by ilene - September 10th, 2010 9:04 pm
Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds
Conventional wisdom holds that today's global financial crises are political rather than systemic to Neoliberal Global State Capitalism.
It is tempting to place the blame for the U.S. economy's deep woes at the feet of our corrupt, captured political system of governance and those who captured it via concentrated wealth and power. But that would avoid looking at the crises unfolding in global capitalism itself.
From the "progressive" ideology, the "problem" is inequality of income and wealth, and the "solution" is to take more of the wealth and income away from "the rich" (i.e. those who make more than I do) and redistribute to the "have-less" citizenry.
From the "conservative" ideology, the "problem" is that the Central State, in cahoots with public unions and Corporate Overlords, grabs an ever-larger share of the national income to redistribute to reward its cronies and favorites. In so doing, it mis-allocates the nation's capital away from productive investments and strangles free enterprise, the only real engine of wealth.
There is of course a grain of truth in each point of view. As I describe in Survival+, there is a positive feedback in the process of concentrating wealth and thus political power: the more wealth one acquires, themore political influence one can purchase, which then enables the accumulation of even more wealth as the State/Elite partnership showers benefits and monoplies on those who fund elections, i.e. the wealthy.
This process eventually leads to over-reach, when the nation's capital and income are so concentrated that the economy become precariously imbalanced and thus vulernerable to devolution and collapse. Returns on favoritism and capital become marginal, and it take more complexity and capital to wring ever-smaller profits and power from ever-greater investments.
It is also true that the State and the Power Elites mask their massive redistribution to the wealthy and powerful behind politically popular redistributions to the lower-income and/or unproductive citizenry, garnering their loyalty and complicity.
It is also true that as the State and its private-sector Elites channel an ever-larger percentage of the national income to the Central State and its fiefdoms, both public and private, then the productive…
by ilene - November 27th, 2009 8:36 pm
All signs indicate Gammon’s Black Holes are about to get bigger… – Ilene
Courtesy of Eric Falkenstein of Falkenblog
In 1968, the poverty rate in the US was 12.8%. Since then, we have introduced or vastly expanded the following:
job training courses
community development block grants
urban redevelopment schemes
aid to families with dependent children (AFDC)
social security disability income
section 8 housing grants
emergency assistance to needy families with children
college scholarship aid
free and reduced price lunches
Currently, the poverty rate is around 12.3%. More importantly, most of our cities have become unlivable, so that most college-educated families simply do not live within the city borders of Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Newark, etc. More programs, worse results.
Dr. Max Gammon was a British physician who noticed that although government spent significantly more on health care than it had previously in the 1960s, the National Health Service didn’t seem any better for it. After an extensive study of the British system of socialized medicine, Gammon formulated his law: "In a bureaucratic system, increase in expenditure will be matched by fall in production…such systems will act rather like ‘black holes,’ in the economic universe, simultaneously sucking in resources, and shrinking in terms of emitted production."
by ilene - July 29th, 2009 9:56 am
Courtesy of Michael Panzner at When Giants Fall
Out of the large universe of so-called experts, there are only a relative few, as I noted in a post at Financial Armageddon, worth paying attention to. One of those individuals is Jeremy Grantham, chairman and co-founder of global investment firm GMO, who I don’t always agree with, but whose opinions I have always respected. In fact, I’ve noted his insights on several occasions — see "For Some, a Total Loss," "Give ‘Em Enough Hope…," "Another Permabear Who Doesn’t Know What He Is Talking About?" and "Words from the Wise" — but I haven’t really strayed to far outside the realm of financial markets and economics. Now, though, Mr. Grantham is out with his latest quarterly newsletter, and it includes a section (excerpted below), entitled "Initial Report: Running Out Of Resources," about a somewhat broader theme that features prominently in my new book, When Giants Fall:
Getting Used to Lower Growth and Higher Prices
As the economy sorts itself out from the recent financial turmoil, we are very likely to have lower growth rates for quite a few years. We described the reasons for this last quarter: writing down excessive loans and curtailing expenditures as we realize we are not as rich as we thought.
Economic expansion will also be held back by the decreasing growth of available man hours. Since 2000, this growth has declined to below 1% per year from an average of 1.62% for the prior 50 years. Over the next 30 years, it is almost certain to continue to decline to about 0.5%, ignoring the temporary cyclical bounce in employment that we will get as the current severe recession ends.
Behind these two issues, however, lurks another longer-term and more important factor affecting future growth, and that is the increasing limitations on resources: we are simply running out of everything at a dangerous rate. We apparently have trouble processing numeric issues of this kind, and this missing faculty will cause considerable grief. We do not understand the implications of exponential or compound growth rates: the main implication being that they are impossible to sustain.
No better example of resource limitation in the face of both denial and strong efforts can be found than