Ponzi’s Glad Tidings

October 14, 2009

Beware of feel-good economic news

(Illustration found here).

Even as the US stock markets post some high gains, even as the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, which has risen over the past six sessions, also finished Monday at its highest level in a year, and even as those infamous banks appear to slowing on losses — all just a figment of fantasy.
The Dow is “flirting” with the 10,000 level this morning after opening, based primarily on JP Morgan’s huge $3.6 billion reported earnings in the last quarter, and there is festive fun for everyone!
A total financial-only gravy-train: Bigger than prior to September 2008’s Wall Street meltdown — Workers at 23 top investment banks, hedge funds, asset managers and stock and commodities exchanges can expect to earn even more than they did the peak year of 2007…
And from the New York Times yesterday:

In recent decades, layoffs were the standard procedure for shrinking labor costs.
Reducing the wages of those who remained on the job was considered demoralizing and risky: the best workers would jump to another employer.
But now pay cuts, sometimes the result of downgrades in rank or shortened workweeks, are occurring more frequently than at any time since the Great Depression.

In the face of the official line on the economy — US Federal Reserve boss Ben Bernanke’s blubberings last week helped fuel higher expectations and: “At some point, however, as economic recovery takes hold, we will need to tighten monetary policy to prevent the emergence of an inflation problem down the road.” — the reality is covered up by an artificial band-aid for this so-called period on ‘down the road.’
Prepare to duck, or maybe tuck-n-roll when banks use its earning in a strategy called Delay-and-Pray.
What’s to be expected, however, when the federal government is once again trying to stop financial suck-hole AIG from paying out $198 million in bonuses promised to employees of its trading unit — same shit from the same ass from last spring to the same assholes.

Yes indeed, WTF.
Lester R. Brown, normally an environmentalist and also an early voice on global warming, has compared the world’s economy, and especially with the US, to a giant “Ponzi Scheme” that’s about to collapse around our collective ears.
In his book published earlier this month, Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, Brown asserts that too much of modern life is entangled in a vast overstretching of just about everything, and the planet just can’t sustain itself much longer.
The book’s first chapter, “Selling Our Future,” can be found here.
A few snips:

As recently as 1950 or so, the world economy was living more or less within its means, consuming only the sustainable yield, the interest of the natural systems that support it. But then as the economy doubled, and doubled again, and yet again, multiplying eightfold, it began to outrun sustainable yields and to consume the asset base itself.
In a 2002 study published by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a team of scientists concluded that humanity’s collective demands first surpassed the earth’s regenerative capacity around 1980.
As of 2009 global demands on natural systems exceed their sustainable yield capacity by nearly 30 percent. This means we are meeting current demands in part by consuming the earth’s natural assets, setting the stage for an eventual Ponzi-type collapse when these assets are depleted.

The larger question is, If we continue with business as usual — with overpumping, overgrazing, overplowing, overfishing, and overloading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide — how long will it be before the Ponzi economy unravels and collapses?
No one knows. Our industrial civilization has not been here before.

An example question: The $3 per gallon cost of gas in mid-2009 — layered with even higher costs (finding the oil, pumping it, refining it into gasoline and delivering it)?

These indirect costs now total some $12 per gallon.
In reality, burning gasoline is very costly, but the market tells us it is cheap.

So, this literal house of cards, what’s its future?
Reading tea leaves can be a bit tricky, but sometimes You don’t need a weather man To know which way the wind blows.

One guy who has been making accurate economic-related predictions for nearly 30 years, Gerald Celente, views another massive, maybe even worse downturn as just around the corner — or maybe even closer than the nearest corner.
Considered the most extraordinary forecaster/herald this side of Nostradamus, Celente has been right on the money with all kinds of future readings, calling 1987’s global-market-crash, the infamous “Black Monday,” to the rise of the Internet, all kinds of other shit, to nowadays and the current economic predicament: In November 2007, Mr. Celente also told UPI a massive devaluation of the dollar was coming and that some Wall Street giants were headed for total collapse. He called it “The Panic of 2008.”
In an interview last week with the San Francisco Examiner, Celente said people need to wise up:

“We want to make it very clear that the policies leading to the decline of ‘Empire America’ have been long in the making,” he said.
“What has happened in the Obama Administration is that they have taken policies far beyond even what Bush took with the TARP program; for example, with his stimulus package, with the buyouts, with the bailouts, the rescue packages, these are unprecedented in American history.”
“Never before has so much phantom money been printed out of thin air, backed by nothing, producing practically nothing,” Celente continues.
“You don’t even have to be a student of history to know the outcome of this.
All you have to do is have your eyes open, and start thinking for yourself.”

Celente claims nasty shit is about to hit the swirling fan: He wrote in July about what will happen within the next two years — By 2012, even those in denial and still clinging to hope will be forced to face the truth. It will be called “Obamageddon” in America. The rest of the world will call it “The Greatest Depression.”

Don’t panic — yet.
Once the panic does arrive, however, the following suggestions are suggested (from SatireWire):

  • Eat your young. “It seems barbaric, but trust me, if you don’t do it, someone else will, and you’ll end up kicking yourself.”
  • If you live in Manhattan and hear somebody sing “It’s Rainin’ Men,” don’t hum along. Jump out of the way.
  • Diversify your portfolio. Always sound advice, no matter the economic climate.
  • Set aside 10 percent of your pre-tax income for firearms.
  • Will your online broker be there in a market panic? Maybe it’s time you switched to a Schwab One account. (paid advertisement)

And always carry a pencil — you just never know.

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