Liberty Forged

the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own. ` Nock

Posts Tagged ‘bubble’

Keynes wants a World Central Bank – Congress is allowing it to happen

Posted by Jesse on February 5, 2009

For more on the subject of monetary policy and centralization of the economy click on the Rockwell Podcasts links to left.

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Before the US House of Representatives, February 4, 2009, introducing the The Federal Reserve Board Abolition Act, H.R. 833.

Madame Speaker, I rise to introduce legislation to restore financial stability to America’s economy by abolishing the Federal Reserve. Since the creation of the Federal Reserve, middle and working-class Americans have been victimized by a boom-and-bust monetary policy. In addition, most Americans have suffered a steadily eroding purchasing power because of the Federal Reserve’s inflationary policies. This represents a real, if hidden, tax imposed on the American people.

From the Great Depression, to the stagflation of the seventies, to the current economic crisis caused by the housing bubble, every economic downturn suffered by this country over the past century can be traced to Federal Reserve policy. The Fed has followed a consistent policy of flooding the economy with easy money, leading to a misallocation of resources and an artificial “boom” followed by a recession or depression when the Fed-created bubble bursts.

With a stable currency, American exporters will no longer be held hostage to an erratic monetary policy. Stabilizing the currency will also give Americans new incentives to save as they will no longer have to fear inflation eroding their savings. Those members concerned about increasing America’s exports or the low rate of savings should be enthusiastic supporters of this legislation.

Though the Federal Reserve policy harms the average American, it benefits those in a position to take advantage of the cycles in monetary policy. The main beneficiaries are those who receive access to artificially inflated money and/or credit before the inflationary effects of the policy impact the entire economy. Federal Reserve policies also benefit big spending politicians who use the inflated currency created by the Fed to hide the true costs of the welfare-warfare state. It is time for Congress to put the interests of the American people ahead of special interests and their own appetite for big government.

Abolishing the Federal Reserve will allow Congress to reassert its constitutional authority over monetary policy. The United States Constitution grants to Congress the authority to coin money and regulate the value of the currency. The Constitution does not give Congress the authority to delegate control over monetary policy to a central bank. Furthermore, the Constitution certainly does not empower the federal government to erode the American standard of living via an inflationary monetary policy.

In fact, Congress’ constitutional mandate regarding monetary policy should only permit currency backed by stable commodities such as silver and gold to be used as legal tender. Therefore, abolishing the Federal Reserve and returning to a constitutional system will enable America to return to the type of monetary system envisioned by our nation’s founders: one where the value of money is consistent because it is tied to a commodity such as gold. Such a monetary system is the basis of a true free-market economy.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to stand up for working Americans by putting an end to the manipulation of the money supply which erodes Americans’ standard of living, enlarges big government, and enriches well-connected elites, by cosponsoring my legislation to abolish the Federal Reserve.

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The Insolvency of the Fed

Since August 15, 1971 the US dollar has been an irredeemable paper currency. Every irredeemable paper currency in history has failed. Yet, the experiment of the US dollar and the rest of the fiat paper world continues.

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Average of World Central-Bank Interest Rates (FED, BOJ, BOE, ECB, Switzerland)

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The Fed is saving the Economy?

Posted by Jesse on March 19, 2008

The Fed’s New Tricks Are Creating Disaster

The Federal Reserve is trying a range of new tricks to push new forms of lending as a means of preventing what they fear may otherwise be a major collapse in financial markets. What all these strategies have in common is an unwillingness to come to terms with the reality that the crisis is based on real factors and can’t be merely papered over without grave consequence to economic health.
The Case Against the Feda-personal-view.png
[Mises and Austrian Economics: A Personal View.mp3]

Thus, last Tuesday (March 11), in response to the looming troubles with the Bear Stearns investment bank, the US central bank said that it would offer primary dealers up to $200 billion in Treasury securities for 28 days in exchange for triple A rated mortgage backed securities (MBS) as collateral. As the problems with Bear Stearns intensified and clients started to pull out cash the Fed announced that it was ready to do much more.

Last Sunday, March 16, the Fed announced it would provide direct loans to investment banks through the discount window for the first time since the Great Depression. The Fed has agreed to lend investment banks against a large variety of paper securities including a big chunk of difficult-to-trade securities.

This move by the Fed came in response to Bear Stearns’s cash holdings dropping from $17 billion on March 11 to $2 billion on March 14.

The fact that Bear Stearns was rapidly losing cash posed a serious threat to the repo market. In this market, banks and securities firms extend and receive short-term loans that are backed by securities. Fed officials feared that Bear Stearns’s dwindled cash situation posed a risk that it would not be able to honor its indebtedness. This in turn could undermine the confidence in the large $4.5 trillion repo market and further damage the credit market.

In the end, Fed officials orchestrated the selling of the Bear Stearns to JP Morgan Chase Co for $2 a share, or $236 million. Note that on December 20, 2007, Bear shares closed at $91.42. The main reason given for this deal was to prevent further uncertainty that was poised to destabilize financial markets.

Most commentators have endlessly praised the innovative methods that Bernanke and his colleagues are introducing to counter the financial crisis. Bernanke, who has written a lot about the causes of the Great Depression, is regarded as the ultimate expert on how to counter the current economic crisis. In short, most commentators are of the view that the man knows what he is doing and he will be able to fix the current financial problems.

Bernanke is of the view that by means of aggressive monetary policy the credit markets can be normalized. Once credit markets are brought back to normalcy, this will play an important role in preventing serious economic crisis. Remember Bernanke’s financial accelerator model: a minor shock in the financial sector could result in large damage to the real economy.

In short, Bernanke, by means of his so-called “innovative” policy of fixing the symptoms of the disease, believes he can cure the disease.

What is the source of the disease and why are investment banks so heavily infected by it? The root of the problem is the Fed’s very loose interest rate policy and strong monetary pumping from January 2001 to June 2004. The federal funds rate target was lowered from 6.5% to 1%. It is this that has given rise to various malinvestments, which we label here as bubble activities.

We define a bubble as the outcome of activities that have emerged on the back of loose monetary policy of the central bank. In the absence of monetary pumping, these activities would not have emerged. Since bubble activities are not self-funded, their emergence must come at the expense of various self-funded or productive activities. This means that less real saving is left for real wealth-generators, which in turn undermines real wealth formation. (Monetary pumping gives rise to misallocation of resources, which as a rule manifests itself through a relative increase in nonproductive activities against productive activities.)

When new money is created out of thin air, its effect is not felt instantaneously across all the market sectors. The effect moves from one individual to another individual and thus from one market to another market. Monetary pumping then generates bubble activities across all markets as time goes by.

As with any other business, participants in financial markets like investment banks are trying to “make money.” It is this that gives rise to the creation of various products like collateralized debt obligations (CDO) and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) in order to secure as big a slice as possible of the pool of newly created money. (Financial entrepreneurs are basically trying to exploit opportunities created by the Fed’s loose monetary stance and get as much as possible out of the expanded pool of money.)

As long as the Fed kept pushing money into the system to support the low interest rate target, various activities that sprang up on the back of the loose stance appeared to be for real. When money is plentiful and interest rates are extremely low, investment in various relatively high-yielding assets like CDO’s and MBS’s that masquerade as top-notch grade investment becomes very attractive. The prompt payment of interest and a very low rate of defaults further reinforce the attractiveness of financially engineered investment products. However, once the central bank tightens its monetary stance — i.e., reduces monetary pumping — this undermines various bubble activities.

The damage from the loose monetary policies of the Fed from January 2001 to June 2004 cannot be undone by trying to fix symptoms. Various activities or financial bubbles that sprang up on the back of loose monetary policies have weakened the bottom line of the economy. This fact cannot be undone by another dosage of policies that attempt to suppress the symptoms. If anything, such policies are likely only to weaken the bottom line further.

Remember that nonproductive activities are not self funded. Their existence is made possible by the diversion of real funding from wealth-generating activities. The diversion of real funding in turn was made possible by loose monetary policy. Hence the tightening in monetary stance from June 2004 to September 2007 is what is currently undermining various false activities.

Monetary policy manifests itself through the prices of various goods and assets. A price of a good is the number of dollars per unit of a good. When the growth momentum of money supply strengthens, this lifts the number of dollars paid per unit of a good generated by a particular activity — i.e., prices go up. Conversely a tighter monetary stance that slows the flow of money puts downward pressure on the prices of assets, or the prices of the goods of various activities.

A tighter monetary stance generates two things. It weakens the supply of real savings to nonproductive activities and weakens the flow of money to these activities. (Remember that real savings are diverted to bubble activities from wealth-generating activities by means of loose monetary policy.)

A diminished flow of real savings starts to undermine the existence of false activities and their solvency becomes questionable. A fall in the flow of money in turn puts downward pressure on the prices of goods of these activities. In fact, prices of goods that emanate from false activities have a tendency to fall sharply during the economic bust. This in turn reduces the flow of investors’ money to these activities. As a result the prices of the stocks of bubble activities also tends to fall sharply, which puts more pressure on these activities. (With the value of their assets falling, misdirected investments can now only secure less funding from lenders.)

In contrast, wealth-generating activities that do not need an expansion of money for their existence actually start to gain strength. A fall in the prices of their goods is likely to be less severe than that seen in the prices of the goods of bubble activities. In fact their prices may not fall at all. Remember that wealth generators are engaged in the production of goods and services that are on the highest priority list of consumers. In contrast, bubble investments are engaged in the production of goods and services that are on the low priority list of consumers.

As consumers’ real incomes fall because of the damaging effect from loose monetary policy, goods and services produced by various bubble investments may not feature at all on consumers’ priority list.

We suspect that at the moment a tighter stance from June 2004 to September 2007 is dominating the current economic scene. So-called economic growth is always assessed in terms of GDP, which is the amount of money spent on final goods and services. The pace of monetary pumping sets the rate of growth of GDP. A stronger money rate of growth tends to be followed by a stronger GDP rate of growth, while a weakening in the money rate of growth is followed by a weakening in the growth momentum of GDP.

The engine of economic growth is not money, however, but real savings. If the pool of real saving is declining or stagnating, then the economy — also in terms of GDP — will follow suit, irrespective of what the Fed is doing.

How a particular sector responds to a tighter monetary stance depends on the extent to which that sector has been infected by bubble investments. The larger the percentage of bubble activities vis-à-vis all activities in a particular sector, the more severe the effect of a tighter stance.

If the pool of real savings is still expanding, then it means that bubble investments in general do not dominate the economic scene. (They can still be dominant in a particular sector or sectors.) This means that commercial bank expansion of credit is not going to collapse and the growth momentum of money is likely to hold its ground.

However, if the pool of real savings is falling or stagnating, this could mean that bubble activities are dominating the scene, which in turn raises the likelihood that the commercial banks’ expansion of credit will come to a halt. Obviously one can always argue that the Fed could open the money spigots in a big way and flood the economy with money. There is no doubt that the Fed could do it. This does not mean, however, that banks will embark on an expansion of credit if the pool of real savings is falling.

Obviously, then, if the pool of real saving is still healthy, Bernanke’s policies might “work.” In short, after a time lag, financial markets might start zooming ahead and the real economy will follow suit. We suggest that if this were to happen, the recovery shouldn’t be attributed to Bernanke’s policies but, rather, understood to have happened despite his policies.

In the alternative scenario, to which we assign a fairly high likelihood, the pool of real savings is actually falling or stagnating. In the framework of the alternative scenario, Bernanke’s policies will only do further damage to the stock of savings and sound capital investment, and plunge the economy into a severe and prolonged crisis.

Frank Shostak is an adjunct scholar of the Mises Institute and a frequent contributor to Mises.org. He is chief economist of M.F. Global. Send him mail and see his outstanding Mises.org Daily Articles Archive. Comment on the blog.

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Has Capitalism Failed?

Posted by Jesse on March 9, 2008

U.S. House of Representatives, July 9, 2002

It is now commonplace and politically correct to blame what is referred to as the excesses of capitalism for the economic problems we face, and especially for the Wall Street fraud that dominates the business news. Politicians are having a field day with demagoguing the issue while, of course, failing to address the fraud and deceit found in the budgetary shenanigans of the federal government – for which they are directly responsible. Instead, it gives the Keynesian crowd that run the show a chance to attack free markets and ignore the issue of sound money.

So once again we hear the chant: “Capitalism has failed; we need more government controls over the entire financial market.” No one asks why the billions that have been spent and thousands of pages of regulations that have been written since the last major attack on capitalism in the 1930s didn’t prevent the fraud and deception of Enron, WorldCom, and Global Crossings. That failure surely couldn’t have come from a dearth of regulations.

What is distinctively absent is any mention that all financial bubbles are saturated with excesses in hype, speculation, debt, greed, fraud, gross errors in investment judgment, carelessness on the part of analysts and investors, huge paper profits, conviction that a new era economy has arrived and, above all else, pie-in-the-sky expectations.

When the bubble is inflating, there are no complaints. When it bursts, the blame game begins. This is especially true in the age of victimization, and is done on a grand scale. It quickly becomes a philosophic, partisan, class, generational, and even a racial issue. While avoiding the real cause, all the finger pointing makes it difficult to resolve the crisis and further undermines the principles upon which freedom and prosperity rest.

Nixon was right – once – when he declared “We’re all Keynesians now.” All of Washington is in sync in declaring that too much capitalism has brought us to where we are today. The only decision now before the central planners in Washington is whose special interests will continue to benefit from the coming pretense at reform. The various special interests will be lobbying heavily like the Wall Street investors, the corporations, the military–industrial complex, the banks, the workers, the unions, the farmers, the politicians, and everybody else.

But what is not discussed is the actual cause and perpetration of the excesses now unraveling at a frantic pace. This same response occurred in the 1930s in the United States as our policymakers responded to the very similar excesses that developed and collapsed in 1929. Because of the failure to understand the problem then, the depression was prolonged. These mistakes allowed our current problems to develop to a much greater degree. Consider the failure to come to grips with the cause of the 1980s bubble, as Japan’s economy continues to linger at no-growth and recession level, with their stock market at approximately one-fourth of its peak 13 years ago. If we’re not careful – and so far we’ve not been – we will make the same errors that will prevent the correction needed before economic growth can be resumed.

In the 1930s, it was quite popular to condemn the greed of capitalism, the gold standard, lack of regulation, and a lack government insurance on bank deposits for the disaster. Businessmen became the scapegoat. Changes were made as a result, and the welfare/warfare state was institutionalized. Easy credit became the holy grail of monetary policy, especially under Alan Greenspan, “the ultimate Maestro.” Today, despite the presumed protection from these government programs built into the system, we find ourselves in a bigger mess than ever before. The bubble is bigger, the boom lasted longer, and the gold price has been deliberately undermined as an economic signal. Monetary inflation continues at a rate never seen before in a frantic effort to prop up stock prices and continue the housing bubble, while avoiding the consequences that inevitably come from easy credit. This is all done because we are unwilling to acknowledge that current policy is only setting the stage for a huge drop in the value of the dollar. Everyone fears it, but no one wants to deal with it.

Ignorance, as well as disapproval for the natural restraints placed on market excesses that capitalism and sound markets impose, cause our present leaders to reject capitalism and blame it for all the problems we face. If this fallacy is not corrected and capitalism is even further undermined, the prosperity that the free market generates will be destroyed.

Corruption and fraud in the accounting practices of many companies are coming to light. There are those who would have us believe this is an integral part of free-market capitalism. If we did have free-market capitalism, there would be no guarantees that some fraud wouldn’t occur. When it did, it would then be dealt with by local law-enforcement authority and not by the politicians in Congress, who had their chance to “prevent” such problems but chose instead to politicize the issue, while using the opportunity to promote more Keynesian useless regulations.

Capitalism should not be condemned, since we haven’t had capitalism. A system of capitalism presumes sound money, not fiat money manipulated by a central bank. Capitalism cherishes voluntary contracts and interest rates that are determined by savings, not credit creation by a central bank. It’s not capitalism when the system is plagued with incomprehensible rules regarding mergers, acquisitions, and stock sales, along with wage controls, price controls, protectionism, corporate subsidies, international management of trade, complex and punishing corporate taxes, privileged government contracts to the military–industrial complex, and a foreign policy controlled by corporate interests and overseas investments. Add to this centralized federal mismanagement of farming, education, medicine, insurance, banking and welfare. This is not capitalism!

To condemn free-market capitalism because of anything going on today makes no sense. There is no evidence that capitalism exists today. We are deeply involved in an interventionist-planned economy that allows major benefits to accrue to the politically connected of both political spectrums. One may condemn the fraud and the current system, but it must be called by its proper names – Keynesian inflationism, interventionism, and corporatism.

What is not discussed is that the current crop of bankruptcies reveals that the blatant distortions and lies emanating from years of speculative orgy were predictable.

First, Congress should be investigating the federal government’s fraud and deception in accounting, especially in reporting future obligations such as Social Security, and how the monetary system destroys wealth. Those problems are bigger than anything in the corporate world and are the responsibility of Congress. Besides, it’s the standard set by the government and the monetary system it operates that are major contributing causes to all that’s wrong on Wall Street today. Where fraud does exist, it’s a state rather than federal matter, and state authorities can enforce these laws without any help from Congress.

Second, we do know why financial bubbles occur, and we know from history that they are routinely associated with speculation, excessive debt, wild promises, greed, lying, and cheating. These problems were described by quite a few observers as the problems were developing throughout the 90s, but the warnings were ignored for one reason. Everybody was making a killing and no one cared, and those who were reminded of history were reassured by the Fed Chairman that “this time” a new economic era had arrived and not to worry. Productivity increases, it was said, could explain it all.

But now we know that’s just not so. Speculative bubbles and all that we’ve been witnessing are a consequence of huge amounts of easy credit, created out of thin air by the Federal Reserve. We’ve had essentially no savings, which is one of the most significant driving forces in capitalism. The illusion created by low interest rates perpetuates the bubble and all the bad stuff that goes along with it. And that’s not a fault of capitalism. We are dealing with a system of inflationism and interventionism that always produces a bubble economy that must end badly.

So far the assessment made by the administration, Congress, and the Fed bodes badly for our economic future. All they offer is more of the same, which can’t possibly help. All it will do is drive us closer to national bankruptcy, a sharply lower dollar, and a lower standard of living for most Americans, as well as less freedom for everyone.

This is a bad scenario that need not happen. But preserving our system is impossible if the critics are allowed to blame capitalism and sound monetary policy is rejected. More spending, more debt, more easy credit, more distortion of interest rates, more regulations on everything, and more foreign meddling will soon force us into the very uncomfortable position of deciding the fate of our entire political system.

If we were to choose freedom and capitalism, we would restore our dollar to a commodity or a gold standard. Federal spending would be reduced, income taxes would be lowered, and no taxes would be levied upon savings, dividends, and capital gains. Regulations would be reduced, special-interest subsidies would be stopped, and no protectionist measures would be permitted. Our foreign policy would change, and we would bring our troops home.

We cannot depend on government to restore trust to the markets; only trustworthy people can do that. Actually, the lack of trust in Wall Street executives is healthy because it’s deserved and prompts caution. The same lack of trust in politicians, the budgetary process, and the monetary system would serve as a healthy incentive for the reform in government we need.

Markets regulate better than governments can. Depending on government regulations to protect us significantly contributes to the bubble mentality.

These moves would produce the climate for releasing the creative energy necessary to simply serve consumers, which is what capitalism is all about. The system that inevitably breeds the corporate-government cronyism that created our current ongoing disaster would end.

Capitalism didn’t give us this crisis of confidence now existing in the corporate world. The lack of free markets and sound money did. Congress does have a role to play, but it’s not proactive. Congress’ job is to get out of the way.

by Rep. Ron Paul, MD

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Bubble economy

Posted by Jesse on February 17, 2008

A little history and a little prophecy
February 2006 Peter Schiff U.S. Bubble Economy

February 28, 2006
Resistance…Denial…Debt
by Bill Bonner

Around the world, people are beginning to notice the signs. While no maturing economy can avoid some sag, bulges and lines, it is the resistance, denial and debt that produce the real problems.

The Russian newspaper, Pravda, reports:

“The United States is heading to financial crisis at top speed. That is correct, America will default on its foreign debt sooner or later if the actual trends remain unchanged. Consequently, the whole dollar-based world (including savings in U.S. currency) may crumble. The picture looks pretty grim this time around. Several factors will have an extremely detrimental effect on the dollar, according to U.S. Secretary of the Treasury John Snow who forwarded a letter full of ominous predictions to 21 members of U.S. Congress. The letter was made public after the markets had been closed for Christmas and New Year’s holidays – a rather appropriate precautionary move in terms of the international foreign exchange market, which is extremely sensitive to any sound produced by U.S. bureaucrats.

“Besides, the U.S. Federal Reserve is going to stop publishing the so-called ‘M 3 aggregate’ reports i.e., data on increase rates in money supply. Given the New Year’s predictions by John Snow, the Fed’s intentions look pretty suspicious. In other words, the international community will have no tool for measuring a real value of the dollar…

“The Fed is going to pull the plug on the data in March this year. Several events should occur in different countries more or less at the same time and thus damage credibility of the U.S. securities. Risk-averse investors get rid of speculative securities e.g., the dollar securities under the circumstances.

“All in all, the situation is quite alarming though it looks like a play being staged on purpose.”
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December 14, 2007
A Review of Peter Schiff’s Crash Proof
by Bob Murphy

Ever since I had my epiphany and realized that Peter Schiff had been right about the imminent collapse of the U.S. dollar, I’ve been meaning to write a review of his book. When the stock market became increasingly volatile, I thought, “I’d really better write that review soon!” But the final straw came today, when I read that wholesale prices in November rose at the fastest rate in 34 years. LRC readers need to learn how to protect their wealth, while they still have some left.

Schiff is president of Euro Pacific Capital, a broker-dealer specializing in foreign markets. He is very well read in Austrian economics, and his pessimistic analyses on CNBC and other outlets have earned him the nickname “Dr. Doom.” You might say that the maverick Schiff is the Ron Paul of investment analysts.
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Comedic Investment Banker explains the Subprime mess

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National Taxpayer’s Union on Spending

Posted by Jesse on February 6, 2008

When you have financial obligations that need to be taken care of what do you do?
You economize and pay down your debt, right? Which presidential candidate will do that?

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Nicholas von Hoffman has a few words about Ron Paul, the economy, and our current monetary policies.

“He is the only candidate who brings up what is happening to our money, which is another way of saying that he is worried about why the cost of buying groceries is going through the roof. While the other presidential contenders are silent on the topic, Paul reminds us that “government officials consistently claimed that inflation is in check at barely 2 percent, but middle-class Americans know that their purchasing power–especially when it comes to housing, energy, medical care, and school tuition–is shrinking much faster than 2 percent each year.”

Paul is the contender who seems to understand that the Federal Reserve Board is not the Vatican and that its chairman, Ben Bernanke, is not the pope. It’s a fixed practice by our politicians to treat whoever is the chairman of the Fed as though he were endowed with infallible powers.

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On Wall Street, the sharper ones know better. They understand that lowering interest rates every time the stock market swoons will eventually, or even a lot sooner, bring a world of pain down on us. As it is, thanks to the Fed, interest rates are lower than the rate of inflation. This anomalous condition is called “negative interest,” and for savers it means that their money is disappearing even as it rests safely tucked away in certificates of deposit.

For people who understand that their money is evaporating in front of their eyes there is a mighty incentive to rush out to the mall while that money is still worth something. For the moment a stampede to the stores by inflation-spooked people may please the economic pooh-bahs because current theory has it that people will buy lots of stuff, which in turn will create lots of jobs. But after they’ve spent their retirement money, then what?

Then people can spend their economic stimulus money. Left undiscussed is how the government is going to get the money it plans to hand out to anybody who has a pulse. Maybe Uncle Sam can borrow it from the Chinese or the Arabs–although both groups are losing enthusiasm for making loans to be paid back in ever-shrinking dollars.”

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