Posts Tagged ‘crisis’

The Knave New World

May 2, 2019

In 2007, Alan Greenspan published a fascinating book that chronicled not only his own life, but the life of the monetary world in which he grew up,  and in which he ultimately played a major role as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

  https://www.amazon.com/Age-Turbulence-Adventures-New-World/dp/0143114166 

Mr. Greenspan’s keen observation of contemporary monetary history is demonstrated throughout the book. On page 92, Alan had this to report about the legendary Reagan tax cuts of the 1980’s:

“The cornerstone of the Reagan tax cuts was a bill that had been proposed by Congressman Jack Kemp and Senator William Roth. It called for a dramatic three-year, 30 percent rollback of taxes on both businesses and individuals and was designed to jolt the economy out of its slump, which was now entering its second year. I (Greenspan) believed that if spending was restrained as much as Reagan proposed, and as long as the Federal Reserve continued to enforce strict control of the money supply, the plan was credible, though it would be a hard sell. This was the consensus of the rest of the economic board as well.

But (David) Stockman (Reagan’s Budget Director) and Don Regan, the incoming treasury secretary, were having doubts. They were leary of the growing federal deficit, already more than $50 billion a year, and they began quietly telling the President he ought to hold off on tax cuts. Instead, they wanted him to try getting Congress to cut spending first, then see whether the resulting savings would allow for tax reductions.”

Well good luck with that!

And gollee, that was about 39 years ago, and about 20 trillion $$ of federal deficit ago. . .

Ronald Reagan, God bless ‘im, was the last of the Mohicans of old-style let’s-try-to-balance-the-budget school.

Yet we still pay lip-service to that principle.

But–let’s face it– those days are gone forever. They went out with with saddle oxfords and gumball machines and  Archie Bunker and 1-cent lollipops and debits on the left with credits on the right that balanced each other out.

Now Reagan, God rest his soul,  is no longer with us, nor Kemp,  and the world is a totally different place. Ronald Reagan was the last of a balancing breed that has vanished into fiscal history.

The cowboy hero has ridden into the sunset.

David Stockman is, however, still with us, and still living in the past,  still harping, God bless ‘im, on old-hat financial and fiscal responsibility. Good luck with that, Dave!

https://www.deepstatedeclassified.com/dsd20190426/

In his most recent newsletter, David Stockman posted this assessment of our present situation:

“The Main Street economy is failing. But the Wall Street fantasy is thriving. You can lay responsibility for this dangerous disconnect at the doorstep of the Eccles Building.

The Federal Reserve’s extreme monetary central planning regime long ago disabled capital markets and destroyed price discovery.

Bubble Finance has euthanized workers and savers and lobotomized traders and speculators.

And our monetary central planners know it.”

While Mr. Stockman’s assessment may very well be true, it may also be irrelevant.

The world . . . as it always does and always has, has changed.

Tap your ruby slippers together, David.

RubySlippers

and close your eyes and realize: We’re not in Kansas any more. All the rules have changed. Take off your rose-colored glasses.

We’re not wheelin’ and dealin’ in ole Wall Street any more, or Peoria or Pittsburgh or Palm Springs. Now we are in, as Aldous Huxley once said, a Brave New World. . .

A world in which monetary markets and price discovery are no longer the primary determinants in the money game. . . a world that has, yes Virginia, yes Alice and yes Dorothy, been commandeered by a thunderous consumerist horde who have no wish to be bound by these old financial fuddy-duddy obsolete principles, a world that has been fundamentally transformed by Keynesian realpolitic and by the pragmatic keep-bailing-this-boat central bankers of the world with their legions of yassah data-crunching technocrats to maintain the welfare of us all.

And we will never go back.

Because money itself is, and always has been, truth be told, worthless, being nothing more than klinky coins that can get you a wad of chewing gum, or paper bills that can get you a sugar-high from a vending machine, or electrons that can get you a charged-up night on the town, or a day in the sun, a week at Disney if you’re lucky, and a health-insured, social-security certified lifetime in this knave new world.

The “Capitalism” of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill and Jacob Marley and JP Morgan and even Warren Buffet has . . . gone the way of the buffalo.

Now it’s just benevolent electrons whirling around the world taking care of everybody.

And when you finally see the writing on the wall, Dave, look at those deficits and . . . read ‘em and weep. Nobody cares about deficits any more.

The central bankers of the world will never have to face the music of fiscal responsibility that keeps ringing in your ears.

We’re never going back to the old balancing acts. Where we’re headed is. . . everybody gets a meal-ticket as long as all’s quiet on the Western front and the red sun still rises in the east. Welcome to the knave new world.

Glass half-Full

The Deep

May 26, 2018

As we grow older in this world, we gain a deeper understanding of  what is going on here. But it can be discouraging. In many ways, what we find is not pretty, and it makes no sense.

The disconnect between the way the world is and the way we think it should be becomes an existential crisis for those of us who are sensitive to such issues.

Attached to this dilemma we find a long historical trail of people attempting to deal with the problem. Along that path we find tragedy, depression, pathos, melancholia, despair, existential crisis, schizophrenia and a myriad of other assorted travesties.

But there’s a favorable output that sometimes arises through this conundrum. It’s called art.

And music, and literature.

I’ll not get into the specifics of it; but we discern, threaded through our long, strung-out history, an overwhelming human opus of emotional and soulful profundity. It  has been woven through the sad, dysfunctional and tragic tapestry of our apocryphal struggle for meaning. It has been sounded forth and sculpted continuously even as our very survival is perpetually  called into question.

The depth of this existential crisis is expressed by the poet when he desperately cried out:

“O my God, my soul is in despair within me;

therefore I remember you from the land of the Jordan,

and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls unto deep at the sound of your waterfalls;

all your breakers and your waves have rolled over me.”

From the mountaintops of human awareness, and from the turbulence of many wanderous shore epiphanies, we homo sapiens somehow manage to  bring forth as offerings a cornucopia of creative endeavors; they are birthed in desperation, and they are often borne in desperate attempts to somehow attain hope.

You catch a hearing of that struggle to which I allude, in this music, composed in Spain in 1939 by Jaoquin Rodrigo:

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9RS4biqyAc

You can catch a glimpse of it in Picasso’s mural, composed in Spain in 1937, after the Luftwaffe bombing of Guernica:

  GuernicaPic

But in my exploration of these matters, the most profound expression of the pathos curse is manifested in the life of one person who, by his laborious struggle, imparted the purest and most enduring message of love ever etched upon the parchment of human history; but his great gift was rejected through our judgmental travesty: a sentence of crucifixion.

ChristCruc

Yet out of that most extreme humiliation there arose an even greater opus of creative, persistent love : resurrection.

If you can even believe it.

Smoke

The Economist Illumination

April 13, 2014

I never really understood much about international finance and economics until this morning, when I read a special, long article in this week’s The Economist. In the printed edition, the text begins on page 49; it is entitled The slumps that shaped modern finance.

I’ve been subscribing to, and reading, that “newspaper” (as their editors call it, while we Americans think of it as a magazine) for several years. But I have always labored to figure out what the hell they are writing about. In surveying many past issues, I have contented myself merely to check out the obituary, which is always on the last page. Then I would thumb through in a backwards, right to left, fashion to glean a little from what’s going on in the literary and arts world.

Perhaps my years of reading The Economist with so little comprehension have prepared me, unbeknownst to my cognitive mind, for the light-bulb moment I had this morning while reading their concise, 6-page history of financial crises. Be that as it may, the light of understanding finally shone in my head when I read, on pages 51-52, their explanation of the Panic of 1857.

“I think I understand . . .” Joni Mitchell had sung long ago, “fear is like a wilder land.”

Long story short, when investors think they are going to lose a lot of money they are overtaken with Fear, so they go hog-wild. Maybe that means the bulls retreat while the bears gather, but the hogs go crazy destroying the place.

Or, as the ’60s radicals use to call them, the “pigs.”

But I wouldn’t call anybody a pig. Maybe . . . a walrus.

Anyway, here is what’s interesting about the Panic of 1857: America was at that time an “emerging nation” that had expanded its explorative and technological frontiers beyond its ability to keep all the accounts straight and well-balanced. Consequently, the Brit financiers panicked, and all the money people around the world followed suit, including us.

Today, the shoe is on the other foot. We Americans are like the well-established powerhouse that the Brits were in the 19th century, while today’s “emerging” powers, the so-called BRICs and a few others, are in a position similar position to where we were in 1857, or 1907, or 1937.

Maybe the other shoe is about to drop, maybe not.

If you want to know something about how this plays out historically, I recommend you check it out. If you want to read it online, here it is: http://www.economist.com/

Smoke 

Roomey’s Catastrophic Critter

February 15, 2014

Roomey is a zookeeper; a  global caretaker is he,

with his flockey herd of critters, the endangered managerie.

 

He tends glazeebos, ampheebos, orangoupangs and slangs,

while feeding facecub pups and reptilimups, doozyewes and falangs.

 

One day he had a scare event, urgent animal alert,

when he found his biggy globelephant flailing in the dirt.

 

So he called in a panel of pakkidharmologists for their expert opinions

as to how this mammouth mammalian crisis could strike down the flappy-eared minions.

 

The first ‘xpert said I believe we have here a globel problem of elephantal proportions,

with overextended ears, trunkated dysfunctions, and pakkidharmal distortions.

 

The next guy grabbed our pakkidharmal hunk’s trunk,

proclaimed this big critter’s really in a funk,

asked how this catastrophe could have struck, who’d have thunk?

I think our globelephant is sunk!

 

The third ‘xpert held the critter’s ears.

“Oh my!” he cried.  The core data confirms our worsest fears.

This mammal’s flappy ears  have been caught up in the gears

of all our das kapital industrial carbon-spewing years.

 

Authority number four stroked the mammoth critter’s world-class tusk.

Methinks this overprized trophy’s been the object of some rapacious hunters’ lust.

It’s time to save globelephant– We must!

To prevent it getting caught in carbon dust.

 

The next pakkidharmologist grabbed that globel animal’s legs.

There oughta be a law! he said. What we need are more strong regs!

If we’re gonna arrest this sixth extinction, we really gots to peg

this carbon contagion down; coal and oil and gas spews out emissionary dregs!

 

Now the next guy took up the matter of globelephant’s long tail.

I do believe this monster’s like a rope, said he. It keeps us tied to stinkin’ gas, oil shale.

Now the climate’s waggin’ us all around with floods and snows and what the hail.

If we don’t put a stop to this dirty carbonous gale, the whole frackin’ planet’s gonna fail!

 

Here we stand beneath biggy globelephant’s vast belly.

Now something’s dropping from behind, something rather smelly.

Better turn on the tube, the phone or  web, to view it on the telly,

where we learn at last the sky’s been fallen, our true foundations  turned to jelly.

 

Have a Smoke

A New Social(ism) Contract?

October 8, 2013

As near as this under-employed citizen can determine, the (over)simplified net effect of the Affordable Care Act will be this:

A big pile of money will be collected from employed people who can afford health insurance, and that money will be used to ensure health care for poor people who would otherwise not be able to afford health care or health insurance.

This will help poor people. Everybody else will, by premiums or by taxes, ante up some money to assure that the po’ folks will be minimally cared for whenever they have health or medical problems.

Okay, this working Republican can live with that, even it will cost me a few bucks, because, you know, I have a heart and I am a Christian and we’re all in this together and I don’t want to see riots in the streets etc etc etc.

My mind wanders every day between the poles and polls of this controversy, as I am under the influence of so many information sources, whether it be sound-bite Congressional rhetoric, or a morning email from Erick Erickson, or listening to a panel discussion on Diane Rehm or hearing Tom Ashbrook orchestrate an exploration of the issues, or reading a UPI report.

Here’s the problem: Our original social contract, which is the Constitution with its tripartite governmental institutions, does not effectively address all the divisions that arise in this post-modern predicament. For some people, such as Tea Party folks, or persons of independent means, that incongruence becomes a big objection to what is happening now. For others, who are poor or who want to, by grand design build a great society, our Constitutional freedoms and rights are not such a big issue.

Since the New Deal, the disparities and eccentricities of capitalism have driven us away from the original social contract enacted in the Constitution by our nation’s founders. We’ve tacked on Medicare and Medicaid. This is not your father’s oldsmobile; nor is it your grandmother’s household with muffin-buns and berries by the steamy kitchen window. We have evolved to a post-democratic, post-republican, post-capitalist, post-expansionist, post-consumer-waste welfare corporate State.

And hey, it is what it is, like it or not. This is 2013. I mean, 1984 was 29 years ago already.

But the libertarian folks who identify with  Constitutionally-protected rugged individualism are still with us. God bless ’em. They figure we didn’t sign up for this redistribution hijinks. I can relate. I live in a mountain town that was named after a musket-totin’ trailblazing pioneer named Daniel Boone. I wish everybody had the initiative and self-respect that the libertarians have. But alas, there are many other folks out there in the great cities and amongst the urbanized conglomerates who  are quite comfortable, even fat n’ happy, depending on the System that we’ve patched together, which is not the same as the visionary government that our Founders had wrought from the virgin soil of a vast contintent back in the day.

Now this whole Affordable Care vs. Obamacare mirage has got us all torn up, living on the edge of fiscal disaster or social dystopia or government shutdown or Default or  some combination thereof.

We need a new social contract. I propose a national referendum on the Affordable Care Act so we can settle this thing once and for all. Instead of depending on the Democrats or Republicans to interpret the polls, let’s take a real vote on the issue so we’ll know where the simple majority of Americans stand on this landmark issue of subsidized health care.

Glass half-Full

The Grand Bargain Inquisitor

October 4, 2013

Let us stop then, you and I,

this great experiment in democra–(sigh!);

let us arrest it and possess it;

let us attest it and caress it,

as if it were a thing for the history books to dwell on

as if it were a commodity for us salesmen to sell on:

you give me this; I’ll grant you that;

she be lean and he be fat.

I shall I will I won’t I shan’t.

I used to could, but now I can’t.

Let us spend it and suspend it, you and me.

“But I have no money,” said the tree.

So let us appropriate it from thin air;

let us print it without care!

 

“For they have cut me, don’t you see?”

said the the money tree to the bee

they have gut me; they have shut me.

they have bled me; now they will shed me

they’ve hacked me up one side, down the other

they’ve raked me o’er the coals, made me smother

they put me up wet and hung me out to dry.

So let us go then, you and I.

 

I am a museum piece now, dontcha know

as the hurlyburly burkas come and go

and twurky bitches put on utube show.

 

“Oh let us not take this to extremes

let us not let the end then justify the means!”

Let us stop then, you and I

this great experiment in democra–(sigh!)

said the grand bargain inquisitor guy

said the squirmy worm to the flitty  fly

“Let us go then, you and I.”

 

Glass Chimera 

Shades of things to come

December 4, 2011

It might have been seventy million years ago that a large asteroid hit the earth somewhere near Cancun.  And it might have been that the big space-tossed boulder would have thrown such a cloud of dust and disturbance into the earth’s atmosphere that it probably  altered the pecking order of biological  kingdoms for thousands or even millions of years thereafter.

Earth shaking events.  They happen.

It might have been that the severe rearrangement of earth’s biomes had put a major crimp on the old dinosaurs.  Maybe they became like DOS after Microsoft, just slipping down into the dark hidden recesses of the new program, relegated to subterranean, hydrocarbon pools of potential energy, their giant-generating introns and exons having been unraveled and liquefied like the assets of international  corpuses and cartels that would later profit from their demise.  It might have been that the superbad, supermad totally-rad reptile kings and queens of the jungle could no longer compete with the smaller, sleeker, smarter, uppity mammals who  were in the ascendancy and currently favored by the committee for Natural Selection.  It might have happened that way. And maybe the superbad supermad totally rad reptile kings and queens of the jungle found themselves faltering, over the next few eons, losing their command of the playing field, becoming more and more baffled  at their waning ability to throw their weight around any more, until finally they just, maybe, gave up the ghost and conceded their diminished reptile role to those miniscule, dust-lickin’ mutated cousins who would  later distill all that serpentine angst  and alienation into a venomous infusion of death—inflictible  on those new-kid-on-the-block mammals who were ruining the neighborhood. Equipped with  the ugliest, hissingest triangulated  head that God ever allowed on a breathin’ creature, these slitherin’ peabrains  could nevertheless still proudly carry on, simply by opening their mouths, the dominance and intimidation of their ancestors. Speak of the devil……

“Watch out for the damn snake!” yelled Simon.

from chapter 19 of Glass Chimera

And this just in, Cen0zoically speaking…from Ezekiel, at the River Chebar, among the diasporas:

” Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you about, and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords–”

“…Persia, Ethiopia, and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet, Gomer with all its troops…”

Stay tune for more planetary updates on the continuing crisis of Darwinian survival of the fittest on the third rock from the sun.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress