Have a Nice Day

The underlying fundamentals are toxic: US gross debt as a percentage of GDP (currently at 375%) is still climbing, housing prices are still falling (wealth destruction as far as the eye can see), un/underemployment is still rising (an inability to service debt), the financial industry is back to its old tricks (bonuses are shooting through the roof again, etc.), China is still manipulating its currency (dashing prospects of future jobs), commodities (higher costs for daily life) are shooting up again, etc. Worse, what action has been taken is largely short term masking of symptoms and not a cure. Our government “brain-trust” is using all of its financial powder on deprecated 20th Century economic measures to prop up the industries that got us into this crisis: like the greasing of palms in the bloated construction industry (what relation that industry has to our future prosperity is a big mystery) and the flooding of a failing oligopoly (the financial industry) with free money.

So where is it heading?

“… a post-Westphalian century replete with neo-feudalism and global guerrillas is on an inexorable march.”

John Robb.

11 thoughts on “Have a Nice Day”

  1. I’m afraid that age makes one less tolerant of the antics of the baby boomers. When I was in the eighth grade (1952) I happened across my cousin’s high school world history textbook (Hirsch High 1938). It read like a novel and I read it front to back twice. It began with the Doric invasion of Greece, as I recall although there may have been a chapter on Crete and Minos. I remember learning about Crete’s “wooden walls” somewhere in grammar school. Anyway, I wonder how many high school graduates know about the Punic Wars or Minos’ “wooden walls.” I’m sure others will say this is useless information but I would counter with a suggestion that Michael Jackson’s biography should qualify with far more to support it.

    I don’t know if college students still find economics available that is not contaminated with Marxism. Right now, I watch Congress repeat the mistakes of Smoot-Hawley that we thought could never happen again.
    i wonder if we will survive it as a free people.

  2. It’s classic Robb. He’s so good at spotting negative black swans and so poor at spotting positive ones. I’m not claiming to be good at it myself, mind you, but I at least understand that they exist and should get us out of a lot of the problems that he foresees.

    Historically, positive black swans outnumber negative ones. The green revolution, the transistor, the Internet,

  3. I agree with TMLutas. I realize that Robb is a smart and thoughtful guy, but in this quote he comes across like many financial pundits this year who have been predicting financial depression every time the stock mkt has a down week. Another way to put it is that, after a worst case, he is predicting a series of worst cases to follow. He may be right but it’s not the way to bet. The future will be full of surprises, just as the past was. Many of these surprises are likely to be positive ones, as was the case in the past.

  4. I suspect Robb agrees with many serious thinkers of past and present who are pessimistic about the stability of popular democracy in the longer term. Current crises are therefore seen as part of the inevitable, eventual decline of The Democracy Project.

    It’s far from a trivial point of view. We know the economic crises occuring now was engendered by the popular political process. And now the political process is moving wholesale into energy and medicine. We can therefore fully expect future crises in energy and medicine.

    The success of countries with a democratic process in the 19th and 20th centuries occured because they were thereby provided political stability while at the same time a sizeable proportion of economic activity was left to the market (the free exchange of information being a big part of that activity). It’s not obvious that this large area of activity will remain free against the popular pressure (especially from women) for control by ‘the people’. Once that happens we enter the realm of the Ponzi Scheme (which the political process always becomes) and it’s game over, even though it may look pretty good in the beginning, as all Ponzi schemes do.

  5. Why post-Westphalian? People should read that treaty and stop using the adjective to mean whatever they want it to mean. Humpty-Dumpty rules in political discourse. Grrrr!

  6. Helen, pretty much everybody uses “Westphalian” to mean the modern nation state, which did not, supposedly exist beforehand. Shorthand. Not ignorance.

    Michael, suit yourself.

  7. Pretty much everybody does not use that expression, Lex. It is not correct and modern nation states did not suddenly come into being in 1648. Not over here, on this side of the Pond.

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