Guest Post: Bread, Circuses, Cake And Markets

Tyler Durden's picture

From Peter Tchir of TF Market Advisors

Bread, Circuses, Cake and Markets

The decline of the Roman Empire is captured by the simple concept of bread and circuses. Rather than focusing on the issues, the leaders tried to placate the masses.  The disdain in the simple phrase 'let them eat cake' so clearly brings to mind all the reasons for the French revolution. Rather than placating the masses, the aristocracy almost took pleasure in flaunting their wealth and privilege.  I am not convinced America has reached it's apex and is in decline, but more and more I believe that if we have peaked history will equate our decline with two simple words - "the market".

The stock market has always been part of American society and became even more prominent with the Internet boom, but never did it seem to dominate government the  way it does now. The Fed Chairman brags that the rally in the Russell 2000 justifies his policies. Roman's receiving tribute rode a chariot with a slave whispering in their ear "you are mortal". Ben testifies before congress with the rally monkey sitting on his shoulders. (I couldn't find the rally monkey link). If it was only the fed and treasury that worried about the daily gyrations of the market, that would be one thing, but it has become pervasive at every level of politics. 

Politicians brought up the need to solve the debt ceiling issue 'before the markets open is Asia"  Boehner scheduled his press conference for "after the market closed". These are just a couple of recent examples but without a doubt trying to please the market has become the national pastime for politicians and the only box score they care about. The market is not the economy. Pandering to the markets does not help or fix the economy in the long run.

Ironically, fixing the economy would lead to long term gains for stocks. Maybe politicians should schedule their announcements for when it is convenient for soldiers in Iraq to watch, or at times that senior citizens find convenient. Those of us in the markets know how addicting the instant results of the market are. There is no waiting. The gratification is instant.  That is a good way to run a portfolio, it is not a good way to run a country.

Since the government seems to be trying to cater to wall street, how come it has had such mediocre results?  Why do record bailouts typically lead to more bailouts? Why didn't QE fix the economy? Why can't politicians bend the economy to their will? Because in the economy not everyone has the same vote. Whether it is war or healthcare or any other big issue, the politicians have a standard game plan. It generally works because very few people have much power. There may be some well respected or popular people in favor but the other side can usually find people to counter them. You get Springsteen and I get Eastwood. Head of mayo clinic says one thing, head of Harvard says another.  In the end one set of politicians wins and their policy takes shape over time.

The problem with the markets is that some people have much more voting power. People vote with their money so it isn't about the number of people behind your policy, it is the amount of money. Actually it is even more difficult than that because money changes direction faster than anything else.  People who want unions tend to want unions all their life. Traders who buy stocks may sell tomorrow.  If we don't want out epitaph to be "we the people, for the markets" we should get back to addressing the economy and making tough decisions and letting the market take care of itself. I would rather fight through adversity to come out on top with a sense of accomplishment, rather than collect a bunch of participation awards and wonder where it all went wrong.

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SwingForce's picture

Off Topic, sorry, Ron Paul audio only, today:

DosZap's picture

Nothing there.

Manzilla's picture

Well said. Yes stop trying to pander to the markets, you can't control what it does. Just fix the god damn economy and the market will reward you. Idiot partisans. Get rid of them all.

euclidean's picture

Just a couple of little things - the US doesn't have soldiers any more, it has contractors. Contractors making a lot of money; 'soldiers' is so ... 20th century poetry. Contractors are embedded into this 'market'. Congress doesn't please Wall Street since Congress IS Wall Street. Revolving doors to the revolving market.

Rinse, repeat.

Taint Boil's picture

I have a nephew in Japan "working" as a contractor that makes about 150K a year as a security guard ........... he is 25 years old. Hilarious!

Hacked Economy's picture

Really?  My young adult son is looking for a job and having a hard time finding anything.  Maybe he can get the 'ol Zero Hedgie buddy hook-up for an apprentice security paying just half what your son gets?  At least until the S gets really close to HTF and he needs to get back to the States before the borders are closed...   :)

equity_momo's picture

Why would he want to get back before the borders are closed? 150K/year outside of the US sounds like the perfect gig.  I didnt see many people rushing to get back to East Germany before the Wall was erected.

Taint Boil's picture

I would help if I could - sorry. My young son is in the same situation.

AnAnonymous's picture

I have a nephew in Japan "working" as a contractor that makes about 150K a year as a security guard ........... he is 25 years old. Hilarious!

US citizens make a lot of money out of army opportunities. Keep it a hush hush though. US citizens want to believe in their sacrificed youth cheap propaganda so much...

In the US, poor youth has no other future than flipping burgers or taking up military opportunities, to make 150k per year, how sad and harsh on the poor US youth. Worse fate possible.

Id fight Gandhi's picture

American debt slaves, that's all we are.

sgt_doom's picture

" Rather than focusing on the issues, the leaders tried to placate the masses."

This dood posting doesn't seem to know much, if anything, about world history.

I would strongly advise him to read the following:

A leeetle bit of knowledge goes a long way......

darkstar7646's picture

The problem is that it is not going to be a 20-40 year event -- we're talking a nuclear-bomb like scenario (as in an instantaneous loss of order, and all of the things it implies).

Mr Kurtz's picture

An excellent suggested read. I was particularly struck by the following footnote:

It takes protracted hardship to convince people that the world to which they have been accustomed has changed irrevocably. Hardship that is minor or episodic merely allows leaders to exploit popular discontent for personal gain. Economic growth has become mythologized as part of our ideology, which makes it particularly difficult to discuss objectively in the public arena (Giarini and Louberge 1978).

As uncle Milton would advise, "There is no such thing as a free lunch".

kito's picture

"I am not convinced America has reached it's apex and is in decline"


Steelpulse's picture

+14,000,000,000. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!!

blunderdog's picture

How can "the economy" be broken?  It's an interlocked network comprised of every participant and his actions.  What is it we think it's "supposed to be like" that someone thinks it can be fixed, let alone by government?

stirners_ghost's picture

If the free market doesn't provide a desirable outcome, it must not be very desirable to very many people.


It's not a market failure if you can't find someone to give you saxophone lessons for less than $8 an hour.

-Allen Thornton, Laws of the Jungle

blindman's picture

the power. the power. the sovereign. the power to create
money out of the power to create money, it is banking in fiat land.
now or then it will fail to feed and then turn to murder for its survival
and required expansion. oh well, tomorrow is another day ... except
that depends on a time frame of nature and immune from the delusional
temporal dictates of banksters and their zombie tribes.


The War You Don’t See

and this ...

July 26, 2011 at 12:13 am | #
Listen and consider: The Final Moments Arrive!

I am of the firm intellectual belief, that the state of ‘Economics’ as it is practiced, is nothing but a totally fraudulent persuasion,and has been been for at least 300 years, or more, with its fundamentals rooted in the US demand for exogenous spoils through looting, by the continuity of war activities and diplomatic imposed national intimidation – fully, a priori, and necessarily supported by the largest and most sophisticated military force – that exists, which just cannot, incompetently and managerially, win a war –because, that is the intention and purpose of its own National ‘economic practice’.

All this, while the so called US Gold Standard was a Central Bank fraud — as is the whole Global Banking system.

The World has been conned and fooled!

All – “Economic Theory” and “Economics” is “store high in transit” – it is opinion; nothing more and nothing less but preferential opinion and nothing more than convenient opine and ignorance that allows it to be propaganda-ized through the whole public socio-economic spectrum of human action. That is to say, the education demand which, upon realization, in order to survive, must be immediately forgotten.

Economics is a Profession of Prostitutes, without Ethics and or Morality!

The ruling socio-economic force is Banking — which controls by the establishment of Central Banks which projects its controls by franchised political power and centralizes a major “interest” on all productivity, ad infinitum. It is a parasite which is predatorial, a priori! Banking is the Giant Squid and feral fungi Candida; it is the end!

There is no “Economic Theory” per se, only control through inflation of Central Banks.!

There is a need for Human Consciousness to evolve to the point of exposing this Economic Fraud of organized crime by political being and Policy on the human economy!

Sadly, we will not believe these words. But, if we do, humanity may survive!

Dugald's picture

On target, but sad to say sir you are whistling in the wind....the situation is I believe beyond any reasonable recovery.........I don't much care for swear words, but think we will just continue to be fucked over, simply because it is the least line of resistance....

blindman's picture

whistle i whistle the wind blows the wind blows i whistle. soon the wind will change and someone will whistle into that new wind with the same old whistle. and the wind will then change, again, and a new whistler will find the right tune. a song that resonates in the heart and mind, to satisfy the soul of humanity. ....... anon.

darkstar7646's picture

We are far beyond any reasoned recovery -- so do we end it now or let the market end it for us?

Peter Pan's picture

Thank God for food stamps.........people can now have so much more than cake.

CH1's picture

Well, not exactly cake.

Twinkies, Suzy Qs, Big Gulps, Ding Dongs, Doritos, and maybe a couple of Slim Jims for protien.

Peter Pan's picture

People will soon discover that IOU does not mean I WILL PAY YOU. In the end the only thing that is stopping the US from defaulting is the fear that China will confiscate every single US subsidiary in China as payback. That will absolutely screw US corporate earnings to say the least.

Dugald's picture

And there is your excuse for another war.........

Hacked Economy's picture

...and as we all know, war is often a means used to "stimulate" a sluggish economy.  And I'm not talking about a childish public smackdown like we gave to Libya recently.  That wasn't a real war.  I'm talking a full-blown gearing up for takeovers of entire sovereign nations (or the full-blown defense of our American soil from an invasion).

AnAnonymous's picture

That wasn't a real war. 

Maybe the Libyans think otherwise. But who cares? This is a US world order and only matters the opinion of the new nobility in the world, US citizens.

Bobbyrib's picture

Default sounds better and better each passing day..

blindman's picture

the market?
banking and "money".

Bankers, according to the London Times, launder about 400 billion dollars a year or more in illegal weapons sales.

Posted on July 25, 2011 by maxkeiser

oogs66's picture

somewhere else on ZH i thought i saw that less than 40% of sales, and even less of revenues come from America for S&P 500 companies, and yet that is all the government worries about!

Zero Govt's picture

the politicians don't give a crap about the markets... all that matters is they suck out enough money from your pockets and the deluded financiers that buy Govt debt that they keep their sponsors (parasites) pockets lined with money

...everything else is a charade 

traderjoe's picture

Good post. I found it interesting and revealing that Reid quoted two market 'experts' during his press conference. 

Who are these experts? Did we vote them in? Are they going to talk their book? Yes! So, aren't they conflicted? 

It represented a clear and crass representation of who's really in charge of this country...

caerus's picture

I noticed that too...I find it absurd that politicians and market watchers hang on bernankes every word as though he were the oracle at Delphi...He is a bearded button pusher...unelected no no attention to the man behind the curtain...

oogs66's picture

i wish there was a like button :)  +100

Debugas's picture

"food stamps" and "golden parachutes" that's how america of today will be remembered

jmc8888's picture

No Glass-Steagall, no recovery, everything else, including all the lame-o plans put forth in congress is just tossing off into ones own ass via a funnel.

Peter Pan's picture

By the way, should we expect the msrket to jump by 150 points once the political masters reach an agreement on the debt ceiling? Haven't news replaced fundamentals? The Dow's reading is nothing more than the mortician's make up powder on what is otherwise just a corpse.

goldenbuddha454's picture

Ok, now that default is imminent, who will forgive us first for not paying them China or Japan?  I think Japan only because they need our support to keep North Korea locked up.  China wants Taiwan and will probably request it as payment for our defaulting on their U.S. bonds they bought.  Secondly, it was a very bad precident to set when Germany and France let Greece roll over its bonds.  Now, they have to let all the PIIGS plus Belgium roll their debt over.  Ditto USA.  Should be interesting next week seeing how the world markets react.  My guess is that default is already priced into markets.  Noone cares anymore except Tax-Cheat Tim, Bernoccio and Obama.

goldenbuddha454's picture

Tyler Durden looks like Billy Idol with black hair.  Cool!

jack stephan's picture

Conan's Father: Fire and wind come from the sky, from the gods of the sky. But Crom is your god, Crom and he lives in the earth. Once, giants lived in the Earth, Conan. And in the darkness of chaos, they fooled Crom, and they took from him the enigma of steel. Crom was angered. And the Earth shook. Fire and wind struck down these giants, and they threw their bodies into the waters, but in their rage, the gods forgot the secret of steel and left it on the battlefield. We who found it are just men. Not gods. Not giants. Just men. The secret of steel has always carried with it a mystery. You must learn its riddle, Conan. You must learn its discipline. For no one - no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts.
[Points to sword]
Conan's Father: This you can trust.

SaveTheBales's picture

Don't worry.  Be happy.

They have 'em a high-powered Kentucky blue-hemp super-congress.

I'm sure they'll fix us good.

sasebo's picture

All large societies that failed were led to their demise by stupid panjandra. Just like we're being led to our comeuppance by the stupid, pompous, pretentious assholes in Washington, DC & on Wall Street. Sad. 


Bansters-in-my- feces's picture


The "Fed", NOT..."The Goverment.

The second paragraph could be VERY misleading.


Thge "Fed" the Goverments"Boss"

oogs66's picture

how is the Fed not the government?  appointed by the government....speaks to the government...not answerable to anyone but the government.....don't believe independence for a second...either he is bigger than government, then the government is the fed, or vice versa, but don't believe indpendence for a second!

Hacked Economy's picture

The Fed...the de facto Fourth Branch of the government.

chunga's picture

Take your "Bread and Circuses" and shove 'em right up your ass.



Dear Chase,

We have sent HUNDREDS of pages of documentation to you since November 2010.

The borrower came to us because they did the same and were ignored. We are going to try one more time to obtain a modification for our clients before we turn to the court system for relief.

Your company has run rough-shot over our state's title statutes, and violated them as if they did not exist [and not only with regard to this particular property]. Unless you offer our clients an acceptable loan modification with a principal write-down to a new balance of $100,000,000.00 within 45 days, our intent is to amend our existing complaint to include acting in bad faith and outright fraud. The way you have treated our clients is disgusting and you should be held accountable.