As the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, announces £54 billion in increased taxes and cuts to public services in order to reduce a fiscal deficit being blamed on everything from the Pandemic to Putin and Brexit, this is a look at the actual causes of our spiralling inflation, not just in the UK but across the globe.
By Simon Elmer
In June 2019, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the world’s central bank, published its Annual Economic Report. This began with the statement: ‘It was perhaps too good to be true’ — the ‘it’ being the recovery from the 2007-2009 Global Financial Crisis. Describing financial markets as ‘jittery’, the report warned investors about the social and political backlash against what it called the ‘open international economic order’, which the BIS predicted would continue to cast a ‘long if unpredictable shadow’ over the global economy:
From a historical perspective, it is not unusual to see such surges of sentiment in the wake of major economic shockwaves: the Great Depression marked the end of the previous globalisation era. It is too early to tell how this surge will evolve; but it will clearly be a force to contend with in the years to come.
What the BIS was describing here are not only the classic symptoms of a financial crisis produced by the internal contradictions of capitalist accumulation — according to which, as the wages of workers are deflated so too is the purchasing power of consumers, threatening the profits of capitalists and resulting in an inflated credit bubble — but also the threat of the social unrest they cause in the body politic. As the bank of highest appeal on monetary policy, the BIS is more than aware of the threat this presents to the global financial system. The following month, accordingly, in July 2019, the BIS called for ‘unconventional policy’ in order to ‘insulate the real economy’ from further deterioration in conditions, specifically advocating that, by offering direct credit to the economy, central banks could ‘replace commercial banks in providing loans’.
By August 2019, the global debt-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio had risen to an all-time high of 322 per cent, with total debt reaching close to $253 trillion. Germany, Italy and Japan were on the verge of a recession, and the economies of the UK and China were contracting. That same month, BlackRock, the largest investment fund in the world with $6.5 trillion in assets under management at the time (and since then risen to $10 trillion), published a white paper titled ‘Dealing with the next downturn’. This instructed the Federal Reserve, the central banking system of the USA, to inject liquidity directly into the financial system, in order to prevent a dramatic downturn in the economy it predicted would be even worse than that of the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2009.
BlackRock argued that, since monetary policy (interest rates on loans and the amount of money in circulation) was exhausted, and fiscal policy (government taxation and spending) would not be sufficient to reverse such a crisis, what was needed was an ‘unprecedented response’. It therefore recommended ‘going direct’. This meant ‘finding ways to get central bank money directly into the hands of public and private-sector spenders’ while avoiding hyperinflation. Significantly, as an example of the dangers of the latter, BlackRock cited the Weimar Republic in the early 1920s, at precisely the time when fascism took root in both Germany and Italy. Later that month, in August 2019, central bankers from the G7 nations (the USA, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada) met to discuss and approve BlackRock’s ‘unconventional’ proposals.
In response to the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007 and the Global Financial Crisis, it triggered, in 2010 the US Congress had limited the amount to which the US Government would insure depositors to $250,000. This meant that large institutional investors like pension funds, mutual funds, hedge funds and sovereign wealth funds had nowhere to park the millions of dollars they held between investments that was at once secure, provided them with some interest and allowed the quick withdrawal of funds like a traditional deposit account. It was in response to this need that the private repo market evolved. ‘Repo’, which is shorthand for repurchase agreement, is a contract whereby investment funds lend money against collateral assets, typically treasury debt or the mortgage-backed securities that had financed the US housing bubble. Under the terms of the contract, banks undertake to buy back the assets at a higher price, typically the next day or within two weeks. As secured short-term loans, repos are the main source of funding for traders, replacing the security of deposit insurance with the security of highly liquid collateral.
However, although the repo market evolved to satisfy the needs of large institutional investors, it also allowed banks to circumvent the capital requirements imposed by regulations on the banking system after the Global Financial Crisis. As a result, by 2008 the repo market provided half the credit in the US, and by 2020 had a turnover of $1 trillion per day. The danger was, a lack of liquidity in repo markets can have a knock-on effect on all major financial sectors. This happens when banks borrow from their depositors to make long-term loans or investments, and the depositors and borrowers want the money at the same time, forcing the banks to borrow from somewhere else. If they can’t find lenders on short notice, or if the price of borrowing suddenly becomes prohibitive, the result is a liquidity crisis.
This is exactly what happened in September 2019, by which time the borrower side of the repo market had been taken over by aggressive and high-risk hedge funds, which were using them for several loans at once. As a result, many large institutional lenders pulled out of the market, causing a sudden spike in repo borrowing rates from 2.43 per cent to 10.5 per cent in a matter of hours. However, rather than letting the banks fail and forcing a bail-in of creditors’ funds, the Federal Reserve System, following the advice of BlackRock, initiated an emergency monetary programme, injecting hundreds of billions of dollars every week into Wall Street in order to ward off substantial hikes in interest rates. Over the next six months, the US Federal Reserve injected more than $9 trillion into the banking system, equivalent to more than 40 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product of the USA By March 2020, the Federal Reserve was making $1 trillion per day available in overnight loans, effectively providing backup funds for the entire repo market, including the hedge funds. But more was needed.
In September 2019, the same month interest rates on the repo market spiked, the US President, Donald Trump, decided to establish a National Influenza Task Force, a 5-year plan to accelerate vaccine development and promote vaccine technologies for a future pandemic. In anticipation of which, in October 2019, Event 201, organised by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health and the World Health Organisation, simulated an outbreak of a novel zoonotic coronavirus that, modelled on SARS, was more transmissible ‘by people with mild symptoms’. And in December 2019, the World Health Organisation held a Global Vaccine Safety Summit for vaccine ‘stakeholders’ from around the world. These included current and former members of the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS), immunisation programme managers, national regulatory authorities, pharmacovigilance staff from all WHO regions, as well as representatives from UN agencies, academic institutions, umbrella organisations of pharmaceutical companies, technical partners, industry representatives and funding agencies.
Then, on 17 January 2020, when total deaths worldwide attributed to Covid-19 numbered just 6, the World Health Organisation adopted the protocols for detecting and identifying SARS-CoV-2 set out in the Corman-Drosten paper, ‘Diagnostic detection of 2019-nCoV by real-time RT-PCR’. Among its numerous flaws, this protocol set RT-PCR tests at 45 cycles, with ‘confirmed positives’ at 40 (1,099,511,627,776 cycles of thermal amplification), far higher than the 28 (16,777,216 cycles) at which infectious virus can be detected. At a stroke, this set the template for how to turn a virus with the infection fatality rate of seasonal influenza into a global pandemic.
On 11 March 2020, with the global apparatus in place, the World Health Organisation partnered with the World Economic Forum to launch the ‘Covid-19 Action Platform’, a coalition of the world’s most powerful businesses that, within two months, numbered over 1,100 companies, banks and other financial institutions. On the same day, the World Health Organisation, ignoring its own previous definitions and criteria, declared SARS-CoV-2 to be a ‘pandemic’, and lockdowns were imposed across the neoliberal democracies of Western capitalism.
Finally, on 15 March 2020, under the cloak of the manufactured ‘crisis’, the Federal Reserve dropped interest rates to 0.25 per cent, eliminated the reserve requirement, relaxed the capital requirement, and offered discount loans of up 90 days to its preferred banks (JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Nomura, Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, Citibank, etc.), which were renewed on a daily basis and continuously rolled over. Allegedly made available to meet demands for credit from households and businesses under lockdown, in practice no obligations were attached to make this effectively interest-free money available to the public through, for example, loans to small businesses, reducing credit-card rates for households or suspending payment plans on mortgages. By July 2020, the cumulative value of these loans was $11.23 trillion.
That’s where most of us came in. But what most of us didn’t know was that the Great Reset of the global financial system supposedly justified and even necessitated by the ‘pandemic’ was initiated 6 months before it was officially declared, and not in response to a virus.
By April 2022, the total assets of the US Federal Reserve ($8.9 trillion), the European Central Bank ($9.6 trillion), the Bank of Japan ($6.2 trillion) and the Bank of China ($6.3 trillion) had risen to $31 trillion, an extraordinary and unprecedented increase from $19 trillion in September 2019, with a corresponding increase in liabilities (currency in circulation, reserves in commercial banks, central bank securities and equity capital) and therefore in risks to the real and financial sectors of the economy. Globally, over $41 trillion in assets, nearly half the world’s GDP, are now held by central banks. And as deposits were made in the US Federal Reserve, so the money made its way into commercial banks, with deposits that in the latter had remained on an even upward trajectory through the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2009 having a direct correlation with the spike in assets after September 2019.
And therein lay the problem. Had the $12 trillion of helicopter money pumped into the collapsing financial sector by central banks reached transactions in the real economy, it would have triggered the hyperinflation that BlackRock had warned the Federal Reserve must be avoided. This, we might assume, is what BlackRock meant when, in its August 2019 report, ‘From unconventional monetary policy to unprecedented policy coordination’, it insisted that a practical way of ‘going direct’ would need to define ‘the unusual circumstances that would call for such unusual coordination’. These words have meaning.
Lockdown wasn’t imposed to protect the world from a ‘civilisation-threatening’ new virus but because the real economy had to be shut down — with most business transactions and consumer spending suspended — in order to ‘insulate’ it from the vast sums being pumped into the collapsing financial sector.
But that’s not all. At the same time that banks were creating trillions of electronic dollars, hundreds of millions of workers were forcibly placed on furlough for months and years on end by national governments, which effectively mortgaged in advance the future labour of their populations. By November 2020, the Bank of England has increased its quantitative easing programme to £895 billion, as it claimed, ‘to help the economy during the pandemic’. The National Audit Office has estimated that, between February 2020 and 31 March 2022 when coronavirus-justified restrictions were lifted, the UK Government spent £376 billion on lockdown. In doing so, the Government made sure that the populations of the nation-states they had granted themselves the power to ‘lockdown’ indefinitely were now pushed further into debt for generations to come to the same financial institutions that had just been bailed out by the central banks with their money.
Just like the programme of fiscal austerity imposed after the last Global Financial Crisis had punished workers for the speculations of the financial sector by reducing government spending on the economically spurious justification of ‘balancing the budget’, so lockdown made certain that the bailout of the banks would be paid by the workers and small businessmen whose jobs and businesses have been lost, bankrupted or placed into debt by the governments enforcing lockdown on the even more spurious justification of protecting them from a threat to public health that never existed.
And just as there was no bailout for those who were unemployed, impoverished, ruined or killed by cuts to government spending, so too there is to be no bailout from the current Chancellor for those whose jobs, savings, businesses and lives have been ruined by lockdown restrictions. Like austerity, therefore, lockdown is an economic class war waged by the financial and political ruling class against the working and, increasingly, the middle classes who demonstrated their redundancy by obediently ‘working from home’ under lockdown, and white-collar jobs being rendered superfluous by the new technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
So, when Jeremy Hunt and his WEF equivalents across Western economies tell you that spiralling inflation, rocketing energy prices and the plummet in our standard of living is because of Covid-19, ‘Mad-Vlad’ invading the Ukraine or necessitated by global warming, he or she is fobbing you off with a false explanation and easy scapegoat to blame for the second Global Financial Crisis in 12 years.
Globally, we’re at the end of a 50-year cycle of debt initiated when US President Nixon took the dollar off the gold standard in 1971, with the result that interest rates are now at 0 per cent. As Ray Dalio, the billionaire founder of the world’s biggest hedge fund, has recently pointed out, the last time this happened was in 1932. These are the economic conditions for the return of fascism to the politics, laws and ideology of the West we’re witnessing today. If you’re interested in who benefits from this managed demolition of our economies and the Brave New World they want to build on the ruins, you may be interested in The Road to Fascism: For a Critique of the Global Biosecurity State.
About the Author
Simon Elmer has a doctorate in the History and Theory of Art. He is a co-founder and a director of Architects for Social Housing. He is also the author of several books, his latest being ‘The Road to Fascism: For a Critique of the Global Biosecurity State’.
The Road to Fascism is not an attempt to contribute to an academic debate about the meaning of the term “fascism,” but rather to interrogate how and why the general and widespread moral collapse in the West over the past two-and-a-half years has been effected with such rapidity and ease, and to examine to what ends that collapse is being used.