Are We Addicted to Failure?

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

Are We Addicted to Failure?

Like all addicts, Central Planners are confident they can manage the monkey on their back. But this is a self-serving illusion.

Addiction is many things, but beneath its complexities it is a self-destructive expression of the desire to avoid or suppress pain. The pain might be physical or the stuff of the mind, memories or inner demons or tortured misgivings about one's choices, soul and life.

Though the self-destructive aspects of the addiction are painfully visible to observers, to the addict they represent a solution: perhaps not the ideal one or even a good one, but a solution nonetheless.

Fear plays a big part in many addictions--fear of life without the addictive salve. The fear in an addict's eyes when the fix is not forthcoming is haunting to all who witness it.

To the non-addicted observer, addictions are not successes; they are failures of one kind or another, and those who care about the addict seek some way to extract the addict from the grip of his/her addiction, and from the fear that often drives it.

I have recently been wondering if America is addicted to failure. The oft-repeated definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, generally attributed to Albert Einstein.

But given the right mix of blindness and fear, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results might not be insanity but a self-destructive addiction to failure.

In this light, please consider this chart of the broad-based U.S. stock market index, the S&P 500, which I have marked up as an addiction to failure:

The source of this addiction is a fear of life without credit/asset bubbles. Fearing life without the rush and high of asset bubbles, we see an addiction to financial bubbles as a solution in the same terrible way a heroin addict sees smack as a solution: not as a long-term solution or even a good one, but a solution nonetheless, because it makes the pain of facing life without Central Planning financial bubbles go away at least temporarily.

But bubbles inevitably leads to overdose and a subsequent self-destructive crash. Our central bankers/planners have injected enough monetary heroin into the nation to guarantee not just the rush and the high but the overdose that leads to a destructive crash.

Like all addicts, Central Planners are confident they can manage the monkey on their back. But this is a self-serving illusion; it's the monkey who controls the addict, not the other way round.

If we're not addicted to failure, why do we tolerate a central bank that creates one rush-high-overdose-crash after another? Perhaps it's time to confess that we're addicted to failure because we're too afraid to face life without this financial addiction.

Pretty sad, huh? Like all observers, those of us without monetary heroin in our veins wonder when the poor addict will finally wake up and choose a path that isn't self-destructive. But as many of us know from personal experience, it often takes a near-death experience to awaken the instinct for survival in the addict. Sadly, sometimes not even that is enough, and a once-great nation spirals down to ruin.

If you missed this week's series:

The Rot Within, Part III: Our Political Order Is Defined by Favoritism and Extortion

The Rot Within, Part II: Inflation Is Not "Growth"

The Rot Within, Part I: Our Ponzi Economy

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Fri, 07/25/2014 - 12:47 | 5003969 observer007
observer007's picture
MH17: where is the "mountain of evidence" - Video


Must SEE:

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:12 | 5004091 max2205
max2205's picture

CS .. Get off the crack

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:18 | 5004118 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

Everyone is wired with a toolkit for survival. It is a product of you being the endpoint of several billion years of evolution.

When you repeat behaviors thinking the outcome will be different, you are repeating survival behaviors you inherited that you believe promotes your survival in some way.

You think your behavior is beneficial for your survival, in a modern setting it isn't, but you are wired to continue believing it is.

Hence, you can cling to something that is likely to be destructive.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:56 | 5004295 toady
toady's picture

Gotta hit bottom before you can come back.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 14:09 | 5004355 BadKiTTy
BadKiTTy's picture

I reckon with the leaders we have we will hit bottom ..... and keep going! 

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 15:30 | 5004790 SofaPapa
SofaPapa's picture

This assumes that the people taking the drug are the ones hurt.  Not true in this case.  Those who build this insane pile which collapses over and over manage to walk away with a higher proportion of the "total wealth" each time.  It is very successful for the ones in the loop.  They reap the high, and make sure that the cold turkey is handed off to those who had nothing to do with it.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:53 | 5004277 Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day's picture

I'm Addicted to failure.....Failure for not participating in the rally

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 14:05 | 5004337 boogerbently
boogerbently's picture

Are we addicted to failure?

We elected obama twice !

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 15:31 | 5004799 SofaPapa
SofaPapa's picture

Someone did.  Not me.  Yet I am as guilty as all of us for tolerating this system to this point.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 12:50 | 5003984 carbonmutant
carbonmutant's picture

Market seems to be addicted to all time highs...

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:04 | 5003991 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Yes, you beat me to it.  Does look a little spiky here...

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 14:08 | 5004350 I am more equal...
I am more equal than others's picture




American consumerism meets the stock market. 

Can I take out a second a third mortgage on my house in Vegas to play this thing to the moon Alice, to the moon...

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 12:50 | 5003986 orangegeek
orangegeek's picture

feelings, nothing more than feelings, trying to forget my....

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:11 | 5004090 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Damn you for sticking that song in my head!

*shakes tiny fist*

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 12:51 | 5003993 joego1
joego1's picture

Obumerang gets his crack from Yellen and her macro poodle.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 12:52 | 5004002 SickDollar
SickDollar's picture

"If we're not addicted to failure, why do we tolerate a central bank that creates one rush-high-overdose-crash after another?"

We don't tolarete it's imposed on us and it needs to change

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:12 | 5004064 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Yes, he's most certainly asking the wrong question, therefore his answers simply do not matter.

The real addiction he's identified is the disease known as "Statism." As long as one person is allowed the privilege of holding another in bondage via violent coercion d.b.a. "the political method," nothing will ever change, as all humans desire to be free to manage their own lives.

External government is never anything but a hostage situation where the lie of "Do as I say and nobody gets hurt!" is the only option offered.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 14:06 | 5004340 Seer
Seer's picture

The "disease" is "growth."  Growth is NOT sustainable.

If you think that we can all be "free" w/o Statism (not that I like Statism, I do not) then you're sadly mistaken.  As Isaac Asimov puts it: human dignity cannot survive overpopulation (growth):

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 12:52 | 5004010 centerline
centerline's picture

Silly article today CHS.  If you are trying to wake the masses... don't bother.  It ain't gonna happen this way.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 12:56 | 5004024 Comte d'herblay
Comte d'herblay's picture

Sometimes the statements here really piss off my old pal, Budgie Twitters.

He says that, "why do we tolerate a central bank.....yada, yada, yada..." is a preposterous claim. 

You wanna rethink that, Tyler??? 


A thousand of us here would happily take J Yell, Bernanke, Greenspan, Lew,  Geithner, Cassano, Gensler,  Paulson, Kashkari, Shapiro, and Orszag and subject them to all kinds of kinky torture for the damage they have inflicted on billions, just to make whole, and exonerate the most corrupt, failed regime in modern history:  The Jewish Mafia on Wall Street. 

But we can not.

So  b 4 you ask why, why not assume we have no choice but armed revolution against them and that's just something we who would willingly shed blood, but not our very lives, can do and bring off successfully. 


Fri, 07/25/2014 - 14:12 | 5004370 Seer
Seer's picture

Well, a LOT of people are chafing at the bit to profit from bloodshed.  And when it's "over," then what?

While hanging a few bankers and such is going to reduce our population size I doubt that the numbers will be sufficient to make any difference in the overall equation.  We'll still be broke and struggling for resources.  The size of the pie doesn't change (only wish that we could "make the pie higher," but that just isn't possible).  2/3 of the world's population lives on $3/day or less.  750 million people in India live on $0.50/day.  How do these numbers change with the "removal" of the "bankers?"

I'm afraid that it has less to do with the individuals and more to do with The System (being predicated on growth).

Sat, 07/26/2014 - 08:15 | 5006782 Comte d'herblay
Comte d'herblay's picture

Insufficient to make any difference?


Then the reverse must be false: it made no difference the ripoff that the likes of Joe Cassano at AIG perpetrated.  There were no significant consequences of his actions, and thusly, neither were there any from the Mortgage Banking frauds, the derivatives in the 1000% range that Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and a dozen other entitities like Deutsch bank contrived to capitalize on the lack of enforcement, and regulation arranged by a small "coincidence of Incestuous Interests. 

I disagree that there would be no difference had these men and women been caught and hanged B 4 they did the global damage over 20 years of unbridled avarice, self-dealing, and fraud that remains unpunished.

For sure it would have eliminated trillions of legitimate words of criticism and outrage at them, and made Comte d'Herblay significantly better off. And when I'm better off so are the recipients of my charity, generosity, and compassion.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 12:58 | 5004029 yrad
yrad's picture

"I will take the dirtiest needle you have, please"

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 12:58 | 5004037 world_debt_slave
world_debt_slave's picture

ivory towers of ignorance that ripples through society

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:01 | 5004047 cn13
cn13's picture

The power Wall Street has over the Federal Reserve and Congress has been quite evident since the 2008-2009 collapse.

Nothing has changed and those who caused the meltdown were for the most part left untouched and are now more powerful than ever.

So the bottom line is - There is nothing we can do about the FED and the serial bubble blowing. 

If there is, I would sure love to hear it.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:08 | 5004077 11b40
11b40's picture

Exactly. Nothing to do with addiction, just greedy criminal parasites in control of virtually everything you can measure or weigh.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 14:15 | 5004393 Seer
Seer's picture

But at some point that which is measurable or weighable won't be there (given enough decline, "economies of scale" in reverse, will collapse things, reduce participation to the point that there's ample mass that's won't be propping up TPTB).

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 16:23 | 5005081 MASTER OF UNIVERSE

Blowing up enough bubbles to inflate a $1.4 quadrillion derivatives universe takes more than 'serial bubble blowing' and you know it.

Eventually, on a long enough timeline the bubble blowers will not be able to blow enough serial bubbles to keep up with the expansion of the universe and the universe will go supernova into bankruptcy/chapter 11. Everything has indeed changed when one factors inflation and the expansion of inflation since 2008. The rate

of inflation is off the charts in terms of food, gas, heat, phone, costs of living. Governance does not admit the inflation and claims they are single handedly keep in check. So the bottom line really is this shit has got to end on a long enough timeline. Law of large numbers and Law of Diminishing Returns = Law of Chaos N' Contagion. Serial bubble blowers will be out of work pretty soon if empiricism is not just a fancy word in the dictionary.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:08 | 5004079 yrad
yrad's picture

Great. Since viewing this article the unseen "Google in the Sky" thinks I am an addict. I now see Rehab Clinic advertisements...

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:14 | 5004099 daveO
daveO's picture

The banksters can give you a fat loan to attend that clinic. Feed the beast! It's patriotic.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:14 | 5004104 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture


Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over fiat—that our lives had become unmanageable.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:17 | 5004115 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Step 2: Came to believe that a central banker greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:18 | 5004121 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of Government as we understood Them.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:19 | 5004126 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless fiscal inventory of our balance sheets...

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:55 | 5004288 Seer
Seer's picture

Fiat is but a mechanism to push growth hyperbolically.  Don't kid yourself, GROWTH has always been the quest and the means by which TPTB hold command over us (by making us believe in perpetual growth).

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:52 | 5004276 Seer
Seer's picture

I see "Repent 'clinic'" advertisements :-)

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:09 | 5004081 MASTER OF UNIVERSE

One thing addicts have in common with Investment Banks is 'risk taking' behaviour. The banks are not addicted to 'bubbles' they are addicted to 'risk taking' behaviour. Hookers, cocaine, fast cars, faster jets, motorcycles, and anything that gives them a rush of dopamine.

Neurologically, their brains respond to 'money' exactly the same way it responds to 'cocaine' and 'orgasms'. Positron Emmission Tomography

(PET) indicates that the brain responds to these stimuli in the same way it responds to dopaminergic manipulation. Risk taking behaviour is a better predictor of Banker behaviour than 'addiction' will ever be.

Dopamine is the common denominator here and not 'addiction' which is a less exact determinant of behaviour and is much more subjective in therms of operational definition. Objectively, 'risk taking behaviour' is a much more substantive determinant to analyze and empirically test through experimental design.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:16 | 5004111 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

A.K.A. "Whatever makes your dick hard."

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:14 | 5004103 BeetleBailey
BeetleBailey's picture

Big problem with the chart is this time, the fuckin FED had pumped more money into the markets, and rigged them beyond the wildest dreams of stawk traders.

The big fucking wankin banks too, have rigged the fuck out of the market, with free fiat from the FED (their fuckin partner)

Time will come that the money to be made is on the downside....

but these fuckers have no conscience, and are a bunch of sociopathic cunts....

I laugh and pity the fools that side with any political cunt.

In addition, the media has gone full-retard, with the MSM all being shills and cunts for their parties.


Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:16 | 5004110 the grateful un...
the grateful unemployed's picture

according to the binomial theorem doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results is insane. monetary policy doesn't exist in a vacuum, it requires a complex network of controlled and filtered data (the feds secret to success is dropping data -that is people- who don't fit inside the confidence interval on their economic growth regression formula) they can control what by necessity is shrinking economy - if the glove dont fit, we apply hedonics- they can keep shrinking their economy for a long long time. thats their secret. and since they control the common currency you arent going to bite the hand that doesnt count you in its data. your secret is gold, barter and working under the table for cash. (they might try to make some or all these things illegal) your secret (as long as you have a vote and that vote is counted) is to disenfranchise them. we havent reached that tipping point, and the fed is actually expanding its power. collapse is our only hope

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:43 | 5004232 Seer
Seer's picture

"and the fed is actually expanding its power. collapse is our only hope"

That which cannot continue forever won't.  "Collapse" isn't just some "hope," it's the LAW: perpetual growth on a finite planet is NOT possible.

The Fed et al are no more than trying to keep "the story" alive, the story of "growth."  Yes, it's in their interest to lie about the realities; they have, for now, MANY believers in THE LIE (perpetual growth), but eventually reality wins out, and when that happens there's a complete shift, one that TPTB are likely not going to survive (they seem only to survive because we believe "the story"- it is, therefore, "us/we" that allow it all to perpetuate/continue).

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:19 | 5004117 Zero Govt
Zero Govt's picture

only politicians, academics and philosophers are addicted to failure

they have a prop called the taxpayer to bail them out not available in the private sector

bankers also love failure ..because The Feds sole mandate is to prop the babes up.. probably why The Fed has never stopped banking failure in their history


Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:19 | 5004128 Der Wille Zur Macht
Der Wille Zur Macht's picture

We're not addicted to failure, we're addicted to GROWTH. When the dial reads failure, we simply switch our definitions and voila! GROWTH!

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:23 | 5004141 juggalo1
juggalo1's picture

Are you sure the problem is central banking and not the business cycle?  Are you sure attempts to regulate fractional reserve banking would really reduct the problem?

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:28 | 5004165 Oldwood
Oldwood's picture

How much power would central banks have if we simply did not borrow money? It would seem civilizations have survived without it.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:37 | 5004192 Seer
Seer's picture

The banking system is only about facilitating trade against resources, all in the context of perpetuating the growth meme.  You can remove the banks but I that still won't resolve the "problem."

History shows that civilizations have come and gone, and that they have done so because they were unable to procure enough physical resources to continue their growth/expansion (expansion requires ever greater amount of energy for the conquest of others and in the shipment of the procured resources).

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:42 | 5004230 Oldwood
Oldwood's picture

Yes but does not lending add leverage to the system which exagerates the swings? Our most recent mortgage bubble wasn't due to resource shortage, it was due to over consumption and leverage.

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:50 | 5004267 Seer
Seer's picture

Yes, anything that pushes growth is an exaggeration toward a reversal/decline.

The collapse in bubbles have to do with the loss of confidence that the bubble/trend can continue.  I would argue that if there's enough resources to continue to feed the bubble that it would continue to be fed.  The "mortgage bubble" was global.

The "over consumption" pretty much always exists.  We essentially over-consumed the "future."

We hit "peak growth."  That's the bubble that has popped: and like the US defaulting back in 1971, the "bankruptcy" will never be owned up to- TPTB can't be seen as residing over a failed system (which is why we get distracted by all sorts of things made to distract us from this fact).

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:32 | 5004177 Seer
Seer's picture

How many ways can people come up with for NOT seeing/understanding the real mechanics going on here?  (I suppose that folks like Charles have to make a living and therefore have to write stuff to fill the "vacuum" out there.)

We continue to pretend that we're somehow separate from/outside of nature.  The answer as to the forces at work are right there in front of us.  ALL living things go through cycles (and, ultimately, given a long enough time line, go extinct [or sufficiently dormant enough that it appears such]).

Our "economic systems" have ALWAYS been about growth.  We grow until we hit the limits of our environment to support our numbers; and at this point it's a matter of annexing the resources of others (war) or of acquiescing to the forces of the parabola.

I think that the signal of the "end" is pretty clear, with China outsourcing to Ethiopia:

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 14:01 | 5004316 cassotto
cassotto's picture

of course we are not addicted to failure, that would imply thinking ahead, and that is such a fuss.

what's wrong with spending now what a central banker will create tomorrow? it's the purest form of wealth creation, there is no inflation!

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