Orwell and Kafka have come to America - a nation that once was a democracy and could once claim to live under rule of law. Wake up and smell the stench of a gilded gulag, America; we're living in one whether you care to admit it or not. Due process and rule of law have been replaced with "legalized" looting by government in America.
This is not "different times", the system's low volatility will be replaced by higher volatility, the zero bound leads to bubbles by definition unless you of course believe in eternity and most importantly, mean-reversion and compounding remains the two most powerful tools in finance. It feels like an eternity since the market last traded like a real market, but make no mistake, exactly when you think more of the same is destined to be your strategy, things do change despite the feeling of infinity.
There is a certain level of dishonesty in the common study of history. We look back at the tyrannies of the past, the monstrous governments, the devastating wars and the unimaginable crimes, and we wonder how it could have been possible. How could the people of that particular generation let such atrocities come to pass? Why didn’t they do something? Why didn’t they protest? Why didn’t they fight back? Perhaps many societies fail to prepare or act in the face of tyranny because they had forgotten their own histories, making the demise of their culture appear so schizophrenic they would not believe what their eyes were telling them. When we examine recent U.S. legislation, the exposure of classified documents, and the openly admitted criminality of political leadership, we are consistently reminded of Franz Kafka’s The Trial.
Over the weekend, the entertaining @HistoryInPix twitter account posted this distrubing photo of the cemetery where all the radioactive vehicles that were used in the Chernobyl cleanup went to die. One can't help but wonder: where is the comparable "cemetery" for the Fukushima disaster cleanup, and does the above photo have anything to do with the recently passed secrecy bill that was "designed by Kafka and inspired by Hitler"...
Japan's PM Shinzo Abe has seen his approval ratings collapse for the first time since his 'devalue-to-glory' strategy was unveiled a year ago. Kyodo News reported, support for Mr. Abe fell 10.3ppt to 47.6%, while Japan News Network reported a 13.9-point fall to 54.6% as WSJ reports, public concern over the controversial secrecy bill (designed by Kafka, inspired by Hitler) and its nationalist overtones merely exacerbated Japanese people's concerns about their pocketbooks (as incomes stagnate and costs rise). As Abe plays lip service to economic issues (with a very Maduro-like speech recently on profit margins and wage increases), there is little but public outrage to hinder his plans as his ruling Liberal Democratic Party has big majorities in both houses of parliament, with no election scheduled until 2016. So much for Abenomics...
With all the excitement about Japan's soaring stock market (if plunging wages), crashing non-digital currency (leading to soaring energy prices), recent passage of an arbitrary secrecy bill ("Designed by Kafka & Inspired By Hitler"), and ongoing territorial spat with China, it is almost as if the Abe administration is desperately doing everything in its power, including some of the most ridiculous decisions taken by a government in recent history, to hide some key development behind the scenes. Such as this one perhaps: NHK reported today that TEPCO said radiation levels are extremely high in an area near a ventilation pipe at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. TEPCO found radiation of 25 sieverts an hour on a duct, which connects reactor buildings and the 120-meter-tall ventilation pipe. Putting this number in context the estimated radiation level is the highest ever detected outside reactor buildings. People exposed to this level of radiation would die within 20 minutes.
Shinzo Abe secured final passage of a bill granting Japan’s govt sweeping powers to declare state secrets. The Bill won final approval of the measures at about 11:20 p.m. Tokyo time after opposition parties first forced a no-confidence vote in Abe’s govt in the lower house. The first rule of the pending Japan’s Special Secrets Bill is that what will be a secret is secret. The right to know has now been officially superseded by the right of the government to make sure you don’t know what they don’t want you to know. It might all seems like a bad joke, except for the Orwellian nature of the bill and a key Cabinet member expressing his admiration for the Nazis, "just as Germany needed a strong man like Hitler to revive defeated Germany, Japan needs people like Abe to dynamically induce change."
Meet General Keith Alexander, "a man few even in Washington would likely recognize", which is troubling because Alexander is now quite possibly the most powerful person in the world, whom nobody talks about. Which is just the way he likes it. ... And also meet Bonesaw: "Bonesaw is the ability to map, basically every device connected to the Internet and what hardware and software it is."
You hear it now all across Europe. “We are out of the woods, the crisis has ended, the worst is over” but I take scarce solace from these comments. The numbers have been falsified, the figures have been altered, and that which should have been counted as been ignored as a matter of political expediency. Bills uncounted do not mean that they do not have to be paid and obligations ignored do not erase them. The problems of Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal have been wallpapered over and the “new look” has been sung to the Press and the citizens alike but the wet plaster remains behind the façade and the upcoming peeling will commence in our New Year. More money equates to lower yields in the short run and assurances of health prevail in the world for the moment but the raw data tells another story as capital diminishes and debts build and uncounted liabilities surface once more. 2012 was a year of a vast and complicated charade. 2013 is likely to be a year when the resplendent masks are removed.
Three visualizations describe the breakdown of PSMs--previously successful models: S-Curves, Supernovas and Rising Wedges. A successful model traps those within it; escape becomes impossible. We see the immense power of previously successful models. Straying from the previously successful trajectory looks needlessly risky, even as the trajectory has rolled over and is heading for unpleasant impact. Anyone who questions the previously successful model (PSM) is suppressed, fired or sent to Siberia as a "threat" to the enterprise's success. Anyone who realizes the Titanic will inevitably sink and abandons ship leaves behind all their sunk capital: they leave with the figurative clothes on their back.
Individually, it seems, most Fed officials accept the chief recommendation of monetary theorists, such as Michael Woodford of Columbia University, about how to conduct policy when the nominal federal funds rate is stuck at its zero lower bound. The problem they face rather explicitly, as Morgan Stanley's Vince Reinhart points out, is how to translate the advice from economic textbooks to the application of policy by the diverse group of people on the FOMC. Reinhart goes on to ask, rhetorically, if a conditional policy rule works so well in theory, why has it not been put into practice? Congress instructs the Fed to foster maximum employment and price stability but gives no guidance on weighing deviations from those goals in the short run. If the FOMC cannot agree on the weights, then they cannot agree on a rule. As a result, the Fed is living out a collective action problem, in that officials individually support a rule but collectively cannot agree to a single rule. This leaves Fed officials are now in the improvisation phase of their monetary policy experiment. That does not seem to us like a 'good' thing for the most powerful entity in the world.
“Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me, it will be enough.” Nice, Mr. Draghi, but at what cost? And who will ultimately bear this cost? It is already far beyond the measure of mere money; democracy, truth and sovereignty have all been destroyed to prop up the central bankers' Status Quo. We can presume Mr. Bernanke and the Federal Reserve are in on the propaganda campaign, and so we need to examine the words and promises of these two central bankers, as well as what they have not said. Is talking about printing money as good as actually printing money? It would seem so. Is promising to "do whatever it takes" as good as actually doing whatever it takes? Once again, it seems so; global markets leaped at the "news" that the financial Status Quo was going to be "saved" yet again.
What if it is beyond saving?
As prescient as he was, Huxley could not have foreseen the power of electronic media hypnosis/addiction as a conditioning mechanism for passivity and self-absorption. We are only beginning to understand the immense addictive/conditioning powers of 24/7 social and "news" media. What would we say about a drug that caused people to forego sex to check their Facebook page? What would we say about a drug that caused young men to stay glued to a computer for 40+ hours straight, an obsession so acute that some actually die? We would declare that drug to be far too powerful and dangerous to be widely available, yet the Web is now ubiquitous. Servitude comes in many gradations and forms. Relying on the Federal Reserve to constantly prop up our pension and mutual funds lest reality cause them to collapse is a form of servitude; we end up worshipping the Fed's every word and act as mendicants worship their financial saviors. That the Fed is unelected and impervious to democracy or the will of the people is forgotten; all that matters is that we love our servitude to it.
This is where Orwell enters the convergence, for the State masks its stripmining and power grab with deliciously Orwellian misdirections such as "the People's Party," "democratic socialism," and so on. Orwell understood the State's ontological imperative is expansion, to the point where it controls every level of community, markets and society. Once the State escapes the control of the citizenry, it is free to exploit them in a parasitic predation that is the mirror-image of Monopoly capital. For what is the State but a monopoly of force, coercion, data manipulation and the regulation of private monopolies? What is the EU bureaucracy in Brussels but the perfection of a stateless State? As Kafka divined, centralized bureaucracy has the capacity for both Orwellian obfuscation (anyone read those 1,300-page Congressional bills other than those gaming the system for their private benefit?) and systemic avarice and injustice. The convergence boils down to this: it would be impossible to loot this much wealth if the State didn't exist to enforce the "rules" of parasitic predation. In China, the Elite's looting proceeds along somewhat different rules from the looting of Europe and the U.S., but the end result is the same in all financialized, centrally managed economies: an expansive kleptocracy best understood as the convergence of Marx, Orwell and Kafka.
Iran Blinks, Delays Vote On European Crude Export Halt Even As US Escalates Military Developments Against CountrySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/29/2012 14:29 -0400
After it was the west backing down from further unnecessary escalation with Iran two weeks ago, when Israel and the US delayed indefinitely joint naval operations in the Arabian Gulf, it is now Iran's turn to blink. Following reports that Iran would pass a law halting crude exports to European countries, in advance of the full-blown embargo expected to take place some time by June, or as soon as European countries have found alternative supplies, we now learn that "Iran's parliament on Sunday postponed the debate over the bill." This is happening just as nuclear inspectors are arriving in the country "to probe allegations of a secret atomic weapons program." Yet does this mean that Iran has just exposed a major weakness that the West will immediately pounce on? It is still unclear - Reuters reports that "Iran's oil minister said on Sunday the Islamic state would soon stop exporting crude to "some" countries, the state news agency IRNA reported." Naturally the vague, open-endedness of this statement makes it quite clear that it was Iran's turn to de-escalate this time around. Or does this simply mean that Iran has been unable to conclude alternative oil trade arrangements with China, Russia and India just yet?