David Hirst's celebrated international column on the global financial crisis and its aftermath.



"In an age where most business journalists have become little more than cheerleaders for the Charles Ponzi Memorial Football Club, David Hirst calls the real shots in business with acerbic wit and Dickensian disdain for the financial follies of our modern age. He called the Subprime Crisis before the Bubble burst (and sold his own property at the peak), foresaw the carnage that would flow from the collapse of Bear Stearns, saw the manipulations beneath the 2009 rally as the TARP was pulled over the eyes of the herd, and has a deep sense of the real economic forces that lie beneeth the veneer.

Seldom wrong and always entertaning, David Hirst is my first point of call for the real news of our day."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Returning from overseas to Australia might not be a sobering experience but perhaps it should. Like that scene in Missouri Break’s when Jack Nicholson commiserates with Marlon Brando and tells him he didn’t want to wake him but “I just cut your throat.”

Is it possible for an entire nation to sleep through an economic cycle and not have its throat cut?

“Too easy,” says a nation deep in sleep.

For no nation is more complete in its vanity. Nor have the people who have come to populate it been so lacking in their fulfilment. “Far too easy” and “absolutely no worries” have become mantras of a nation without purpose. It is, given the fact that most of the world is attempting to face a global crisis that affects all differently synonymous with the child on a new bike crying “look no hands,” as his parent watch in delighted wonder and the banking sector cheers from the sidelines.

There was a time Australia cared about its wealth and therefore its future. It was huge with Whitlam’s Government and found sad and salutary expression in such things as superannuation and future Australia or some such thing. There were people who cried, “give me men to match my dreams” the future often on their minds.

No worries about the future of modern Australia. It is all “Too easy.”

While the nations of the world eye the future with grim forbearance and fear Australia has, unique amongst them all remained utterly thrilled at the prospects of tomorrow. For now we shall sell the farm and hold onto the good bits like BHP and Rio. Can anyone tell me who actually does own Rio or most the swag? We do! “No worries-too easy”.

IRA’s Chris Whalen gave something away yesterday at Institutional Risk Analytics when he wrote about “keeping the game going on a few weeks longer.”

The game is the money shuffling we call the world economy and Chris has been watching it pretty closely those past twenty years or more. And he likes, and knows his Rolling Stones. Keeping the game going for a few more weeks really means keeping the game going for as long as possible.

I don’t think many; even the most savage critics want to see this thing come apart.

It will be worse than the thrill and spills of the events of the Phoney War of September-November 2008.

The bubble the Government has used as ammunition is running out. The belief structure is being battered as never before.

There are too many agendas at work, to many competing forces being unleashed. We have to concede that no matter what the outcome of the eventual meeting of the buffaloed buffoons of the upper house of US politics has made a merry mess of their job. The entire Bernanke re-appointment fiasco was (as this column pointed out many weeks ago) a disaster waiting to happen. He will be the headless horseman of the Fed.

The political class can deliver its masters in the financial class their man but they might as well do it with his head on the plate.

“No worries,” replies an Australia that it blithely unaware of the massive dogfight surrounding all positions in the US financial hierarchy – except, of course those who control the To Big Too Fail Banks who are “forever young.”

Australia can walk through the next stage of the GFC as, it can sell stuff to China, has a solid banking system, er its raining again somewhere, and nothing happened last time. Why the entire financial crisis is, as the Murdoch press is good enough to point out a contrivance of those who so falsely bought us climate change.

Three weeks ago The Australian newspaper listed all major (and a lot of minor) stocks - on an entire half page as buys or buy-specs.

You cannot lose money here. It is physical impossible for Australia to ever be troubled by hardship. In the following weeks all those buys were sold off.

But “she'll be right, no worries, too easy."

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