Monday, October 31, 2011

2012, here we come.... (#26)

Most people are able to go about their lives without even the sketchiest understanding of quantum physics. To lack even an intuitive comprehension of classical Newtonian physics is a far more dangerous disposition however.

Until recently something very comparable applied to the world of economics. Most people could get on with their daily lives as producers and consumers of goods and services and not really have to give much thought to the weird underlying reality constructed out of semi-comprehensible securities, credit default swaps, CDOs, quantitative easing etc. etc.

Yet rather like a scientist who wakes up one morning with the premonition that the quantum world is the primary one and that everything else we perceive around us mere epiphenomena, I had a similar awakening myself with regards to the structure of 'late stage capitalism' around the middle of the last decade.

Surrounded by marketing people who thought of their own role in life as the most creative and fascinating part of the whole supply chain, I started to pity them for the bottom-feeders that they now appeared to me to be. For suddenly nothing was as it had always seemed: economics, politics and society in general was revealed as inexorably emerging from the hidden reality of high finance. And then in 2008 it stopped being quite so hidden.

There can hardly be a citizen in a major western democracy who is not now aware now how their world really works. Millions have been deprived of the illusion of usefulness (and not just PR and marketing people!). Can anyone deny that over the course of the last three years our leaders have made all other social and political goals subsidiary to that of maintaining the solvency of our banks? And however much we moan about this, if they hadn't, we'd have a lot more to moan about.

This is why the US markets responded so positively to news of the latest Eurozone fudge at the end of last week. This new plan is likely to accelerate the pending recession across the old world but, lets be clear, America doesn't care. These Frogs and Krouts are competitors after all. The current American administration cares about two things only. Postponing any day of reckoning beyond the 2012 Presidential election, and preventing a 'credit event' with global economic consequences. If the Europeans can find a way to sink themselves without affecting everyone else, so much the better...


norm said...

Maybe I have been hit in the head with too many positive charged quarks over the years but I am not ready to panic. The Euro is still worth more than the dollar, money rates are still CHEAP. Unemployment is high but nothing compared to the 30s and still less than the early 80s; we are still making things that can hurt you if you drop them on your toe. The factories are open here, not as many people are in them but they are back to full output. The 50% haircut on the Greek debt was a good start, 90% would have been a better wake-up call for investors on the reality of risk and its pricing but it's a start. I have paid as much as 15% for money to buy a house in my life and that was with better than 20% of the buying price upfront-the Regan years...At least here in Ohio, the early 80s were much worse. This to shall pass.

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