Too Many "Think Tanks" Are Just Kool-Aid Fueled Group-Think

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Mark St.Cyr,

The morning routine for many over the last few weeks suddenly has had a peculiar fly in the ointment added to the day’s ensuing narrative. First: how is it that “everything is awesome” has suddenly turned many a 401K balance into WTF status. And second: why is it when they return home the TV no-longer seems to shout how the mornings plunge in stock prices was met with a near immediate BTFD (buy the dip) rally erasing any and all previous losses with gains? Suddenly it seems things are quite different.

Yes, indeed – they truly are.

For the last 5+ years the above has been the dispensed conditioning reminiscent of Pavlov’s canines of not only many a next-in-rotation fund manager, but also, the next in rotation so-called “smart crowd” guest from some well named “think tank” appearing within the various outlets of not only the financial programs, but rather, throughout the main stream media in total.

Over the last 5 years the various Fed. QE (quantitative easing) interventions into the capital markets has facilitated dumb luck trading into “genius” status, and no clue analysis into “spot on brilliant” prognostications. The real issue at hand is many believed their own press, and the current state of egg on their face would make many a Denny’s™ blush. As bad as that sounds – it gets worse.

The other day I was viewing a program where the guest was the president of one of the well-known, prominent, “think tank” (TT) institutes. (I’m not trying to be coy in not naming, it just doesn’t matter, for its more of a cabal than any one singular.) These TT’s are where policy members whether it would be Federal Reserve officials past or present, along with lawmakers and other central bankers from across the globe will speak among themselves (or dispense advice) and ruminate about monetary policy, its effects, and so on. And yes, far, far more.

Supposedly this is where the “thinking” gets exercised within the peer group for efficacy before, and possibly during, any implementation phase that might arise. One would think this is where a robust dialogue of differing ideas would be present. Alas, it would seem far from it. For if what I witnessed when listening to an argument as to why or, why not the current market gyrations are showing obvious warning signs that need to be heeded. The prevailing rationale and thoughts to my ear resembled more around illogical or, spurious group think, as opposed to anything resembling a tank where “great minds think alike” would gather.

On the table front and center was the topic of China and their current stock market malaise. Also, within the conversation was a two-part topic concerning The Fed. There was the question as to whether or not the current rate hike has inflamed the current melt down we’re witnessing in Chinese markets. But also, the topic of whether or not the “Audit the Fed.” initiative recently voted on was a valid issue. Whether or not you agree or disagree with the audit bill is for you to decide. However, the issue that took me completely off-guard were the arguments made against it and the examples used. From my perspective this was a brief moment of clarity when one could get a glimpse of just how delusional or decoupled from reality these TT’s have become. Ready?

(I had just taken a mouthful of coffee when these was delivered. So, if you might be doing something similar, may I warn you – put it down first before reading the next few sentences.)

In response to China and whether they have a debt problem the retort was : “China doesn’t have a debt problem – they have a stock problem.”

In response to the “audit” issue: “It’s The Fed. that has saved this economy, and just look at the $Billions it recently paid to the treasury.”

In response to the consumer: “Consumers are doing quite well.” “Gas (prices) is a boon to retail.”

In response to employment and the economy: “Jobs are doing great, people just aren’t spending.” “GDP is on the right track.”

If someone wants to argue or, consider that China doesn’t have a debt problem, maybe you would like to consider purchasing some ocean front property I have in Kentucky. I’ll give you a great deal. Trust me. Or, how about the beneficial argument about how the Fed. has made payments to the Treasury? If you can argue with a straight face and no chuckling what so ever (or else the offer is null and void) how we benefit as a nation emulating a Ponzi type system of money creation and payments – I’ll discount that beach property 10%. Heck, if you can do it; make it 15%. It’ll be worth it from my perspective. Again: trust me.

As startling as the above responses may be, what’s truly terrifying is although you or I may see the absurdity – the people “in charge” of monetary policy and more are not only of this view-point. Many are guest speakers as well as hand-picked or invited “senior fellows” that perpetuate the narrative and reasoning on why these views and responses to events are either correct or, proper while insinuating: they know best, and all you need to do listen (and/or obey.) Just don’t dare question them. That’s when things get ugly. Not for them – but for you.

Today, with the markets in turmoil resembling the antithesis of what was touted by the so-called “smart crowd,” this is going to have a far more negative effect on the populace at large than previous iterations. For 5 of the last 7 years since the financial meltdown of ’08 many believed this crowd actually understood or, at the least “had a clue” about what has been transpiring within the global economy by the manifestations created not by just the Fed’s initial intervention into the markets. Rather, that they could control the resulting Frankenstein it created in continuing that intervention.

During this period it could be seen by anyone willing to put down the Kool-Aid® long ago they could not. Yet. it seems at many of these “institutes” as well as gatherings of “great minds thinking alike” not only was it decided to avert their eyes and brains away from the growing monster, but it seems they decided to go full-Krugman supplying a free-flowing, open bar, endless supply of the punch to any and all takers.

As the many who believed, as well as listened, (or worse) took advice from this cabal. This weekend is going to have many wondering: Do they open their 401K statement this month? Or, like in 2007-08 toss it to the side and hope (if not pray) that the “experts” really do know what they’re doing. Or, is it different this time?

My feeling is: not only is it different; the one’s that understood the fragility of this house-of-cards left long ago. While the one’s that remained are in that process. And they aren’t coming back when the shouts of “stocks on sale” hit the airwaves in the coming weeks and months. Just like they didn’t this past holiday season for retailers. Sales don’t matter when the collective mindset has turned from bargain shoppers to – preserving what you’ve got. And the retail numbers are showing just that.

However, not to be alarmed. For the people who will tell you, “The consumer is fine” will also be the ones surrounded by their compadres in a massive display of “group think” and “great mind brilliance” next week in no other place than Davos Switzerland. For why should the economy or body politic be viewed as having anything less than stories of great success and enlightenment when a party of four’s single night dining bill and subsequent bar tab will probably eclipse exponentially the average Joe’s 2 week vacation tab? That is, if the average person can still afford one to compare it to.

Besides, do you really want to go on vacation today with all the safety concerns around the globe? Just look at what it’ll take to make these people who tell you “everything is awesome” have to contend with to enjoy theirs. This year it will take 5000 Swiss military to protect this enclave alone. I wonder what that’ll cost them.

Actually: who cares. After all the most important item at this event will be on-tap, free-flowing, and in endless supply.

Intellectual brainstorming resulting in pragmatic ideas as to solve the world’s economic crises and other issues you ask? No, silly…

The Kool-Aid!

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alexcojones's picture

Any Kool Aid as long as its Purple

But its for the Children!

JamaicaJim's picture

Dated a woman that used to work in one of these think tanks.

She ran a section of a "very important project".

Dumb? Jesus Mary and Joe - this woman could not get out of bed without instruction.

Cook? Ha! After several of her "creations", we ate out, or I cooked.

Messy? Her shit was stacked up knee high, and never cleaned. Her tub had a black ring around it, ankle high.

Her cat pissed on everything, and she thought it was cute.

Lousy fuck too. Band aid head. Boning a sheet of plywood from Lowes would have better.

She was pretty, and had a rockin body - but know how to use it? Hell no!

I dumped her after she and I argued over marijuana.

According to her, it is a gateway drug, and her think tank concurred.

Haven't thought much of think tanks since....

SmedleyButlersGhost's picture

"Dumped her after she and I argued over marjuana."

Damn shame, she sounds like quite a catch aside from that flaw

Skateboarder's picture

Not being able to cook or maintain a household are traits of a woman who is not going to be a good mother-provider.

besnook's picture

i was around in the early days of the feminists back in the day when they burned their bras and walked around free bouncing. if you were a titty guy, that was the golden age of titty bouncing. they finally realized bras made sense. damn!

there were two other memes that made it through. one was the cooking thing. women refusing to learn to cook was some kind of symbol of freedom. my retort was, "don't you want to eat? doesn't it make sense to learn how to cook? isn't that an advantage?" they have never learned that logic.

the other issue, much later, was a guy's responsibility for birth control. so i would ask them, "why would a guy care about birth control on a one night stand or even a temp girlfriend? a commited couple is obviously a different dynamic but what happens to me, as a guy, if i have unprotected sex? i get an std, maybe. first of all, nothing happens until the legs spread. who controls that? and if the legs do spread, not only will you might get an std, you may also get pregnant. so who has more to lose? and to gain? so who should have the onus of responsibility for birth control? for their own good?

JamaicaJim's picture

I owned and ran a group of clinics back in the 80's - just as the women's lib came to critical mass besnook.

I had to employ women, and, had to promote them to managers.

NONE were good at time management, could not evaluate personnel (talk about catty), and most all managers burned themselves out with 6 months.

I had ONE decent manager - however, once she found a man, her work effort went into the toilet. I mean, off the charts bad.

Number ONE complaint by the burn outs?

"I cannot do it - I cannot see how I can do this job". Totally trained, capable, but their own weakness was not being able to be the boss.

Their mind set (and I think still is) they can follow, but they cannot lead. It is the exception - not the rule - with women being leaders.

I WANTED them to succeed. Did everything I could do to so. Paid training, mentors (female).

Paid them EQUAL to men (and remember, this was the early 1980's). Didn't matter.

ANY sort of criticism of their work effort was frowned on by other women. I sold the businesses mid 80's.

Number ONE reason? Few to NO women that were tough and could work well.

Automatic Choke's picture

I think I lucked out.....met a very compatible woman at the end of undergrad days, with a little juggling we both headed same place for grad school and moved in together right away.  Since we were both scientists, and our 2nd priority was backpacking/hiking/climbing, we were very compatible.  Both good cooks, both sloppy housekeepers.  Still together 36 years later.  She is top-notch professor at a good university, and quite capable of running a big lab, leading & mentoring others, etc.  No complaints at all.


Although there may be differences between men and women (behaviorally), I think that 1) a lot of it is learned/cultural, and 2) the width of the distribution curves is far larger than the separation between the two curves.  If you find that "all women have XXXXX bad traits", perhaps you should look at how you are selecting those women.     (Corollary:   Women who are attracted to burly beer-drinking truck-driver/cowboy types inevitably complain when they can't settle those guys down into well-behaved accountant-husbands.    Corollary:   Men who keep picking up heavily made-up babes in bars are upset that same gals don't want to become perfect home-makers and stop cruising.)


Golden Showers's picture

Yeah, JJ; perhaps you should call her up and see how she's doing lately. You know, people change. It sounds to me like she really needed some rehabilitation--like she was screaming for it. But yeah. Probably best to kick her ass to the curb. I guess what you are saying is that she was rigid, inflexible, unable to think for herself and not open to new possibilities. Probably how she was hired at the tank in the first place.

JamaicaJim's picture

Last I heard she was dating/involved with some Indian guy.

I got reports from other guys that dated her that she was a bum lay.

I detest nice looking women, that flaunt their bodies (she dressed like a retired hooker), and cannot suck and fuck. What a waste of tits and ass.


12357111317's picture

Frank Zappa: "I told her all she really needed was a little discipline".  Dynamo Humm.   :-)

JamaicaJim's picture

If you call a "catch" someone that fucked up boiling water, couldn't clean anything - ever, annoyingly was zombied to her dumb phone, and posted inane things on Fartbook ad naseum Smedley. This nutball even emailed me to share her thoughts - WHEN I WAS IN THE SAME ROOM WITH HER.

A "catch" - to a corpse.


SmedleyButlersGhost's picture

I was figuring my sarc was out there. But I'm still laughing - she couldn't have been that good

Niall Of The Nine Hostages's picture

One reason we have no effective immigration controls is that our masters marry women who see housework as someone else's job.

The girls from "good" families never learned how to cook or keep house---the help did that.

The golddiggers could have washed their old man's shit-stained drawers in the ghetto or the trailer park. 

Angus McHugepenis's picture

JamaicaJim: I got stories for you about hot women that never learned to wipe their own ass properly. And I can give you the name of the company and its current owners since I used to date the younger sister many years ago, but I ain’t going to post names.

You should have seen their house. It was a fucking nightmare of hoarding stuff piled up everywhere, and this is a Heritage House in an old part of town. Only the living room was clean as if they were expecting guests any minute now and had to entertain them as the guests walked by the piles of boxes and other crap stored over decades in the kitchen, hallways, etc.

The irony of the clean living room area was not lost on me. Their family heirlooms were in there, yet you have to literally step through boxes and piles of decades of garbage and boxes of other shit to get to it.

My last word to that woman were “GOODBYE” after I saw what looked like a house hit by a tornado from the inside.

JamaicaJim's picture

Angus - this woman was only one of the "hot women" I have dated over the years.

Most all were slobs, could not cook, and sex? LOL....most all were lousy.

I have had the best sex from the "average" woman.

Whether it is they have to be great at it (to make up for the lack of looks) or whatever, I'd much rather have an average woman that can whip up a meal, go out on sports dates (bars, drinking a few brews), get their hair messed up roughing it in the fields and streams, than a duck face posing Twittertwat Fartfook posting "hottie".

thethirdcoast's picture

Agree about "average" looking women.


My current girl would be considered "average" by most.


She has a great, laid-back attitude, and boy, can she screw!

12357111317's picture

Tobacco is THE gateway drug.  It teaches people how to inhale smoke.  Once you've got that down, you can skip the marijuana and go straight to crack or opium.

swmnguy's picture

I've known a couple of women who've worked for think tanks.  I never got close enough to find out what you did, but it fits my impressions.

Yet another unanticipated advantage of having grown up poor is that you look for women who can live well with no money, but not living above their means; they've figured out how to live pretty darned well below their means, even on very little money.

It's not that they're going to cook and clean for you; it's that they're going to live in a tidy space and have good food, and everyone around them is going to benefit.  You can tell right away by the methodical approach.

When you find a woman who breaks down the basic tasks of survival into a regular routine, knows the value of things and won't pay too high a price for them, and most of all isn't hung up on only buying new clothing, you've got something.

In my case, the woman I found had also grown up poor and was good at it.  The sort of woman who, for her 50th birthday, goes out and buys a Toyota Corolla, cash.  With a stick.

Scooby Dooby Doo's picture

Are blogs the new thinktanks? You know, the ones with reds and greenies?

12357111317's picture

Also, the ones with reds and blues.  That's why my political party will adopt yellow.

neilhorn's picture

Somewhere in between? A mixture of the two?


pakled's picture

"...The real issue at hand is many believed their own press.."


One of my core sayings: There are two kinds of people in the world; people who believe their own bullshit, and those who don't.

One must make that judgment in everyone they meet, as well as within themselves.

The latter of course is a bit tricky. Requires a serious stare at yourself in the mirror from time to time.

12357111317's picture

Mark Twain:  the dangers in life come not from what we don't know, but from what we do know that just isn't so.

August's picture

"The most serious investing mistakes I've made were when I was most certain I was rightt."

- some famous investing dude

besnook's picture

funny stuff but you have succumbed to the chinese debt issue also. the pboc is a state bank, owned by the state. one of the advantages of a state bank is they can print money with abandon without the counterparty risk of a private central bank, even one that represents the reserve currency. their balance sheet truly is a bottomless pit because they are the counter party of first and last resort. as they have already shown, they will use their power over their money to reward and punish whoever they want, including the usa.


otherwise, it is actually worse than what you assert. these guys advise clients who spew the same crap and decide .gov and company policy upon what they say. i recently had a debate about the chinese economy with an international banker. he took the position that china was in serious trouble and the usa(dollar) would benefit. i took the position that the usa is in trouble, will be pushed over the edge by the chinese and the dollar will collapse. he laughed at me. end of discussion.

i haven't talked to him since the china depegging. i'd like to rub it in. he would probably like to avoid me.

CrabbyR's picture

If everyone divested thier 401K or RRSP`S and bought precious metals , thier would be a economic shitstorm , but I think retirement would be possible

nevertheless's picture

"Think Tanks" are run by those with money, like Brookings Institute, and the vast vast number of them are zionists who push Washington to Israel's interests, NEVER the American people's, NEVER!


Every think tank should be shut down and their occupants arrested as enemies of the state. Sound harsh, still better than what their handy work has given US, the Iraq war, Ukraine, Syria...Just well funded lobbyists. 

neilhorn's picture

Please, don't get me started. I get verclempt just thinking about it.

boattrash's picture

Headline Correction:
"Too Many Think Tanks Are Just Gov. Largess Fueled Propaganda Machines"

Jus7tme's picture

Correct about the propaganda, wrong about the funding. Think tanks are generally funcded by the Kock Brothers and other billionaires. The only thing they think about is propaganda, and whether the proaganda is working.

gregga777's picture

The carnival barker's role is to entice the local suckers to come to the carnival to be fleeced by his or her fellow carnies. It's not a conspiracy—it's the way that carnivals work.

The people in the "Cabal" serve and are handsomely rewarded by a system that is designed to make the rich even richer. That system is comprised by the Feral government of the United States of America, the Injustice Department and the Feral Bureau of Inforcement, the Feral Reserve, various and sundry Feral regulatory bodies such as the SEC, FEC, FTC, etc., Wall Street and the various stock exchanges, the TBTF (too big to fail) banks, amongst many, many others. It's not a conspiracy—it's the way the System works in the United States of America. The people within the "Cabal" can hardly be expected to cut their own throats by speaking honestly and truthfully about the evil, corrupt system that they serve.

Proctologist's picture

Just treat a think tank analysis like we treat any MSM garbage.


Think= stink

Full Nelson's picture
Full Nelson (not verified) Jan 17, 2016 3:03 AM

At least I catch a buzz when I smoke my own dope.

Full Nelson's picture
Full Nelson (not verified) Jan 17, 2016 3:06 AM

There should be a study done to find out how much lighter the world will feel (in lbs) after suitcase nukes destroy Tel Aviv, Haifa and DC.

22winmag's picture

Think tanks are the unholy alliance of ACADEMIA and the MIC.

Last of the Middle Class's picture

You can join our think tank as long as you think like we do.  Sheeittttt. Kind of like an invitation only town hall meeting.  If you can't see the irony you're fucking stupid.

roadhazard's picture

I love when the American Enterprise Institute for example comes on CSPAN as non-partisan and then look at there board members and Dick Fucking Cheney is #3. Think tanks are there to spread the bullshit.

jakesdad's picture

I've said this before on numerous occasions but the REAL risk to us (americans) is NOT #s in computers (which is all $ supply has been for decades), it's the day the chinese (who manufacture widgets), indians (who provide cheap white collar labor) & arabs/persians (from whose ground hydrocarbons are punped) google the term "sunk cost" & collectively ask themselves:  "ok you guys build stuff & you guys code stuff & you guys supply the energy/plastics/fertilizer - what the hell are they bringing to this potluck besides bad debt?"  the real risk isn't 401 balances, deficits or even currency exchange rates, it's the day the rest of the world realizes we (us) are a bunch of freeloading deadbeats & cut us off!  we need their hamburgers a lot worse than they need our empty promises to pay next tuesday...


[quick edit:] ahmadinejad is widely described as "crazy" in west (& there's a compelling case to be made) but yrs ago he said:  "they take our oil & give us only worthless pieces of paper in return!"  if the chinese, indians, russians, iranians, etc are smart (& I'm not aware of a metric that indicates anything but) they've been planning/coordinating for a post-us dominated world...