Barton Biggs: Head for the Hills!

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Expand view Topic review: Barton Biggs: Head for the Hills!

Re: Barton Biggs: Head for the Hills!

Post by sockpuppet » Fri Aug 27, 2010 5:02 pm

lowsix wrote:ugh..good grief..

man they seriously sold us down the river
to avoid the short term sharp pain,
for a long term catastrophic pain..

I never understood the shit....

Ron Paul was right, shoulda taken the hit upfront.

Yep! It happens all the time; greedy people fear for their money invested in failing sectors whose futures should be left to the Market to decide (not men in ties), so they beg for the men in ties to change the rules in order to prop up redundant, useless, poorly-managed or exploitive companies that not only protect the greedy men's money, but help use it to steal everyone else's.

Round and round it goes.

Re: Barton Biggs: Head for the Hills!

Post by Lowsix » Fri Aug 27, 2010 9:58 am

Yeah Reinaul, watch americas markets tomorrow.
Seriously if it takes a hard hit into 9000 tomorrow,
that will be the scramble signal.

Theyre predicting BOND market defaults.
Which means that the last bastion of safety
where everyone tossed their money to keep
it out of the market, doesnt have the meney to
pay back all of these low interest short term bonds.

And thats gonna scare the fuck out of china and japan
because they are all invested to the hilt in them..

ugh..good grief..

man they seriously sold us down the river
to avoid the short term sharp pain,
for a long term catastrophic pain..

I never understood the shit....

Ron Paul was right, shoulda taken the hit upfront.

Several calm guys, are saying 5000...

that's bad.

Re: Barton Biggs: Head for the Hills!

Post by Reinaul » Fri Aug 27, 2010 7:17 am

This Is Not a Recovery
Published: August 26, 2010

What will Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, say in his big speech Friday in Jackson Hole, Wyo.? Will he hint at new steps to boost the economy? Stay tuned.

But we can safely predict what he and other officials will say about where we are right now: that the economy is continuing to recover, albeit more slowly than they would like. Unfortunately, that’s not true: this isn’t a recovery, in any sense that matters. And policy makers should be doing everything they can to change that fact.

The small sliver of truth in claims of continuing recovery is the fact that G.D.P. is still rising: we’re not in a classic recession, in which everything goes down. But so what?

The important question is whether growth is fast enough to bring down sky-high unemployment. We need about 2.5 percent growth just to keep unemployment from rising, and much faster growth to bring it significantly down. Yet growth is currently running somewhere between 1 and 2 percent, with a good chance that it will slow even further in the months ahead. Will the economy actually enter a double dip, with G.D.P. shrinking? Who cares? If unemployment rises for the rest of this year, which seems likely, it won’t matter whether the G.D.P. numbers are slightly positive or slightly negative.

All of this is obvious. Yet policy makers are in denial.

After its last monetary policy meeting, the Fed released a statement declaring that it “anticipates a gradual return to higher levels of resource utilization” — Fedspeak for falling unemployment. Nothing in the data supports that kind of optimism. Meanwhile, Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, says that “we’re on the road to recovery.” No, we aren’t.

Why are people who know better sugar-coating economic reality? The answer, I’m sorry to say, is that it’s all about evading responsibility.

In the case of the Fed, admitting that the economy isn’t recovering would put the institution under pressure to do more. And so far, at least, the Fed seems more afraid of the possible loss of face if it tries to help the economy and fails than it is of the costs to the American people if it does nothing, and settles for a recovery that isn’t.

In the case of the Obama administration, officials seem loath to admit that the original stimulus was too small. True, it was enough to limit the depth of the slump — a recent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office says unemployment would probably be well into double digits now without the stimulus — but it wasn’t big enough to bring unemployment down significantly.

Now, it’s arguable that even in early 2009, when President Obama was at the peak of his popularity, he couldn’t have gotten a bigger plan through the Senate. And he certainly couldn’t pass a supplemental stimulus now. So officials could, with considerable justification, place the onus for the non-recovery on Republican obstructionism. But they’ve chosen, instead, to draw smiley faces on a grim picture, convincing nobody. And the likely result in November — big gains for the obstructionists — will paralyze policy for years to come.

So what should officials be doing, aside from telling the truth about the economy?

The Fed has a number of options. It can buy more long-term and private debt; it can push down long-term interest rates by announcing its intention to keep short-term rates low; it can raise its medium-term target for inflation, making it less attractive for businesses to simply sit on their cash. Nobody can be sure how well these measures would work, but it’s better to try something that might not work than to make excuses while workers suffer.

The administration has less freedom of action, since it can’t get legislation past the Republican blockade. But it still has options. It can revamp its deeply unsuccessful attempt to aid troubled homeowners. It can use Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored lenders, to engineer mortgage refinancing that puts money in the hands of American families — yes, Republicans will howl, but they’re doing that anyway. It can finally get serious about confronting China over its currency manipulation: how many times do the Chinese have to promise to change their policies, then renege, before the administration decides that it’s time to act?

Which of these options should policy makers pursue? If I had my way, all of them.

I know what some players both at the Fed and in the administration will say: they’ll warn about the risks of doing anything unconventional. But we’ve already seen the consequences of playing it safe, and waiting for recovery to happen all by itself: it’s landed us in what looks increasingly like a permanent state of stagnation and high unemployment. It’s time to admit that what we have now isn’t a recovery, and do whatever we can to change that situation. ... yt&emc=rss

Re: Barton Biggs: Head for the Hills!

Post by Reinaul » Fri Aug 27, 2010 7:13 am

Snapshot of economy about to get a lot bleaker
Government likely to confirm what many already know: the economy is on life support

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government is about to confirm what many people have felt for some time: The economy barely has a pulse.

The Commerce Department on Friday will revise its estimate for economic growth in the April-to-June period and Wall Street economists forecast it will be cut almost in half, to a 1.4 percent annual rate from 2.4 percent.

That's a sharp slowdown from the first quarter, when the economy grew at a 3.7 percent annual rate, and economists say it's a taste of the weakness to come. The current quarter isn't expected to be much better, with many economists forecasting growth of only 1.7 percent.

Such slow growth won't feel much like an economic recovery and won't lead to much hiring. The unemployment rate, now at 9.5 percent, could even rise by the end of the year.

"The economy is going to limp along for the next few months," said Gus Faucher, an economist at Moody's Analytics. There's even a one in three chance it could slip back into recession, he said.

Many temporary factors that boosted the economy earlier this year are fading. Companies built up their inventories after cutting them sharply in the recession to match slower sales. The increase provided a boost to manufacturers, but now many companies' stockpiles are in line with sales and don't need to grow as much.

In addition, the impact of the government's $862 billion fiscal stimulus program is lessening.

That leaves the private sector to pick up the slack. But businesses are cutting back on their spending on machines, computers and software, according to a government report earlier this week. And the housing sector is slumping again after a popular home buyer's tax credit expired in April.

"What we're seeing is that the hand-off to the private sector is not looking as robust as we had previously hoped," said Ben Herzon, an economist at Macroeconomic Advisors.

Many analysts say the uncertainty surrounding the economy is holding back consumers from spending and companies from investing and hiring.

Consumers can't be sure their jobs are safe, with unemployment so high. Business executives don't know if sales and profits will grow enough to justify adding jobs. And potential changes to tax laws at the end of this year and other policy reforms also make it hard to plan ahead, economists say.

"People have been overwhelmed by uncertainty," said Ethan Harris, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

A big reason the government will mark down its estimate of last quarter's gross domestic product is that imports surged much more in June than expected. GDP is the broadest measure of the economy's output and covers everything from auto production to haircuts.

Imports rose by 3 percent to just over $200 billion in June, while exports fell to $150.5 billion, pushing the trade gap to almost $50 billion, the biggest in nearly two years. Friday's report may show that the higher imports knocked as much as 3 percentage points off second quarter growth, economists at Goldman Sachs estimate.

But trade isn't likely to be as big a drag in the current quarter. With businesses slowing their spending on inventories and capital equipment, imports are likely to slow.

Housing, which added to the economy's growth in the second quarter, is now likely dragging it down. The homebuyer's tax credit boosted home sales in the spring, raising real estate brokers' commissions.

But home sales fell sharply in July, and new home construction also declined. That will weigh on economic growth this quarter, but its impact won't be as bad as earlier in the recession. That's because housing has shrunk so sharply.

It made up more than 6 percent of the economy at the height of the boom in 2005, but now accounts for only 2.5 percent.

High unemployment is making it harder for people to make their mortgage payments and stay in their homes.

About 9.9 percent of homeowners had missed at least one mortgage payment as of June 30, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Thursday. That number, adjusted for seasonal factors, was close to a record high of more than 10 percent at the end of April.

Friday's report is the second of three estimates the government issues for each quarter's GDP. ... 1.html?x=0

Re: Barton Biggs: Head for the Hills!

Post by Purplepanther » Fri May 28, 2010 3:35 am

I'm only going to say this once, get your mind off of money, before long it will all be worthless. You have one million dollars in your bank but do you know how to take care of yourself without it? Screw wall street and every other money hording robot out their, in the end your ass is going to wind up being lunch meat

Re: Barton Biggs: Head for the Hills!

Post by Cornbread714 » Fri May 28, 2010 3:03 am

Reinaul wrote:Gerald Celente: Financial Armageddon 2.0


Hmm, Celente is at least partly right, but it doesn't take a wizard to see the deep doo-doo we are in now - lets hope he's right about the solution.

I feel like I should point out, though - he did appear to shapeshift at 3:40 :shock:

Re: Barton Biggs: Head for the Hills!

Post by Reinaul » Fri May 28, 2010 2:51 am

Gerald Celente: Financial Armageddon 2.0


Re: Barton Biggs: Head for the Hills!

Post by Reinaul » Wed May 19, 2010 6:23 am

Ginormous Economic, Financial And Monetary Tsunami Coming! Martial Law?! 24 Experts Warn of 2010 Meltdown! Armageddon 2010

Warning! Financial, Economic And Monetary Armageddon 2010!

I am sounding this alarm loud and clear! By Q4 2010 All Hell Will Break Loose! Warning! Warning! Ginormous financial, economic and monetary 5000′ high tsunami coming our way! Get out of all paper assets: stocks (except for precious metal stocks), currencies… goto physical precious metals, gold and silver now!!!

Stock up on food because food price inflation is going to skyrocket. The coming collapse will cause major disruption in the supply chain. There will be food but because the banking system, financial system will collapse, the means of financing the business will be affected. Alot of business will goto a cash or more likely gold payment mode. This will result in massive price disruptions and shortages!

Predictions For The Rest Of 2010

Bob Chapman
First 6 months of 2010, Americans will continue to live in the ‘unreality’…the period between July and October is when the financial fireworks will begin. The Fed will act unilaterally for its own survival irrespective of any political implications …(source is from insider at FED meetings). In the last quarter of the year we could even see Martial law, which is more likely for the first 6 months of 2011. The FDIC will collapse in September 2010. Commercial real estate is set to implode in 2010. Wall Street believes there is a 100% chance of crash in bond market, especially municipals sometime during 2010. The dollar will be devalued by the end of 2010.

Gerald Celente
Terrorist attacks and the “Crash of 2010″. 40% devaluation at first = the greatest depression, worse than the Great Depression.

Igor Panarin
In the summer of 1998, based on classified data about the state of the U.S. economy and society supplied to him by fellow FAPSI analysts, Panarin forecast the probable disintegration of the USA into six parts in 2010 (at the end of June – start of July 2010, as he specified on 10 December 2000

Have projected that the third and final stage of the economic collapse will begin sometime in 2010. Barring some kind of financial miracle, or the complete dissolution of the Federal Reserve, a snowballing implosion should become visible by the end of this year. The behavior of the Fed, along with that of the IMF seems to suggest that they are preparing for a focused collapse, peaking within weeks or months instead of years, and the most certain fall of the dollar.

July and onward things get very strange. Revolution. Dollar dead by November 2010.

LEAP 20/20
2010 Outlook from a group of 25 European Economists with a 90% accuracy rating- We anticipate a sudden intensification of the crisis in the second half of 2010, caused by a double effect of a catching up of events which were temporarily « frozen » in the second half of 2009 and the impossibility of maintaining the palliative remedies of past years. There is a perfect (economic) storm coming within the global financial markets and inevitable pressure on interest rates in the U.S. The injection of zero-cost money into the Western banking system has failed to restart the economy. Despite zero-cost money, the system has stalled. It is slowly rolling over into the next big down wave, which in Elliott Wave terminology will be Super Cycle Wave Three, or in common language, “THE BIG ONE, WHERE WE ALL GO OVER THE FALLS TOGETHER.”

Joseph Meyer
Forecasts on the economy. He sees the real estate market continuing to decline, and advised people to invest in precious metals and commodities, as well as keeping cash at home in a safe place in case of bank closures. The stock market, after peaking in March or April (around 10,850), will fall all the way down to somewhere between 2450 and 4125 during the next leg down.

Harry Dent (investor)
A very likely second crash by late 2010. The coming depression (starts around the summer of 2010). Dent sees the stock market–currently benefiting from upward momentum and peppier economic activity–headed for a very brief and pleasant run that could lift the Dow to the 10,700-11,500 range from its current level of about 10.090. But then, he sees the market running into a stone wall, which will be followed by a nasty stock market decline (starting in early March to late April) that could drive down the Dow later this year to 3,000-5,000, with his best guess about 3,800.

Richard Russell (Market Expert)
(from 2/3/10) says the bear market rally is in the process of breaking up and panic is on the way. He sees a full correction of the entire rise from the 2002 low of 7,286 to the bull market high of 14,164.53 set on October 9, 2007. The halfway level of retracement was 10,725. The total retracement was to 6,547.05 on March 9, 2009. He now sees the Dow falling to 7,286 and if that level does not hold, “I see it sinking to its 1980-82 area low of Dow 1,000.” The current action is the worst he has ever seen. (Bob Chapman says for Russell to make such a startling statement is unusual because he never cries wolf and is almost never wrong)

Niño Becerra (Professor of Economics)
Predicted in July 2007 that what was going to happen was that by mid 2010 there is going to be a crisis only comparable to the one in 1929. From October 2009 to May 2010 people will begin to see things are not working out the way the government thought. In May of 2010, the crisis starts with all its force and continues and strengthens throughout 2011. He accurately predicted the current recession and market crash to the month.

Lyndon Larouche
The crisis is accelerating and will become worse week by week until the whole system grinds into a collapse, likely sometime this year. And when it does, it will be the greatest collapse since the fall of the Roman Empire.

“You are witnessing a fundamental breakdown of the American dream, a systemic breakdown of our democracy and our capitalism, a breakdown driven by the blind insatiable greed of Wall Street: Dysfunctional government, insane markets, economy on the brink. Multiply that many times over and see a world in total disarray. Ignore it now, tomorrow will be too late.”

Eric deCarbonnel
There is no precedence for the panic and chaos that will occur in 2010. The global food supply/demand picture has NEVER been so out of balance. The 2010 food crisis will rearrange economic, financial, and political order of the world, and those who aren’t prepared will suffer terrible losses…As the dollar loses most of its value, America’s savings will be wiped out. The US service economy will disintegrate as consumer spending in real terms (ie: gold or other stable currencies) drops like a rock, bringing unemployment to levels exceeding the great depression. Public health services/programs will be cut back, as individuals will have no savings/credit/income to pay for medical care. Value of most investments will be wiped out. The US debt markets will freeze again, this time permanently. There will be no buyers except at the most drastic of firesale prices, and inflation will wipe away value before credit markets have any chance at recovery. The panic in 2010 will see the majority of derivatives end up worthless. Since global derivatives markets operate on the assumption of the continued stable value of the dollar and short term US debt, using derivatives to bet against the dollar is NOT a good idea. The panic in 2010 will see the majority of derivatives end up worthless. The dollar’s collapse will rob US consumers of all purchasing power, and any investment depend on US consumption will lose most of its value.

Alpha-Omega Report (Trends Forecast)
Going into 2010, the trends seemed to lead nowhere or towards oblivion. Geo-politically, the Middle East was and is trending towards some sort of military clash, most likely by mid-year, but perhaps sooner…At the moment, it seems 2010 is shaping up to be a year of absolute chaos. We see trends for war between Israel and her neighbors that will shake every facet of human activity…In the event of war, we see all other societal trends being thoroughly disrupted…Iran will most likely shut off the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. This will have immense consequences for the world’s economy. Oil prices will skyrocket into the stratosphere and become so expensive that world’s economies will collapse..There are also trend indicators along economic lines that point to the potential for a total meltdown of the world’s financial system with major crisis points developing with the change of each quarter of the year. 2010 could be a meltdown year for the world’s economy, regardless of what goes on in the Middle East.

Robin Landry (Market Expert)
I believe we are headed to new market highs between 10780-11241 over the next few months. The most likely time frame for the top is the April-May area. Remember the evidence IMHO still says we are in a bear market rally with a major decline to follow once this rally ends.

John P. Hussman, Ph.D.
In my estimation, there is still close to an 80% probability (Bayes’ Rule) that a second market plunge and economic downturn will unfold during 2010.

Robert Prechter
Founder of Elliott Wave International, implores retail investors stay away from the markets… for now. Prechter, who was bullish near the lows in March 2009, now says the stock market “is in a topping area, “predicting another crash in 2010 that will bring stocks below the 2009 low. His word to the wise, “be patient, don’t rush it” keep your money in cash and cash equivalents.

Richard Mogey
Current Research Director at the Foundation for the Study of Cycles- Because of a convergence of numerous cycles all at once, the stock market may go up for a little while, but will crash in 2010 and reach all-time lows late 2012. Mogey says that the 2008 crash was nothing compared to the coming crash. Gold may correct in 2009, but will go up in 2010 and peak in 2011. Silver will follow gold.

James Howard Kunstler (January 2010)
The economy as we’ve known it simply can’t go on, which James Howard Kunstler has been saying all along. The shenanigans with stimulus and bailouts will just compound the central problem with debt. There’s not much longer to go before the whole thing collapses and dies. Six Months to Live- The economy that is. Especially the part that consists of swapping paper certificates. That’s the buzz I’ve gotten the first two weeks of 2010.

Peter Schiff (3/13/2010)
“In my opinion, the market is now perfectly positioned for a massive dollar sell-off. The fundamentals for the dollar in 2010 are so much worse than they were in 2008 that it is hard to imagine a reason for people to keep buying once a modicum of political and monetary stability can be restored in Europe. In fact, the euro has recently stabilized. My gut is that the dollar sell-off will be sharp and swift. Once the dollar decisively breaks below last year’s lows, many of the traders who jumped ship in the recent rally will look to re-establish their positions. This will accelerate the dollar’s descent and refocus everyone’s attention back on the financial train-wreck unfolding in the United States. Any doubts about the future of the U.S. dollar should be laid to rest by today’s announcement that San Francisco Federal Reserve President Janet Yellen has been nominated to be Vice Chair of the Fed’s Board of Governors, and thereby a voter on the interest rate-setting, seven-member Open Markets Committee. Ms. Yellen has earned a reputation for being one of the biggest inflation doves among the Fed’s top players.” Schiff is famous for his accurate predictions of the economic events of 2008.

Lindsey Williams
Dollar devalued 30-50% by end of year. It will become very difficult for the average American to afford to buy even food. This was revealed to him through an Illuminati insider.

Unnamed Economist working for US Gov’t (GLP)
What we have experienced the last two years is nothing to what we are going to experience this year. If you have a job now…you may not have it in three to six months. (by August 2010). Stock market will fall = great depression. Foreign investors stop financing debt = collapse. 6.2 million are about to lose their unemployment.

Jimmy “Doomsday”
DOW will fall below 7,000 before mid summer 2010- Dollar will rise above 95 on the dollar index before mid summer 2010- Gold will bottom out below $800 before mid summer 2010- Silver will bottom out below $10 before mid summer 2010- CA debt implosion will start its major downturn by mid summer and hit crisis mode before Q4 2010- Dollar index will plunge below 65 between Q3 and Q4 2010- Commercial real estate will hit crisis mode in Q4 2010- Over 35 states will be bailed out by end of Q4 2010 by the US tax payer End of Q4 2010 gold will hit $1,600 and silver jump to $35 an oz.

George Ure
Markets up until mid-to-late-summer. Then “all hell breaks lose” from then on through the rest of the year.

**Personally I dont give a f*ck for the webbots ... ddon-2010/

Re: Barton Biggs: Head for the Hills!

Post by Reinaul » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:41 pm

Stocks pull back on Europe's deepening debt woes
US stocks follow European markets sharply lower as Portugal, Greece debt downgraded

NEW YORK (AP) -- Investors are once again worried that debt problems in Greece and Portugal could threaten the global economic recovery.

Stocks plunged in the U.S. and Europe Tuesday after Standard & Poor's downgraded the debt of the two European countries. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 213 points, its worst loss in almost three months. All the major market indexes were down about 2 percent.

The ratings downgrades also sent the dollar up more than 1.1 percent against the euro, hitting its highest level in about a year. At the same time, gold and Treasury prices also rose as investors sought safer investments. The three often do not trade in the same direction.

"It was a knee-jerk reaction," said Brian Peardon, a wealth adviser at Harrison Financial Group in Citrus Heights, Calif. Peardon said the small size of Greece and Portugal's economies mean their debt struggles are not yet a major problem. But if they were to default on their debt, other countries that hold their bonds would also suffer.

Debt-strapped countries would also likely find it harder to spend more to stimulate their economies and help feed the global economic recovery.

Standard & Poor's downgraded Greece's debt to junk status and lowered Portugal's debt two notches to A-minus from A-plus. Greece has already admitted it can't pay debts coming due shortly and it has asked for a bailout from European neighbors and the International Monetary Fund. And there are growing concerns about Portugal's ability to handle its debts.

Investors have been on edge for months about Greece's fiscal crisis even as they've sent stocks higher on signs of an improving U.S. economy. They have also been worried that Portugal could be the next weak European economy to require help. That has undermined confidence in Europe's shared currency, the euro.

"This is a major test case for the euro," said Quincy Krosby, a market strategist with Prudential Financial. The European Union "needs a viable template on how to deal with these issues," Krosby added, noting that troubles extend beyond just Greece.

Tuesday's downgrades overshadowed the latest series of upbeat earnings reports from U.S. companies including 3M and Dupont.

A setback in the European economic recovery "sends a U.S. recovery back and spreads to emerging markets," said Eric Thorne, an investment adviser at Bryn Mawr Trust Wealth Management in Bryn Mawr, Pa.

The debt problems have the potential "to have devastating effects," Thorne said. Thorne noted, however, he doesn't yet predict a worst-case scenario that would put a global recovery completely on hold.

Greece agreed last week to tap a rescue package from the 15 other countries that use the euro and the International Monetary Fund. However, there are now worries that Greece won't have access to the money before it is forced to make a big debt repayment on May 19.

The downgrades drew some of the market's attention away from testimony by Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and other top executives from the bank on Capitol Hill. The executives were testifying about the company's dealings in mortgage-backed securities during the credit crisis.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Goldman with civil fraud, accusing it of misleading investors about investments tied to subprime mortgages.

Goldman was actually one of the relatively few winning stocks Tuesday. Analysts said investors were reassured by the fact there were few new details in the testimony. The stock rose $1.01, or 0.7 percent, to $153.04.

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow fell 213.04, or 1.9 percent, to 10,991.99. It was the biggest drop for the average since it fell 268.37 on Feb. 4, also amid concerns about European debt problems.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 28.34, or 2.3 percent, to 1,183.71, while the Nasdaq composite index dropped 51.48, or 2 percent, to 2,471.47. ... et=&ccode=

Re: Barton Biggs: Head for the Hills!

Post by Reinaul » Thu Apr 22, 2010 6:04 pm

Greek strikes, debt crisis intensify fears of economic collapse

Alex Lantier
World Socialist Web Site
Wed, 21 Apr 2010 23:48 EDT

Major banks and investors continued to bid up interest rates on Greek government debt in the run-up to tomorrow's strikes in Greece, prompting renewed fears that joint European-IMF bailout plans might fail. It is widely assumed in financial circles that bailouts will not resolve the underlying economic problems that provoked the debt crisis, and European officials and media are increasingly discussing state bankruptcy or the end of the common European currency, the euro.

The interest rate Greece pays on 10-year loans rose to a record 7.807 percent yesterday, far higher than the rate at which investors believe Greece can safely refinance its debts. Greece must raise €10 billion by the end of May to avoid defaulting on old debts.

At a press conference, Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said European and IMF officials would arrive in Athens for 10 days of negotiations on a potential bailout. He said that the decision to request a bailout would "depend both on the borrowing conditions and the progress of talks" in Athens. He said he still planned for a "road show" to try to raise funds in the US.

It is increasingly doubtful, however, that Greece can obtain loans on American or Asian financial markets. The Daily Telegraph cited Simon Derrick of Bank of New York Mellon: "China is becoming concerned about Europe. Greece is going to struggle to find anybody to buy its debt. There is no road-show in Asia, and it may pull out of its show in the US."

Moreover, financial commentators increasingly anticipate that Greece will be unable to repay its debts, even with European or IMF loans. While a joint European-IMF bailout of roughly €45 billion has been discussed, German central bank governor Axel Weber recently said that €80 billion might be needed. He told a closed-door meeting of German lawmakers that Greece's position was worsening and "the numbers are changing all the time."

In a Financial Times column, Wolfgang Münchau wrote: "Greece has a debt-to-gross domestic product ratio of 125 per cent. Greece needs to raise around €50 billion ($68 billion, £44 billion) in finance for each of the next five years to roll over existing debt and pay interest. That adds up to approximately €250 billion, or about 100 per cent of Greek annual GDP." He concluded, "The best thing you can say about the rescue package is that it buys time to negotiate an orderly default."

These comments come as Greek workers prepare for further strikes against the austerity measures enforced by Greek Prime Minister Giorgios Papandreou of the social-democratic PASOK party. After refusing to mount actions against Papandreou for one month, major unions in Greece - the ADEDY public-sector workers' union and the Stalinist PAME union, which is also calling for strikes today - have called strikes for Thursday, April 22. The GSEE private-sector unions indicated they may call for strike action "later this month."

The unions themselves do not oppose Papandreou's austerity measures - the ADEDY and the GSEE leaderships largely consist of PASOK members - and their opposition is based on the bankrupt perspective of pressuring Papandreou to implement smaller cuts. Their decision to call further strikes reflects growing anger in the working class over rising social distress, with wages and social spending collapsing because of Papandreou's cuts. Unemployment rose to 11.3 percent in January, according to the latest available figure - with 69,000 jobs lost in December, in a country of only 11 million people.

The response of financial markets to the rising opposition in the working class is to broaden their assault. As they ruin Greece by charging extortionate interest rates, they are also speculating against other European countries - aiming to realise huge profits on state debts guaranteed by public funds of the larger European countries.

The New York Times observed last week that Greek bailout plans encouraged "investors to test Europe's - and in particular Germany's - stomach for a rescue of other troubled European economies, beginning with Portugal."

It added that "it will be difficult for Portuguese politicians to persuade their already-pinched populace that more sacrifices - like public-sector wage cuts or higher value-added taxes - are necessary." However, the Times noted, credit rating agency Fitch had already downgraded Portugal's rating over "doubts that Portugal can cut its deficit of 9 percent of GDP."

It added that while the US and UK had low savings rates similar to Portugal and Greece, they could print money to finance debts - whereas the European Central Bank, mindful of opposition to inflation especially from Germany, refuses to print money as a long-term policy.

Such measures drive up Portugal's borrowing costs, making large profits for investors and allowing politicians to press the population for painful social concessions. Interest rates charged for 10-year Portuguese state debt have risen 0.25 percent over the last week, reaching 4.61 percent yesterday.

Amid warnings of renewed "European contagion," the IMF released a report yesterday stating that the Greek crisis marked the starting point of a "new phase" of the global crisis.

The IMF reported that banks had lost $2.3 trillion due to the economic crisis, of which $1.5 trillion has already been written down - though this figure could rapidly increase, in the event of significant falls in stock or real estate markets. It noted that "significant pockets" of debt remained, notably in weaker banks - US regional banks, German Landesbanken, and Spanish savings banks.

It also drew attention to the immense levels of government debt now underlying world finance, calling for "fiscal consolidation" - i.e., government spending cuts. José Viñals, head of the IMF's monetary and capital markets department, noted: "Advanced countries have the debt levels that they had after World War Two but without a world war."

Such figures point to the disastrous mismanagement of the European and world economies by the financial aristocracy. Measures proposed by the authorities highlight the fact that none of them have positive economic and industrial plans to protect economic activity, and instead are heading for a social and political catastrophe.

In line with the IMF report, IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard granted an extensive interview to Le Monde in which he suggested that financial authorities pursue a more inflationary policy, including lower interest rates: "Of course, Greece must tighten its belt to get out of the difficult spot it has put itself in. But lending money at high rates is senseless, because one makes recovery impossible." He proposed a "higher average rate of inflation" to avoid a collapse of wages and economic activity, and make it easier for countries to repay debts, together with cuts in pensions.

In an interview with Der Spiegel, German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble compared a Greek default to that of Lehman Brothers, which triggered the September 2008 financial crisis. Total outstanding Greek sovereign debt is estimated at €300 billion. He said, "Greece's debts are all in euros, but it isn't clear who holds how much of those debts. The consequences of a national bankruptcy would be incalculable. Greece is just as systemically important as a major bank."

In short, a Greek default would threaten to provoke not only open struggles between Greece's creditors - major UK, French, Swiss, and German banks - but a broad financial panic.

Asked by Der Spiegel why Berlin "gave in" and agreed to help fund a bailout for Greece, Schäuble denied he had "given in" and said he thought Greece's austerity plan was "credible." However, he refused to take questions about the risks that Portugal, Spain, or other European countries could face similar troubles, saying that to do so would be "fueling the business of dubious speculators."

He repeated his earlier proposals to set up a way to expel debt-ridden countries like Greece from the common currency union. ... c-collapse