The archive is catalogued by 'Economics', 'Politics', 'Mockingbird', 'And in other news' and 'Thoughts on other things' 

MarkGB 

"Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world" - Henry Kissinger

and yet...

"Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences" – Robert Louis Stevenson

Reclaiming King Canute - a year end tale

As we approach the end of this remarkable year and look ahead to 2017... a year which I believe will make 2016 seem tame by comparison...I offer you this interpretation of where we may be in the grand scheme of things…

You will perhaps not be surprised by the gist of my tale, though the telling of it may seem rather ‘theatrical’…but I suggest that such a literary device is befitting a time of log fires, mince pies and mulled wine…not to mention the appearance of divine beings or the imminent arrival of a chubby geriatric sliding down your chimney…delivering exactly what you wanted (or not), before eating one of your aforementioned mince pies and heading next door to repeat the performance. Can the ‘real’ world really be any stranger than that? Let’s see…

The story of King Canute failing in his attempt to hold back the tide is a metaphor for the ‘wise man’ demonstrating the powerlessness of even a king to control massive natural forces.  Alas, the metaphor has been hijacked over the years to suggest that Canute was rather ‘the fool’, who in his arrogance thought that he could control the tides.  

In the world of ‘money’ there has been a similar hijacking of the ‘truth’ about the nature of things. For centuries we have been told tales of the activities of mysterious figures known as alchemists…people dedicated to finding the secret of ‘money’…by turning base metal into gold.  Unsurprisingly, the exploits of the alchemists never came to fruition, and were held by the wise as a cautionary tale against the vanity of seeking something for nothing…until one day in 1987 when the new court magician of the Imperial City, 'Maestro' Greenspan, discovered a printing press in the basement of his monetary citadel - the Eccles Building. ‘Hey presto’, a can of oil and a sea of ink…and unimaginable wealth was suddenly available courtesy of the printing press and the new alchemy of lower interest rates.  The unimaginable wealth so conjured was showered down upon those that lived closest to the citadel, and some traces of it even reached the villagers who lived beyond the walls…until 2000 that is…when the outside world crashed around the citadel…and the more ‘awake’ amongst the people realised that this unimaginable wealth was only too imaginable…that when it evaporated back into the nothingness from whence it came…it left ‘debt’ in its stead…

But alas the Maestro was not one of ‘the awoken’…so fooled was he by the allure of his hubris that he cranked up the printing press another gear, and cemented his legacy by inspiring a new generation of alchemists with illustrious titles like ‘Helicopter’ Ben Bernanke, Mario ‘It will be enough’ Draghi and Janet ‘Too boring for a nickname’ Yellen - who carried on conjuring the ‘gold’ down in the basement. Meanwhile, ‘fiscal wizards’ like Larry ‘Teflon’ Summers, Paul ‘Men with guns’ Krugman, and Ken ‘Cash is the work of the devil’ Rogoff played their part above ground - as they went out amongst the populace preaching the good news that all would be well if everyone followed the first commandment of their faith, 'Boost aggregate demand', which was an alchemical way of saying 'buy things you don't need with money you don't have'...but once more it didn’t work out as planned…the great financial crisis of 2008 followed…the phony ‘recovery’ followed that…and here we are again at the end of 2016, interlude over…taking our seats for Act Three…

For alas my fellow theatre goers, until our glorious policymakers, academics and their stenographers in the financial media understand that our economic ‘mother’ is a complex organic system that does not submit to hubris, we will continue to stoke up mountains of unsustainable debt disguised as ‘money’…debt which will eventually be ‘revalued’ by millions of people waking up to the realization that their ‘sovereign bonds’ and 'Federal Reserve Notes' amount to little more than pieces of paper that announce ‘IOU not even a decent explanation’…issued by an insolvent ‘borrower’ through a ‘bank’ with no assets.

As we approach the dawn of 2017, I am fairly confident (which of course means 'sod all'), that the time of these modern-day ‘fools’ is coming to an end; that their ‘spells’ and 'potions' will soon be revealed as the 'eye of toad' that they are. But I have no doubt that they will still be preaching ‘equilibrium’ and chanting other meaningless incantations even as they are being swept unceremoniously towards the sea wall...

To find the ‘wise men’ in 2017, we shall have to look further afield, away from the glare of the media spotlight and its compliant scribblers…and listen out for the words of people who understand the nature of tides…maybe an old wizard like William the Grey will fulfil the needs of the age and transform into William the White (the new William will need to be much grumpier than the old one)…perhaps someone long ignored will find a new wind to carry their voice…or maybe we'll greet the arrival of a new generation of free thinkers to challenge the High Priests of Mediocrity that have hitherto dictated who gets tenure, and who gets heard. Perhaps even people from the villages will step forward…pragmatic folks with the wisdom and humility to recognize hubris when they see it.  I look forward to their arrival on the beach…hopefully in 2017…

In the meantime, I wish you a Merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy & prosperous New Year.

This elephant is a rhino

Toys, cot, throw - rinse, repeat