The Sovereign Individual Under Attack in Europe

Montreal, Canada

Increasingly, governments are seizing national pensions. This is the biggest raid in private pension assets in modern history and it’s barely being covered by the press.

In 2008, Argentina seized about $30 billion dollars of domestic pension assets. The news barely made headlines in the popular financial press. But we took notice.

Later that year, the global financial system also collapsed. And the ongoing cost of that enormous bailout combined with unorthodox central bank interventions and desperate money-supply expansion tactics have boosted the cost of this humungous global rescue to more than $6 trillion dollars, perhaps much more. To be honest, I’ve lost count months ago.

But now, a host of European countries are raiding the larder. The monster-sized cost of financing Europe’s growing list of busted nations is forcing governments to seize private pensions to pay for bailouts.
Over the last 60 days alone, Ireland, Hungary and now France have raided pensions.
France has reportedly passed a law to use assets in its €36 billion ($48 billion dollars) national reserve pension fund to help pay its welfare system debts; Ireland tapped its own reserve pension fund to supplement an EU-IMF bailout.
Earlier this month, Hungary, in the midst of a fiscal crisis, also seized pension funds.
The assets of the French pension fund, the Fonds de réserve pour les retraites, have been moved into the agency in charge of refinancing the country’s social debt, Cades.
What’s odd about the French maneuver is that France is not under attack by the bond market vigilantes, unlike peripheral eurozone countries. Credit spreads on French government debt have indeed risen recently but have not blown wide open, unlike the huge spreads still plaguing the cost of financing in Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Greece. Italy is also under attack this month as spreads continue to widen.

In the age of growing fiscal austerity and skyrocketing deficits, governments are seizing pension assets and using this money as collateral or direct payment to fund bailouts or the interest expense on bailouts.

Once again, the poor, unsuspecting taxpayer has no recourse. What’s next?

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