Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bull Guts and Prosperity

Fiat currency is to finance capitalism what lead was to alchemy. Both are base materials their possessors sought to transform into something of value through the muttering of incantations. Only finance capitalism succeeded. Fait currency obtains value when a well-armed bully shakes a dollar bill in a peons face and snarls, “This mother is worth what I say it’s worth!”

I wonder if the alchemist, as he stood over his bubbling cauldron, asked himself, “What if I succeed and turn this lead into gold? What will that do to the price of gold on the open market? Will we not reach the point where it would take a ton of gold to purchase what a pound of gold now purchases?”

One thing we can be certain of, the finance capitalist never asked this question about his fiat currency. Why bother when you can produce value as fast as you can print it.

Finance capitalism is the alchemy of today as it busily produces value out of a base material--paper. It is all fantasy. Fantasy is the hot air that has inflated the multiple bubbles that have maintained the illusion that we are a prosperous nation when, in truth, our economy has stagnated as we shipped our manufacturing base overseas.

Ours has been the prosperity of increased indebtedness as more and more consumers join the ranks of the poor. We need the poor because they debt they piled up during flush times is a major source of revenue for our financial capitalists. They are the vultures who profit every time funny money changes hands.

Their goal is the total economic meltdown that would give them the opportunity to wrap a neoliberal garrote around the neck of what remains of the New Deal and slowly strangle it.

All of this was made possible when the bean counters enticed the virtual economy to pack her bags and leave the real economy. There’s more profit in fanatasy than there is in actually making something or in providing a real service.

The priests of old assessed risk by studying the innards of a gutted bull. The priests of finance capitalism assess risk using “risk assessment models.” I suspect the priests of old had better luck with their bull guts.


David Myers said...

Great analogy! Even Isaac Newton, for all his genious, dabbled in alchemy and could not refraim from being drawn into the promise of easy money.

Case Wagenvoord said...

He was also in charge of the Royal Mind and had countifeiters drawn and quartered.

Ivan Hentschel said...

All of this make-believe money and mystical high finance is just another manifestation of our desire for instant gratification and a facilitation of greed. Bankers have done this throughout history, but today we can print and move the money faster electronically.

It is essentially the same reason ATM's exist: they are there for the banker's convenience, not yours. They don't call in sick and don't require health insurance.

Two nights ago I bought movie tickets on-line before heading out. The computerized, unmanned system charged me an extra $1.50 per ticket for the transaction.

Today's alchemy is a fiduciary pseudo-science that makes logic run backwards.