The gravy train will have to stop at some point, but right now the global elites have pushed their chips on to the U.S. dollar and stocks.
Editor's note: This is a guest post by my friend and colleague Zeus Yiamouyiannis, Ph.D., who has contributed essays to Of Two Minds since 2009.
I believe there will be a massive contraction/deflation in the near term in certain sectors of the U.S. and world economy as demand flees from commercial real estate, as jobs do not come back full force, small businesses close down, and/or people migrate to home offices. Demand for residential real estate will also likely contract in the short term as people are forced to go into living with family or shared housing. Even with the money-pump operating at full speed, flooding the market with cash (which should cause inflation), there will be an opposite effect for the ordinary person.
Why? There are tons of people with no actual money to buy up, lease, or rent real estate assets. Cash and borrowing collateral is tilted so much to super-wealthy, that the vast majority of people will not have access to cash to invest in real estate and other durable goods. Far fewer ACTUAL PEOPLE can pursue certain goods even if the SYSTEM is flooded with cash. It's not in their pockets!
Now this might be partially corrected by some form of Universal Basic Income (UBI), but this will take time, and people will initially use it to shore up their survival. I look at what happened in real estate after 2006, where it crashed and was successfully hyperinflated again. Ordinary people lost their homes, and private equity firms bought them up with cash and re-inflated the real estate bubble. Look at what has happened to gold, which should be $4,000 to $5,000/ounce right now, but manipulation of gold paper (and selling gold "assignments" over actual gold) has kept a kibosh on its meteoric rise.
One should not underestimate how much the global elite has tied the welfare of a fearful global populace into their own program and benefit. They are using an intensely immoral extortion (and should be illegal, but it is in fact rewarded) that says, "We get ours first, and you might get some scraps... We don't get ours first (and most) and you get NOTHING! Yes, it is a bullying tactic that would create revolution if they ever acted upon, or we ever called them on it (and I hope we do) but current retirees are also very powerful and they firmly toe the line with the status quo. They have enough of the loot to want to protect it and keep a broken system going.
Witness Joe Biden's nomination to see how people are ideologically and politically drawn to symbols of their own self-interest. Biden did not lift a finger to gain the nomination (he had a few campaign offices, never really campaigned, raised little significant money, and drew pitiful crowds). Biden set a record that I doubt will ever be beaten in winning the nomination after placing fourth in the first nominating state, Iowa, and FIFTH in New Hampshire. He would have been toast in any fair contest, except for older suburbanites who still feel they can ride the system of graft, aligned with the Power Elite, into retirement and eventually a comfortable grave.
People under 50 were 70% for Bernie Sanders, and people over 50 were 70% for Joe Biden. No more stark a contrast and commitment to completely different regimes can you see. The first is geared toward riding the system and resisting change, the second is in transforming and doing away with system as a threat to a future survival that those who support the current system will never see (unless you believe in reincarnation).
Is this sustainable? No way. Can it be pursued for another ten to twenty years in defiance of reality while the beneficiaries die off? We shall see. Young people have NOT been exercising their political power, not even voting in decent numbers, but rather adapting to and tolerating whatever is thrown their way. That may change, especially as conditions get both worse and more globally distributed.
There are some signs as very young progressive Democratic candidates (Cori Bush, Jamaal Bowman, etc.) are actually winning races against heavily-favored and funded incumbents. De-growth and distribution of productivity gains will emerge as new war cries, both to save the environment and to make a living possible, as harsh and unequal realities deepen.
That may be the future, but there are no current sufficiently strong political, social, or economic barriers to this rank abuse of fiduciary trust and dignity. The government will be forced to subsidize underwater mom and pop America with a UBI type infusion, but that won't be enough even to survive amid deflated relative wages and inflated assets, not to mention a continuing Covid-19 shutdown that sees no end in sight until at least January 2021 because of a completely absent federal coordinated response.
This ennui and anxiety, this rudderless and leaderless and morality-free ship cannot simply drift hither and thither, or have some brigand seize the wheel and drive it towards his own private beach, forever. But it will happen in the short term, as it is now.
This year, dividends have NEVER been lower in the history of the stock market, yet the S&P 500 hit a new high? Billionaires are making tens of billions of dollars more!
The tsunami has not hit yet, and it will come falling on Joe Biden's head if he gets elected, and no corporate apparatchik will have a solution.
The solutions Charles Smith has mentioned in his books and essays will be the only real solutions-- radical community reliance, localization, and decentralization, because these are the only things that can put food in your mouth and these are the only things you will be able to rely upon.
Multinational corporations seek only to leverage rent, not to fix the proverbial toilets. U.S. currency already has a built in defense-- it is the reserve currency of the world's economic elite. It will not be allowed to fail easily, no matter how irresponsibly domestic policies are conducted-- including endless money printing and using the Fed to buy up equities.
The global elite are all invested in U.S. currency and stocks, and they know if the world's largest consumer economy goes down, THEY go down (including Putin, by the way--what would happen to his petro industry if U.S. demand and dollar collapsed?). Not so with just about anything else. Zero to negative interest rates will continue to "benefit" them and their interests, because it will artificially goad stock prices higher and create a dominance for the U.S. dollar.
These guys WANT inflation, because inflated markets (especially in oil, real estate, and equities) means increasing value on the money they already invested in these assets. These global elites are by far the biggest borrowers, buyers, AND debtors. What better way to solve that problem then to make interest rates zero or negative!
The gravy train will have to stop at some point, but right now the global elites have pushed their chips on to the U.S. dollar and stocks. We should use that breathing room to make our choice away from this rigged game.
copyright 2020 Zeus Yiamouyiannis
This is part of series entitled When the World Market Itself Is Fake, Economic "Value" Loses Any Real Meaning.
Part 3 of this series will explore where we are right now and what to look for in the tough times ahead.
Parts 4 and 5 will discuss healthy, pro-democratic, creative alternatives to the current rigged system.
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