Watching the slow-motion train wreck of an economic system collapse unfold

Watching the slow-motion train wreck of an economic system collapse unfold
click pic to reminisce

hide yo kids, hide yo wife!  

Posted by howard in nyc in , ,

7/11/2011  14:23

I have not ranted and spewed venom, errr, I mean I have not crafted a thoughtful and restrained essay on economic and financial collapse in a few weeks now.  I have not been moved to words by any recent non-events.  All due respect to Casey Anthony and the federal budget farce coupled to the juvenile lie of 'pending default', the two leading non-events being tracked faithfully by the joke of our news media and the sugar high distraction of the cultural consciousness.  I don't know which is more surprising:  the number of friends and acquaintances who were outraged over some white lady's acquittal, which i would've expected them to be unaware of, much less so strongly opined about; or how many of the same folks believe that TBTB are in any danger of failing to make a $30 billion monthly interest payment, out of $300 billion monthly expenses, when monthly income is ~$175 billion.

The interest on the national debt will be paid before salaries of all those government employees who do not carry weapons, or the social security/medicare/food stamps payments to the hoi polloi (yes, that includes doctors, or 'health care providers', which I am told is the preferred term.

Every fucking news report has the word 'default' in the lead.  And it is a big fat hanging lie.

See?  I have nothing much new on my mind about real events in the world.  Wars, rumours of war, unemployment, bank fraud, sovereign debt crises (at least that is heating up--finally).  Just waiting for another big shoe to drop, in Damascus, Tripoli, Brussels or Wall Street.

In the meantime, two things I read that I really liked, and wanted to share.

First, from Jesse's Café Américain, one of my daily reads.  A wonderful descriptive analysis (or maybe analytic description) of our horrible, hated president:


A bright fellow no doubt, but unseasoned by things like family, tradition, and the personal experience of hardship: a great story teller, a rationalizer, a perpetual outsider, and a thoroughly modern relativist. You have to keep your eye on what he does, rather than what he says. But that is a given with all modern managers.


The other, from a source I do not regularly read, but via Yves at Naked Capitalism, her daily news and commentary links are a daily don't miss for me.  A blog called Decline of the Empire, a clip from a post non-sarcastically (and non-ironically) called This Time Really Is Different:

I've got some news for people like John Mauldin, Barry Ritholtz, Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff—this time is different, but not in the sense you intend. To understand what is happening in the United States, it is necessary to go far beyond an historical survey of financial crises. You must consider the specific historical circumstances that led to the current crisis. Such a review would include but not be limited to the following observations—
  • The United States has been hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs for 30 years.
  • Almost all of the income gains made during that time went to the top 10% of wage-earners, with most of them going to the top 1%. Wealth inequality grew accordingly.
  • Health care costs have been soaring all that time.
  • College tuition costs skyrocketed at a pace far beyond the rate of inflation.
  • Households took on more and more debt to replace lost income.
  • We had not one, but two, substantial economic bubbles during the last 15 years. Without those bubbles, how much would the U.S. economy have grown?
  • The private debt to GDP ratio grew and grew, clearly indicating that more and more debt was required to add an additional point of GDP.
  • The Federal Government more and more became the tool of monied special interests.
And so forth. When people endorse Reinhart and Rogoff, we are supposed to understand that the Tough Times we're experiencing now have a well-defined beginning—the financial crisis after the fall of Lehman—and will have a well-defined end—however many years it takes to work through the credit problems. This is utter nonsense. The "historical obversations" I listed above are in fact the root causes of our current predicament.

And in each case, the historical trend has not changed, or has gotten worse. Households now have only slightly less debt than they did before the crisis, but trillions of dollars of housing wealth has disappeared. Health care costs continue to soar, as do college tuitions. Income gains still go to the wealthiest Americans. In short, nothing has changed.

That leaves those who want to believe that All Will Be Well with the same unsolvable dilemma we started out with: how do you tell a credible story that everything will turn out OK? I'm sorry, but no amount of convenient, hopeful rationalization is going to change the American disaster while the roots of the crisis remain in place. The financial meltdown was the proximate, not the ultimate, cause of America's economic woes.

This time really is different.

July Jeopardy  

Posted by howard in nyc

Monday 7/25
Category:  BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS
Clue:  The 2003 bestseller "The Meaning of Everything" is subtitled "The Story of" this reference classic

Answer:  What is the Oxford English Dictionary?


Tuesday 7/26
Category:  THE NEW TESTAMENT
Clue:  This miracle that happens in all 4 Gospels, including Mark 6 & Luke 9, has elements that symbolically represent Jesus

Answer:  What is the feeding of the multitudes, with the loaves and fishes?


Wednesday 7/27
Category:  ROYALTY
Clue:On the run following the siege of Oxford, he surrendered May 5, 1646 near Newark on Trent (*not Newark on Passaic)

Answer:  Who was Charles I?



Thursday 7/28
Category:  WORLD HISTORY
Clue:  Surus was the last known one of these to survive a mountain crossing in the 3rd century B.C.

Answer:  What is an elephant ?  (hannibal, alps, dead punics, you know)



Friday 7/29
Category:  LOS ANGELES LANDMARKS
Clue:  A James Dean memorial can be found adjacent to this structure, located at one of the high spots in Los Angeles

Answer:  Where is the Hollywood sign? 









Friday 7/22
Category: FAMOUS AMERICANS
Clue: In 1909 he sent the message "Stars and Stripes nailed to the Pole"

Answer:  Who was Rear Admiral Robert Edwin Peary? 



Thursday 7/21
Category: 20th CENTURY LEADERS
Clue: Time Magazine first mentioned him in 1939, when his father sent him on a diplomatic errand from London to Glasgow

Answer:  Who was John Fitzgerald Kennedy?


Wednesday 7/20
Category: SPORTS MOVIES
Clue: Their team colors were yellow and white & they were originally sponsored by Chico's Bail Bonds

Answer:  Who are the Bad News Bears?  Let Freedom Ring!






Tuesday 7/19 Category: 19th CENTURY NOVELS
Clue: This novel's first epilogue says, "the activity of Alexander or of Napoleon cannot be called useful or harmful"

Answer:  What is Tolstoy's War and Peace?



Monday 7/18
Category:  WORLD GEOGRAPHY
Clue: Of the 4 largest Asian countries in area, it's the only one that borders the other 3

Answer:  Where is China?  (Russia, India and Kazakhstan are the other three)




Friday 7/15
Category:  TRADEMARKS
Clue:  In 1987 a maker of fiberglass insulation became the first company to trademark a color--this color

Answer:   What is pink?

let steven answer that question:





Thursday 7/14
Category: PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARIES
Clue:  Opened in 1971, his presidential library is the farthest south

Answer:   Who was Lyndon Baines Johnson?


Wednesday 7/13
Category:  NAME THE POET
Clue:  "The spirit who bideth by himself / in the land of mist and snow / he loved the bird that loved the man / who shot him with his bow" 

Answer:   Who was Samuel Taylor Coleridge?  get your albatross!

Tuesday 7/12
Category:  COMIC BOOK HISTORY
Clue:  On the cover of the 1941 first issue of this comic book, the title hero punches Hitler in the jaw

Answer:  Who is Captain American?




Monday 7/11
Category:  18th CENTURY QUOTATIONS
Clue:  2 yrs. before his 1794 execution, he said, "I am no courtier, nor moderator…nor defender of the people:  I am myself the people"

Answer:  Who was Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre?







Friday 7/1
Category:  BRITISH AUTHORS
Clue:  She described her work as "human nature in the midland counties" & involving "three of four families in a country village"

Answer:  Who is Jane Austen?