The Long Fall: A Market Without Parachutes by Mike Whitney

America is finished, washed up, kaput. Foreign investors and central banks around the world have lost confidence in US markets and are headed for the exits. The dollar is sinking, the country is insolvent, and its leaders are barking mad. Investors are voting with their feet. They've had enough. Capital is flowing to China and the Far East in a torrent. It's "sayonara" Manhattan and "Hello" Tiananmen Square.

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The dollar fell another 2 per cent last night, gold soared to $840 per ounce, oil topped $98 per barrel, General Motors reported a $39 billion loss after the market closed on Tuesday, the real estate market continued its downward slide, and the major investment banks are marching in lock-step towards bankruptcy.

The news is all bad. The nation's economic foundation is in shambles. US credibility is shot. Bush and Greenspan have put us on the road to ruin. Now their work is done. We're flat broke.

The catalogue of fiscal ailments now facing the country is too long to list. We'd need a ledger the size of a small encyclopedia. There's been a stampede away from the dollar even though it's already lost over 60 per cent of its value since Bush took office and even though central banks around the world will lose their shirts if it collapses. They don't care. They're getting out while they can.

Cheng Siwei, the vice chairman of China's National People's Congress, announced yesterday that China would continue to diversify its $1.4 trillion reserves away from the dollar to "stronger currencies" like the euro. "Strong currencies"; isn't that Paulson's line? Siwei's comments ignited a firestorm in the currency markets triggering a big blow-off of the greenback. The poor dollar has no place to go now but down, and it's on a greased pole to the bottom. With consumer spending paralyzed by the decline in home equity and frozen wages, and the banks "stuffed to the gills" with over a trillion dollars of mortgage-backed sludge; the prognosis for the hobbled dollar is looking grimmer by the day. The bulging trade deficits and dwindling foreign inflows haven't helped either. The greenback has suddenly become the global pariah; all it needs is a leper's rattle and a tin cup.
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The global markets have never seen a financial typhoon of this magnitude before. Mortgage lenders, homeowners, banks, hedge funds, bond insurers, etc. will all either go under or feel the sting of a slumping market.

Many of the major investment banks are already broke; it's clear from their own reporting. Charles Hugh Smith sums it up like this in his recent article "Empire of Debt: The Great Unraveling":

"If their bad bets were marked to market, Citicorp and Merrill Lynch would be declared insolvent. Why? Because they are insolvent--right now. The meaning of insolvency is straightforward: their losses exceed their capital. Recall that these firms list assets of $100 billion (or whatever) but their actual net capital is on the order of 2.5 per cent to 5 per cent---a mere sliver of their stated assets. In other words: a 5 per cent loss of their stated assets wipes them out..The game is now over, and the players shuffling losses can only last a few more days or weeks."