Sustaining the Unsustainable
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner had me laughing out loud over his statement yesterday in Beijing where he took part in the two-day U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.
“European leaders face the difficult challenge of trying to restore sustainability to an unsustainable system.”
Yes Tim, that challenge would indeed be “difficult”, in fact, impossible by definition.
It is a contradiction in terms and thus logically impossible to suggest it is possible to “sustain the unsustainable”. Geithner needs math lessons or logic lessons, most likely both.
Sovereign Default Inevitable
With Geithner focused on the impossible, others have a more practical outlook. For example, Bill Gross and Noble Prize winning economist Robert Mundell say Sovereign Default May Prove Inevitable for Nations.
Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Bill Gross said restrictive lending rates and austerity measures that slow growth may leave default as the “only way out” for some sovereign borrowers dealing with mounting debt and deficits.
“Credit and equity market vigilantes are wondering if in many cases sovereigns haven’t already gone too far and that the only way out might be via default or the more politely used phrase of ‘restructuring,’” Gross wrote in his June investment outlook today on the Newport Beach, California-based company’s website. “It may not be possible for a country to escape a debt crisis by reducing deficits.”
“At the now-restrictive yields of Libor plus 300-350 basis points being imposed by the EU and the IMF alike, there is no reasonable scenario which would allow Greece to ‘grow’ its way out,” said Gross, co-chief investment officer of Pimco and manager of the world’s biggest mutual fund.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Mundell said reworking debt may be “inevitable” for one or two countries that share Europe’s common currency in the next five years.
“Debt restructuring may be needed for one or two fiscally weak euro members,” he said today at a conference in Warsaw. “In five years it may be inevitable, but it doesn’t mean euro deconstruction, it just means debt restructuring.”
Geithner Pleads Bazooka Be Fired
As noted above, it is not only “difficult” it is impossible by definition to achieve the unachievable, thus extremely foolish to even attempt such a maneuver.
However, logical impossibilities did not stop Geithner’s plea to fire the $1 trillion European bailout bazooka. Please consider Geithner calls for action on EU crisis plan
“It’s a good program (and) has got the right elements. What markets want to see is action,” Geithner said at a joint news conference in London on Wednesday with his British counterpart George Osborne.
It was the U.S. Treasury that initiated this month’s G7 emergency conference calls that led to the massive rescue fund for the euro zone but there is rising concern that this may not have been enough and markets are still falling sharply.
For Europe, $1 trillion is not enough, nor would $10 trillion. There is no plan that can possibly work. But that will not stop politicians from trying. Politicians do not care about math or logic, or the fact that piling on more debt cannot possibly be the cure for a problem of too much debt with no possible way to pay it back.
White House economic adviser Christina Romer, who accompanied Geithner on his flight to London from China said “We absolutely agree on the need to reduce the deficit over time, but for a country like the U.S., there is still space and need for targeted actions.”
History suggests the time will not come until the entire global economy implodes in debt that cannot and will not be paid back.”