Sunday, November 13, 2011

Trick or Treat doesn’t end with Halloween - It's the Stupidity Stupid pt.2

I did a post not long ago about Robert B. Reich's advice to President Obama on putting together a Jobs Bill, which I'm continuing here, and later this week....why bother? I mean, Robert B. Reich...? Really? Why bother with what he says? Why does it matter what someone who no longer matters says or thinks? Well, along with the eye you should keep out for the upcoming super-committee budget meltdown later this week, again, you should keep another eye looking behind you towards Halloween and its Tricks & Treats. With that spooky night still fairly fresh in mind, I'll offer up an old treat by Niall Ferguson, historian & economist, who partly exposes the trick in his "History lesson for economists in thrall to Keynes", quipping off of Lord Keynes’s quip,

"It was Keynes who noted that “even the most practical man of affairs is usually in the thrall of the ideas of some long-dead economist”. Today the long-dead economist is Keynes, and it is professors of economics, not practical men, who are in thrall to his ideas."
But IMHO Ferguson only got that partly right, because the problem is that washed up economists like Reich, who are in thrall to long dead economists like Keynes, still have the ear of those many impractical men who are very much alive and holding the reins of power - see Obama's Jobs Bill and the budget super committee debacle at the end of this week - not only in America, but around the world; and the problem is that through them, the wealth & futures of practical men are being held in thrall, to the haunted cemeteries of these men’s minds.

And I for one am afraid of those ghosts.

Why? Because they are real. The problem with long dead economists, is that living ones still listen to them... and politicians, who can't make sense of modern economics themselves (because it is non-sensical), listen to them... even when there is no reason to believe that they were ever right, or ever cared about what would work... in the long run. That merry quipster Keynes had another quip for those sensible people who pointed out to Keynes himself that in the long run, his policies would exhaust the system, completely disintegrate and collapse the economy and that in the end his system, like a ponzi scheme, wouldn't work; he simply shrugged and said,
"In the end, we're all dead".
See what I mean? We're near the end, and he's dead... where does that leave you and me? Thinking which is that dis-integrated, which is so focused upon the here and now, tends to lead you into the sorts of dark times that are gathering around us now... meanwhile, those who led us to these ends are dead and gone. That's some scary stuff, and I for one am very much afraid of those ghosts, because that is what Keynesianism is all about, and we are being haunted, robbed and beaten up by it to this day.

But even that isn't the most frightening part of this - the really scary part is that Keynes entire corpus of non-sense was exposed and disarmed long ago - Henry Hazlitt demolished Keynesianism 50 years ago in " The Failure of the 'New Economics'", and yet we are still being beaten up and robbed by an unarmed dead man's ghost.

Now that's some serious Trick or Treating.

How? What it comes down to, is that the proregressive left (and 'right'), and those who can gain power over you through them, don’t care all that much about real reality, they aren't interested in what is right and true, but only in gaining power and winning; they care about how they can spin you into thinking that their trick is actually a treat - and Keynesianism is the very ticket for doing just that - it has an impressive argument (not a good one, but, like Kant's, it's one that is boring and very long ,just the sort of thing that people would rather put it into practice so you can find out what's in it, rather than bothering with reading it first - which seems to go well with our Pelosi-like times), and, best of all, it promises something for nothing, which is a demagogues dream, an elitist mask for a populist's pretext.

You might even say that it's something to Occupy the.001% (who think that they're the 99%) with.

On top of that, Keynes doesn't makes the mistake of coming out and saying what Marx did, that his system could be summed up in a single sentence "the abolition of property rights", Keynes only slyly implies and assumes it, without ever coming out and saying so directly, so Keynesianism can be used to accomplish the very same ends - the abolition of property rights - without having to use all those old scary words and names. Very ghost-like. And it is the perfect mask, that of a long dead economist, and a Lord no less, over that of an even longer dead economist, and one which gives the envious mob the blessings of the elites to take whatever they will, and feel justified in doing so.

Trick or Treat!

The Demons of Demand Don't Haunt Alone
But Keynes isn't the only ghost treating us with his tricks of course, there's Dewey & Rousseau, and of course Marx & Hegel & Kant... and Descartes too, the gangs all here, but Keynes is the one whose preachings, concocted from their ingreedients, makes their practical magic possible. It is his tricks that have succeeded so admirably in producing the money from our wallets to fund their schemes with, so that everyone willingly keeps up his pretenses.

Keynesianism doesn't make sense, it is important to realize that it doesn't actually work, but it can, with some distracting waving of the magicians arms, be made to appear to work and most people who do try and look closer at its workings simply assume that it is working and that it must be they who are missing something in understanding it. In fact it's Keynesianism that is missing something - a respectful grip on reality - but that is its trick, that it doesn't make sense, but people will assume that it does, so as not to appear to be unable to understand it - no one wants to say that the emperor has no clothes, and so everyone goes along with the trick.

We are being defeated by a whole lot of nothing. A ghost as a machine.

The American people's problem has been in recognizing that when these guys play trick or treat, they aren't playing games - in truth, most of those playing don't realize that they are, they mean well, and so assume things will turn out well, somehow, but the ruin they cause is real. The Wackademics, the Economists, the Politicians - look closely at their masks... they aren't masks... they don't come off... and though they don't mean to be, in practice their actions are those of spiritual vampires, economic ghosts and political Frankenstein monsters; everything they've been telling us about Political Correctness, managing the economy, and regulated rights. has been what has tricked us, themselves included, into playing along, on and on.

Most people spread Political Correctness because they think they are giving a tolerant benefit of the doubt to those who need a break, when in fact they are spreading falsehoods and enabling lies, and their good intentions sap our spirit. They push financial chicanery and sleight of hand because they really think their complexity can produce causes from effects, but their effects are produced through artificial demands and they produce only the destruction of wealth. Politicians push regulations thinking that they are aiding the little guy, when in fact they succeed only in centralizing power far away from the individual, empowering the most corrupt of corporations and decitful of politicians, over them.

Our perceptions are inflated by vast amounts of nothingness, and we mistake size for substance, keeping us blowing up one bubble after another, distracting ourselves with their continually popping about our heads.

There's a lot of talk and disagreement about what bubbles are, and even whether or not they are, but what bubbles are is more about what they are not: reality. Bubbles form when the information which people have and are making decisions based upon, doesn't reflect the reality that really exists beneath them. When real estate prices are soaring, based upon the idea that large numbers of people, have the actual wealth or a reasonable expectation of acquiring it, want to live in a particular area, then the market forces of supply & demand causes those real estate prices to soar.

But when it's discovered that most of those people couldn't really afford the property they were buying - they hadn't produced the wealth or had a reasonable expectation of producing it - that their debts could not be repaid because they could not produce the wealth to pay for what they'd consumed ... then the sharp end of reality pricks that bubble and as it pops, everyone who'd been floating up and along in it, falls to the ground... or at the very least they fall onto the next bubble rising on up beneath them.

The baseless real estate prices... fall upon the empty securities... which fall upon the unfunded pensions... which fall upon the extended loans which cannot be repaid... and the currencies which are discovered to have no wealth to prop them up... which fall upon the creditor nations who based their own credit upon the credit of those they loaned to....


But know this - the encampments of Occupy Wall Street, are the very embodiement of their ideals, it is political correctness in practice, it is keynesianism in toto, it is the ideals of modern philosophy that have been 'educated' into the OWS'rs heads, on full display right before our eyes, is what those ideals mean in practice. This is also one of those rare instances when those who brought such a fearful diaplay about, will openly and admiringly admit it - see the press, see the professors, see the economists, see the politicians; they all look and praise what they are seeing with the Occupiers - will you look and see the refuse, the filth, the lice, the disease, the drug addiciton and overdoses, the theft, the violence, the arson, the rapes, the murders - will you have enough respect for the truth to see that those are the ends which the modernist monsters means will mean for everyone's lives?

Trick or Treat! Will you look? Will you call them on it? Probably not. Why? Because they say they don't mean for that to happen, right? they don't intend such bad things, only good, and so we continue on in your ever deepening indebtedness - you can thank Kant for that.

What those bad debts really are, is misinformation, a confusion between what some people wished was true, and what really was true. Many Cassandras have tried warning us of this for years, here is one from Nelson Hultberg in "Apocalypse This Way Comes", from back in 2003,

"But this time around our malaise is not caused by Fed engineered high interest rates. It is far deeper and more systemic. It stems from the great Keynesian theoretical flaw that will always manifest in the long run: central bank credit expansion leads to "debt saturation" and "malinvestment," which reverses the boom that the credit expansion was meant to perpetuate, but does not do so until the latter stages of the Kondratieff cycle."
Sadly for us, reality doesn't pull it's punches, and our society, indeed the world, is saturated with just this sort of Debt, and the debt collector is a coming. Hultberg goes on in one of the cheerier passages (really, don't read the article if your sanity is hanging by a thread... Boo!),

""Something ugly this way comes," writes brash and brainy Jim Willie in his Ass-Backwards Economics series. But the bovines in our establishment pasture are not cerebrally independent enough to grasp the horrific financial collapse of which he speaks. Lacking the contrarian attitude necessary to see truth coming down the pike, they drone out Pollyannish bunkum about the economy that pacifies the herd and reinforces the dogma to which they subscribe. What they should be stocking up for, however, is the devastating "mother of all bear markets" that is now beginning its attack upon our lives in the manner that bubonic plague begins its contagion by first striking isolated victims, then later explosively metastasizing throughout the whole of society with pervasive death and ruin."
The one thing they never tell us about all of the 'bubbles' we've had popping about us, is that they aren't confined to economics; while we have had plenty of real estate bubbles, and stock market bubbles, they are only the visible edge of the larger larger philosohical and educational bubble starting to be felt in the College bubble. What? You haven't heard about that one yet? Why? Where do they come from? A hint can be found in that all of the bubbles begin by promising to give us what we want, without our having to work for it.

Here, look closer, see if you can see the strings behind three of the biggest bubble blowers:

  • Public Education was ostensibly mandated to produce an educated populace for free, but it has nearly succeeded in removing even an understanding of what being educated means.
  • The FED was ostensibly established to do away with depressions, recessions and economic bubbles by letting experts handle things... but the reality is that we've had more of each since its establishment, than we ever experienced before it.
  • Regulatory Agencies were ostensibly created to help the little guy, but no one is so oppressed by them as the individual.
Whatever their original intentions might have been, and good intentions no doubt they were, they have in fact served as a trio of virtual bubble blowing machines, they inflate us with information that has less and less relation to reality, puffing us up ever higher and larger, until eventually one of their bubbles pop, distracting us from the next one in line. But what we miss with all the lesser bubbles, is that there is one massive great pumpkin of a bubble which we've all been standing upon, one that has made all the others possible, and its motto is that you can 'have your cake and eat it too', but we are all far too distracted by all the little ones floating & popping around our heads to take much notice, ar even really care... because, be honest, the cake tasts good... and while you know you don't still have it... everyone else is pretending right along with you, so what's the problem, right? You might get found out in the end, but... in the end... we'll all be dead, right?

Keynesianism is the leading edge of that bigger bubble... but it isn't the bubble itself, that belongs to Mssr's Descartes, Rousseau, Hume & Kant, but he is the leading method for implementing their emptiness and for blowing up all the other little bubbles with it.

But rest assured, at some point we are going to realize that there are no smaller bubbles left, and we'll all look down, and then, like Wylie E. Coyote, we'll look back at the camera, gulp, wave, and then 'Foop!' shoot down out of the screen towards the canyon bottom far below, dissappearing in a little puff of dust.

That real philosophical bubble, which has expanded to puff up very nearly the entire world, probably won't be acknowledged or recoginzed in our time, in time; nope, more likely it'll take historians looking back and remarking on how terribly wrong the rhyme was that ended with 'Words can never hurt you. "

Trick or Treat indeed.

Why am I being so cheery today?

Well, there have been several things which have occured recently, which lead me to think I may find myself with the horrid pleasure of saying "I told you so". Indicators such as this recent tid-bit from a governor of the Bank of England saying "OMG!"
"World facing worst financial crisis in history, Bank of England Governor says: The world is facing the worst financial crisis since at least the 1930s “if not ever”, the Governor of the Bank of England said last night."
And... also some indications that the last financial bubble standing, China, is getting scarily close to popping - oh yeah, it is. But before looking at the latest, lets look at a couple years ago, when a couple Keynseian's were happily expressing their views just before and after Obama’s 2008 election. Here one leftist economist is speaking glowingly of China's Keynesian policies,
"… a U.S. stimulus of the same size as the Chinese … would amount to $2.2 trillion. That's the kind of rocket-powered stimulus we need! … Obama's team is already ready to roll with similar plans."
And this one from just after Obama's election denouncing those who were foolish enough to oppose his plans,

"The Republicans want to put the brakes on, and just fall back on cutting taxes, and hoping that lower taxes is going to inspire big business …Many Americans, like me, just don't buy it… If big business cared about the people of the United States they would invest in the US and not ship jobs off to exploited workers in countries with low…."
Blah, blah, blah. That was two years ago. And last week. And tomorrow too, no doubt. But the fact is that their Treat is their Trick. Stimulous. Printing... digitizing money, spending, regulating, encouraging demand... Keynesianism... the offering up of a trick as a treat... with a bigger, nastier trick waiting in the wings to close out the show with. In the end. Hopefully, after you've left.

Not sure what I mean? China is the new economic super power, isn't it? Everyone from Glen Beck to Paul Krugman, and even Niall Ferguson, have been trumpeting how the Chinese are preparing to eat the West's lunch. While that's true, in a sense, what they aren't expecting, or rather what they have been expecting but will soon see is nowhere to be seen, is that the West will produce the coins to pay the bill and tip the waitress.

Come on... one more time... say it with me... Trick or Treat! From bad to worse, let's peek under the dragon's mask... first from Stratfor, the well respected global observer,

"One of the solutions the Chinese have tried to follow is urbanization: the idea that if they build it, people will come and if people move to the cities they will suddenly have jobs and in having jobs in the cities and living in a city, they’re going to become consumers. And certainly this is not for the entire billion of the population that’s not active, but maybe another hundred million, 200 million, 300 million. And that would help to better distribute wealth throughout China; it would also ease China off from their heavy dependence upon exports.

This boom in urbanization coincided with this government need to spend a lot more on domestic investment. It also fell right inside of what was already building as a speculative bubble in real estate investment. ...

So we have a China that’s facing a real estate bubble in an attempt to build a new urbanized society, but the individuals who would be moving into that urbanized society can’t afford to move in because of the price rise in housing. The government is trying to find ways to slow down that rise in price, but if they move too quickly it can undermine the collateral for the loans from state-owned enterprises, it can pull away the nest egg from their middle class and that can cause a very rapid backlash against the central government.

For China then, what this European crisis has done is it has brought something that they’ve known for a long time right up into the front. They no longer have the ability, it seems, to simply keep pushing back economic change and perhaps even not the ability push back political change in the country because the European crisis has ended their ability to count on this continuous rise in exports."
And then moving from Stratfor's cool detachment, to a more human reaction, here, from last week, have a closer look,
But what happens when the China bubble bursts? When it goes bang it will be worse than the US credit crisis and far worse than the EU sovereign debt crisis. For when China goes under the entire economy of the planet will sink into oblivion with it.

The only question remaining once China falls is when the bottom will be reached.

The day China's bubble bursts may be a lot closer than many think…at least The Daily Bell's market analysts think so, and they make a frighteningly good case.

For the past decade China has been riding the wave of the West's reckless spending and debt cycle. Becoming the biggest exporter in the world next to America (that's right, America—the US is still number one despite what you may have heard), China has pinned its currency, its hopes and its future on trade with the West.
And though Western economists, even some of the best, such as Fergusson, think that China has the advantage... who are you gonna believe, them or the Chinese? You see, we've been passing our IO‭U's to China... and China is beginning to realize that there is nothing behind them, the rich people in China are beginning to examine those IOU's, and they're beginning to realize that the reality they promise, just doesn't exist - IOW, they're false, unfounded financial information - bad debt. Forbes notes:
"China’s rich, primarily driven by a sense of insecurity, are taking money out of their country. Many are actually preparing to move elsewhere.
According to a new study, almost 60% of China’s “high net worth individuals,” defined as those possessing more than 10 million yuan in investable assets, are either considering emigration through investment programs or are completing the emigration process. The survey, conducted by China Merchants Bank and Bain & Co., also reports that 27% of those with more than 100 million yuan in investable assets have already emigrated and 47% of them are thinking about leaving the Motherland.
The stunning results correspond to reports that the U.S. Treasury unit monitoring illegal money flows has, since the beginning of last summer, detected a surge in hidden cash transfers out of China.."
What is the trick that these guys have all been treating us with? The answer is in the cards, which we'll start flipping over in the next posts, but what you should simply ask yourself, is does the free market work? Does communism fail? If you answer yes, then you've got to ask yourself, do you think that there is a reason beyond their names? Hopefully your answer is Yes again.

But if you answered no to the free market... then... ask yourself, what it is that happens when you forbid people from doing what they wish to do?

It makes no difference whether you are talking about forbidden ideas, intoxicants or economic practices, when people are forbidden from living their own lives as they'd like to out in the open, then you might have noticed that they begin doing so in the shadows, hidden from view, telling likely stories to mask the truth... can you guess what those allibi stories create when they are spun, told and followed?

That is precisely where bubbles come from.

The Free Market works for a reason, and Communism fails for a reason, and that reason is that it violates what the Free Market upholds - the right of the individual to live their own lives. Violate that, and sooner or later, your system will come crashing down... and ladies and gents, it is later... right now.

To be continued.


JP said...

Spengler (Goldman) is discussing a Spenglarian (Oswald) point in his October 24, 2011 article. I'd link, but as usual, I can't link here. It has to do with idea as fractal.

Also with your demand article here, I think we are missing the self-referential nature of modern economic thinking. However, since we are already at peak credit, more credit (demand) isn't really going to fix things.

There's something to be said for Keyenesianism (did I even spell that correctly?), but I think it's a form of economic thinking that can be applied to a certain subset of economic conditions. GovCo is going to continue to issue demand (debt) until forced to stop. By what, I don't know.

I only briefly skimmed your article. If I had more time, I would read it more carefully. I mostly wanted to point out Spengerisms.

Van Harvey said...

JP said "There's something to be said for Keyenesianism (did I even spell that correctly?..."

It's the spelling I've been going with, so... yes, you did. However I think you blew "Spengerisms"... perhaps when you have more time. Speaking of which, the article I found was about bombing Iran, which, although a fine idea, I don't see the tie in here. And as far as there being something to be said for Keynesianism, yes there is but they all amount to 'Poop'. Details, somewhat more respectibly stated, to follow in later posts.

Good effort though JP, feel free to have another go when you have more time.


JP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JP said...

Spengler Spenglerish Article

I'm trying this again. There's the article. Just let me know what you think about it.