Global spending continues to soar. In so doing, future generations are becoming burdened with yet more debt. We have a moral obligation to address this problem, says Peter Divey.

Austerity is no longer acceptable and has come to define not only your politics but your morals which is why if you borrow to “invest” it doesn’t matter. Think of everything you can achieve with that money, all the wrongs you could right.

The latest World population estimate is 7.66 billion and it is rising by about 26,000 daily. How much does the World owe? About $64 trillion. The Nations of the World are certainly “investing” heavily. This figure is rising fast, as it must I suppose with 26,000 new souls to invest in every day… that is expensive. And the World must be good, it must be virtuous. Nasty stuff that austerity, unfair and inconsiderate, harming the most vulnerable the most.  Any personal debt, the mortgage, business loans, car loans, credit cards, none of that is considered here. Massive amounts which continue to rise worldwide. The citizenry can hardly be criticised for following the lead of successive Governments.

That $64 trillion also does not include future unfunded liabilities. Pension plans and declared future payments of every sort. Those figures are not as easy to pin down, as if it is better to look away, to not know. Estimates range as high as 10 times greater but most seem to have settled on a 4 or 5 fold multiplier of that $64 trillion figure. It has been estimated that for pensions alone (by far the biggest component of unfunded liabilities) the so-called “funding gap” stands at about $250 trillion. For context, the current GDP of the World is $80 trillion. By 2050 the funding gap could rise to $400 trillion, and some consider this to be a conservative figure. But some action is being taken, most notably the rollout of a raised age qualification before a state pension can be claimed. More will need to be done, including incentives to promote a much bigger uptake of private funded pensions and that will only help if pensions are means tested and state pensions continue to be eroded in value. Unpopular choices with political consequences. Much easier to kick the can down the road and load up on future generations. Some European Nations and others are grasping the nettle using a bipartisan format.

Fiat money enables and accelerates the problem. It has become a feedback loop. Once money was intrinsically valuable, it was made of bronze, or silver or gold. As populations grew this became impractical. Trading replaced bartering almost completely and paper money was used to replace the old commodity currency. An IOU backed by Government fiat. At first the new paper money was strictly limited and matched to the value of gold reserves or assets but as economies and populations grew the printing press was cranked up. And so it has continued, with a big divergence after 1948 and then a further huge deviation from the 1970’s as the international rules were relaxed. It is now just too tempting to manage debt by printing more money, hoping for a stimulus from currency deflation. And repeat. You expect to deal with any consequences later. Many First World countries now have debt that exceeds the desperate times of World War 2, and those levels have become the norm.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is one of two lead players in the Globalisation drive. The United Nations concerns itself with the political and cultural aspects. Ideally, the Nation-State develops a  regional emphasis before evolving into a supranational body, and the EU with its federal imperative is considered the ultimate prototype. The sacrifice of the obsolete Nation-State is not only expected but necessary as borders not only stymie trade but prevent cultural and political change.

The WEF is certain about its mission. It “engages the foremost…leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas…progress happens by bringing together people from all walks of life who have the drive and influence to make positive change”. This mission is enacted through a multi-pronged agenda to tackle “the most significant global challenges through public-private collaboration”. The WEF seeks to “shape the future of economic progress”…it wants to develop a geostrategic global platform to reach “across regional, political and national boundaries” It wants to manage “the future of environment and natural resource security”. Some though are becoming less convinced that this change is solely positive. There are losers as well as winners as wealth redistribution is increasingly utilised.

The WEF mission will be so much dust if World debt becomes unsustainable. The Euro currency area will not be able to tolerate an Italian default and the new Government has declared a massive new spending spree. Pushing against the tide. It will be interesting to see if they step back from that manifesto pledge as it is a clear contravention of EU spending and economic stability rules. There are many potential vulnerabilities and several nations need to question the WEF agenda that encourages borrowing. Interest rates at less than 1 per cent or even zero have only one possible interpretation. Is economic sanity now secondary to idealism? The WEF is in lockstep with the UN’s 2030 agenda. One of the partners needs to step back and take a cool look at the situation on the ground. Compromising the First World will never be useful to the Third World. Excessive debt masquerading as investment is folly no matter how virtuous or tempting, or cheap. Costs can only go up. Not only is the Money Tree running short of fruit, it is old and diseased and future crops will not meet demand. Burdening future generations with massive debt is a situation that should truly focus everyone’s moral zeal.

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