Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Martin in Latvia


My name is Martin and I am from Latvia.

You have been writing a great blog! I read almost half of it some weeks ago - it gave me a lot info I needed and a lot to think about.. And now I have some specific questions.

Maybe you have heard something about Latvia, but I will give very short info on whats happening here.

There are many similarities between Latvia and Argentina. We also had privatization boom in 90ties. There is also very much corruption. Also our currency - Lats is pegged to euro, the same as Peso was to dollar. In last years we also imported MUCH more than we exported. Big foreign companies invested a lot in Latvia. We have borrowed a lot too..

And now in short my country is fallowing Ukraine and its semi-failed economy very fast. We borrowed ~5 billion lats [7.5 billion euros] from IMF, EU, Sweden etc. which are being used to save our one nationalized bank and are invested in other banks, so they would give out money in credits [it's not working of course]. For comparing - our government budget in 2008 was 6.5 billion Lats. There is NO way we can repay that till 2013, especially in situation of worldwide crisis. Plus our national debt - citizens + businesses + government debt - is by now at least 26billion Lats. And now Latvia is on a verge of bankruptcy. It will happen if not this spring, then next autumn for sure. We have [the same as in Ukraine] no real opposition in our government and our people are divided and confused by bullshit main mass media and politicians are talking.

Yet there is still some hope. I am working in small independent internet news portal ( We, and a union of other independent media, organizations, are trying to enlighten people about what is coming, because most of Latvians believe that some miracle is going to happen - somehow economy will be fixed and it wont be 'that bad'. But meanwhile crime and suicide rates are climbing. Budget to health care, police is cut!! GDP fell 10.5% in 2008 4th quarter. Stupidity, ignorance and blindness of general population is biggest problem here. Also we are trying to unite non-governmental organizations, independent media, university professors, students [budget to highest education was cut by ~40%] - all real opposition to government there is, . We are trying to start mass movement, to unite people. We are relatively small country and this might work. It has to.

This is why recently I have been studying very carefully Argentina, Ukraine and Iceland - for signs about what is coming. We are spreading info about what happened to Argentina in 2001. We have published info about films and links to films about Argentina - "Argentina’s Economic Collapse" and "The Take". Maybe you can suggest some more films about all that happened in Argentina? Can you please tell more [or give links to some info] about factories that were occupied by workers? Are they still in workers control? How are they doing now? What are biggest problems?

Is there some real opposition to Argentina's government? Is there any real peoples movement? If yes, how are they doing?

We are preparing series of articles about Argentina 2001 economic collapse. You certainly know and maybe you can send me link to some best articles that in general covers most important things that led to crisis and covers most important things that happened after SHTF? Your blog 'Surviving in Argentina' is great, especially 'Thoughts on Urban Survival', but it is very specific. As are all other posts, which is great for your blog, but bad for translating and republishing, because we need some more general info and it will take a lot of time to analyse and edit info. As our internet news portal is run only by our enthusiasm and it is only one of many projects that are taking place now in Latvia, we are interested in saving our time as much as we can.. So if you can send some links or some specific general info about events before and after SHTF, that would be great!

Maybe you have some detailed information about Ukraine you can share? Because there is real silence in all world about whats happening in Ukraine now, only bits and peaces of info. I have insight because of all contacts I have established recently with Ukrainians, but main mass media in Latvia are silent about it.

Well.. thats a long letter and a lot of questions..
I hope you will have time and enthusiasms to answer them!

Best wishes and thank you for your time -
Mārtiņš , Latvia

Hi Martin,
I get a lot of traffic from you guys in Latvia and also Ukraine.
What are you crazy guys up to over there? :)

I'll do a bit of reserach and get back to you with the answers, ok?
Got to go now, I'll be checking the protest for more security, in Plaza de Mayo and run a few errands.
Take care



Hunnia said...

I don't want to be paranoid, but I bet, that after Latvia, Hungary will be next. The only difference is, that the general public dosn't give a damn.

Weaseldog said...

Here in USA, experts are on the news shows telling us that all is well.

This meltdown is global. The banks are in Financial Overshoot. They've run out of countries to exploit and the world does not produce enough industry to power their continued growth.

Our global banking model depends on infinite growth. At this point it looks like they've expanded to the point where the need dozens of planet Earths to sustain them. Yet they fight to grow, like a cancer, killing it's host.

The system will collapse. Exponential growth is impossible to sustain. but species going into overshoot, tend to destroy their entire environment as they go down. So the banks will take us with them.

The people for the most part, don't have a clue where this is going. And those that do, know there is nothing they can do about it.

Hunnia said...

To Weaseldog

You sound just like the guy who I seen on a show few weeks ago. And it's soo true...

We're in for one hell of a future.

Srben said...

If you guys are interested in the worldwide engineered financial meltdown, check out Alex Jones' site InfoWars.Com - it's got a lot of the stuff that everyone here talks about...

Anonymous said...

What intrigues me about this whole global crisis are the two vastly different approaches that the developed and developing countries are taking to tackle crisis.

In countries like Latvia and Ukraine, it seems what's being forced upon the governments by IMF, World bank, and other credit nations is the usual 1. austerity measures of cutting government spending including social safety nets and 2. further debt to pay off foreign creditors. The third strategy of selling government assets or public companies at rock bottom prices is not to be played out. Maybe I am wrong on this one.

HOWEVER, for the rich countries, what is being advocated is massive stimulus programs (mainly bailing out bankers and bank creditors, plus some expansion of social safety programs for the lower and middle class). For instance, in the US, the unemployment benefits have been extended, and the new mortgage program to reduce foreclosure. There was that stimulus check in the US, merchandise or cash in E.Asia. So the poorer debtor nations are forced to pay while the more powerful countries (UK and US) will attempt inflate their debts away.

What worries me most about countries like Latvia is that Latvians might lose the ownership of their economy to foreign capital.

As far Iceland or Argentina is concerned, these countries defaulted on their foreign loans. Ecuador has recently partially defaulted on their loans. Believe or not, I think this is better in the long term as the alternative is debt slavery.

Don Williams said...


"WASHINGTON – The White House is getting a new garden.

First lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to break ground Friday on a new garden near the fountain on the South Lawn that will supply the White House kitchen.

She will be joined by students from Bancroft Elementary School in the District of Columbia. The children will stay involved with the project, including planting the fruits, vegetables and herbs in the coming weeks and harvesting the crops later in the year."
They already have the guns. The gold coins are in the Treasury across the street and that Marine Helicopter is one heck of a Get Out of Dodge vehicle.

Rumor has it they were going to get a herd of goats but the Treasury Secretary said it would scare the stock markets.

Anonymous said...

The system will not "collapse." Market analysis is made up of abstractions based on reality--and what led to the current problem is the belief that abstractions were not dependent upon the underlying reality. "Doom-and-gloom" is just as misguided as "irrational exuberance."

What you need to do is look at reality. Ask where the facilities that produce / distribute the necessities--water, food, clothing, shelter, tools, etc.--are. If all the currencies of the world disappeared tomorrow, tomorrow + 15 minutes people would develop other more local systems of trust to facilitate transactions. But in reality, they won't simply forces may drive relative value up or down, of course, and the dollar / euro have to go down and the yen / ruble / renminbi / rupee have to come up because there's nowhere else to go based on reality.

The dollar / euro used to have a central position in the world economy such that the 300M Americans and 700M Europeans (1/6) had a disproportionate allocation of the world's resources. That is, the banks ran a giant Ponzi scheme, just as weaseldog noted, and now we're out of new suckers. So what we're looking at is 6.5bn+ people fighting for the world's resources on a relatively level playing field (which will change considerably as the current generations of undereducated Americans grow up in a world full of desperate Chinese and Indian students).

So the coming 50 years will be marked by want, however you slice it. Normally one would expect a war to relieve the pressure on the governments in power, but with an array of nuclear options available to all the major players and non-nuclear client states for brush wars becoming fewer and fewer, that's less of an option. In our case, it'll just be the 5/6 of the world trying to take their share of it. (Which is also why environmentalism in the US is nothing more than a drop in the bucket, however much liberals like to pat themselves on the back--who cares what we do if China and India decide to take the fast, cheap route to becoming industrial powerhouses, as they've done?) And in our case, it'll more likely be internal repression rather than external wars because external wars are becoming prohibitively risky (unless the world just decides to keep Afghanistan around as a scapegoat for failing governments). But who knows? Predicting the future is tough--the song remains the same, but each era puts new lyrics to the tune.

Weaseldog said...

Anonymous, these are not vastly different approaches.

The banks are internationals. Bailing them out, is really just looting the treasury and giving it away. That's in essence, what IMF austerity measures do.

The social programs are just a bit of hard bread, to go with the circus.

Obama's big social program that everyone whines about, isn't giving people money. It's doling out contracts to business people that are already connected to the government. The radio pundits miss the forest for the trees.

Hunnia, maybe that guy has been reading my blog? :)

Srben, I've kept up with Alex Jones to some degree. He sees intelligent and malicious conspiracies everywhere. In this financial mess, much of can be explained by short sighted thinking and doing business as usual.

I honestly don't believe that these guys are wise and smart enough to engineer a global meltdown in such a way that it enhances their long term viability as super players.

This doesn't mean however that they won't destroy the world's economy as they go down. Just that they are probably more worried about gaining short term profit, than consequences of their actions.

They suffer from hubris.

Weaseldog said...

Anonymous, I don't know what you mean when you say, 'the system won't collapse'.

If you mean the entire enchilada, then I agree. If you mean the global financial system, then we may disagree.

Further, I think it depends on how we define collapse. I don't think of a collapse as extinction, but more in the ecological view, which is a major re-simplification and reorganization. This often results in extinctions.

A collapse in global finance wouldn't mean it would end, it would mean that the system would be forced to reorganize at a simpler level. For the current captains of industry, this would look like Armageddon.

Ultimately, a total collapse is in the cards as our fossil fuel extraction rates have peaked and are in decline. They'll last a few decades yet, but each year there will be less.

Alternatives will certainly come on line, but the energy they provide doesn't come close to what we've enjoyed in fossil fuels. Further, the development and production of these alternatives is fueled by fossil fuels. Continuing their development past the point where fossil fuels are not available, may not be possible for us. By now I think I've heard pretty much every counter argument as to why alternative fuels will allow us to grow to a population of infinite numbers and mass, but a few minutes with a calculator and simple math demonstrates that even alternatives can't power infinite growth to infinite mass and infinite consumption. There are hard limits and we've reached many of them. We now consume more than the planet can give, and we must continue to grow.

Just like our financial sector is in overshoot, so is our population.

We may be looking at a world population of well under a billion by the end of the century and in ecological terms, this would qualify as a population collapse.