The word “cascade” comes to mind. China is the world’s second largest economy. The continued crash has real implications for the rest of the world economically and probably politically. What those implications are at his point we do not know but it is certainly time now to keep one’s eyes on the horizon.
An interesting and somewhat desperate statement on corruption from a fan big government in Salon.
Thing is, as we say often, government is inherently corrupt. One can’t just get “good people” into office and then things will change. Government must itself be reduced.
Yes this means that many big modern liberal dreams must be abandoned.
I do not write this flippantly. I understand that this would constitute a political sea change.
As I watch the calamity in Greece and the chaos in China I am struck by how much things have changed in 10 years. “Wealth” looks very different to many people these days.
Wealth is time with one’s family. Wealth is time to think. Wealth is a good roof over one’s head. Wealth is good food and good friends. Wealth is walking through a field first thing in the morning with few bills to worry about. Wealth is swimming in the ocean and catching flounder in the surf. Wealth is peace of mind.
Be thankful you aren’t an unskilled worker in Athens or a newly middle class manager in Shenzen who has leveraged his home to play the stock market. Be thankful that you are not feeling the hottest of the world’s economic flames. At the same time be aware that fires do spread.
As we’ve said before, the Fed is independent. It is NOT sovereign.
But the Fed thinks that it is above Congress, and the law in many regards. That any effort to shine light into the dark halls of the Eccles Building is too much to ask. That even a little bit of sun would undermine the system.
Consider that for a moment. If that were true, which it’s not, but if it were, I ask whether we should be concerned that Federal Reserve system is so fragile.
It should be noted that when aspirational countries hit economic brick walls they often do not react well. Suddenly power shifts, as do markets and political perspective – in policy circles and in the general population. This creates instability, which threatens the powers that be. The powers that be then react.
Fascism and (Marxist) socialism are sisters. Close sisters. Both are fundamentally about controlling the economy in a quest for a greater “good.” They have important differences which are more than stylistic differences. But both are fundamentally opposed to free markets, free prices, and fundamentally the free will of individuals. At least most individuals.
What is “socialism” and what is “fascism” is a point of ongoing debate on this site. Invariably someone posts a meme which purports to define fascism as what we see it in the movies. See, FDR and Obama can’t have fascist tendencies. (In FDR’s case it was probably more than just a tendency.) They don’t (didn’t) wear jack boots and goose step around the White House. Fascists have a look. They are “right-wing.” (Right and Left as we know them in this country really are vestiges of another time and are less and less useful.)
But fascism is not about a look. It is about state control of a nominally private economy. And most of the fascists I know of tend(ed) not to watch Triumph of the Will on loop. Many look(ed) perfectly respectable.
I forgot who said it, but it is true that the most dangerous fascist of all may prefer tweed jackets to arm bands and over-starched shirts.
If you really want to understand why the crony capitalist system is so insidious as well as ubiquitous I highly recommend listening to this bit from the master Murray Rothbard. If you really want to get what is so messed up about government and the “privavte sector” partnering up, one must know at least a little bit of his work.
Warning though. Rothbard can rattle one’s whole understanding of politics and economics.
The Chinese stock market is crashing hard. Over half of all the companies on the Shanghai Exchange have been suspended from trading. The government is directly intervening in the market and has failed to even slow the selloff.
The change is happening actually. I feel a shift, on a broad scale. It has just started, but pay close attention. Statism is failing and people are beginning to remember (or learn) that real markets solve problems and allow people to create wealth.
The everyday person is becoming more aware that tossing one’s lot in with the Grubers of the world is just foolish.
It will take a revolution in economic thinking to turn the USA around, and I am more optimistic now than I have been in a long time that such a shift can happen. Indeed that it is happening.
In his new book, The Forgotten Depression, economic writer James Grant, editor of the prestigious Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, gives us the history of the depression of 1920-21.
It was a very deep depression, as deep as the one that succeeded in 1929. But in this case, the government did not intervene, and it was over in less than two years. Was this a coincidence? Grant does not think it was. He believes, as this writer does, that present government interventions have deepened our current economic malaise and are retarding a full recovery.
Economic orthodoxy, which is eagerly embraced by virtually all governments today, says that the remedy for economic slumps is for government to print more money, enable more debt, and directly spend more money. This is right out of the playbook of British economist John Maynard Keynes, who died 69 years ago.
The curious thing about Keynes’s ideas is that there is nothing even remotely scientific about them. There isn’t even logic or fact to support them.
One of Keynes’s assertions was that a slump without government intervention would just keep getting worse and worse. Yet a brilliant Keynesian disciple, Franco Modigliani, refuted that idea even before the master’s death in 1946.
In 1962, economist Milton Friedman said about Keynesian remedies: “I know of no… coherent or organized body of evidence justifying them…. [They] cannot be demonstrated to be true by logical considerations alone, [and] have never been documented by empirical evidence….” This statement remains as valid today as it was 53 years ago.
The usual argument contemporary Keynesians fall back on is that as bad as things are, they would be worse without their interventions. And surely, in the face of an economic crash, you wouldn’t suggest that the government do nothing, would you?
This kind of fact-free non-argument can be hard to rebut, but James Grant’s book is a powerful and fully documented rebuttal. In the case of the 1920 depression, the government did nothing, or if anything the opposite of what Keynesians would advise, for example by cutting its expenditure, and the patient revived quickly. In 1929 and again in 2008, the government did the opposite, and the patient either did not recover for more than a decade or has yet to recover.
Yes, the government did the opposite in 1929, despite what you were taught in school. The myth that President Hoover refused to intervene is just that: a myth. His interventions were not essentially different from those that followed from the Roosevelt administration. Popular British historian Paul Johnson explains this in his history of America, and the full record may be found in economist Murray Rothbard’s book on the Great Depression.
To understand why it is better not to intervene, one has to realize that most slumps are caused in the first place by two problems. First the government long ago intervened in the economy to create a financial system (the so-called fractional reserve system) which is inherently unstable. It then compounds the problem by creating far too much money, which enters the economy as debt, and which leads first to economic bubble and then to bust.
It should be obvious that a problem caused by too much government money creation, debt, and reckless spending cannot be solved by more of the same. These policies may make the patient feel better temporarily, just as another dose of heroin will stop withdrawal, but withdrawal is actually what the patient needs.
In the same way, when an economy crashes, it is because something is very wrong. The ensuing recession is not the problem; it is the cure. Bad debts and bad investments are liquidated so that a real recovery can follow. Assets do not disappear. Reckless investors lose them but prudent investors acquire them and make better use of them.
If the recession following the dot com crash of 2000 had not been stopped by the Greenspan Federal Reserve and the Bush administration, we would not have had the housing bubble and crash, and if that recession had not been stopped with massive stimulus, we might by now have a flourishing economy.
Recessions are indeed painful. But, like a fever, they are part of the cure. The cure, if left to run its own course, need not take a long time, as Grant’s history of the 1920 Depression shows.
This book is not only indispensable economic and American history. It is also, like all of Grant’s books, very pleasurable reading, full of colorful characters, wit, and the telling detail.
Notice how there seems to be a collection of negative global data points kind of clustering? I have.
“You can run on for a long time…Sooner or later God’ll cut you down…” – Johnny Cash
Greece got “subprimed” into the EU. It didn’t have the credit rating to be part of the euro experiment but Goldman Sachs found a way to make Greek numbers palatable to Brussels (Brussels wanted Greece anyway) in 2000. Now reality has come and Europe’s southern economic headland is disintegrating.
As the author of the attached article correctly notes the most recent Greek crisis represents a transition in the economic narrative. (It’s not just Greece though. What’s happening in China and in South America is also a big part of it.) Of course the Austrian economists have known that this day would come sooner or later. Yes, one can print. Yes, one can paper over an economy for a while. But sooner or later the cracks in the paper mache appear.
Greece is a big crack.