How To Identify Economic Zombies

Tyler Durden's picture

Via Monty Pelerin's World,

Economics is not a difficult subject, unless you try to learn it from an economist. As described by John Kenneth Galbraith, who posed as an economist but was far better as a critic:

Economics is a subject profoundly conducive to cliche, resonant with boredom. On few topics is an American audience so practiced in turning off its ears and minds. And none can say that the response is ill advised.

Common sense is all that is required to be a good economist. Unfortunately, in order to get your union card, you must pretend to have none. Belief in fairy tales like more spending and “free lunches” is also necessary.

But that is of little import in regard to the title – How to identify economic zombies.
What Is A Zombie?

Webster defines zombie as

...a will-less and speechless human in the West Indies capable only of automatic movement who is held to have died and been supernaturally reanimated

An economic zombie can speak and is not dead in any physical sense. His defining feature is a focus almost solely on the present. He assumes tomorrow will be just like today. If his current behavior has not created trouble or hardship thus far, then it won’t tomorrow or on into the future. Linearity describes his thinking and world. The future will be just like today.

A Simple Test For Economic Zombie Determination

The test to determine whether you or your friends are zombies is simple. Answer the following question: How would you live if debt/credit were outlawed? The economic zombie has difficulty comprehending the question, no less answering it. If you or your friends do, then you are well on your way toward full zombie-hood, if in fact you are not already there.

The question is relevant because it identifies those too ignorant to comprehend the fact that you cannot consume more than your income will support, at least not forever.

Income for a period determines the amount you can spend that period, or it would in the absence of debt or savings. Borrowing this period enables spending to exceed income this period. But borrowing is nothing but advancing consumption that otherwise would occur in a later period. Whatever is borrowed raises consumption this period but reduces it next period when some of the income earned then cannot be spent because it must be used to service the prior debt. Total consumption for both periods is lower than it would have been without the borrowing. That is due to the paying the carrying cost of debt, interest.

If you cannot understand this concept or you believe that you can nullify it by borrowing again next period, you qualify as an economic zombie. If you answered that you could not live if debt/credit were outlawed, you are an economic zombie, and perhaps also an economic idiot. Osavi Osar-Emokpae colorfully described debt:

And don’t tell me debt is not a big deal. Debt will cut off your legs and laugh at you as you grovel in the dirt begging for mercy. If you don’t need it, don’t get it. If you can’t afford it, don’t get it. If you’re already in debt, get out quickly. If you think you’ll never get out, you’re right, you won’t.

If you are using your credit cards as loans (i.e., you are not paying in full the balance each month) then you are zombie-qualified.

Economic zombies are not born. They are made. They choose their lifestyle. Behind every economic zombie is someone who believes he should live better than his abilities allow. That may work for a time. Then the Osar-Emokpae quote takes over.

The reality is that negative borrowing, saving, should be occurring every year. Man has a finite lifespan and a finite earning career. The latter is shorter than the former. Part of life is to be responsible enough to prepare for the future when income stops. Borrowing is a sign of immaturity and ignorance. Occasionally borrowing is necessary to meet an unforeseen emergency. If it is routine, then you are an economic zombie!

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NoDebt's picture

I like turtles.  

(Nobody's going to get that.  And it won't be worth it if they do.  I'm down-arrowing myself and beating the rush)

Smuckers's picture

I like turtle boobies.

economics9698's picture

Economic textbooks are in the dark ages.  Authors like David Colander-Middlebury College have turned economics into how to be a fascist 101 courses.  Whenever I teach from these vile rags I feel like a whore who just fucked 30 guys.

Abi Normal's picture

It is a strawman arguement really, there always has to be credit/debt...who has a million or two lying around to by inventory? etc...problem is we have too much of it all...let sanity reign maybe?

SoberOne's picture

Tosh. I probably say that one a week. :-/

A Nanny Moose's picture

At the end of that borrowing rainbow, is the expectation of a profit, the proceeds of which will go to pay off that debt. Capital must first be saved, before it can be lent.

"We have to borrow money to keep from going bankrupt" Joey "Double Barrel" Biden.

MontgomeryScott's picture

I'll call this statement, and raise you one, Nanny.

'Defecits don't matter'.

"You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don't matter. We won the mid-term elections, this is our due"

Cheney, Dick(head), former vice-president (Bush the Younger), USSA Administration.

I prefer to invest in 'The Kronies' action figures.

Get Kronies...They're KONNECTED!

That's the Titanic in my avater, by the way.



TBT or not TBT's picture

As long as govt debt grows more slowly than the economy which is taxed to repay it, this is of course obviously true. The error in this way if thinking is to assume you can get government, with it's monopoly powers on law enforcement and taxation, to reign their creation of new debt to figures less than the rate of growth of GDP.

centipede's picture

No it is not true. Deficits do always matter. Because your income will be lower with them than without them. The difference is the interest. You did not pay proper attention to the article.

MontgomeryScott's picture




'There ALWAYS HAS to be...'

It has ALWAYS been this way (since the war). We have ALWAYS been at war with Eastasia. (CUT, EDIT) We have ALWAYS been at war with Eurasia.

SO, a guy gets hired to work for a day. His 'employer', it seems, can't pay him as promised, so he says, 'Worker human, I will pay you tomorrow, I PROMISE.' The worker gets a little pissed (due to the fact that he worked for this bastard all day), and the 'employer', says, 'Listen, I'll write you an I.O.U., that you can cash in at the local BAR. You like to drink, don't you, human worker?' The worker, a simple foolish human, agrees, and soon uses this 'I.O.U.' up in a night's celebration of 'employment'.

When the 'worker' approaches the 'employer' the next morning, the 'employer' states that there is NO CREDIT LEFT ('You drank your wages, but you enjoyed yourself, didn't you?'). The 'worker' shamefully nods his head in agreement as the 'employer' says, 'Listen, i have another day's work for you, if you want to make up for your expenditures at the bar (and, I won't tell anyone what you did- It'll be OUR secret!)'. Once again, the 'worker human' agrees, and soon there is a 'contract' between them...

'ANY PARTY' (the EMPLOYEE HUMAN CHATTEL) THAT DECIDES TO BREAK THIS CONTRACT will, of course, be labeled by the 'employer' as 'insane' (naturally, the 'employer' is 'sane', because he has holdings, including the bar, where his brother-in-law tends the bar).

Nice horse, Abi.

Say, is that HORSESHIT I see under the black tail, there?

SO, I BUILT your little empire...because I was too stupid, and you took advantage. THAT'S THE WAY IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN, when one defends an Empire, I suppose.



StychoKiller's picture

Economics in one lesson by Hazlitt is a good book to study.

Chief Wonder Bread's picture

Tues, 02/25/14, CBS Evening News (breaking):

Scott Pelley: "There is a new currency called 'Bitcoin'....

superflex's picture

Here's two lucky fucks who want to trade their new found stack for fiat.

California couple finds $10 million in rare coins while out walking dog.

A Northern California couple out walking their dog on their Gold Country property stumbled across a modern-day bonanza: $10 million in rare, mint-condition gold coins buried in the shadow of an old tree.


Nearly all of the 1,427 coins, dating from 1847 to 1894, are in uncirculated, mint condition, said David Hall, co-founder of Professional Coin Grading Service of Santa Ana, which recently authenticated them. Although the face value of the gold pieces only adds up to about $27,000, some of them are so rare that coin experts say they could fetch nearly $1 million apiece.


They plan to put most of the coins up for sale through Amazon while holding onto a few keepsakes. They'll use the money to pay off bills and quietly donate to local charities, Kagin said.

I sure as hell would't be tellin or sellin any of that bounty.

jimmytorpedo's picture

Sell numismatic value.

Buy gold.

When the SHTF nobody gonna care if the coin is from 1864 or not.

SilverRhino's picture

California couple soon to get an assraping from the IRS for not keeping their mouths shut.  

MontgomeryScott's picture

On FAUX breaking news:

A California couple was arrested and indited on several charges today.

According to authorities, (name redacted), and (name redacted), were found to be in possesion of several millions of dollars of stolen contraband in their FORTIFIED ANTI-SOCIAL COMPOUND in (location redacted), California. They claim that their so-called 'discovery' took place while digging on their private land, but DHS, TSA, and IRS authorities (who spoke to us under conditions of anonymity) claim that they had been surveilling them for several months as part of a 'stolen coin' operation, code-named 'ABLE-THEFT-GOVERNMENT'. So far, no details are available, but it is understood that they are being held without bail in (location redacted, because of Patriot-Act legislation and 'state secrets' priveledge by Secret Patriot-Act court legislation).

THIS NEXT UP: Sochi Olympics opening ceremony: IS the missing circle in the visual display an innocent software glitch; or is this something MORE SINISTER? We'll let YOU decide, as we cut to our Olympic reporter, Richard Weed. DICK?


aardvarkk's picture

This.  If I made a discovery like this--and was lucky enough to be absolutely alone at the time--the IRS would never need to worry their pretty little heads over it.  Nor would anybody else.  ANYBODY else.  Ever.  In fact, there's a distinct possibility that, after taking some time to carefully consider the situation, my family might one day soon discover that I don't exist anymore.

The only one that would have an inkling that I exist would be some boat dealer somewhere down in Florida or maybe the Caribbean.  Also perhaps a real estate agent might make a good, quick sale of a good-sized island, and maybe some sort of contractor would score a job to build and heavily provision a hurricaine-proof bungalow on that island.  And then there would simply be one more island bum amongst many for the next 30 or 40 years, and a nice luxury Catamaran that would make idle rounds of the islands from time to time.  If SHTF during that time, well, he might hear of it through his satellite comms setup on that island and monitor events closely....

A Nanny Moose's picture

Sounds exactly like my Great Aunt/Uncle, who grew up in TGD 1.0. Having experienced bank runs, they would bury gold they had panned from and on their land....also in gold country.

Seemed like the thing to do until they started crappin' their pants, and forgetting their own names. We should have known something was up, when we found the laundry in the oven.

MontgomeryScott's picture

@ Nanny:

The sound of desperation is beginning to show in your replies.

SUCH a quiant discussion, regarding the loss of your 'kin'. You really cared for your relatives, DIDN'T YOU?

Well, my Grandma, she was on these meds that made her go to every bar in town, and take off her clothes every time a song by the Beatles was played on the Kareoke. One time, she gave head to 25 men, before she realized that their cocks weren't beer bottles...

Love of family really IS an alien concept, isn't it?

drendebe10's picture

How incredubly stupid to discloseto anyone after having found this.

unrulian's picture

it costs an arm and a leg

max2205's picture

My mother in law dropped dead last year....did a reverse mortgage at the top of the market....fha eats 70% of the cash they gave her.....owed 38k in credit cards (fuck you BoA Amex and WFC)....I'd say she won.....except for the dead part

NOTaREALmerican's picture

It's not really debt if you don't intend to pay it back. 

RaceToTheBottom's picture

Please send me my share of the house since FHA will never eat anything by themselves.  Instead future taxpayers will be on the hook.

I will take one door knob as payment of my share, thanks for your support.

A Nanny Moose's picture

No one here gets out alive, now - The Doors

I'd say she definitely won. What baffles me to this day, is how anybody can rationally offer REMO's. Does anybody think anymore? Oh's FHA...which is government. Makes total sense now.

AldoHux_IV's picture

income is credit & debt, zombie mindfucked

PacOps's picture

How would you live if debt/credit were outlawed? 



I would live just fine after the final $4K to my ex is paid. Cash & PM. Debit card and one Credit Card with a zero balance to rent cars with. That's it.

Smuckers's picture

The Walking Debt

blindman's picture

money is debt in our current environment, by law.
so, the rational are outlaws and criminals.
from which perspective does one make judgement
of this perversion?
tell me, i would like to know.
Fly Me To The Moon

Abi Normal's picture

yep, every dollar in everyone's possession is DEBT ROFLMAO...THAT is fractional reserver explained 101! Every dollar deosited is loand out 8 dollars is debt right off the fuckin bat...and that is only one way we go into debt fluffies!

RaiZH's picture

When there is a perfect correlation between the rise in food banks usage and the rise in the stock market. 

NoDebt's picture

Governments and central banks are magical.  Debt doesn't apply to them.  Just ask 'em.

logicalman's picture

If half the effort you put into life wasn't stolen at the point of a 'gun' by the government to pay off Central Banks interest on money they really didn't need to borrow at interest anyway, I don't think there would be as many people suffering.

Fuck the banksters.

The only way you can win is not to take part in the game.

I could go off on a rant.............


nmewn's picture

This means $10.10 burger combos doesn't it?

I Write Code's picture

How about I swing a dead cat and whoever it hits is an economic zombie?

TBT or not TBT's picture

Old people are either economic zombies or are sliding that way inexorably, because their productivity and full mastery of their economic assets is terminally on the wain. Younger people have the potential of economic sentience and vitality. Finance, viewed from 30k feet, is a game of older people who've earned it but are tiring mentally and physically lending the assets they have accumulated to younger people who have potential by virtue of their vigor and ideas. The older people of course have ideas about how they want their lives's work to act on the world they leave behind. More importantly their younger selves, at the births of their children, wished their efforts to profit their childrens' chances and health DIRECTLY.

When taxation rates and death taxes become confiscatory, this chain is broken, fewer children are produced, and with some delay, the evil soulless welfare state that begat the rot starts incurring evermore unparalleled debt just to service it's past lies, then defaults on them, amongst much ruin.

Call to action: if you are dying of teminal anything, or just dying within ten years and are still vital, maybe getting activist against statist sociopaths who steal the very motivation of humanity can provide a tiny measure of immortality AND give a better lot to your best shot at it, your children, or closest relatives children, or kindred spirits' children, or just in the name of freedom.

ebworthen's picture

The bigger question is if your government and financial institutions are zombies, that is where it starts.

Talking about individuals and credit cards is the hair behind the left ear of a zombie.

LetThemEatRand's picture

Not to mention that the government and financial institutions have deliberately left the large majority of individuals with little choice but to borrow in order to maintain a first-world household standard of living.   There's not enough farmland for everyone do live off the land, and even if there were the oligarchs own it already.

NOTaREALmerican's picture

But, with enough debt you can be a Zombie with lots of bling.    Have a boob job (or access to a boob job),  and 500+ sports channels, and a chrysler 300 with oversized tires & tinted windows, and bling LOTS of BLING!!

Yeah,  normal Zombies are bad, but debt Zombies are beautiful!!  

itstippy's picture

I'm in my fifties and I clearly remember the days when Average Working Guy couldn't get head-over-heels in debt.  It simply couldn't be done through legal borrowing.  Nobody had credit cards (well, rich City folks had "Diners Club").  The local banker would look at you cross-eyed if you asked to borrow money without collateral that exceeded the value of the loan.

Just a few short decades ago the saying was, "The only way to get a loan is to prove to the Loan Officer that you don't need the money!"

Back then both the populace and the banks were solvent.


Hobo Sapien's picture

I remember those times... and my first savings account (1973) yielded 6.75% interest.

RaceToTheBottom's picture

Economics, slavery by a different name.

akak's picture

Economic zombies are the worst kind of zombies of all, because even a head shot can't stop them --- there being nothing in their heads of vital importance in the first place.