Sunday, 18 December 2011

Europe is failing because it lacks the energy to sustain itself.

Two decades past we effectively saw the common market die with Maastricht, given a rude coup de grace by its child the EU. We should be grateful a form of the old common market has lingered on in the European Free Trade zone [EFT].

2012 has the strong potential to see the death of the EU, its demise being shaped at conception, the final gestation now well under way. Expect a future history of the common individual not to lament its passing. However, high finance will certainly have cause for regret euros end.

2011 has been unique; we’ve seen much, from the Arab Spring half a world away to a situation where a Scot betting a couple thousand pounds on an SNP overall majority in January could have retired in May. The year then progressed into Europe’s greatest ever potential catastrophe, the demise of the euro. Everything’s connected.

It’s the situation in Europe that is of significant overall interest to Scots, as we watch the EU commence its imminent death throes with no present hope of resuscitation. Economic and societal upheaval was inevitable with the contraction of the carbon economy, Maastricht saw to it being pan-European and Lisbon delivered the knife across the collective EU throat.

To understand the sequence of events it’s necessary to look back to the formation of modern Europe, emerging from two world wars by mid 20th century.

A proposal for a “common market” arose, a trading zone across nations where cooperation would be much more advantageous than war and everybody would benefit. It was a great idea. It should have stopped there.

The EEC was successful simply because it was a cooperative society of relative equals, it dropped barriers between the comparatively prosperous northern European nations involved and allowed free movement of goods through a common market.

To expand the EEC would have been acceptable and desirable, as long as new nations fitted the socio economic demographic of existing countries. Freedom of human movement was also an acceptable enhancement.

There was no significant worth in the original EEC to a manufacturer moving from Germany to France or Denmark, but if Albania was admitted then labour rates could be quartered by crossing borders. That’s the short sighted American/City perspective, i.e. focus on the quarterly result and ignore the human impact.

The problem with such short term focus is when it occurs en-masse there’s few left in the original country earning enough to buy even the cheaper goods. Two nations fail instead of one just struggling. This is the China-US situation today, it may be a decade in processing but it will happen. It is the UK situation today, it has happened here.

Manufacturing and materials standards in a free trade community must be similar, so that part of sovereignty has to be relinquished in favour of overarching manufacturing standards legislation. That’s where central control of legislation should cease. The EFT to most appearances remains viable without the EU’s later additions and severely burdensome bureaucracy.

The big issue of our time came when the EEC evolved as national governments within it devolved. Nations devolved as more national sovereignty was gifted to or grabbed by Brussels.

The EU evolved and with it the inherent requirement of the euro. The nations of Europe were centuries behind the UK in this, but they had a model here if only they’d cared to look.

Only two things make any nation relinquish hard won sovereignty – they are conquered militarily or they are sold out from within by “a parcel of rogues”.

The EU, whatever its lofty declared goals is about nothing other than peaceful conquest of national sovereignty, and as the people of Greece, Italy, Ireland, Belarus, Spain, Portugal and other’s can now attest – it’s not necessarily good for their citizens either. The wealth of these nations is being siphoned elsewhere as they are being forced into a “one solution fits all” approach.

As we enter 2012 we can state, categorically, that the EU has benefitted the bankers.

Transposition from trading community to super-state may have functioned if it had been substantially limited to the original members, all with equal voting rights.

The evolution to superpower status was fast tracked to be completed within thirty years. The USA took three centuries and started with a common federal framework. The USA still struggles.

Even the Franco-German alliance driving the formation of the “new Europe” isn’t an alliance of equals; economically by almost all measurable standards France is substantially inferior to Germany.

The formation of a super-state is almost unthinkable without a single “super-currency”. A super-state with fundamentally differing economies between the constituents hadn’t ever been tried except through military conquest, all of which ultimately failed for the same reasons the EU was doomed at the outset.

It was increasingly clear as the millennia dawned that there would be three main central banks on the planet within 50 years if the carbon energy economy supported them, a European, an American and a probable Asian cartel. Sadly few governments are choosing to highlight what they will do as our “carbon age” draws down, Holyrood being a notable exception.

Two fundamentals are making the European super-state project come unglued. The super-state was pre-destined to fail through both the unsustainability of 20th century carbon economy driven consumerism, and the inclusion of nations that were not even close to having socio economic parity with the existing trading block.

The EU super state was predicated on constantly expanding economies. No economist has ever guaranteed constantly expanding economies.

The “credit crisis” that is being used as a pretext to force through undemocratic reforms within the EU simply doesn’t exist. It’s a liquidity crisis. The forcing is akin to the euro/EU being frog-marched to the guillotine. Then again the guillotine was always in the wings for the EU.

Credit means there’s money available and if you qualify and are trustworthy, you can get a loan. There is still money available; therefore there is no “credit crisis”. The money supply may now be super concentrated and credit restricted, but these individuals and organizations holding it still have a need to invest to increase their already considerable wealth.

If you can’t qualify for a loan it is only because you are not creditworthy, due to a liquidity or credibility crisis. That’s where today’s governments and interbank lenders find themselves. They are in a crisis of liquidity and creditworthiness.

The backdrop to the crisis appears a reluctance to acknowledge “Peak Oil” has come and gone, the perpetual expansion of markets and economies that took place under that system and sustained that system is now slowly contracting. The contraction will accelerate.

Throwing money at the dwindling sustainability of a carbon economy will not fix it. The tripling of population the carbon economy supported during the 20th century will need to contract without new energy sources being available.

Rising real energy costs and a congruent forced contraction of population equate to one thing, contracting markets. The EU isn’t so much running out of money; it’s running out of energy, and on several fronts.

Contracting markets equal ongoing devaluation, depression and recession.

It is no longer possible without new energy sources to grow our way out of recession or depression. The nations with the highest potential of new energy sources will be the countries best placed to ensure prosperity for their people. Nations in such a position can look for substantial economic boosts. Nations such as that can shrug off today’s curse of high finance because they operate in the black.

Scotland is such a nation.

As we understand crude oil consumption has outstripped discovery in every year since 1980, we comprehend the fundamental reason living standards in the industrialized world’s carbon economy are in decline. A perhaps simplistic verification is that the “credit crisis” of 2008 was tied to one thing above all, the energy markets.

Fuel in the USA went from $1.75 to $4+ inside a year. People were already stretched. They stopped buying discretionary items, the economy tanked. Layoffs followed and mortgages were no longer paid, house prices fell, banks failed and with a resultant depression temporarily lowered fuel prices. Bad lending practice certainly had its part, but it would have been largely masked without the energy crunch.

With the US being the planetary consumerism powerhouse the knock on effects as lenders turned upon themselves were rapid and global, it was a portent of things to come.

Between these two aspects and the EU’s refusal to recognize the same issues are here for the long term, the euro can’t survive and to a large extent the backers of the EU rely upon the euro.

Fundamentally the EU admitted far too many nations whose economies were simply not ready into an exclusive euro currency club, and it did so in a time of contracting global energy availability. For some odd reason the EU broke its own rules, possibly at the urging of the fiscal “technocrats”. It seems odd that one of the main technocrats who submitted allegedly inaccurate data to show Greece as viable nation for the euro is now a principle in running Greece.

With the demise of the euro, probably in 2012, the EU will have difficulty in surviving in its present format. The implosion of the single currency will be dramatic when it takes place. The only thing that might act to save it is that high finance can’t afford the euro to collapse. The euro is already arguably vastly overvalued after so many fruitless “save the euro” summits, and yet it remains relatively stable on apparent perpetual life support.

The constituents of many member nations will ask why the euro seemed like a good idea, the reality is that it was never a good idea and that the populaces of those nations were psychologically railroaded into it by vested interest.

This brings thoughts full circle as we return to the “Arab Spring”, contented and well fed people do not rebel or rise up, they grumble and squawk. These people had no option, the failure of the carbon economy and international speculation moved them to a position of near starvation. That situation is now spreading to Greece and the ripples can only be expected to continue at the present time.

Greeks are now being deprived of food and electricity as they see their safety nets removed; Italy, Ireland, Spain and Portugal are already in line for similar “Austerity”. As Europe runs out of both ideas and energy, one can only leave the future open to conjecture.

In Scotland we can take back our future after 300 years, we should retain it, and we should enter only trading agreements. For as we already know, and as Europe will demonstrate shortly, shared sovereignty will normally only benefit the dominant player.

The only EU answer still clouded is the true identity of the dominant player, Germany or international banking.

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