David Westerfield

Gospel. Culture. Technology. Music.

Tag: economy Page 1 of 3


Icahn’s Concerns for the Economy at Large

This is an excerpt from Zerohedge: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-12-11/carl-icahn-warns-meltdown-high-yield-just-beginning

Over the course of 15 minutes, Icahn lays out his concerns about many of the issues we’ve been warning about for years and while none of what he says will come as a surprise (especially to those who frequent these pages), the video, called “Danger Ahead”, is probably worth your time as it does a fairly good job of summarizing how the various risk factors work to reinforce one another on the way to setting the stage for a meltdown. Here’s a list of Icahn’s concerns:

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What Are These Protests About?

Many are weighing in and spinning what these protests are about. Liberal pundits slam only banks and couple Republicans to the problem, ad nauseum. Conservatives defend the banks against what they perceive as a monolithic group of liberal protestors while ignoring the banks’ obvious and blatant fraud as well as their disregard for the law and yet at the same time (appropriately) slamming liberals like Michael Moore for absurdly wanting to get rid of capitalism.

While I agree with Herman Cain on a lot of issues, he proved to not understand what is happening either and frankly offered a very arrogant assessment of those without jobs or aren’t rich that can’t seem to help him win many points with voters, especially independents: “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself. It is not someone’s fault if they succeeded, it is someone’s fault if they failed.” In other words, pull up your bootstraps you unemployed yobs!

Now I’m all for personal responsibility and taking ownership, but I also believe in the ability and likelihood of elites using power and prominence for evil. Our situation economically came from and was initiated by fraud, both in the private and public sectors, and is being perpetuated and protected by people in his position, at his level. I know a couple of people who have not been able to find jobs for over 52 weeks. It is mean and arrogant to slam them as if this is something they can prevent.

But regardless in the midst of all this back and forth and nonsensical discourse that misses the forest for the trees, the message is being lost as to what this is all about.

It really comes down to something I wrote in a couple of comments on Facebook related to the protests recently:

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The God of Consumerism: Identity and Meaning Flow From Consumption in the West

Charles Hugh Smith, a writer over at the site Of Two Minds wrote a very interesting blog on the state of the global system, whether political, economic, social, or otherwise. He sums up our situation globally, as many others have, as one based on three fundamental things: 1) debt, 2) consumption, all with the the assumption or presupposition that 3) demand for these will always continue to infinity. And the little/big secret many, if not most, are beginning to see yet don’t want to speak of is that this entire model of debt and consumption is collapsing.

The results are first being felt in smaller nations dependent upon or a part of the West’s system: the Arab nations and southern and peripheral European nations. The riots across the Middle East and now the riots of Greece, Spain and other places in Europe are rooted ultimately in the fact the Western system is coming undone and our policies are making the dollar less valuable, which drives up the cost of food and energy. What follows is anyone’s guess.

That aside, what is interesting in particular is when Smith gets to why this is the case, philosophically, perhaps even theologically, speaking. Why are we reaching this point in the West? What has brought this about? I agree with his assessment and analysis while offering an even better remedy: Christ. Here are some of the best quotes without getting into all the economic talk as much (emphases from his site):

There’s another deeply pernicious facet to a consumer-based economy: our identity and meaning now flow from consumption, not from production or inner resources. I spent a considerable amount of Survival+ explaining how marketing and consumption are two side of the same coin.

The marketing complex has hijacked our sense of identity by engendering a deep, soul-destroying anxiety that only buying more stuff can assuage: since we are judged and valued solely by our purchased externalities, we are constantly in danger of being rendered worthless if we fail to measure up to the current metric of brand-group identity (wearing all black and a tattoo for one “brand,” a BMW and designer clothing for another, reading the New Yorker and claiming to only wear vintage clothing for another, etc.)

What we do in the real world is simply part of the “brand” which we must project, or cloak, to sooth the gnawing anxiety that is the bedrock of a consumer society. The iconography and totems of consumerism define our identity, our strivings, our sense of purpose and our experience of meaning: what I call the politics of experience, a phrase coined by R.D. Laing.

Consumption is our god, our faith and our religion. Like a cargo cult dependent on a magical connection to prosperity, we are terrified by the prospect that our religion is based on a false god–that is, that consumption and consumption alone leads to prosperity and happiness.

Like a cargo cult that we mock in our infinite industrious superiority, we worship the equivalent of rocks painted to look like radios that we can use to “call” the gods of endless prosperity.

This rock that’s painted to look like a radio is called “debt,” and we call upon it to magically provide us with prosperity from over the seas.

This other rock that’s painted to look like a radio is called “aggregate demand,” and it’s carefully worshipped by a special troop of voodoo-wielding witch doctors called Keynesians.

We are chanting magical phrases to these rock-painted “radios,” pleading for a return to easy prosperity, but nothing’s happening. We fear the magic no longer works, and that possibility terrifies us so much we can’t even bear to speak of this loss.

Future generations won’t get to spend their surplus; they will have to devote it to servicing the debts we have gaily borrowed and blown on digging holes and refilling them, part of our worship of the magical painted rocks of our false and hollow religion, Consumerism.

By degrading ourselves from producers to consumers, we have not only lost our identity and our meaning, we have lost the ability to create surpluses and invest those surpluses wisely.

And oh how the Western church has bought into and borrowed from this whole system of Consumption, and with it the marketing apparatus that has become so pervasive in our midst it’s sickening. We have bowed in many ways to the idolatrous “god” of Consumerism as a useful tool if not the answer to the survival of Christianity in the West. We have set it up as an idol that we need to repent of, returning to a more Biblical framework, i.e. faith in Christ, for every facet of church life instead of borrowing from the corrupt and worldly business world of our day.

On a related note, I was considering the other day how much the religion of Consumerism is actually rooted in the philosophical concepts of materialism, particularly dialectical materialism. This is a philosophy put forward by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, whose philosophy gave rise to the theories of none other than Karl Marx. Marx held to this view of the over-arching meta-narrative of life, dialectical materialism, which says (being a bit reductionistic) our sole purpose in life is related merely to the here and now. There is no deity we need to appease or even refer to, simply because he doesn’t exist, so it is thought.If he does exist he’s irrelevant to our lives and therefore we must find our own answers to our own problems.

Of course Marx went in the direction of collectivism as the answer to find hope and meaning in the midst of his bleak worldview. What is odd is that Consumerism as a religion is merely the flip-side of Marx’s view, yet they both spring from the same place: the absence of the true and living God, made known in Jesus Christ. They are two sides of the same coin. Both of these systems are inherently atheistic and borrow from the same corrupt worldview of dialectical materialism. Christianity has no business meddling in let alone borrowing from a worldview that is inherently anti-Christian.

May we repent of our dependence upon materialism, consisting of brands, products, styles, entertainment, fictional worldviews, fictional story lines and narratives that detract from the glory of God by the way we operate in life. May we find our identity in Christ alone, His person and work in the Gospel, not any of the aforementioned results from materialism. May we find our identity in who He has made us and what He desires for us, namely, holiness. Praise Christ there is hope for the lost and self-absorbed materialists. May we be a witness to a world absorbed in self and consumption as the meaning to life.

“Unaffordability is the Best Motivator”

Revealing statement: “There is no better motivator than unaffordability.” … I actually had someone tell me this on Twitter in regard to reducing our need to use cars. So the thinking goes amongst environmentalists and command/control economic theory (Obama administration style): intentionally drive up the cost and drive down the standard of living through policy to get a result of reducing use of all modern technology, in the name of saving the planet. And this is precisely what the UN wants too in Agenda 21: “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” – Maurice Strong, Founder of the UN Environment Programme @ Rio Earth Summit, 1992

Enemies Both Foreign … and Maybe Domestic? Pentagon: Financial terrorism suspected in 2008 economic crash

Financial terrorism suspected in 2008 economic crash – Washington Times

Many have said the term ‘Financial Terrorism’ was extreme to describe what happened to the economy in 2008. No more. The Pentagon confirms the reality.

I agree with everything in this article about causes of the crash, and glad the government is finally officially admitting this to be the case, this was a very big step in the right direction. The only problem is we blame every foreign enemy possible, according to the report, and fail to look right under our noses at our own hedge funds, financial firms, banks, and other large players who have way too much power, exclusive access to what is becoming an unaccountable Fourth Branch of government (i.e. the Federal Reserve), and the ability to manipulate the market any which way they choose, winning on the way up and on the way down (via exotic financial products like derivatives, CDO’s, MBS’s, etc). And then appealing to the government for a bailout if another firm can’t pay up what is contractually theirs.

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US in Depression and What it Means for the Church in America

The ‘D’ word is being uttered in the mainstream now. Despite whatever the media says concerning the ‘jobless recovery’ we’re in (which is a complete oxymoron) or the ‘summer recovery’ we’ve begun that Obama touted as truth last month, all indicators are pointing to the fact that the US is officially entering an era of economic depression, something not seen in my or my dad’s generation.

The numbers tell the story. A couple of articles in particular are pointing to this fact. One on CNBC, the other by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Telegraph. In addition, even liberal, Keynesian economist Paul Krugman from the New York Times is calling this the beginning of the Third Depression, as I talked about in my last entry. He is dead wrong on how to fix it, but his diagnosis is correct.

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Credit Crisis Was a Gigantic Ponzi Scheme, on the Scale of Enron x1000

It seems this message is becoming more mainstream these days. It’s about time. Max Keiser is right to call this financial terrorism, especially in light of the fact that we, the tax payers, have bailed them out while everyone else is suffering from their dealings, and as a result, they have had record profits this past year. Unbelievable. I’m pro-profit, pro-free-market, pro-conservative, but Max Keiser is also right to call this Rigged Market Capitalism. I can’t think of a better term for it.

Anyone else find it odd the “flash crash” (1000 point dow drop within a matter of minutes) happened right when Congress was negotiating rules regulating derivatives? Oh and oddly enough now, the rules around derivatives have been completely gutted as I understand it. There is rampant corruption and looting going on within the government and the larger corporate world, particularly the monolithic banks. This is not a free market but an oligarchy.

More generally, here are Davidowitz’s views on the economy at large. Even Paul Krugman from the New York Times is calling the Third Great Depression, though he’s completely wrong about the remedy (even more spending).

Insensitivity? Never Waste a Serious Crisis

In the words of Rahm Emanuel, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before.”

Well, our President is certainly wasting no time to push through draconian climate and energy legislation, that’s for sure, while millions of people and a coastline are in the middle of suffering from the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history: http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.63a128958094fb519016d188cf557e83.101&show_article=1

“‘In the same way that our view of our vulnerabilities and our foreign policy was shaped profoundly by 9/11, I think this disaster is going to shape how we think about the environment and energy for many years to come,’ he told Politico.com.”

“Obama said he would be making a fresh bid to get Congress to pass a major energy and climate bill.”

Good yet odd timing, I must say, Mr. President.

Debt Contagion Picking Up Steam

And so the contagion spreads … first, Latvia’s economy (and government) collapses not that long ago, then Greece and Portugal’s ratings were cut by S&P yesterday, and now today, Spain was cut. And the question is, how much longer before we realize we’re a lot closer than we think to the same situation? Even more importantly is when will we realize that all the trillions in bailouts and stimulus bringing us to our knees in debt currently has done nothing to actually stimulate the economy (73% of economists agree to this effect, CNN Money)? And how much longer before politicians start feeling the effects of their poor decisions in the polls, as if the Scott Brown victory wasn’t enough of an indication? I wonder what this summer’s Town Hall’s are going to look like. To follow developments pertaining to this from a respected global economist, read Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at the Telegraph. History is in the making here.

China Risks Moving World Into Greater Recession

China has now become the biggest risk to the world economy – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, (bracketed insertions and emphasis mine)

These are headlines you won’t ever read, that to me are worthy of true news alerts.

“By holding the yuan to 6.83 to the dollar to boost exports, Beijing is dumping its unemployment abroad – ‘stealing American jobs’, says Nobel laureate Paul Krugman. As long as China does it, other tigers must do it too.

Western capitalists are complicit, of course. They rent cheap workers and cheap plant in Guangdong, then lobby Capitol Hill to prevent Congress doing anything about it. This is labour arbitrage.

At some point, American workers will rebel. US unemployment is already 17.5pc under the broad ‘U6‘ gauge followed by Barack Obama [the same gauge used to determine unemployment during the Great Depression if that is any indicator of where things actually stand]. Realty Track said that 332,000 properties were foreclosed in October alone. More Americans have lost their homes this year than during the entire decade of the Great Depression. A backlog of 7m homes is awaiting likely seizure by lenders. If you are not paying attention to this political time-bomb, perhaps you should.”

It’s worth noting that Evans-Pritchard is known for making overstatements, though he has been right most of the time to be sure. However, these numbers are not overstatements.

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