Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The State = Bank + Government

Umar Vadillo-

We are simply pointing out that we cannot give validity to a word simply because we are comfortable with it. The value of a word, is that it helps you to discern, to discriminate, to identify. In our case, a good definition of State should give us understanding of this institution and by extension of our society. It should help us to act. And because we are Muslims this implies understanding from an Islamic perspective, and acting means acting fisabilillah.

It is in this light that I value the necessity to create a new definition of the State. Whether we like it or not, our cultural and historical values are embedded in language. When we challenge language -this is what a poet does- we are challenging the cultural and historical values of our society. For us this should be done in order to establish our own Islamic understanding of life. This is important. Our language should reflect who we are.

Words are windows that open “worlds” before us. Which words we use and how we use them determines the way we see the world. I forged this definition of the State out of necessity. I was not happy with the present definitions. They were too vague to create identity or too partisan to recognise a problem. They all seemed to ignore what I call “the event”. This event is the marriage between banking and government that took place somewhere in the past. This event was not nothing. It was a huge evolutionary step in our history and the consequences have been even bigger as they reached our days.

As a result of this event the way people interacted with government changed, including how revenues were collected, the creation of debt, the way of accumulation of capital, the meaning of money and investment, and many other collateral issues involving the basis of trading and finance between countries. In short, almost every way in which we relate to each other changed for ever. The world changed for ever after this event. Yet, I realised, no one had named this new institution. This institution was more than government, it was more than banking. But it had no adequate name. This is a danger, because if you cannot name it, you cannot think it.

The Event

The event that I am referring to took place in England in the year 1694 with the birth of the Bank of England as the national Bank. The Bank of England was not the first national bank. Two other national banks were created before the Bank of England. The first national bank was the Banco de Spiritus Sanctus or the Bank of the Holy Spirit (amazing name!) which became the first national Bank in 1605 of, which State? None other than the Vatican. The Bank, founded by Pope Paul V, has ceased to perform financial miracles for the Popes -now it is in the hands of the Italian State- but the Vatican possesses its own official bank, piously called the Institute for Religious Works.

The second was the Bank of Sweden (Sveriges Riksbank) founded in 1668. The reason why we have chosen the Bank of England as the birth of the State is because only England with the beheading of their King and the creation of the Parliament had the right social chemistry to trigger the unprecedented unfolding of this institution, the State. Only in England, and for the first time, the debt of the Sovereign had the conditions to become what became known as the National Debt. A concept whereby the debt incurred by the Sovereign, no longer belongs to him, but to the entire nation.

1 comment:

  1. We talked about Spain last time. Spain has now borrowed $415 billion from the ECB, and that’s about 63% of the total ECB lending. Bad debts in the Spanish banks are going up at record levels. Bad debts over the last 3 months are now 8% of total debt. That’s massive.

    It also means defaults are not far away, and the banks haven’t reserved for these....

    “The banking world is on the way to bankruptcy here. We’ve talked about the leverage in the banking system, but people don’t seem concerned about it. What we are going to see, one day, is when these dominos start falling, there will be panic.

    Banks are supposed to come down to 20 times leverage. There is only one bank of the top twenty-five banks in the world today that is below 20 times leverage. Every other bank is above. 20 times leverage means that if they only lose 5% on their loan book, they have lost their capital.

    I will bet you that virtually every bank in the world has a bad debt position which is worse than 5% of their assets. And if you look at an entity such as Deutsche Bank, do you know what their leverage is? 62 times. It means that if they have a bad debt position of 1.5%, the bank is bust. Deutsche Bank is bigger than German GDP. So, if something happens to Deutsche Bank, Germany goes under.

    Credit Agricole, the largest French bank, has 63 times leverage. This is absolutely frightening. This situation is untenable. Some of these banks will not survive. Of course, central banks are aware of this, governments are aware of this, and they will print money. Will they print in time? Maybe for some banks, but some banks will not survive, I’m sure.

    The two big Swiss banks combined total 7 times Swiss GDP. The banks have a leverage which is unsustainable, and in many cases are bigger than the countries themselves.

    So, central banks, being aware of this, are going to keep accumulating more and more gold. And that trend will accelerate because central banks know that buying bank debt or government debt is a bad move. So, all of these dominos that will fall are going to accelerate the trend into gold.

    The IMF came out with a report yesterday saying we are very near a eurozone breakup, a disorderly one. That would create panic in the market. There would be an even greater flight of deposits out of the banking system which would make the situation even worse.

    The IMF is coming out with statement after statement that should frighten the world. Today they said that European Banks will have to sell roughly $3.8 trillion in assets. In reality, it could be well over $10 trillion in the next couple of years.