Thursday, December 9, 2010

Is Capitalism Dead?

      As the recession grinds on, politicians in most industrial countries have an incentive to make exaggerated claims about the supposed coming economic recovery. Some say the recession is over. Obama is in the group that claims we're on "the road to recovery," while other nations can only spot recovery "on the horizon." Below are seven important social phenomena that point to a more realistic economic and political outlook.

Dominant Social Theme: In this case, none. Tehran Times, an "international" newspaper tells the truth more succinctly than major Western media.

Free-Market Analysis: Is there a recovery? Do you feel it, dear reader? Deep down in 'dem bones? I don't. I've explained the reasons why in many of articles: The fiat meltdown of 2008 was a meltdown of MONEY caused by the Internet's ability to expose the truth of a fraudulent central banking controlled monetary system and the power elite who benefit from the process of wealth redistribution. It was not caused by "faulty" economies specifically. It is the system itself that collapsed and at the base of it all is the myth of the mighty US dollar. When Goldman Sachs, (as just revealed recently in Federal Reserve info about where US$3 trillion went in 2008 disbursements) needs billions on a regular basis to sustain itself, you've got a SYSTEMIC problem, not one having to do with sour investments.

      What "melted down" in 2008, as we've long observed, was a 100-year-old central banking system. The mainstream Anglo-American media won't comment on this of course. We're still reading articles attributing the meltdown to the removal of Glass-Steagal or the mispricing of sub-prime mortgages. No, the same thing happened in 2008 that happened in 1929 (and in 1969, really). The system collapsed. But this is the mother-of-all-collapses. It is the Big Bang of Black Swan events (assuming you were a Keynesian and didn't see it coming).

      You would think – as America teeters on the edge of a second Great Depression, as the European Union threatens to spin off into a million tiny ethnic states, as China promises to unravel when inflation (or its remedies) becomes intolerable – that there would be more introspection (more navel gazing) as regards to what went wrong. These mainstream journos are savvy people, educated at the best schools, often with Masters Degrees and even PhDs. And yet ... nothing. Or not nothing – worse than nothing. I've charted the steady uptick in articles proclaiming that this region and that country is "on the way back." Disinformation. (Shall I call them outright lies?)

      American unemployment makes an uptick (a statistically phony one to be sure) and suddenly the Great Recession is on its last legs. The European Union sets up a "bailout fund" and ... problem solved. China's Chicom rulers go to work to "cure" the inflation "problem" and a hundred articles on mainstream websites trumpet the latest, futile nostrums. Unlike some of the alternative 'Net press, mainstream media can't or won't face the truth. The system is broke.

      It's like a busted balloon. You can huff and puff away but it won't make a difference. It won't re-inflate. It can't. As I've written many times before, the system is on proverbial life support. The balloon trembles and inflates just a little, and it takes a steady inflation to keep it that way. Barely expanded. Why is this? The Anglo-American power elite in our view simply did not anticipate the violence of the collapse.

      Hey, it's THEIR system. Those at the top know damn well what happens to central banking economies. But in their arrogance and hubris they no doubt believed that they could control even the most volatile economic implosion. I think this confidence is misplaced. I believe they are finding this out. They were ready for 1969 but they got 1929 ... and they've been scrambling ever since.

      Again, you won't read anything like this in the mainstream press. The top journos are too busy crawling around on the ground looking for "green shoots." (Remember that phrase?) So I turn instead to the Tehran Times for a better description of what's really going on. Seven points. Here we go:

1) "Central Banks are Dumbfounded." The article points out those rates cannot go any lower and quantitative easing is introducing a trade war. I agree with this as far as it goes. But again, I would travel even deeper. There are simply too many dollars sloshing around the world. The system is blown up. The dollar remains the reserve currency – held there by force of arms not preference – but that's a state of affairs that cannot last forever...

2) "Trade War." As the US devalues due to quantitative easing, other countries devalue too. Gradually monetary tit-for-tat will give way to a genuine trade war, complete with regulations against buying or selling certain products, etc. Of course we don't see anything wrong with this. Most of what countries "trade," are unnecessary excrescences of fiat money, the spume of frothy economies. Let the system collapse. Perhaps private industry can rebuild it.

3) "Military War." Depressed economic circumstances give rise to increased military activity as state-leaders turn to the only mechanism that assures their power: conflict. The idea is to take people's mind off their misery by creating an outside enemy that rage can focus on, in this case, the war on terrorism. Always in bad economic times, war and talk of war increases. But breaking things rarely results in healthier economic circumstances for anyone.

4) "U.S. Economy at a Standstill." This is because first the Bush and then Obama administration decided to bail out large corporations and banks. As a result, the economy itself (and its players) cannot tell who is solvent and who is ruined. Nobody wants to loan in this sort of environment. The uncertainty has nothing to do with animal spirits and everything to do with the uncertainty injected by various, ill-judged bailouts.

5) "Bailout Capitalism." What is being pointed out here is that bailouts are never-ending because no single entity is allowed to fail. The ruin keeps expanding along with the bailouts. First the US needed bailing out and then Europe. Sooner or later China will need to be bailed out as well. That should be interesting.

6) "Bailout Repercussions.' The bailouts have prolonged the downturn. Instead of a sharp, short bust, there is an ongoing, endless unraveling that is tearing at the very fabric of civil societies. The longer it continues (the downturn) with all of its inequity and devious refundings, the worse it will get and the more distrusted "capitalism" will become.

7) "The Far Right Emerges." As times grow worse, finger pointing grows worse. People blame each other, blame other ethnicities and become more protective of their own culture, regions and even neighborhood. Nothing kills generosity of spirit like hard times imposed from the top down. People feel entirely helpless and are apt to lash out in anger.

The article I've been analyzing was written by Shamus Cooke, a socialist, apparently, and writer for Workers Action. Of course here at the Bell, we are not socialists but free-market types, libertarians. Our paradigm is different from Cooke's. We believe a small group of tremendously wealthy banking families (an Anglo-American elite) are responsible for the West's current economic chaos. Socialism, communism and other "isms" have been put in circulation – promoted – by these families to confuse the situation. But that doesn't diminish the impact of Cooke's analysis. We think the power elite over-reached. We think Cooke is closer to being right than wrong when he points out that this time it's different – this time "capitalism" isn't coming back.

What will take its place? Capitalism in the 20th century, especially, was closer to communism in the West than to free markets. Actually it was a kind of corporatism on steroids. What is needed now is a retreat from "capitalism" – from regulatory democracy, state funded monopoly justice and the Anglosphere's serial warfare. What is needed is a renewal of entrepreneurism, local (municipal) rule at a level where an individual can actually make a difference and capital markets writ small that can help people with funding.

Conclusion: Cooke would try to mandate such solutions through some sort of rational but populist regulation. We would rather do away with Leviathan and then let the market (and local governance as necessary) have its way. But we agree with Cooke that the central banking capitalism of the 20th century won't return, or not in its current form.

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