Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Great Contraction

It's been a while since I've posted here -- 80-90 hour workweeks get in the way of doing much else, but at least that's slacked off, finally.  In the meantime, we've seen the Japanese earthquake, a record-challenging years for tornados in America, riots and new wars.  The economy is still the minefield that it's been for years now.  Really, what does it feel like for people these days?  I look at my own job and am willing to deal with the nightmare hours in order to keep it, while it's still around.  It's like standing out in the rain to get a little more of the harvest in, before it's all washed away.  Does anyone else have that sense that the systems we see in place are one bad day away from failing completely?

I just finished looking at (this) story about Wall Street not being able to predict what's going to be a hot item and what's not.  Money managers are scrambling and trying to find out what The Next Big Thing is going to be, so they can retain some shread of credibility.  The problem is that we're no longer in an economy where we can throw dollars at anything and have it stick, no matter how bad it is.  This shouldn't be a real surprise to anyone who's actually part of the real world, not the bank/legal/government/money complex. 

Yet, the punchline of the article is as follows -- "Any bears out there better be careful because the dividend yields on these stocks look awesome relative to all the other investment vehicles out there," Yastrow said. "So bears are going to have to find a new way to express their discontent with the U.S. economy."  Obviously, this proves that some people can say anything with a straight face.  Translated:  "Yes, the economy is in trouble and we can't figure out what's profitable, but we're still (randomly) doing better than anything else."  Maybe.  In other words, we have a slightly less lethal kind of cancer to offer.

Ironically, Yastrow is quoted as saying we're on the verge of a great, great depression earlier in the article.
One of the key factors in the creation of a Dark Age is when systems of commerce break down.  We see political systems rupture, but politicians and governments can come and go without upsetting things to the point where a society is completely destroyed (speaking generally).  However, when the means of production and commerce are disrupted, the whole society is likely to follow.  People don't care much about abstract ideas as long as food's on the table.  When they are starving, they migrate, they revolt, they rob and steal and there is little left standing afterward. 

Now, we're seeing people who simply don't recognize the reality of the situation still running the show.  Worse, they're believing their own propaganda.  The fact that there is little to no real good economic news, that people are trying to find a safe haven for their money and none is all points to an ugly fact that the days of growth are over and we've clearly settled into the long twilight.

Enjoy this summer -- not sure if the next one is going to be quite as carefree.

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