Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Coming Age of Capital Controls?

Bureaucrats in Brussels have been floating trial balloons on capital controls

The Daily Mail reports

EU finance chiefs today admitted holding contingency ‘discussions’ about possibly putting limits on Greek cash machines to stop mass withdrawals if Greece quits the euro.

European Commission officials also discussed imposing border checks and capital controls in a bid to stop a possible flight of funds.

‘There are indeed discussions, and we are asked to clarify what is foreseen in EU treaties,’ said Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly following a raft of press reports claiming this had happened.

He refused to reveal the precise details of the talks but admitted some of these ideas had been discussed under ‘disaster scenarios’.

He said the commission is ‘providing information about EU laws regarding treaties,’ that mean capital ‘restrictions are possible’ on the grounds of ‘public order and public security.’

However, he stressed that the commission was not planing on the basis that Greece would leave the euro depending on the outcome of elections on Sunday.

More from Simon Black at the Sovereign Man

Some of these measures have already been implemented sporadically; customers of Italian bank BNI, for example, were all frozen out of their accounts starting May 31st upon the recommendation and approval of Italy’s bank regulator. No ATM withdrawls, no bill payments, nothing. Just locked out overnight.

In Greece, the government has taken to simply pulling funds directly out of its citizens’ bank accounts; anyone suspected of being a tax cheat (with a very loose interpretation in the sole discretion of the government) is being releived of their funds without so much as administrative notification.

It’s no wonder why, according to the Greek daily paper Kathimerini, over $125 million per day is fleeing the Greek banking system.

Capital controls are part of the grand scheme of financial repression policies designed by bankrupt governments to expropriate private sector resources.

Aside from capital controls, other measures include, raising taxes, inflationism, negative interest rates, price controls and various regulatory proscriptions.

Simon Black lucidly explains the nitty gritty and the moral issue of capital controls,

capital controls are policies which restrict the free flow of capital into, out of, through, and within a nation’s borders. They can take a variety of forms, including:

- Setting a fixed amount for bank withdrawals, or suspending them altogether

- Forcing citizens or banks to hold government debt

- Curtailing or suspending international bank transfers

- Curtailing or suspending foreign exchange transactions

- Criminalizing the purchase and ownership of precious metals

- Fixing an official exchange rate and criminalizing market-based transactions

Establishing capital controls is one of the worst forms of theft that a government can impose. It traps people’s hard earned savings and their future income within a nation’s borders.

This trapped pool of capital allows the government to transfer wealth from the people to their own coffers through excessive taxation or rampant inflation… both of which soon follow.

The thing about capital controls is that they’re like airine baggage fees; ultimately, all governments want to do it, they’re just waiting on the first guy to impose them so that they can shrug their shoulders, stick it to the people, and blame ‘industry standards’.

Moreover, capital controls were a normal part of the global economic landscape for most of the 20th century, right up to the 1970s. It’s been a long time coming for governments to return to that model.

A return to capital controls would extrapolate to deglobalization and protectionism whose likely outcome would be the Great Depression of the 21st century. I hope and pray that these parasites will not succeed.

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