government has refused to make more than token payments on its debts to foreign nations and bankers.
Greece, instead, made each month’s minimum payment from past credit cards by demanding new lines of credit, bailouts, and debt forgiveness.
This has cost others more than $600 Billion in bailouts and even more in debt write-offs – and led others in Europe and the International Monetary Fund to conclude that Greece will never be willing – or able – to pay its debts.
For its part, Greece has threatened to withdraw from the Euro currency, to renege on its debts, and even to go into financial alliance with Russia and China if Europe gets serious about demanding debt repayment.
With radicals in other nations – and even with serious politicians in the United Kingdom and France – talking seriously about leaving the European community, we have watched a game of dare and chicken being played by Greece.
Is Greece bluffing? Will Europe at the last moment back down, afraid that Greece might trigger an avalanche that could bring down the Euro currency, European Union, and even the global economy? On the day you find your bank locked, the U.S. economy collapsing, and dollars suddenly losing value, you will be thankful to have read and followed our advice about how to protect your assets in today’s unstable economy.
Craig R. Smith is Chairman of Swiss America Trading Corporation and a monetary expert who appears frequently with Neil Cavuto on Fox and other prominent business journalists.
Lowell Ponte is a former think tank futurist who worked for 15 years as a Roving Editor at Reader’s Digest Magazine.