Guest Post: Science And Sortilege In Today's Political Economics

Tyler Durden's picture

Via Ben Tanosborn of,

We are just a decade-short from a century since Balliol College (Oxford) introduced interdisciplinary studies in philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) as a modern alternative to the study of the Classics.  Academic programs in much of the world, adopting the granting of degrees which combined the study of these three fields, have been slowly discarding philosophy in the mix, making the three-strand braid just the enmeshment of two fields: politics and economics.  After all, that’s the living reality and we are better served acknowledging it.

Politics and economics, or the better term, political economics, for the most part rules our lives: the political activity of the nation as a collective of economic groups and super- wealthy individuals, whatever the defining orthodoxy turns out to be. Any other influences on politics, principally religion, have also tended to disappear, except in the US (to some degree) and many of the Muslim nations, where religion continues to have a say, all too often a major say, in the body politic.

As the United States enters the final days in the much-hoped resolution of its “fiscal cliff,” there are a number of prominent individuals from both present and past – politicians, economists and business leaders – who regale us with their two-cent worth of admonition and advice.  For the most part, that’s what the value is really worth.

One who always gets my goat, despite his mild manner demeanor and low-talking, and that I have often written about in denigrating terms, is Alan Greenspan, the 86-year-old former Chair of the Fed, infamous in my eyes for prostituting himself to the presidents who led us to the mess in which we find ourselves today: Reagan, Bush-Father, Clinton, and Bush-Son. I consider him the doting godfather of two economic bubbles (dot-com and housing) created during the 1998-2007 decade; also, the ill-advised monetary policy to satisfy the nation’s short-term-minded politicians devoid of vision, recklessly ready to act to promote their own personal interests.

This modern-day Nostradamus, vizier in economic matters to the White House Court, whether the sovereign-occupant dressed in red or in blue, can be held responsible for the redistribution of wealth, and the ever increasing wealth-gap between rich and poor, during his almost two-decade tenure as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.  His advice has been predicated not on viable economics for the long term, but rather on helping those in power avert the consequences of then present economic and political realities… letting any unresolved short term consequences accumulate in a hidden vault to be opened in the future with dire explosive social and economic consequences.  Now here we have this master of gobbledygook and economic deception taking a 180-degree turn, stating less than two weeks ago (November 16) that it would be a mistake to think that the US would be able to fix its unstoppable spending without deriving pain.  Now that he is no longer at the helm of our economic fate, Greenspan becomes visionary and advocate of truth in economics.  The Wizard has spoken, this time with the curtain up… let the recession begin, for the results from over $600 billion of cuts in federal spending and tax increases, scheduled to kick in at the start of calendar 2013, will be a small price to pay by a nation unwilling to give up its habit of consuming more than it produces… year, after year, after year.

Unfortunately, this is one time when he goes against the current, the mainstream of his economic peers, and he is right; the pseudo-visionary of the past has found a moment of lucidity at the twilight of his life.  Mr. Greenspan has disrobed from the vestments of sortilege and magic, now ready to treat economics as a science, or an art-science.

Meantime, here is the American citizenry reverting to their pre-recession days, with the highest confidence level in four and a half years, starting to spend beyond their capacity to produce thanks to that misplaced confidence, the resurgence of home equity loans, and the promise of governing politicians that things are on the mend... when they really are not, and the job market continues to decay for jobs with a living wage.

Aristotle had it right twenty-three centuries ago: The good of man must be the end of the science of politics [The Nicomachean Ethics I.ii.]

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
spastic_colon's picture

just waiting for the massive "unexpected" drop in claims tomorrow

Dr. Engali's picture

The election is over. Now they need bad economic news so the American sheeple will look to Washington to fix the problem they created.

Michaelwiseguy's picture


Govt. Documents Link Global Warming to Advanced Military Climate Modification Technology

TITLE: “Present and Future Plans of Federal Agencies in Weather-Climate Modification” This set of documents from 1966 reveals a network of government agencies in perpetual and secret collaboration , working with the military to Geoengineer the climate. Created as an agenda of the elitist National Academy of Sciences – decades of an inter-agency culture of secrecy explains why the issue of covert aerosol Geoengineering is a taboo topic to be degraded to the status of “conspiracy theory” by every government agency in this web of complicit bureaucrats at every opportunity. This is why your local TV “meteorologist” will rarely make a helpful comment about an unusual sky filled with persistent jet trails.


It was in the mid- 1990?s when the US public a were suddenly confronted with unexplained changes in the sky that included bazaar new cloud formations and new types of jet contrails that persisted in the skies for hours even while the relative humidity was very low at the altitudes where the jets were flying.  These observed changes were coincident with events following the 1994 E-Systems purchase of APTI,  also holder of plasma physicist, Bernard Eastlund’s patents and contracts to build the world’s largest ionospheric heater (HAARP).

The history of the 1966 National weather Modification Program and the coincidence of events around the time of bazaar new cloud formations is sufficient reason to pursue the relationship of persistent jet aerosols to the ionospheric heater experiments at the HAARP facility and Gakona, AK, Aricebo, PR and many more similar facilities brought online in recent years.

vast-dom's picture

Thank you Ben Tanosborn for a well written and reasoned piece.

Umh's picture

The people are just exercising their logic. It's the same logic they invest, gamble and vote with.

boogerbently's picture

Attaching the word "science" to anything adds credibility for the brainwashed masses.

Rainman's picture

The Grand Finale will be Jamie taking his God-given rightful place at Treasury ( Timmay was just a seat warmer). Then the Rothschilds make the right switchceroo at the Fed and.....voila...the circle of Fabian Socialism is complete.

Yen Cross's picture

 I like people exorcizing (exercising) their logic.  Less Government + More common sense? Pay attention people!

   Watch your children/ take part in your family life!  Tell your "Large Cap" employer to pound sand!

toomanyfakeconservatives's picture

What kind of asshole uses the term "sortilege" in a sentence?

Yen Cross's picture

 depends on dialect/ get your point though/

   Now you are thinking!

boogerbently's picture

You use it when something isn't fully "lege."

Schmuck Raker's picture

That's nothing.

One of the tags for this article is "Gobbledygook"... impressive, Mr. Durden.

Yen Cross's picture

 It's really simple Tyler. I think the good ole days,"R" Sweet.

  Bark all you want! I can see you laughing-   Good people offering Tyler?

 forgot rainman on my list of 10

Yen Cross's picture

 Look aud /usd is yoked against the 1.05 barrier.  The swiss national bank, and bunds bank have been clrearing F/X for months through the spot market!

    i'M FUCKING FED UP, The middle eastern banks have been clearing euros! I'm fucking fed up!

  Anyone that thinks they understand F/X flows better that the corrupt "  gold silver" trade? Give me a call!

     Fiat makes metals move/  Dumb asses! Have fun chomping on your gold!

Dr. Engali's picture

Our firm just sent out an email poll. It was a simple poll wondering how we and clients felt about the economy and investing. I was pessimistic in my answers.... I fell in the category with 2% of the people who answered the same way. The vast majority was fairly optimistic to bullish. Something tells me that the 2% of us are going to fair much better than the crowd.

cougar_w's picture

For most of human history the economic strata of the entire world has been strongly divided into the ruling elites, and the working peasants. The gap between the two groups was so great that movement from either strata to the other (in either direction) was essentially impossible. Great lords fell at worst to minor lords, and peasants never rose above "merchant". Merchants might have been very powerful at times, but their power would evaporate quickly if a Pope or Emperor ever took exception to their infantile antics.

More recently we have seen a more level playing field. For perhaps 200 years now the great and minor lords have found themselves in the back seat relative to the merchant class. Not everywhere, not all the time. But most places, most of the time. Lately this is being heralded as a triumph of democracy over tyranny and privelege. I say Ha!

Because we are about to revert to the norm. Our very pretty 200 years experiment with egalitarianism is nearing it's end. It was a period created by a super abundance of free energy, energy that made machines the slaves rather than people and allowed even serfs to toil for their own gain. When the lords and merchants had machines to do their bidding day and night, the rest of humanity could join them in a kind of new social order of mind over metal.

It was nice while it lasted. Look around you now and you start to see the demise of the machines and the rise of the elite class. The merchant class is being devoured from within by its own greed and ignorance, and the labor class is descending back down the social ladder to slog again in the muck and mire of hopeless toil. The lords that waited in the wings -- massing wealth against the day when the simple-minded merchants lost their grip -- are flexing their muscle. Citizens Unitied was just the beginning.

Understand that the lords and high prelates are in their positions by birth, and will only be unseated by death. The French at the turn of the 18th century knew this and made death an instrument of democracy. But they changed nothing in doing so, only confirmed the suspicion that the gap between the top elites and the bottom commoners is a near-universal truth.

Nobody reading these pages will be in the elites. The elites never come this far. Nobody here will get into the club. Nobody here will escape the mud of common labor at the bottom of the energy well. Nobody here will have a son or daughter who can be president.

Nobody. Ever.

Unless something wonderous happens. Though for the life of me I cannot begin to imagine what that something is. This is troubling because I have a very fertile imagination.

Catullus's picture

I have a political economy degree.  I took a lot of economics (econometrics, game theory, international finance and banking) and a lot of political science and philosophy.  It was an interdisciplinary major.  You basically had 4 real political economy classes that only PECN majors could get in to.  The rest you were considered a non-major.  I loved it.  And I'm glad I didn't actually get an economics degree. 

What I found in the true econ classes was that there was no real theory taught after the intermediate courses.  What they were teaching in advanced levels of economics was how to be technician.  They didn't read authors or theory.  They solved what were essentially math problems.  They never read counterarguments.  Everything had to be "backed by data".  And I don't think I wrote a single paper or even used a blue book in any of the advanced economics courses.  You'd get a test where the was one sentence at the top and "Solve" and then a blank sheet.  If you're wondering, you're not missing much by skipping these classes. Go to a baseball game, keep score, and work on a good craps strategy. 

Political Science was and is worthless.  I called it "BookIt", never went, bummed the books off people, and wrote all the papers the first month of the semester.  I honestly cannot think of a more worthless major.  There's not even theory.  It's like being constantly stuck on the old CNN show "Crossfire". You get retards in these classes who say things like "perception is reality" when they try to make a point.  As if they THINK it's true, it must be true because other people in their small circle agree with them.  (I'm not surprised by the different realm of bullshit emanating from DC right now).

But Political Economy was great.  You actual read Plato, Aristotle, Adam Smith, JS Mill, Hayek (the soft Hayek, not the really good stuff), Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Marx, etc.  You should be reading Mises and Rothbard, but it's cheating.  If you ever got your hands on the "History of Economic Thought Before Adam Smith" by Rothbard you'd be set.  You do miss out on the basic philosophy courses like Ethics and Logic, but really any major can benefit from those classes. 

There is a part of political economy that wants to be "policy focused".  Meaning they think of themselves as objective interpreters of government policy and who wins and loses. These people are just dying to work in some government organization and become some bureaucrat for the rest of their lives "making policy decisions".  I consider these people to be very dangerous to freedom and liberty.  They do know enough about the nature of the state to be dangerous.  And they know enough political philosophy to try out some of the worst political ideas ever hatched.  It's from these people (like Ezekiel Emmanuel) that you get horrible ideas like Obamacare and the use of John Rawls to justify what are going to be medical health boards.

This shit is a really good example:

These people are on the endless quest to discover the social utility function.  As if there's going to be a special formula of allocation of resources that one day is going to benefit us all.  There is no social utility function.  You can't get three people to agree on the priority of three things.  And in the end, they're going to try to centrally plan your entire life. 

cougar_w's picture

This is an excellent contribution from a personal perspective. Huzzah.

"Policy" is highly evolved monkey business, literally, primate instincts advanced to a degree. It is the curtain behind which the control wizards hide themselves from view. They have ideas oh yes, but they are either too cowardly or too aware of their incipient evil to actually stand in the open before their peers and say "this is what the nation needs." They are the ones who "lead from the rear" by whispering commands for the rest of us, leadership-by-rumor for which they take no personal responsibility. The policy makers push clueless but charismatic personalities to the front and tell them how to march.

We have too much policy and not enough polity.

Die Weiße Rose's picture

come on Ben !

we got to keep that HOPIUM going

at least until Christmas...

not just in America, but via the Central Banks and IMF world-wide.

keeping HOPIUM on Life support via Q/E and more Twist-Zirp Debt...


10 Year Government Bond Yields:

Greece - 16.40%

Brazil - 9.41%

India - 8.19%

Portugal - 7.74%

Spain - 5.33%

Mexico - 5.53%

US - Zirp % (with Twist)

UK - 0.50 %

Switzerland -  0 % (for tax-dodgers like Marc Rich and Glencore Copper-theft in Zambia)

USA, UK, Hong-Kong, Switzerland, Japan and all IMF Friends pay 0 %, Zirp, Zilch, Nix with a Twist !

for Trillions of USD in IMF Debt and all those haircut Central Bank Government Loans.

Make those developing nations already being exploited by the biggest developed nations pay the most to the IMF and to those shadowy Central Banksters from Goldman Sachs world-wide.

Let Greece pay 16.40% to make it a little easier....

That's how Ben and the IMF and the shadow bankster Hedge-funds will finally fix the Global World Economy.


There - everything is fixed now, stupid !


woggie's picture

the beast is on the gobble
and all that matters is we're all headed for it's belly

Get the Borrow's picture

I'll take Greenspan over Bernanke any time!  I remember years and years of GDP growth and low inflation under Greenspan.  The 90s really ripped{ceterus paribus}.  What has Bernanke done?  Bailed out the banks for 29T?  Fuck that.  OK thats his JOB.  They both WORK FOR THE BANKS,  NOT US.  When Greenspan deregulated everything I was way cool with that because that is what free markets are about for fucks sake.  But as soon as you go insolvent,  you're fucking done.  What I really wanna know is how the 6 biggest banks can have 250T of interest rate derivatives on their books and just the volatilty alone doesn't wipe them out?  Unless they are STILL whipping and driving LIBOR

Die Weiße Rose's picture

For the third time, European finance ministers this week have put together a package of aid measures for Greece and assured Europeans that the country is now back on track to financial health.

But is it really?  German commentators certainly don't think so.

Hedge fund managers, at least, are pleased. The deal struck late on Monday night between euro-zone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund to reduce Greece's overall debt load includes a measure stipulating an Athens buyback of its own debt. Investors that bought Greek bonds for as low as 17 cents on the euro can now expect to sell them back to Athens for around 35 cents on the euro -- a tidy little profit.

Elsewhere, however, investors would appear to be unimpressed by the deal. Markets across the world were down on Wednesday and the euro lost value early against the dollar, with Greece cited -- along with US debt troubles -- as one of the reasons for the uncertainty. Investors, it would seem, see the Greece deal as yet another attempt by European leaders to muddle through the crisis rather than take steps toward a lasting solution.

"There remains the potential for this deal to fall apart in the medium term as there are a lot of moving parts and it is a long way away from the permanent fix that the IMF had been insisting upon," Gary Jenkins, managing director of Swordfish Research, which focuses on international bond markets, told the Associated Press. "It is just one more big kick of the can down the road."

The deal envisions reducing Greece debt load from the 190 percent of gross domestic product it is expected to peak at next year to 124 percent of GDP by 2020. In 2022, it is hoped that it will drop down to 110 percent. The International Monetary Fund had been demanding a partial Greek default that would have slashed the country's debt faster and, ultimately, further. But such a measure proved politically unpalatable in Germany and other euro-zone capitals.

Instead, euro-zone finance ministers and the IMF came up with a package of measures including interest rate reductions on aid loans, an extension of payback periods and a return of profits earned by national banks on Greek bond buys via the European Central Bank. In addition, Greece is to buy back some of its debt for well below face value, assuming that private investors are willing to sell.

The deal also, for the first time, will cost Germany real money. Next year alone, in fact, it will result in a revenue shortfall of some €730 million ($944 million).

German commentators on Wednesday are unconvinced that the measures will really put Greece back on the path to solvency. Indeed, say most, it is a blatant move to simply buy more time.

dunce's picture

Spending money that has not been earned in the current state of affairs may be the rational thing for many people to do. Just because there is little "reported "inflation does not mean that ordinary people have not recognized the truth and are responding accordingly. Debts may either not be paid or paid back in inflated dollars. Responsibility will just be denied and the lender cursed as a greedy one who tricked them into signing the contract. Our political leaders have made such behavior national policy.