Saturday, July 19, 2008

Farts, Bubbles and Finance Capitalism

Dear George,

It’s getting really tiresome, all this talk about bubbles: dotcom bubbles, housing bubbles, asset bubbles, commodity bubbles, equity bubbles, everyone of them no different than the bubbles blown by little boys farting in a bathtub.

All these little bubbles prove that corporatism is a form of dementia that stumbles from bubble to bubble until bubbles run out, and then it starts a war someplace to cut its losses.

Bubble pursuit is little more than mob psychology at work. The mob that springs up around a speculative bubble is like a class of fifth graders when a substitute teacher shows up. Discipline and order go out the window.

As Chuck Prince, the head of Citigroup, explained, “When the music stops, in terms of liquidity, things will get complicated. But as long as the music is playing, you’ve got to dance.”

Immaturity is habit forming, the easy money that pours from a bubble before it pops, addictive. Greed reduces the strongest of men to a babbling idiot. The result is the emergence of a capitalism that is more burlesque than rational asset allocation, a sad spectacle of an aged stripper bumping and grinding her distended belly in a vain effort to conjure up the eroticism of youth.

All of the bubbles must be constantly inflated to support the meta-bubble that depends on them all. According to one writer,

Consumer civilization is the ultimate bubble, the extrication of individual desires for growing material comfort from the Earth’s intrinsic ability to support billions—and then even additional billions yet to join us--addicted to scurrying around on four wheels to do some more shopping. All other bubbles are mere epiphenomena of this fundamental misreading.

Consumer spending constitutes seventy percent of our GDP. Red ink kept that one afloat. But with plastic maxed out and homes mired in negative equity, our meta-bubble is slowly deflating.

The beauty of this is that whatever lessons our corporatists learn from the current crisis will be quickly forgotten when the next bubble begins to rise in the east.

The child lives in the pinprick “now.” In this eternal present, experience is a dead albatross that is more curse than blessing. The moment the child enters the world of speculative finance, he sheds the corpse.

But when you get right down to it, George, life is a fucking bubble—you’re born, you inflate and one day, you pop.

So, why sweat it?

Your admirer
Belacqua Jones


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