As Americans mindlessly celebrate another Memorial Day with cookouts, beer and burgers, the U.S. war machine keeps churning. As we brutally enforce our will on foreign countries, we create more people that hate us. They don’t hate us for our freedom. They hate us because we have invaded and occupied their countries. They hate us because we kill innocent people with predator drones. They hate us for our hypocrisy regarding democracy and freedom. Just when we had the opportunity to make a sensible decision by leaving Iraq and exiting the Middle East quagmire, Obama made the abysmal choice to casually sacrifice more troops in the Afghan shithole. We have thrown over $1.3 trillion down Middle East rat holes over the last 11 years with no discernible benefit to the citizens of the United States. George Bush and Barack Obama did this to prove they were true statesmen. The Soviet Union killed over 1 million Afghans, while driving another 5 million out of the country and retreated as a bankrupted and defeated shell after ten years. Young Americans continue to die, for whom and for what? Our foreign policy during the last eleven years can be summed up in one military term, SNAFU – Situation Normal All Fucked Up. These endless foreign interventions under the guise of a War on Terror are a smoke screen for what is really going on in this country. When a government has unsolvable domestic problems, they try to distract the willfully ignorant masses by proactively creating foreign conflicts based upon false pretenses. General Douglas MacArthur understood this danger to our liberty.
“I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.”
In Christian ethics – although not in exclusivity – there are a number of vices, most often referred to as the seven deadly or capital sins, which depict the antithetical side of virtue. Of the seven, avarice or greed (Avaritia in Latin) comes at the head of the list for me since its practice affects the wellbeing of others, and not just those who profess it. And it was this lady, Avaritia, who walked the Red Carpet a week ago, Friday, May 18, in a glittering dress that reminded us of what rapacious capitalism is all about, as shares of Facebook started trading past their scheduled time in the NASDAQ. A very surprising opening with a larger (25 percent) number of shares issued for trade, at a much higher (52 percent) price… or a “more aggressive” price in Wall Street IPO parlance.
In twenty or thrity years, I expect future monetary historians looking back on this period of history to frequently misquote Ernest Hemingway:
How did the dollar die? First it died slowly — then all at once.
The slow death began with the dollar’s birth as a global reserve currency. America was creditor and manufacturer to the world, and the capitalist superpower. People around the globe transacted overwhelmingly in dollars. Above all else, people needed dollars to conduct trade, and they were willing to pay richly for them, and for dollar-denominated debt
Only in public schools and universities is the fairy tale still taught that governments are representative of the people. The blue collared man on the street realizes the chips are stacked against him. For those who don’t have political connections, the pseudo fascist system that is still referred to as “capitalism” in the U.S. is akin to a casino game of chance. That is, the odds are always in the house’s favor. The house is the federal leviathan and its equivalent at the state and local level as well as the big, cartelized industries which feed off government protection. With Obamacare, the middle class will end up being liable for yet another entitlement program that, like any other government initiative, will cost more than was initially estimated. Worse yet, they will be bombarded with advertisements they paid for which attempt to convince them that Uncle Sam has once again delivered prosperity with a badge and a gun. The disheartening part is some Americans will be foolish enough to actually believe it.
While eugenicists and Keynesians make correct descriptive observations — like the fact that certain qualities and traits are inheritable, or more simply that children are like their parents — their attempts to use the state as a mechanism to control these natural systems often turns out to be drastically worse than the natural systems that they seek to replace. As Keynes seems to admit when — in the German language edition of his General Theory — he noted that the conditions of a totalitarian state may be more amenable to his economic theory, the desire for control may be the real story here. Keynesianism brings more of the economy under the control of the state. It is a slow and creeping descent into dependency on the state. As we are seeing in Europe today, cuts in state spending in a state-dependent economy can cause deep economic contraction, providing the Keynesian more confirmation for his idea that the state should tax more, and spend more. That is, until nature intervenes. Just as a state-controlled eugenics program might well spawn an inbred elite suffering hereditary illnesses as a result of a lack of genetic diversity, so a state-controlled economy may well grind itself into the dirt as it runs out of innovation as a result of a lack of economic diversity. Such a situation is unsustainable — no planner is smarter than nature.
That much of the "news" is artifice and propaganda is a given. How can a society make good decisions about its future when the "facts" such as the unemployment rate are massaged and manipulated, and so many of the "reforms" are simulacra designed by the very wolves supposedly being tamed? Answer: it can't. The same question can be asked of a society in which the "editorial" side of the mainstream media is dominated by an "Argument Industry" that pours gasoline on every conflict and avoids solutions like a vampire avoids the Cross and garlic. Finding solutions would decimate the "Argument Industry" and slash profits. That leaves us with the same question: How can a society make good decisions about its future when every challenge is conflated into extremes that cannot abide compromise or even recognize "outside the box" solutions? Answer: it can't.
The impression that bankers and regulators have seems to be that banks are doing customers a favour by holding onto their money and occasionally losing it all buying junk securities. Nope. In a free market, banks that tried to charge customers for the privilege would be laughed out of the marketplace. Banks — by their very definition as intermediaries — generate profits from making good investments, not by charging customers for the privilege of holding their money. Unfortunately this isn’t a free market, and banks can (and probably will) co-ordinate with each other to keep the market uncompetitive. Barriers to entry make it difficult to impossible for new players to enter the market and dislodge the status quo.
Here in the U.S., I think that The Bernank’s plan was to pretend they didn’t need to print more money, get commodity prices down and then hope that the economy would respond favorably to that development. This wouldn’t have negated the need for more printing; however, it would have bought time and allowed for a potentially lesser degree of action. Instead, what has happened is that the global ponzi is completely and totally incapable of holding itself together without consistent and increasingly large infusions of Central Bank money. The debt burden is too large, the mal-investments too pervasive, the corruption too systemic. The whole house of cards that is the global economy will vanish into dust rather quickly without more and more printing. So what do you think they are going to do? If I am correct, and the U.S. economy itself is now in the early stages of what will probably turn into a serious economic slowdown, then it will not be easily stopped with incremental Central Bank policies. The fact that they have waited this long and the fact that the global economy is in the midst of a serious slowdown tells me one thing. They are way behind the curve and by the time they realize this it will be too late to stem the momentum. That said, I do expect them to respond and the fact that things will have gotten much worse than they expected will mean a major response. I’m not talking operation twist part deux. I mean a serious print. Potentially the BIG ONE.
The story of Facebook’s disappointing IPO is a gripping tale, and it holds some valuable lessons. But it concerns an event that has already happened. Forget Facebook — there are far more interesting events in play and that will affect you, if only at the margins. They haven’t happened yet, and they may not happen at all. But if they do, you’d sure as hell better have a plan.
Forget "austerity"and political theater--the only way to truly comprehend the Eurozone is to understand the Neocolonial-Financialization Model, as that's the key dynamic of the Eurozone. In the old model of Colonialism, the colonizing power conquered or co-opted the Power Elites of the region, and proceeded to exploit the new colony's resources and labor to enrich the "center," i.e. the home empire. In Neocolonialism, the forces of financialization (debt and leverage controlled by State-approved banking cartels) are used to indenture the local Elites and populace to the banking center: the peripheral "colonials" borrow money to buy the finished goods sold by the "core," doubly enriching the center with 1) interest and the transactional "skim" of financializing assets such as real estate, and 2) the profits made selling goods to the debtors.
In essence, the "core" nations of the E.U. colonized the "peripheral" nations via the financializing euro, which enabled a massive expansion of debt and consumption in the periphery.
Imagine, if you will, a fantastic near future in which the United States is facing an unmitigated economic implosion. Not just a mere market crash, or a stint of high unemployment, but a full spectrum collapse driven by unsustainable debt spending and hyperinflationary printing. The American people witness multiple credit downgrades of U.S. Treasury mechanisms, the dollar loses its reserve status, devaluation of the currency runs rampant, and the prices of commodities and imported goods immediately skyrocket. In the background of this disaster, a group of financial elite with dreams of a new centralized economic and political system use the chaos to encourage a removal of long held civil liberties; displacing Constitutional protections they deem “outdated” and no longer “practical” in the midst of our modern day troubles. This group then institutes draconian policies through the executive orders of a puppet president, including indefinite detention, assassination, and even martial law against citizens... With modern computer driven weaponry at their fingertips, any resistance appears futile. Some Americans, though, do their homework, and discover that most successful revolutions against better equipped opponents utilize low tech methods in highly intelligent ways. They study the inherent weaknesses of the enemy weapons platforms using readily available online manuals and scientific journals. They realize that these pieces of equipment costing millions of dollars each can be defeated using methods that cost little more than pocket change. A war of economic attrition ensues.
Maybe the real reason that the Treasury offered China direct access (thus cutting out the middleman and offering China cheaper access than ever) was precisely because China was selling, and because the Treasury was concerned about the effect on rates, and wanted to give China some incentive to keep buying. As Jon Huntsman noted in a 2010 cable leaked by Wikileaks, the PBOC has felt pressured to keep buying, and as various PBOC officials have hinted in recent months, China is actively seeking to convert out of treasuries and into gold. And that makes sense — treasuries are yielding ever deeper negative real rates. People holding treasuries are losing their purchasing power. No wonder the treasury is willing to cut Wall Street out of the deal. And it isn’t like the Treasury would have taken this move lightly — cutting Wall Street out of the equation is a slap in the face to Wall Street
In the Garden of Eden there is no scarcity. Food, clothing, and shelter in are abundance. Resources merely fall from the heavens upon command. It is economic paradise precisely because economics does not exist. The universal laws that hold in the world of scarce goods vanquish in the land of the plenty. The vision of Eden is the politician’s main source of employment. That is, promising to lead the suffering masses toward utopia by government decree makes for great electoral results. The voting fodder ignorant of economics falls in line to cast a ballot to grant themselves other people’s money. But of course many voters don’t see it this way. Their vision of the state is that of Eden. They see the bureaucrats and enforcers capable of tapping an infinite pot of wealth to pass along prosperity to those subservient enough to put them in office. This in turn has lead to the establishment of the welfare state and its plethora of entitlement programs. For those who see the modern day welfare state as corrosive to the productive capacity of any given country, no where is this theory more evident than the scheme of unemployment insurance.
The current financial crisis, may progress to a phase where people demand and hoard dollar bills but take electronic deposit credits only at a discount which increases until electronic deposit credits are repudiated entirely. The Federal Reserve would be powerless to solve the problem, because while they can create unlimited electronic deposit credits they can’t create unlimited paper dollar bills, “money you can fold” as Professor Antal Fekete calls it. There would be a glut of electronic deposits, but a shortage of dollar bills. Before the financial crisis metastasized in 2008, Fekete wrote a paper that I think is underappreciated and under-discussed: "Can We Have Inflation and Deflation at the Same Time?" In his paper, he discussed the “tectonic rift” between paper Federal Reserve Notes (i.e. dollar bills) and electronic deposits. By statute, the Federal Reserve cannot print dollar bills without collateral (e.g. Treasury bonds). Also, they have limited printing press capacity that is insufficient to keep up with a catastrophic crisis.
Our entire society is in a downward social and economic spiral. We are just at different levels of decay (Dante’s circles of hell). At the current pace it won’t be long before I’m writing about the 50 States of Squalor. It is virtually impossible to reverse a decline that has been underway for the last three decades. We sold our souls to Wall Street and chose a debt financed illusion of wealth over productive savings and investment which would have led to real wealth. Our choices are reflected in the continued deterioration and decay along West Chester Pike and the squalor that is West Philly. Grey and decay will carry the day. The words on the Statue of Liberty should be revised from, ”Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”, to “we have become your indebted, materialistic, obese, aging masses yearning for the government to protect and sustain us as our once great nation decays.”
As a nation, we have chosen this path. We made the choices and now we will suffer the consequences.