The Pentagong Show

The Pentagong Show
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Friday, December 28, 2012

Blogs vs. Newspapers


Why do I, and you , for that matter, read other people's postings in their blogs instead of, or more than likely, in addition to, a newspaper? It's not because they're more timely, then one could simply look at the AP newsfeed, or get an RSS feed. And whereas some, like CK Michaelson's "Some Asembly Required" give news clips with a cynical view's quips, he gives little analysis, but is valuable for the links he provides to articles of interest. While others, like Mike Shedlock's (Mish) globaleconomicanalysis are overwrought and used to pimp for his investment advisory services. He's rabidly anti-union, anti-New Deal, a reactionary Republican, and a Tea Party aficionado, philosophically if not by name. He was, however, one of the most accurate forecasters of the repercussions a Republican President's policies would have on the economy during the period 2004-2008, an invaluable source of information who, together with Mike Ruppert, of "Crossing the Rubicon" fame, made others think I was somehow prescient. For that alone I owe him gratitude and kudos. But his insistence on a balanced federal budget, to hell with the premature deaths it would cause, is as crackpot as Derrick Jensen's solution in "A Culture of Make Believe", or his newer, "Endgame". It is simply too 'advocatus diaboli' for me to take seriously.

Yves Smith's "Naked Capitalism" has a similar format, but with an emphasis, as suggested by the  title, on financial matters, and she writes articles on them as well as featuring others' writings. She has  published a book, "Econned", which looks at the genesis of the financial crisis from the perspective of academic theory, disproving the notion that economics is a 'science' and describing the result that flooding the world with indoctrinated MBA holders who have a vested interest in error, ie mountains of debt accrued in the attainment of quant-ie skills on the strength of which they base the hope of making or raking in a fortune, is likely to have on the economic system.

I like the moniker Yves Smith, because it is so clever. Realizing that the financial world is a man's world, Susan Weber (her real name) feminized Adam Smith's name, and then masculinized its feminization ... so cool. And she did in fact bring a woman's POV to economics, noting which may be considered un-PC of me, but always being suspicious of any concept as unabashedly fascist as trouncing those who hold a different POV than you, as they are therefore 'incorrect', has never held any appeal for me anyway. Limbaugh's term, feminazis didn't spring from nowhere, and, in fact, it could well be imagined that without the PC world, we'd never hear from Rush more.

Then there's the Automatic Earth, featuring the wonderfully articulate Nicole Foss (Stoneleigh) the Energy Bulletin, (now www.resilience.org) with Michael Greer's 'Archdruid Report', the Oildrum, Gregor.us, James Howard Kunstler, and Dmitri Orlov (who has better credentials to write about economic collapse than someone who's lived thorough one?) to http://truth-out.org/, prison planet, and the whole plethora of the collapse industry outpourings, including Paul Craig Robert's rants and William Engdahl's dire prognostications and well-wrought fulminations.

Nothing like this has ever been available to the reading public via newspapers. I tried valiantly for years, reading the business section of not just newspapers but of periodicals like US News and World Report, Time and Newsweek magazines, and the Economist and Business Week. They all failed to deliver. Friends who eschew online reading, speaking favorably of newspapers and their historical place in American journalism, although I lend  a sympathetic ear to their protestations, need to look at the entire period of the Bush administration and see the utter failure of this medium to cover the impending collapse of the financial sector that many of the writers listed above were writing about on a daily basis.

And left out of that listing is the person, in my, well, not really humble, but let's call it outspoken, despite my limited knowledge on the subject's, opinion, who stands head and shoulders above the rest, giving a balanced and consistently well-grounded analysis of the economic underpinnings the newly-minted moneyness of credit was, and is, having on the financial system, Prudentbear.com's Doug Noland. Mr. Noland has always provided what I've felt is the most necessary of investigations into the profound, calamitous effects that easy credit, disbursed by a shadowy banking system intent on hiding the risk involved in the dissemination by those unconcerned with its inevitably deleterious denouement, would necessarily produce.

Week after week he puts out a sober accounting of the week's financial news, (that used to precede his analysis thereof, but now follows it), sans the charts with which he first caught my attention, when I first started reading him in 2004 . Those charts were instrumental in arousing a sense of foreboding in the future as much as the similar ones on the growth of energy use did in the WEO's (World Energy Outlook) publications, because they graphically demonstrated the same impossibility of continuing along the same path we were following without a major dislocation.

But like Noam Chomsky's work in pointing out the results of the US government's interventions around the world, soberly, without calling for revolution or hysterically calling for the end of the US, Doug Noland doesn't castigate Congress or rail against the administration's policies, nor call for the elimination of the FED, but instead analyses the effects of what he calls the 'moneyness' of credit that results when IOU's of various forms and vintage are used as leverage, enabling them to be used as though they were cash, when in fact they are not; in effect, building castles that, no matter how strong their stones, skilled their masons, or powerful their mortar, are nonetheless built on a shifting foundation of sand, the slightest economic tremor under which, will cause liquefaction and crash the well-wrought edifice to the ground.

Because Cash is exactly that: cold hard cash. Credit is an ephemera, a dream, a wished for outcome that may or may not come to pass. To equate the two is to invite disaster, and like that favorite of modern day nightmares, the Vampire, once invited in, it is hard to keep it from sinking its fangs into your neck and sucking out your lifeblood. There is something mystical and primal about money, and when you start allowing it to be used by charlatans for their own aggrandizement without the balancing discipline of accountability, changing the rules of the FASB to suit whatever new sleight of hand needs to be accommodated to forestall complete disintegration of a system that underpins the hopes and dreams of the world's billions, you would do well to know that with which you are toying. And we should do our best to know that as well.

And that is why I like the internet and the vast array of opinion and depth of knowledge that it has made, for now, so freely available and generously provided: Intellectual manna from the cloud. So, to all those I've listed above, I offer my gratitude and deep respect, and can only apologize to the many I, necessarily, had to, in the cause of not simply making a reading list, missed. You have enriched my life, and deepened my knowledge like no other living being who I can physically touch, has been able to, because, unlike the frivolous majority, you take issues that demand scrutiny seriously, and share the results of your research with those incapable of performing your magic. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


















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