Monday, November 12, 2012

Welcome to the Nuthouse

Written by Charles Hugh Smith

How Private Financial Fiat Creates a Public Farce (guest post) (November 13, 2012)

Today I present a deeply insightful guest essay by frequent contributor Zeus Yiamouyiannis, Ph.D.

Nothing succeeds like failure when you are a big bank. We’ve already seen that. Too many articles have already been written about that.

Heads, the big banks win through their hugely profitable derivatives and other fake wealth vehicles on the way up the phony growth curve.

Tails, you, the citizen, loses as you are forced to redeem this toxic trash for real money in the form of government bailouts and Federal Reserve purchases as fake value collapses.

“O, the inhumanity, O the injustice.”

Hey, we get it. You can stop pounding the drums. Bring on Act II: “The current anti-capitalist farce and its riotous effects.”

Capitalism turned on its head

What happens to functioning capitalism when its core operating principles of value and money, risk, private property, profit, supply and demand, price discovery, transparency and accountability, productivity, and exchange of worth can selectively be erased on the whim of self-interested, politically connected players?

What happens when every standard of the game is turned upside-down by rule-rigging fat cats and then cravenly excused by international governments, prosecutors, and regulators? You get a leaky economic charade riding on a sea of debt bailed out with “expert” psycho-babble, high-level cheerleading, and government assurances that sound more each day like sick punch lines to bad jokes:

• “Deficits don’t matter.”
• “The recession has ended.”
• “The weak dollar is good for trade.”
• “Debt just needs to be ‘restructured.’”
• “We just need more government stimulus spending.”
• “Federal zero interest rate policies (ZIRP) help everyone.”
• “Unemployment is down.”

Enough of the minstrel show and its official nonsense. Here is the real deal on the current corporate/government war against capitalism:

Farce #1: “Market value” and “free markets” have become a joke.

In order for “value” to have financial value in the free market it, 1) must have real worth to someone else, and 2) must be freely chosen. The whole point of a market is that people choose according to their desires and needs, not yours. No one is entitled to a profit.

That’s what “market value” and “free market” mean. Other people, known as “the public,” interactively determine what your asset, good, or service is worth. You may think something is financially worth a lot. If others do not, it’s not worth squat.

If you can merely create private fiat by assigning your own value to your “assets” and products and then force others to buy them, there is no valid market value or free market. It is simply financial dictatorship.

Farce #2: Private, self-assigned, fake value is being traded for public money at 100 cents on the dollar.

Even basic monetary standards for public exchange of value no longer apply. Now big banks have been given the executive go-ahead to self-assign value to their assets at any price they choose. This is called “market to model” (i.e. profitable lying with complicated mathematical formulas).

This violation of capitalism comes not only in refusing to allow the market to determine price of assets, but in forcing the public through government capture to pay for “impaired private assets” with “real” public money at 100 cents on the dollar!

This is nothing more than the exchange of publicly accepted money for worthless, private, counterfeit crap.

Farce #3: Printed money is backed by nothing.

However, what “value” does that public money have? What is the current U.S. dollar tied to? Nothing of worth. It refers to no credible public asset, good, or service. The Treasury and the Fed are just printing money, period.

There is so much more at his blog and the link is always on the left side "Of two minds."

Danger Ahead: The Oligarchs Don't Understand That Economic Collapse Happens When They Get All the Money

The corporate masters seem to have forgotten they depend on working people for their own survival.
Photo Credit: Tatiana Popova/
Let’s face it, if your opponent in Monopoly scoops up Boardwalk, Park Place, North Carolina Avenue, Pacific Avenue, both utilities, and the four railroads – that’s game over.
The other players, all of whom have been relegated to mere consumers instead of property owners, will slowly go bankrupt having to pay higher and higher costs for rent and services, utilities, and transportation. Eventually, one player has all the money and the losers have to clean up the board game and put it away.
But let’s assume the Monopoly game doesn’t end there. Let’s assume the broke players keep rolling the dice and keep going around the board. They essentially keep living their lives desperate and broke, using their credit cards and home lines of credit to stay in the game. Maybe they end up in jail. If they’re lucky, they land on Baltic Avenue and can afford to stay a night in the slums.
Meanwhile, the oligarch who owns everything can no longer collect any income. The other players can’t afford to pay rent, they can’t pay utilities, and they can’t ride on the railroads. Eventually, without consumers spending money, the Monopoly oligarch goes broke, too. His properties and businesses disappear and suddenly everyone is broke!
That’s what Monopoly’s version of economic collapse looks like. And it’s very similar to what global economic collapse in the real world looks like, too.
Now put the Monopoly game board away and consider this: Researchers in Zurich, Switzerland have found that there are roughly 43,000 transnational corporations that dominate the global economy. Of those, there are about 1,300 companies that control 80% of all the global revenues for all the transnational corporations on the planet. Now let’s take it a step further. Of those 1,300 core companies, only 147 companies, which all happen to own each other in some way, control 40% - or nearly half – of all the wealth in the entire transnational corporate network. That means 1% of transnationals own 40% of all the world’s business wealth.
In other words, the global 1% has its own 1%.   
This is similar to a Monopoly situation in which just one player owns 40% of the board. And just like it’s game over for Monopoly, it’s game over for the global economy, too.  
Right now, you can count the number of banks that own half of all the wealth in the U.S. economy on just one hand. There are just five of them and they are the usual suspects: Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Citigroup. Their total assets equal 8.5 trillion, which is 56% of our entire economy.
In 2007 we all learned the consequences of disproportionate wealth and power concentrated in the hands of just a few companies. When one company begins to fail, they all begin to fail. And when they all fail, well, that’s what collapse looks like.
That why policymakers labeled the banks “Too Big to Fail” and bailed them out to prevent total collapse. Today, these banks are even bigger. And thanks to globalization, their tentacles are wrapped around the entire world’s economy. It won’t just be the United States imploding the next time these giants fall: it will be much of planet Earth itself.  
This is the danger of raw, unfettered capitalism. This is where the demands of higher and higher quarterly profits take down the economy. Companies begin devouring each other, sucking whatever wealth they can from each other. This was made easier by deregulation policies in the 1980’s and 1990’s that trigged a mergers and acquisitions mania under Reagan, and free trade policies under Clinton that opened up the game board for these transnational corporation to feast on even more industries abroad.  
Out of this, the few strong survive and have enormous power to fix prices for consumers. The inventors of Monopoly were right about what happens when one person owns all the railroads or all the utilities or all the apartment buildings: prices go up.
And to secure even more profits, these companies begin extracting wealth from their own workers, cutting their salaries and benefits. And like broke Monopoly players, real world consumers can’t afford to pay their mortgages, put gas in their car, or buy groceries. In the game-world, the corporate masters win. But in the real world, they eventually lose like the rest of us.
The corporate masters seem to have forgotten they depend on working people for their own survival. And today things have gotten really bad.
This corporatocracy made up of just over 100 transnational corporations are desperately trying to garner more wealth by toppling governments in Europe and demanding wealth-extracting austerity (or what has been referred to in the United States since the 1980’s as “Starve the Beast”).
This was predicted by Bill Clinton’s former Deputy Secretary of Treasury, Roger Altman, back in 2011. He explained that these corporate forces, “oust entrenched regimes where normal political processes could not do so. They force austerity, banking bail-out and other major policy changes. Their influence dwarfs multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund. Indeed, leaving aside unusable nuclear weapons, they have become the most powerful force on Earth.”
The violence on display in Greece is a consequence of the Monopoly endgame the world economy is in. No matter how much austerity that nations like Greece, Spain, and Europe endure, these corporate masters will be unsatisfied and they’ll demand even more. They’ll take their harvesting machines to Germany, the U.K., and eventually the United States. In fact, they’ve already begun. Until eventually they’ve destroyed the one thing that keeps their own hearts beating: working people.
That’s when collapse happens.
As the researchers in Zurich have discovered with actual data, we’re all living in a functional oligarchy today with just a handful of corporations – all of which are wealthier and more powerful than most sovereign governments – sucking whatever remaining wealth they can from the rest of us.
And just like how the oil industry is willing to suck the last trillion dollars of oil out of the ground  with no plans about what to do when it’s all gone, these corporate masters are willing to suck the last wealth out of the middle class without any plans of what to do when their consumers disappear.
Everyone needs to wake up to this economic reality before we’re all dragged toward collapse. If not, the mess will be a lot bigger to clean up than just a few scattered dice, thimbles, and a chance card.
Thom Hartmann is an author and nationally syndicated daily talk show host. His newest book is The Thom Hartmann Reader.
Sam Sacks is a former Democratic staffer on Capitol Hill.  He's now the senior producer on The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann airing weeknights at 7pm EST on Free Speech TV and RT America.


  1. Has anybody here heard about the new movement in Texas to secede from the USA?


    Speaking of the blog-post's title: 'Welcome to the Nuthouse.'

    Interesting - when you read the reasons why - you discern much of it has to do with financial concerns.

  2. Soon the sharks will have to turn on each other. I think this is already starting to happen.

  3. Health” care: U.S. health “insurance” is dominated by regional monopolies that are notorious for denying treatment and charging double what the rest of the world charges. What do we get for that? We get a record number of uninsured citizens, and health results (infant mortality, etc), which are near the bottom, rather than the top, of industrialized nations.

    The U.S. health care system is also possibly one of the most inefficient in the world in delivering services, wasting some 750 billion dollars per year in unnecessary spending, including hundreds of billions of dollars per year in excessive administrative costs.

    “The best health care system in the world”? Hardly. Maybe if you are rich or have generous subsidized benefits.

    Even then, you are not immune to hospitals that cut safety corners to save on costs, and both slash pay and increase work hours for the people treating you. Think about it. Medical error is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S, killing some 200,000 people per year.

    Cl and I have first hand experience with this. You can actually sit in the hallway of the ER and that is considered a room. All the nurses and doctors running around and it is like a war zone. No one talks to the patient and then you are carted off to a room. Once they find a place in a skilled nursing home they wash their hands of you. Medicine for the rank and file is a complete joke.

  4. The United States is currently spending almost as much on its military as the rest of the world combined.

    And who is the enemy? We are! They are preparing to enslave us all should we rise up and demand fairness and liberty. They don't care about freedom they care about power and servitude. Raise your voice and you will be silenced. Raise your fist and you will be incarcerated.

  5. Mammoth, Texas by law cannot secede from the union. Just like Colorado can make it legal for Marijuana the FDA does not recognize state laws and has the right to invade your home, confiscate it and put you in jail.

  6. O.k., now for some blue skys and sunshine. Or, how about a black sky and moonshine?

    They had a total eclipse of the sun in Austrailia a few hours ago. Beautiful pictures are already out on the Internet.
    - - - -
    Now, back to the regularly scheduled comments on The Hive...

  7. I meant the DEA not the FDA on the previous comment at 8:27

  8. Things seem to be 'heating up' between Israel & gaza. Anybody want to chime in as to what impact this may have on the markets & PM's if this escalates?

  9. Mugabe, we are hearing in the news about the anti-austerity in Spain, Portugal & Greece. We hope you are okay. What are you seeing where you live?

    In a news article, it said that protesters rallied in Brussels outside the embassies of Germany, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Portugal and Ireland. They delivered a letter to Laszlo Andor, the commissioner for employment, social Affairs and inclusion, congratulating him on winning what they are calling the "Nobel Prize for Austerity."

    Nothing like a little bit of humor to help you forget you are bleeding to death.