Bill Buckler On Keynesian Religion As World War... And The One "Good" Thing About It

Tyler Durden's picture

Courtesy of Bill Buckler, author of The Privateer

If It Doesn’t Work - Keep Trying It Until It Does:

Those running the big investment banks and trading floors today bear an uncanny resemblance to the generals on both sides of the conflict in WWI. There is an old military saying about the folly of fighting the “next” war by the methods of the last war. In modern times, the best illustration of the truth of that adage is what happened on the Western Front between 1914 and 1918.

When 1914 dawned, Europe had not seen a continental war for a century. Most of the generals and the vast majority of their political masters on both sides had not noticed that the years since the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 had seen what was and remains the greatest technological revolution in the history of the world. Both sides had seen the US Civil War of 1861-65, a war which proved beyond all shadow of a doubt that a frontal assault on an established defensive position was almost guaranteed to fail. Both sides completely ignored the lesson. The literal “cannon fodder” on both sides paid a gruesome price.

The result of this stubborn ignorance, as the history books so voluminously recount, was the antithesis of “bliss”. It was mass carnage. When an attack by 50,000 men proved impotent to the task, the numbers were raised to 100,000 and then 250,000. When an hour of preliminary shelling of the target proved insufficient, it was raised to an entire morning and then to a day and then to the best part of a week. The “big” battalions got bigger and Bigger and BIGGER. The trenches proliferated. The barbed wire proliferated. The casualties proliferated. The destruction proliferated.

The men on the firing line on both sides quickly realised the futility of what those who commanded them were attempting to do. But there was no escape for them. They died in their millions while the generals and the politicians clung tenaciously to the goal of trying to make the unworkable “work”. Any suggestion of a deviation from the frontal assault was fiercely resisted. On the few occasions when it was actually tried, such as the Cambrai offensive with its use of tanks and no preliminary bombardment, it was done over protest and the means supplied were intentionally insufficient to the task. The end came as it was always going to come, with exhaustion.

Four Years Of False Dawns

WWI lasted 51 months, from August 1914 until November 1918. If we go back 51 months from the present, we reach late March 2008 - six months before the Lehman crisis hit. From that day to this, has there been ANY more deviation from the “approved” method of extracting the world from its financial morass than was shown by the WWI commanders in extracting themselves from their military morass?

The answer is crystal clear. There has been NO such deviation. There has simply been more of the same. When half a $US TRILLION in annual deficits proved insufficient to the task, the number was raised to $US 1 TRILLION and then the best part of $US 2 TRILLION. When central bank interest rates equalling the lowest in history didn’t work, interest rates were eradicated altogether. When existing methods of bailing out insolvent banks proved insufficient to the task, new methods were invented in an ever increasing stream. When the results of the inevitable financial carnage became too big to ignore, the figures which reported it were adulterated or simply suppressed completely.

With every new year that has dawned since 2008, the powers that be everywhere have announced that THIS TIME, the recovery is “real”. In March 2012, French President Sarkozy was announcing that: “Today, the problem is solved!” Christine Lagarde over at the IMF proclaimed that: “Economic spring is in the air.” Not to be outdone, President Obama was telling his fellow Americans that: “The recovery is accelerating, America is coming back!” The same songbook was followed in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

It was followed in WWI too, long after the contrast with the REAL situation had gone far beyond the grotesque. Today, there is only ONE place left in the world which still clings to its long-fostered stubborn ignorance. That place is the financial markets. They STILL believe in the BIGGER batallions.

The One “Good” Thing About A Big War:

A “big” war becomes the almost exclusive centre of attention to all those engaged in it, whether on the front or keeping the “home fires burning”. It is impossible to pretend that it is not happening and equally impossible to cover up the devastation in lives and property which it causes. Many people don’t come home from BIG wars, leaving those left behind with agonising and very REAL losses. War causes destruction which is immediate and visible. It is not something that can be swept under the carpet.

Today, we are in the midst of a financial debacle which is more truly global than any world war. There are no lines of trenches, no shattered towns and cities, no casualty lists in the papers and no “we regret to inform you” telegrams being delivered. The carnage is real but it is invisible. No lives have been lost. All that has happened is that the living of life has become more difficult and the ability to rely on the fruits of past efforts for future comfort and “security” has been all but extinguished. The vast majority of the people are cannon fodder in this financial debacle. Like the real thing in the trenches of the Western Front, they have long since realised the futility of the efforts of their “generals”. They know that the “recession” is not over. They are starting to realise that it will never be over as long as the same methods which produced it are being used to get out from under it. But most see no escape, having become used to looking to those same “generals” to tell them what to do.

To an extent which goes far beyond even the politicians and the bankers, the “market makers” want to fight this new financial war with the methods of the old ones. In WWI, the generals held to the end that if your shelling made a big enough noise, the danger of an attack would go away. The “market makers” figure that if they stuff enough new freshly-printed money in their ears, they won’t have to hear the sound of the economy falling away from underneath them. “Less Talk - More Stimulus?” That is a message that the generals of WWI would have understood very well. It didn’t work then. It won’t work now.

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vast-dom's picture

SHORT THE PLANET (as a matter of principle)!

veyron's picture

No shares available to borrow


Colombian Gringo's picture

Lots of Fed Reserve Notes, however.

slewie the pi-rat's picture

the checks are in the mail so we're winning?

knukles's picture

When in doubt
Just give a shout
Summers and Krugman
Will lead no doubt


UP Forester's picture

I'd argue the "no lives have been lost" statement is incorrect....

akak's picture

What do the lives of a paltry few (million) "useless eaters" mean when our central banking overlords have us fighting  on their behalf in the great crusade of Making the World Safe for Plutocracy?


"Over there, over there, send the word, send the word, over there,
That the bank runs are coming, the bank runs are coming,
Funds are being withdrawn ev'ry where
So prepare, don't despair, send the word, tell the herd to beware
Banksterism's over, it's almost over,
And it won't come back if they stick to gold Over There!"

AldousHuxley's picture

when government spends half of your taxes on military, keynesian deficit spending is only going to create more wars.

SeattleBruce's picture

Point taken.  And not to mention that debt saturation has been reached.  We're FAR beyond the point in the developed economies where additional debt has any positive return whatsoever.  Something else MUST be tried.

Peter Pan's picture

The big boys have an agenda which is centred around the continuation of the present dumb and dangerous strategies as long as they retain control over the government, the judiciary, the military and the banks. Wealth cannot be protected and amassed without the assistance of the above.

AldousHuxley's picture

correct. look at what african dictators always want to control....

  1. banking (control economy)
  2. natural resources (control wealth)
  3. military (enforcement)

American elites aren't much different if you look at their agenda

blindfaith's picture



The 'agenda' here is also to TAKE your wealth ! Every last penny, gold sovern, peanut butter jar of buttons, or anything that you might be able to call wealth. 

They, these invisable men without names, own our debts, the ways and means are hidden, but  make no mistake about that.  When the public, and you can't pay up on those debts, these masters of slavery will take public assets in settlement or a fire sale price, for your toll roads, national parks, etc.  Pay just enough to get your thru the week, and wait for you to need some more credit ( just like those payday loans work).

Nations building up their militaries are doing so inorder to take, take spoils that we boldly declaired was a no no in the last 4 wars that American didn't win.  No this time, new boys are in charge, and women and childern are fodder too, and nothing stands in the way of the new kings.

mkkby's picture

You forgot the TV stations, but correct anyway...

Hey folks, this is nothing like a world war -- it's not even a crisis.  It's the final innings of socialism.  The jobs, pensions, short work weeks and early retirements SHOULD NEVER HAVE EXISTED.  Anybody who got free shit came out ahead, and cheated savers in the process.  The fact that it didn't last forever, or that stupid bond buyers might lose, doesn't change a thing.

In short, having to work and BE PRODUCTIVE for the first time in their lives is not a crisis, but it may feel bad to all the entitlement babies now being asked to grow up.

Skateboarder's picture

Skateboarder sees a $300 check from the Chief Choombama as exactly two decent brand spankin new skateboards. He would need to add out of his pocket $20/piece to get Swiss and $40/piece to get Ceramic bearings, but hot damn it's worth it.

Where my check yo?

slewie the pi-rat's picture

this was for $3000...

we'll issue you a new one in about 2-3 weeks, ok... ?  ...

Skateboarder's picture

Thanks, that's pretty good turnaround. Better than DMV, who took almost two months to mail me my license.

Anyhoo, I hadn't heard of people getting checks in the mail recently, unless you are talking about the Chief's new housing plan. I just want a couple of new boards for me and my friends is all. >_>

slewie the pi-rat's picture

licenses are tough b/c the fukers know you've lost a step

i have a friend who is writing to his ex-license, trying to get back together...  can't live with em, then you get outa jail and they're still in there...

JohnG's picture

Can't bury them in the back yard either....

Joseph Jones's picture

Lemme guess-the glorified sewer hole also known as "Kaleephorneeya," right?

Born, raised, and lived there all my first 52 years.  Would not live in that sheet hole now if you paid me (with all due respect to its residents, sorry).

Skateboarder's picture

Worth putting up with any amount of bullshit for, till a certain extent. Drive 150 miles north of San Francisco and you'll be in Elf-land. A tree society built on redwoods is in my list of utopias, exactly like the Ewoks had it.

Our school systems are getting worse though, I'll tell you that. Fun chart from my alma mater:

AldousHuxley's picture

rising cost of college = hidden tax on younger generation


rising cost of healthcare = hidden tax on older generation


rising cost of housing = hidden tax on families


why increase in taxes? pay for banksters failures. money has to come from somewhere....middle class is being force to pay for them (aka. austerity)



Elliott Eldrich's picture

Let's take a moment to look at this another way. You obviously have disdain for people who don't have much money, and who are inclined to spend every penny that comes their way. Fair enough. But I don't think you are considering that these people are potentially a very valuable resource for an economy, and here's why:

What happens when you give a billion dollars to a billionaire? It gets banked, or "invested" one way or another, supposedly in "job creating endeavors" but more often it just ends up sitting somewhere quietly collecting interest. It isn't moving, it isn't doing much of anything at all.

Now, what happens when you give a billion dollars to a million poor people, as in one million checks for $1000 each? It gets SPENT! And I mean in NO time at all!

And what does that spent money do? It moves through the economy! It gets spent on things like food and heating bills and rent and shoes and clothes and yes, even beer and cigarettes. But the important point is that it gets spent into the real economy. And that helps make happy businessmen with customers who have money to buy the stuff they make and sell.

And no, I'm not saying we need to give unlimited free money to poor people everywhere and then we all hold hands and sing "Kumbaya" on the road to Utopia... I'm saying that perhaps we need to look at this from a different perspective, that's all. 

northman's picture

You're an idiot. Do you think someone just gives this billionaire interest on his billion dollars, let's say 50 million a year @ 5%, just to let it sit in the account? Interest isn't an abstract concept. People borrow money at interest because they think they can invest it elsewhere (ie. create companies -> create jobs) and make a higher return than what they are paying. You are implicitly stating that it's better to consume than save and invest. You, PK, and BB, should go have a bonfire together.

And let's look at your other assumption. You can just 'give' someone a billion dollars. You need to 'take' it from someone first. Take money from people who would save and invest it, and give it to someone who will buy a Colt 45 and vajazzle their vjj and you are basically living in present day America.

There are no other perspectives. Stimulus money gets spent in Schrodinger's Economy, not the real economy.

JohnG's picture



No.  He/she is trying to create volocity of money.  -1 for the reflexive "you're an idiot."

Think about ways out of this mess.

northman's picture

Stop thinking you can 'create' velocity of money in the real economy. Velocity of money is also not an abstract concept, it also must be a real world occurence. Just like a physical asset. The people create velocity of money one decision at a time. If you give money to someone to buy a new thingamajig for his furnace, the person you took it from isn't going to spend it and society becomes worse off for the transaction (both in so called 'VoM', and in assets as a whole). It's the broken window fallacy.


Check it out. I apologize for the "you're an idiot" comment. You're right about that - a few glasses of wine into my Sunday reading ^.^

Acet's picture

Consider for a moment that maybe, just maybe, the increase in the concentration of wealth is one of the causes of the current depression through decrease in the velocity of money (as the GP explained) and misallocation of capital.

The part about misallocation of capital comes from the assumption that a lot of the wealth has been ending up in the hands of parasites rather than entrepreneurs. I would postulate that most of the concentration of wealth in the last several decades came from use of political influence, regulatory capture the use of disinformation and other methods of manipluation and "changing the rules of the game" rather than from a ruthless focus on efficiency and customer service.

Another point is the one-off gain that accrued to many from the profits that could be made in the period between transfering production to low cost countries and the people in the high cost countries not being able to afford high prices anymore - this was a non-sustainable source of easy profits that allowed companies to post massive profits from zero improvements in product quality or productivity: this is now drying up and we can see the resulting wasteland all around us.

Elliott Eldrich's picture

If we were still living under the original, "hard money" system we had before the Fed, then your argument would be very valid and I would heartily agree. However, we live in a fiat currency, debt money regime, where money is created out of thin air when people apply for loans. Now, why is it such a wonderful thing to have this money created out of thin air and then issued as debt, and why would it be such a terrible thing to have this new money instead simply spent into the economy, without the encumberance of debt?

Also note, I'm not necessarily advocating doing anything here, I'm simply proposing a thought experiment and saying perhaps it is worthwhile to look at something from a different perspective. If you want to go on about the merits of sound money and all of that, please do, it's a favorite topic of mine. But, if we're instead stuck with the current regime of fiat debt money, why don't we consider what is really happening with the distribution of money and what is accomplished by stimulus, and what happens when it applied at different strata of the economy? 

I'm reminded of the comment regarding QE2, when Gerald Hill wrote "I can now understand the term 'quantitative easing,' but... realize I can no longer understand the meaning of the word 'money." Ultimately, we are going to end up at one of two destinations, either we figure out how to make the current monetary regime work or we are going to have to come up with a new one. If we are going to make the current system work, then we are going to need some new ideas, and those often come from at least considering different points of view.

InjuredThales's picture

Talk about money, abstract concept that it is, distracts us from the very real issue of very real resources being allocated amongst very real activities.  There are optimal allocations, and there are suboptimal ones.  Maybe I agree with your contention that all objects of spending are now equally valid, because there's no valid underlying information anymore. Maybe I disagree with it on the principle that this all just takes us further down the rabbit hole. 

I always believed money would be a useful means for transmitting information, helping us decide between exclusive options.  It still does that to some extent.  But every day I feel like it's becoming more vulgar. Like going from the Queen's English to Ebonics.  And now the things that were once easy to say, aren't any more.


northman's picture

Right. I never really consider things in terms of a "we're stuck with the current system" type approach. Even if we are stuck with the current system, giving money to people to who don't have it after taking it from people who do without their knowledge via money printing and stealth inflaction is absolute theft. I have friends who know nothing about money who don't want to make any decisions these days because they don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, or the day after that. The real way, even under the current regime, is to give people the confidence to save and spend their own money, not give them someone elses. Again, sorry for the initial ad-hominem attack.

Elliott Eldrich's picture

No worries! This is the "fight club" after all, at least you didn't drag family members or pets into it...

GCT's picture

While the fight club us out in force this fine morning, I do have a question I am most likely going to get junked big time for.  If the QE's had actually gone to the people, the money would have been spent on catching up or paying off their homes, and other debt.  I am not for any bailout, but at times I feel this would have done the most good for the people and the economy.  Maybe we would not be in this mess right now. 

The money spent to bailout banks and corporations solved nothing.  My question is would this have helped more then the route they are doing stumulus now? 

Chaos_Theory's picture

I think it’s wishful thinking that if us plebes had received the QE that it would have been put to rationale uses like erasing debt, whether home mortgages, credit card or student loans (collectively let’s call them “chains” or “the noose”).  I think the percentages would have looked like this:


5% buy guns, gold, silver, bullets, beans, mountain retreats…

5% pay off debt loads

15% buy i-gadgets and pay off at best the credit cards

25% take big vacations, over-eat and keep running up debt loads once the freebies tap off

50% get lap dances and Colt-45s every day


Not to say the QE to banks and the gilded elites was such a good idea…


GCT's picture

Chaos your reply made my day!! Thank you .  The reply does scare me as your probably correct.

Unique Snowflake's picture

The Aussie govt wanks on about how they saved us from hell in 2008 by handing out $900 to everyone. This was spent on plasmas and gambling mostly, so it went straight overseas and to the big 1%ers who own all the gambling companies. Yep. Giving out free money works a treat.

Skateboarder's picture

Elliott, when I say "where my check yo," it's out of digust... perhaps sarcastic at best. You have to understand that for the poor person who doesn't know anything about the world's economic, political, and legal models as they are set up... it doesn't matter - free money is guilt-free money; the government must have some extra cash lying around and they can inject it into the economy as lube for consumer supply chains, right? For the poor person who does know about the current economic standing of the world, how its political and legal policies allow for fiat economies to be put in place and run till all are consumed by debt... free money is not guilt-free money. This latter person, if he has honor, can literally feel the corruption oozing from his stimulus check. It hurts him to accept a gift that he knows is slow-acting poison. But he is poor and he can use that money, so he does.

Stimuli and bailouts are traits of an imperfect monetary system. The very concept that a bailout can be made should be nonsensical. The number of human lives is a limited number, as is the number of bags of rice harvested this year and the number of guitar tuners manufactured. We recognize that both physical and human resources are limited. Why then is our money supply unlimited? There is a disconnect between people associating raw materials and resources as money, that's why, and the disconnect grows ever greater.

TWSceptic's picture

Keynesian idiot. And no I won't apologize for that, you deserve it.

SeattleBruce's picture

The problem isn't consumption in the US - we've proven to be apt consumers of just about anything (and currently cheap plastic Wal-Mart driven crap from China.)  The US problem (and certain other places) may be related to the fall of the producing sector.  The US manufacturing sector is a shell of its former self.  But the REAL US problem, and that of the entire world - is a lack of sound money and political accoutability - neither of which exists.  Take that consumption hopium into your crack pipe and smoke it - cause that's where it's headed - up in smoke.

derek_vineyard's picture

ckecks are electronic or debit, yes, we are winning the future

obama/gore 2012

Sir Edge's picture

Yes Fed Reserve Notes Will Make Excellent TP for future barter... while we are on 'The Road'

jonjon831983's picture

Just ask GS, I'm sure they could come up with something for you.

Waffen's picture

For the record:


America was propagandized into WW1. Americans supported Germany more then the Allies in the early portion of the war.  That is until the media went all out with the Evil Hun talk, the little childs hand being cut off (never ever found to be true).  Before every movie showing, a soldier was to give a speech as to why we should enter WW1.


After the media convinced the American public that they should join in the war, when many many many times before France, Germany and England fought wars, this time was different.  The American people were snookered into war.


In 1917, the Brittish government sent a letter to Baron De Rothschild guarenteeing Palestine to the Jews

The Balfour Declaration


(In 1914, war broke out in Europe between Britain with allies and Germany, Austria-Hungary and later that year, the Ottoman Empire. The war on the Western Front developed into a stalemate. Jonathan Shneer writes:

Thus the view from Whitehall early in 1916: If defeat was not imminent, neither was victory; and the outcome of the war of attrition on the Western Front could not be predicted. The colossal forces in a death-grip across Europe and in Eurasia appeared to have canceled each other out. Only the addition of significant new forces on one side or the other seemed likely to tip the scale. Britain's willingness, beginning early in 1916, to explore seriously some kind of arrangement with "world Jewry" or "Great Jewry" must be understood in this contex)

Yes the Significant addition was the American soldier of which 117,000 died.


You see, the American people were duped into joining in WW1 in order that Jews could get rewarded with Palestinie.

reader2010's picture

They set up the Federal Reserve with the US Personal Income Tax as the collateral first before they started the WWI. Go figure!

Treason Season's picture

The American people were duped, along with everyone else, in order that Rothschild could get his cat's paw called Israel in the Levant. It's not the Jews per se that are the problem, it's the bankster cabal and the ptb.

Waffen's picture

1849: Gutele Schnaper, Mayer Amschel Rothschild’s wife dies. Before her death she would state, “If my sons did not want wars, there would be none.”

disabledvet's picture

we're propagandized into every war. and? In World War I it was a single summer for the USA...and compared to the carnage that happened to Europe "we were the lucky ones." (19 MILLION on their end.) Not only that..."it ended." Simply put this is what is not discussed by you folks in these here parts (but is well intimated by the story tellers above)...namely a MASSIVE expansion of the war effort into the ME. With the EZ truly on the verge of total collapse one could argue "by not reporting on the bulk of the EZ collapse" but "pushing hard on the full frontal assault against the entirety of Islam"...well, "how is this done exactly"? My guess is the draft boards will be coming "to a theater near you" quite soon. Not by "choice of the political classes" i might add.

Waffen's picture

by the USA joining in the war  (when we had no place in such wars) we tipped the scale from a stalemate into a crushing German defeat, which set the stage for the worst war in history and 60 million+ dead, the cold war, so on so forth.. ah but the chosen people got their palestine, so its all good

Germany had no place losing that war in such fashion


note the American people voted for wilson in 1916(with slogan he kept the usa out of war)