This is the most absurd global financial situation we can remember. There may have been wilder outbreaks of mass fatuous behaviour – as Adam Smith could easily have said, there’s a great deal of absurdity in a market. But we have long held that if you don’t understand the rules of the game, best not to play the game. Doing anything in markets today involves making a macro market call that is fundamentally impossible. All markets have become speculative arenas courtesy of central bank activity.
In his Pulitzer-Prize-winning book, Lords of Finance, the economist Liaquat Ahamad tells the story of how four central bankers, driven by staunch adherence to the gold standard, “broke the world” and triggered the Great Depression. Today’s central bankers largely share a new conventional wisdom – about the benefits of loose monetary policy. Are monetary policymakers poised to break the world again?
There is democratic capitalism, and there is fascist capitalism. What we have today is fascist capitalism; and the following will explain how it works, using as an example the case of Greece. Simply out - The whole system is a money-funnel, from the public, to the aristocracy.
When Warren Buffet put $5 billion in Berkshire Hathaway funds into Goldman Sachs the week after Lehman failed, amidst total turmoil and panic, it appeared from the outside a high risk bet. Buffet had long tried to portray himself as a folksy engine of traditional stability, investing only in things he could understand, so jumping into a wholesale run of chained liabilities may have seemed more than slightly out of character. We have no particular issue with Buffet making those investments, only the pretense of intentional mysticism that surrounds them. The reason the criticism of crony-capitalism sticks is because this was not Buffet's first intervention to "save" a famed institution on Wall Street. If Buffet's convention is to stick with "things you know" then he has been right there through the whole of the full-scale wholesale/eurodollar revolution.
While the party in the 1990s ended badly, the festivities currently underway may end in outright disaster. The party-goers may not just awaken with hangovers, but with missing teeth, no memories, and Mike Tyson's tiger in their hotel room.
The world is entering a kind of no man’s land, in between the realms of insane denial and utterly obvious crisis. Europe is now destabilizing amid the Greek soap opera (an event that we predicted in January would occur in 2015); China’s stock market bubble is bursting; and the U.S. dollar’s world reserve status is about to be decimated by the global shift toward the International Monetary Fund’s basket currency reserve system. We're afraid we're going to have to say this because we don’t know if anyone else will admit it: Alternative economic analysts were right, and the mainstream choir was either terribly wrong or disgustingly dishonest. However, as most in the liberty movement are well aware, being right is not necessarily a solution to disaster.
A shocking and uncharacteristic display of common sense
There is an argument to be made that this could indeed be a "new market" given the continued interventions by global Central Banks in a direct effort to support asset prices. However, despite the coordinated efforts of Central Banks globally to keep asset prices inflated to support consumer confidence, there is plenty of historic evidence that suggest such attempts to manipulate markets are only temporary in nature.
Brussels has been dead wrong. The stupid idea that the euro will bring stability and peace, as it was sold from the outset, has migrated to European domination as if this were “Game of Thrones”. Those in power have misread history, almost at every possible level.
Global central banks are afraid. Before Greece tried to stand up to the Troika, they were merely worried. Now it’s clear that no matter what they tell themselves and the world about the necessity or even righteousness of their monetary policies, liquidity can still disappear in an instant. Or at least, that’s what they should be thinking. The problem is that central banks have no plan B in the event of a massive liquidity event. In this cauldron of instability and lack of leadership, cash is the one remaining financial possession that Main Street can translate into goods, services and security. That’s why private banks want more control over it.
The rise and fall of great powers and their imperial domains has been a central fact of history for centuries. It’s been a sensible, repeatedly validated framework for thinking about the fate of the planet. So it’s hardly surprising, when faced with a country once regularly labeled the “sole superpower,” “the last superpower,” or even the global “hyperpower” and now, curiously, called nothing whatsoever, that the “decline” question should come up. Is the U.S. or isn’t it? Might it or might it not now be on the downhill side of imperial greatness?
"...If the S&P500 were to come down by 50% look at the bright side. The Millennial generation can finally buy into America’s future at a good price. Look at what they are facing right now: very little return on their savings and very lofty prices that they have to pay to invest in their future. So we often forget that these wrenching dislocating financial events, particularly for older generations, can create opportunities for the young, and often create space for something more durable for the times to be built. So I’ll just summarize it with Schumpeter’s phrase: creative destruction. That’s how I prefer to see what happens in a Fourth Turning."
"Greece is being 'hit', there's no doubt about it," exclaims John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, noting that "[Indebted countries] become servants to what I call the corporatocracy ... today we have a global empire, and it's not an American empire. It's not a national empire... It's a corporate empire, and the big corporations rule."
It’s happening. As expected, dynastic politics is prevailing in campaign 2016. After a tease about as long as Hillary’s, Jeb Bush (aka Jeb!) officially announced his presidential bid last week. Ultimately, the two of them will fight it out for the White House, while the nation’s wealthiest influencers will back their ludicrously expensive gambit. And here’s a hint: don’t bet on Jeb not to make it through the Republican gauntlet of 12 candidates (so far). After all, the really big money’s behind him.
Ideas Have Consequences... In Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, in Great Britain, in Japan, and in the United States, there was a shift of opinion away from the free market in favor of government economic planning. The supreme mark of this transformation was the acceptance of John Maynard Keynes' unreadable book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, which was published in 1936. A new generation of younger economists adopted this book and its outlook, which prevails today. The fascist economic idea of an alliance between government and business became almost universally accepted.