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05/27/2013

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Berlino

Dear Dave,

I am writing today to thank you for your many, many wonderful posts of the last years. I greatly admire your energy and motivation.

I would imagine that I have been through the usual gammut of alternative web-sites, including rather doomerish ones that I have since ceased reading. (And especially those websites preaching how to make money off of misery). My own personal escape from the matrix has been going on for about ten years. It has been a lonely journey for the most part. Probably nothing is more antithical to our human instincts as to willingly ostracize yourself from the greater culture of which you are part. Doing so day after day is an exhausting way of life.

But the alternative, taking part in a system which you internally reject and living in a perpetual state of cognitive dissonance, also hat its pitfalls. Mine was a stroke at 45. That is the moment at which I realized that I had to find a way to keep on living (and earning, for my family's sake) without destroying myself with guilt and reproach.

The solution, and also the truth, is that it is futile to think that humans are going to change the very essence of their beings in order to avoid destroying this beautiful earth of ours. Our paleolithic brains are hardwired to reap windfalls and ignore the future. Moreover, the matrix is powerful. Even resistence is support. It took me years to realize that the entire environmental movement has long since merely become a rationale to continue business as usual while assuaging our consciences by making meaningless small corrections.

Life has always been tragic: DECISIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES!! Usually bad ones. The difference to earlier periods is that our stage is now the entire planet (and perhaps that our ability to reason and analyze has been destroyed by medial overkill).

Your approach is the best I have come across: merciless realism with a big dose of humor. As a favorite writer of mine said about the Titanic: It's a shame the ship is sinking, old lad, but one must admit, the food on board was excellent.

Well done!

Julian Bond

Except that of course, "excessive pessimism leads to misdiagnosis of problems" as well. And realism is even harder if you insist bringing all your baggage to the table.

Ken Barrows

"Recovery" is an interesting word. What does it mean? Does it only mean a rising GDP? I don't think that we'll ever recover in the US, even you mean GDP rising faster than debt and a Federal Reserve returning to its more subdued role of previous years.

As for the oceans, the forests, the Arctic ice---no recovery.

Dave Cohen

Re: It's a shame the ship is sinking, old lad, but one must admit, the food on board was excellent

Great!

That's why I want to hear from people.

Re: exhausting way of life

Yes, I don't think many people appreciate the inherent difficulty (and loneliness) of looking at things without the usual blinders or crutches.

best,

-- Dave

Jim

The economy is trying to correct itself - it's just in order to do so it needs to rattle the foundations it rests upon, which were always flawed and always temporary.

Economists are actually trying to prevent this correction, because it's not a correction they want, or one that fits in with their learning and beliefs. The bulk of their actions lately have only contributed to further hollowing out the old economy in order to maintain its facade a few days longer. We're eating the capital to maintain the interest (and those interested in the interest).

In other words, today's economists fear and distrust the "invisible hand" as much or more than they believe in it.

Mody and Ireland:
http://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/ireland/former-imf-mission-chief-says-austerity-doesn-t-work-1.1357105

jimbob

As you say the laws of economics do not exist. And as E.F. Schumacher says, our conversation should actually be about meta-economics - that is about where economics has something useful to contribute (a few circumstances) and where it has nothing to contribute (many more circumstances). But the economists are in charge of everything. Wresting the steering wheel away from them will not be easy.

step back

"I don't think many people appreciate the inherent difficulty (and loneliness) of looking at things without the usual blinders or crutches."

Dave,

In the land of the blind,

the one-eyed man is ....

considered crazy.

(Keep being crazy my friend, or at least the most interesting sapient and thirsty man in the world )

Mike M.

> Persistent optimism reflects a serious misdiagnosis of the global economy’s troubles...

I'd change this to say,

Persistent obfuscation of the true gravity of the eurozone crisis reflects a pathetic reliance on public cheerleading for a good outcome, despite the contrary expectation of the actual (and secret) dismal true forecast. It's as if the well publicized expectation of a good outcome--despite the secret assessment to the contrary--is now the only thing that is preventing a complete collapse. The frosting has become the cake.

JohnWDB

Mody seems to realize something is very wrong with economics, but then he turns back to Keynesianism at the end, calling for more stimulus. I'm not an economist, but I don't think economies like ours and Japan's are doing something constructive with their aggressive monetary stimuli. Printing lots of fiat currency doesn't generate wealth--it's just bailing water from a sinking ship. There is some sense to Keynesianism--it is theoretically possible for a government to soften recession until future growth takes over, but that assumes genuine future economic "growth", in the sense of increased resource utilization and production. That growth is not inevitable can't be considered, because it undercuts the entire foundation of what these men are so invested in.

Andy

Economics is the perpetration of known falsehoods for political purposes. It's a case of telling people what they want to hear, and justifying it with a lame mockery of science. Because there is no actual basis in reality, economists all tend to disagree with one another on the diagnosis and the cure. They are all so arrogant, and their opinion's are best described as "I am the only one who is right". Ask 2 economists a question and get 3 different answers.

The only thing they seem to agree on is that we need exponential growth on a finite planet. Enough said.

Oliver

Seeing as economists are pseudo-scientific sponges on society, would a solution to rising sea levels be to round them all up and dump them in the ocean?

The good news for economists is that, according to my sources, Dolphins have been observed using sponges as tools while foraging.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poriferan

John D

If you look at GDP over the last 60 years or so, there is a slow and steady downward decline in the growth rate. Law of diminishing returns and all that. How economists think we can buck this 60 year trend is beyond me.

J. Drew

So, according to the economists, economies fix themselves, except they don't, which is why there needs to be stimulus programs and other interventions. The healing process also requires optimism, because pessimissm slows growth, except that the optimisim leads to a misdiagnosis of the underlying problems....Yeah these guys haven't got a clue.

lemoncookies

"We need more growth right now."

I don't think I agree, though this is vaguely worded, so I'm not really sure. Capitalism is predicated on endless economic growth, which is pure fantasy, given the earth's limited resources. I would much rather we focus on more effectively distributing the goods and services that we already produce instead of trying to balloon them unnecessarily into the stratosphere. The current economic collapse was due largely to the banks creating fake growth because if they hadn't, they wouldn't have grown at all, which, as mentioned, is antithetical the game they're playing (capitalism). Growth is not in itself a good. It can or cannot be depending on the context.

Ryan Brooks

Well it couldn't be more obvious right?

I think people tend to believe what seems to be true (what they are told to be true - from television or otherwise) instead of paying attention to the real world around them which unmistakingly clarifies what is actually true other than what seems to be true with stunning definition.

Either way I'd have to disagree on his growth prospects though. I just can't believe that America, or the world for that matter, can expect to grow at all without cheap oil. It just does not add up.

Mike Roberts

All economists, hell (almost) all people think that "recovery" will eventually happen. I feel lonely too whenever I hear the optimistic stories (which is quite often). I've been seeing those stories for the last four years but those who produce those stories don't seem to realise that they are repeating the same stories and they never seem to mark the beginning of a new growth spurt. But no-one seems to notice because (almost) everyone wants to believe that the "good times" can come back. It's so frustrating.

I suspect that even the reported growth is bogus (due to manipulated statistics) and probably much less than even a flat GDP per capita would generate for those countries still growing their populations.

I'd love to know if there is a news site that gives realistic stories (without the doomer bits).

cdresearch

"In Europe, the banks’ wounds must be closed – weak banks must be shut down or merged with stronger banks – before recovery can begin. This will require an extensive swap of private debts for equity. For the global economy, the malaise reflected in anemic trade growth calls for coordinated fiscal stimulus by the world’s major economies. Otherwise, the risk of another global recession will continue to rise."

No offense, but that does not represent outside-the-box thinking at all. It's the same economic claptrap that's dominated economics since at least the Great Depression. Massive Keynesian stimulus and Fed money creation is a way to soften the blow of cyclical downturns and financial crises for both the rich and the poor (mostly the rich). But these actions are merely band aids placed on gaping wounds that are destined to reoccur. They are not systemic solutions for the long term benefit of the people in the least. To the contrary, they are analogous to just enough crumbs periodically thrown the beggars way to ward off a potentially massive insurrection. Indeed, such policy and monetary prescriptions distract the vast majority of the population from seriously questioning the biggest embedded mandate for unjust and unsustainable economic expansion: the creation of money via interest bearing loans by private banks. Unfortunately, ordinary people will continue to get screwed until they insist that money creation be put in the hands of the public, and spent into the economy in ways that are socially just, and ecologically sustainable over the long-term. The private Federal Reserve should be abolished. We need fundamental monetary system restructuring at all levels of the economy, from the global to the local.

JohnWDB

^boom. Easy money (fractional reserve lending) causes economic instability. Economic instability is in turn smoothed by even easier money. If you don't question this, you might be in line for a Nobel prize.

Drewriders

True. Economies can naturally heal themselves. But not without a lot of pain and suffering to the masses. The problem is economists assume economies will grow unabated without a ceiling, of sorts. The world population is expected to top out around 9 billion people. I have heard some estimates as high as 11 billion but what quality of life will they have? Where will the growth come from when that happens? Industrial nations are ill equipped and carry way to much debt to be prepared for the coming economic collapse. I am sure we will QE and ZIRP our way and limp along until that happens. But the next downturn won't be pretty. Central Banks will have run out of options to keep us afloat all because political cronyism and it's short sighted policies will doom us all. I am not a doomer by any means but things 'tend to return to the mean'.

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