|OPM Addiction: 'Tis Madness, not Reason, that rules Mankind.|
Being as this blog is called, USA's War against the Dollar, and considering India's cashless-meme chaos and the fiscal/monetary chaos The Donald has decided to plunge the rest of the world into, I thought it would be alright to talk a little about Money. and how it's not a simple printed piece of paper unless your using it right now to persuade me to render my shelved goods up to you. That's just the form of money we're the most used to and the only concept of it that millions restrict themselves to.
or used to
Money's what I used to buy things
Money's what I used to have
Which is currency.
Or is it Cash?
Which is currency and which is cash? For while cash is always currency currency isn't always cash, and, as India's turmoil demonstrates, sometimes neither one is money. All of a sudden the friendly rejoinder, "You're money's no good here", holds rather dire implications.
Currently, I don't have to buy, I have credit, so i don't buy things, I buy money, but not cash, I use credit as currency, which is more like a license to procure goods today that will be worth less tomorrow since inflation is wrapping around deflation, as asset purchases by a central-banked monetary mischief splashes QE-trillions to speculator minions who love to use credit, wear credit is dew. They call it Trickledown but it's more like a flash-flood, of such torrential power, it's waters are forced up hill, dissipating so much of its energy to go against the will of the market that much of it gets dissipated in the effort. But not to go to job creators, instead to job-destroyers fueling spectacular speculator blowout sails that ride the winds of investment cash until invest 98 spins rapidly up into Hurricane Matthew and small nest eggs people had thought were nicely tucked away get sucked right out the portholes and engulfed in a destructive maelstrom churned up by the inevitable financial storm, destroying retirement plans along with future dreams, while pushing lives lived on the jagged edge right down onto it and then, ripped and smashed on the snaggy reef, over it into that final abyss, the grave.
So credit's become a form of money, currency instead of voltage, used to amp up the volume of your hair. So the sale for the merchant is the end of the bargain, while for the customer, it's just the beginning. The purloined letters part of Trickle down, those always seen but never heeded, are 'T-r-i-c-k'. A trick of the cards, and the house always wins.
Gooses the golden egg of financing. The Speculation. It's VC, The Compost for growing fertile ideas. Many make money, most lose it, but it's the ideas that make lots of dollars but little sense that somehow most firmly take root.
It all begets the moving swindle. The gentleman who leaves on deposit in his margin account a small amount of money, then like the old kiting operation in banking where the depositor used the float, that time between when a check was cashed and when the funds were transferred from the issuing institution, as an opportunity to write another check to cover that one drawn on another institution (preferably in another state and without a hold put on it, extending the float from a couple of days to a couple of weeks), which is why it's called kiting. The entire operation can never be allowed to come to ground, the ball's always in play, up in the air, the check's in the mail fraud, unable to bear up under even the slightest scrutiny, else the lack of funds to cover the level of economic expenditure becomes evident, at which point the jig, as they say, is up. The poor man's embezzlement game runs onto the rocky reefs of reality quite easily. When the embezzlement is being done by the Central Banks of the world, however, the chickens of the currensea take much more time to come home to roost. But eventually, they always do. By which time, I'll be gone and can blame it on you (Bankers' mantra).
Similarly, that ploy can be used on the Stock Exchange. Perhaps using an original covering of only two thousand dollars, one starts with only a very modest speculation. Then, demonstrating prudence, await the day when the paucity of the guarantee is forgotten, while raising the level of orders but only gradually, until the day when, toppling into a big settlement order, clear out the account and disappear. Especially in the modern world of spike haircuts, shabby dress, and questionable hygiene, how can one show any distrust towards a charming Armani-clad young man who has become a friend? How could one doubt his solvency when one sees him looking happy and apparently rich, with that elegance of dress that is indispensable to - indeed almost the uniform of - larceny on Wall St.?
Very nice, very intelligent. Just the sort of chap you want to make a mental note of for when you might need to find someone both discreet and unscrupulous. And then pray the little preyer's next prey's not you.
Whereas Mr. Ingott owned warehouses and offices, occupying a vast expanse of what used to be cow pastures on the windswept plains of South Dakota. A network of buildings constructed out of that corrugated iron looking like the roofing had been torn from third world huts then incongruously patched together to garage data centers, telephony hubs, and plant manufactury, millions of dollars worth of infrastructure supporting billions in operations conducted in ragtag structures that looked like they were the desperate last outpost of a nomadic tribe, all appearing as if, there in the midst of tornado country, a strong wind would collapse the whole lot.
But Ingott had got, via some chance incident, some idle speculation entered in on as a lark with the encouragement of a friend and, after two consecutive considerable wins, set the fire of speculation ablaze in his heart, whence it spread right through him scorching a path of violent destruction that was evidenced by how much he had gone right out of his head. What was the point of slowly building up a business, seesawing between bare solvency and utter ruin year after year, suffering the on and on of it, as its demands were just as insistent as those of a living being, when one could pocket that much in one hour with a simple transaction or two on Wall St? With this philosophy taking him over, Ingott gradually lost all interest in his business, leaving it to underlings, living instead entirely on the hope of engineering some financial coup on Wall St.. His first winnings, however, being the result of a lucky tip or two, were not succeeded by others, and, feeling that it was simply that bad luck had come his way, Ingott continued his speculations until his investments, which is what he liked to refer to his gambling as, began to swallow the profits from his business. It only made sense to use those funds to drive the Wall St. trades, as he had come to imagine that legitimate earnings were a suckers' game, thereby ending up with no clear idea whatsoever about what money really was. This was an attitude he fostered, not only in his own prideful fantasy of reality, but it had sprung up like mushrooms in a forest, fully formed, sprinkling millions of spores made from the underlying rot championing the adulation of earning without effort into a greed-driven religion, a mandate, the quintessential American Exceptionalism whereby we do the thinking, you do the hard work, trickled onto the rest of humanity. Neither Neo nor liberal, it was championed by those who were nevertheless thus monikered. The poster boy of whom was that larry, Summers.
Luckily though, only the inept are destroyed by speculation.
Speculation speculation, ah it fills my troubled heart with anguish!
But speculation is the very spur of life itself! Why does it frighten you? It's a manifestation of the desire to struggle and go on living ...
Without lust there'd be no children. Nature encourages, ... demands ... Excess!
Without speculation there would be no business. Why else would I risk my fortune if not for the promise of some extraordinary reward?
With the strictures placed on the lawful and mediocre rewards of work, the prudent balance of day-to-day transactions, life is just a desert of extreme platitude, a swamp in which all energies lie dormant and stagnant; but if you forcefully set a dream ablaze on the horizon, promising that with one dollar a hundred will be gained, followed by a thousand, then invite all those who lie asleep to get up and hunt for the impossible, millions won in two hours, in an atmosphere fraught with danger, then the race, yes the rat race, as it were, begins in earnest with ten times the energy, and there is such a scramble that even while sweating solely for their own pleasure, people sometimes manage to produce children, living things. Yes there is a lot of useless filth, but the world would be finished without it.
Life isn't clean.
In the nineties, Beany-babies; in the aughts, fracking, had further disturbed people's minds, lighting a spark of intoxication, a passion which would grow and carry away all common sense. The ground had been prepared, the Fed's compost, made of trillions of dollars of fermenting rubbish, and heated by exacerbated appetites, again created an extremely fertile ground for one of those mad surges of speculation which, every ten or fifteen years, choke and poison the NYSE, and leaves behind them only blood and ruins, defenestrations and evictions, homelessness and despair. They spring up like wildfires, burn hot, and leave utter destruction and smoldering ashes being picked through by avaricious strangers in their wake. Big companies promise risky financial ventures they claim are insured, hedged, and default-swapped, and thereby presented as so risk-free as to add up to free money. Thus is an intense gambling fever passed on as investment advise and as the rowdy prosperity of Cowboy Capitalism reigns, all the razzle-dazzle of pleasure and luxury obtained without effort is on full display, its risks and inevitable crash scoffed at and carefully hidden in obfuscating language and peer-pressured cheer-leading. Like a gigantic powerful engine destined to madden and destroy everything in it path, it is stoked and fueled by violent hands that insist on heating it to the point of explosion.
What worried Ingott above all was the terrible pace of it all, the way Wall St. was urging investors along at such a gallop, like an engine crammed with coal, launched along diabolical rails, stoked to the point when everything would shatter and explode in one final crash. Not that he was naive, or easily fooled; but even though he was ignorant of technical market and banking operations, he well understood the reason for this overdoing of things, this feverish pace, all intended to intoxicate people, and whirl them in to the epidemic madness of the dancing trillions. Every morning had to produce a rise in the price, people had to be made to believe in ever greater success, in monumental trading desks, inexhaustible liquidity, enchanted shares, that took in streams of gold and sent back rivers, oceans of gold that threatened to flood everything one day in a tsunami of disastrous wealth that would crash down and drown them all and then rapidly subside leaving a smoothly sanded beach wiped clean of all wealth, nary a structure still standing, leaving in its wake only broken dreams and suppurating wounds.
It was hard to reconcile the devastation from specualtion with the justification, the idea that it is the excess of passion, and that this base expenditure and wasting of life is necessary for the very continuation of that life, or, at least, for it was all that he knew, this way of life. If oil rigs were being thrown up at a frantic pace and oil was being fracked, cracked and clakety-clacked inside speeding, non-complying, railcars filled to the brim and shooting across the continent, it was because, back in Washington, and on Wall St, which now amounted to the same thing in this, the New Economy we've been shanghaied into, money was pouring down, a cascade of QE'd trillions raining in a fine mist as penetrating as an oil geyser, greasing everything in a madness of speculation. Money, poisonous, destructive money became, or was seen to be, the ferment of all social vegetation, providing that necessary compost for the accomplishment of the great works that would bring nations together and create peace on the earth. Lol.
It's easy to curse money, but it is even easier to fall into a terrified admiration of it: for was it not money that alone had strength enough to raze a mountain, fill up a stretch of sea, and at last make the earth more easily habitable for men, delivered from toil and now merely the drivers of machines? From money, which did so much evil, (no .. people did evil things using money .. so money, which enabled so much evil) everything good was being born.
But at the end, the same question always arises, once the true state of exhaustion to nothingness has been revealed: where could all that money have gone?
In that great swallowing of hundreds of billions, of losses soaring into the trillions, if some pockets, if everyone's margin accounts, had been picked cleaned, it followed that other pockets must have been filled. The bears never rake in the whole of the fortunes sucked into the abyss; a terrible leakage occurs that carries away at least a third. The very ground around Wall St., that epicenter of catastrophe, carnage, and crime seems to drink up the money, while some merely wanders away, with a little of it sticking to every finger. CEO's, of course, like common crooks, pocket billions, hedge fund managers, billions more, stuffed away like the SIV's created by the banks, in offshore/off-book accounts and thence into illegal drug enterprises.
Many more would certainly have been ruined if there were not later the forgiveness of debt, the government guarantee of Fanny Mae, Freddie Mac, the FDIC, and other government institutions that themselves have a vested interest in rampant speculation and tax-loopholed ventures. Once declared insolvent, all the debts owed cancelled, they are left in the enviable position of seeing themselves as lucky clever individuals who, thanks to such a happy turn of events - it makes one smile - by which, like Donald Trump's Tax return and lawsuit settlement so dramatically demonstrates, they get all the profits, without paying for the losses, which, making it even better, they have foisted onto the general public (the billion in taxes The Donald didn't pay, had to be picked up by someone), none of whom have any inkling of what's been done to them in the name of Freedom.
And as the damage reverberates, it shakes the very foundation of the edifice that most symbolized it: The NYSE, wrapped in its cocoon of Nationalism, shamelessly displaying and abasing the US flag draping its facade, an arrogant banner proudly proclaiming to all who had the temerity to heed such a brazen announcement, that within this building we hide a scoundrel's heart. The fall of Lehman's, brought down after more than a century of staid guidance, was to shake the foundations of a whole city. An entire country. Its shocks crumbling the faith of Capitalism as completely as the destruction of the Berlin Wall did for Communism, both events having driven home to their adherents the facade of lies and the veneer of humanity that they had pretended to represent. Nothing had remained steady and solid; cracks were appearing in neighboring institutions, and every day brought new collapses. The investment banks, having overnight turned their operations into little more than casino gambling, were crumbling one after the other, with a sudden clatter, like stretches of wall still standing after a fire. People listened in mounting dismay and fear to this noise of things falling until none of them were left standing, and wondered where the ruin would stop. Because, unlike Kissinger's use of the term, "Domino theory", in this case, was apt. Because dominoes normally fall higgledy-piggledy every which way, not in the way said theory would have you believe ... unless: unless they have first been set up by someone with a conscious design in mind, someone who plans for them to fall exactly the way they set them up to fall. And there was definitely the feeling that, far from, "Nobody could've seen it coming," plenty of people not only saw it coming but were ready with their plans, their dominoes all lined up, to rake in the billions that would flow their way while the rest of the world, well, whirled.
"We take care of your money the old fascist way: We Burn it".
But what ends up breaking the heart of anyone who hasn't had their humanity entirely sucked out by the greed that's been lauded as a virtue, is when they start counting their dead. Because it's not so much the bankers, the companies, the financiers and financial establishments destroyed and carried away in the storm, as all the little people, the shareholders, depositors, and speculators, who are always among the victims, not one of whom have other resources to get up and have another go. Such as the merchant, the only one she would've entrusted her last ten sous with, seduced away from a lifetime of laborious days of slowly building a fortune, succumbs to the siren song of gambling, forgetting that whereas, it may be true that all you have made throughout a lifetime devoted to your business and your customers can be won in an hour on Wall St., it can in the next hour, go up in flames as The Street takes everything, and more, back, even as the new crowd of suckers jostles to be let in. Even before the dust has finally settled, a new chimera is seen shimmering on the horizon, and a new venture is started to once again suck up capital into the eye of a new cyclone and a new disaster is set to spinning ...
But is there really a difference this time? Isn't it that people no longer think of the stock-market as anything but a gambling table? Everyone now seems edgy, poised on their seats, their hands nervously hovering above their piles of cash, ready to sweep it off the table at the slightest rumor, the least tremor, and stash it ... where? Wells Fargo? UBS? Citi maybe? Because, what we have chosen to ignore, and why I insist it matters when people say, "We have to save the planet", when in actual fact, it isn't the planet, but ourselves, that needs saving, it is in the same vein, not these vast vaults of hidden and shadowy money that need saving, no TBTF banks, which will always, as Wells so admirably demonstrated, find a new swindle, yet we rush to save them, not the people whose lives they destroyed that really need saving, those who can never regain their footing without help. The Banks, the insurance companies, the hedge funds, all the institutions the Government of the people threw the money of the people at in order to save, aren't, like the planet, in need of saving. They will continue to go on and rape the next generation of victims, because each generation believes themselves smarter than the previous one and therefore impervious to their idiotic rationalizations. Institutions, unlike individuals, live on. Because they live on other people's money, and those other people's money is taken from them before they even see it, their paychecks deposited into the banks vaults by mandatory EFT.
Because the biggest hoax in the history of the world, isn't climate change, but the idea that the stock market is a safe place (as many baby boomers really believed ... seriously ... many still do) to park your assets. But what the Greenspans and Bernanke's knew, what Blankfein and Paulson, Geitner and Mazillo, a list that goes on and on, what they all knew that you didn't, is that the financial crisis was but one of a series of fatal, periodic epidemics that ravages markets, sweeping through every ten to fifteen years. The black Fridays, and Mondays, the dreaded October surprises that shouldn't be, that strew the ground with the wreckage of people's lives. Usually it takes years for confidence to be restored, for the banking house to be rebuilt, rebuilt until once again the day comes when the passion for gambling gradually reawakens, blazes up and sets the whole process in motion again, bringing a new crisis, and sending everything crashing to the ground once more.
But this time, it seems like twilight is falling. As the summer skips through September and into October, a winter sky is creeping over the horizon, a leaden murky vista, laden with a grey mist where a golden glow was hoped for. In the natural world, as in the financial sphere, when a disturbance becomes apparent, it is called by weathermen, an "invest". It can roll along causing minor disruption to weather patterns, even bringing beneficial rain. However, it can also develop into a ferocious storm, a hurricane that rips out trees, and tears up infrastructure that had required years of planning and growth. Just as human "invests", when juiced with Fed largess, and handed to unscrupulous money-hungry wolves, have the same devastating effect on people's lives as the Hurricane in nature, whirling up into a financial maelstrom that shatters everything in its path. The cognoscenti are the only ones who know its projected route and intensity, and therefore have the foreknowledge and wherewithal to get out of its destructive path. Now, as one of its most unscrupulous members prepares to run the country as his own oh-so-private enterprise, while the Republic is reserved to absorb the losses until he's bankrupt that as well, a reddish smoke veils the horizon, one resulting from the unprecedented burning of vast acres of forests all across the globe, a heretofore unfelt uneasiness, a peatering pall, seems to hang over humanity, as the real possibility that we face mankind's sunset finally dawns.