The Economy: Explained (and not boring)
Editor’s Note: We were happy to bring Adam Kornya on as a writer for NK, but knew he is smarter than us. This scared us. But he’s reigned it in for us, not you. You guys is smart. We is dumb. So thanks, Adam.
So I just finished rereading Alan Greenspan’s “The Age of Turbulence”.
I read it when it first came out, thought it was tolerable for something by a dude who thought Ayn Rand had the right idea, then shelved it until the context in which I could read it again in true retrospect had solidified. Published in 2007, it’s essentially half biography and half utterance of giddy surprise that the US and world economy didn’t collapse in the wake of 9/11 in 2001, and about how the American economy is a resilient machine that can handle any catastrophe and roll with any punch.One year later, this happened:
Wait, no. Sorry guys. I’m new and I’m still getting the hang of doing these pictures. Maybe it was this?
No. This is graphs. What the hell is my problem, showing you graphs? I know who reads this blog. I read this blog. And it is rarely, and I do mean rarely, for the informative graphs. Anyway, Non-stop Karate’s international finance editor informs me I was right the first time.
So the people in government regulatory agencies and private financial institutions, two groups that overlapped in about 45% of executive level personnel, traded enough debt to each other, enough of which was imaginary, that the economy collapsed. They all pooped their pants, and somebody had to clean it up. Only in America, or a Japanese fetish film, would that logical subsequent somebody be a cowboy.
Bush recognized that food riots in a country where there are 89 guns for every 100 people would probably/hopefully end in the exact, undeviating plot of Escape From LA. This made the choice a particularly agonizing one for the president who had always loved the Snake Plissken franchise, and who knew as well as anyone that Kurt Russell could use the work.
Already on thin ice with gun-owning white people, Obama further subsidized unstable sectors of the economy to prevent what many prominent economists describe as “Catastrophic break down of all society and life as we know it” and what many disaffected 20’s somethings whose only shot at real advancement in this world is a ruthless, desperate, blood for blood Mad Max type scenario as “Totally badass”. The administration was given a choice at the time of either meaningfully punishing the people and agencies responsible, or giving them a little bit of a tap on the fanny in exchange for their help in, you know, helping.
Opposition to various Keynesian economic policies employed by the Obama administration arose in the form of an ultra-conservative populist movement nick-named the Tea Party, pictured here:
Whose name surprisingly came not from the sex act of gingerly dunking one’s testicles into the mouth of a prone supplicant, but instead from a poorly articulated and tenuous homage to the political language of the Revolutionary War. And the fact that said political language was largely written and endorsed by slave-owning, blood lusty, wooden-tooth coke fiends does go some distance towards consolidating their legitimacy.
Regardless, things got bad, people got mad, things stayed bad, people got madder. This is all old news, news you hear every time you turn on TV, open a web-browser, or let a conversation with basically anybody drift for more than two topics. Young people can’t find jobs, middle aged people with kids can’t afford to keep their house, retirees lose their retirement things really suck, people are angry, and nobody really knows whose fault it is.
Lots of people have theories. Some say the crisis resulted from overzealous deregulation. Some say it wasn’t the regulations, but the regulators who were asleep at the switch. Some blame the greed of Wall Street and the shadowy banking practices of systemically vital financial institutions. Perhaps it was the consumer, who enabled the bevy of toxic debt, or perhaps capitalism is an inherently unstable means of distributing wealth and the system was just doing what it does.
I’ve heard all these theories and more, each one compellingly expressed in that tone of dry authority that only finance writers and Economist contributors can really sell. I’ve watched on as the shrill George Soros conspiracy theories on FOX News and the tremblingly apologetic editorials on MSNBC whither my unnameable faculties and make me want to be a person who goes to bed at nine o’clock. I’ve seen Lehmans deposed and Sachs exposed (it’s a pun about testicles, grow up people), and two dirty fingers pointing elsewhere for every dirty finger pointing home.
But don’t you see? It’s a snow job. All smoke and mirrors. People blame the government or Wall Street, or even pure human greed, but in truth the culprit is none of the above. In truth, the culprit is Wizards.
Stop reading this. Go to the nearest mirror. Stare into your own eyes for at least thirty seconds, and then silently mouth the word.
Since the dawn of civilization, using ancient crafts secreted out of Atlantis before it drowned beneath the vengeful sea, learned men have looked to signs from nature to the Heavens along with all betwixt and tween to better guide the works of lesser men. The Ziggurat Keepers of Sumer’s Anu, Adam Smith, the Scrollbearers of Thoth hiding truth in papyrus, Alan Greenspan, the Sun-children Consorts of Isis, Paul Volcker, Hermes Trismegistus Knower of All, Tim Geithner, the spacefaring Valdermen to whom Odin whispered charms while he hung upon Yggdrasil Tree, Merlin of Britainia, Morganna of Fey, Ben Bernanke: You know. Wizards.
I should explain.
Most experts talking about the economy will tell you that its relative strength is governed by profits, affordability of labor, accessibility of markets, research innovation and supply logistics. These people are full of shit, and probably have been bribed by wizards, their pockets jingling with dishonest Wizard Gold.
In truth, the economy is governed mostly by Wizards by use of blood, dragons, and the blood of dragons. Their mighty spells entice Moloch the Bull Demon of Canaan into thundering across the night sky in the guise of the constellation Taurus, ensuring a prosperous Bull Market and a good showing on blue chip and preferred stocks. Whispering enchantments in their lonely eldritch towers in Battery Park, they spin gold from nothingness to fuel the great wheel of commerce. In the adamantine foundries secreted deep within the fiery caverns and diamond stairs below Wall Street, wizards toil night and day creating jobs from the stuff of the bones of the earth.
Lowest among them are the Actuaries, those agents of Fate who read the auguries and say many soothes. It was the shadow war they began against the Wizards that caused the financial crisis of 2008.
Having drunk from a cup carved from volcanic glass and dipped in the waters of the Well of Mimir, every Actuary plucks out an eye upon graduating an accredited actuarial science program and then casts it into the well, ever after seeing What Is with one eye, and What Might Someday Be with the other. This is why you are able to identify a disguised actuary by looking for their glass eye.
But despite their power to read the future of men, over time the Actuaries grew jealous and resentful of their Wizard masters, who refused to share with them the secret of brewing their legendary immortality elixirs. For while Death has ever been the source of the Actuary’s power, the shadow it casts over the hearts of all Actuaries has always been their greatest frailty- they understand best among all mortal men that they are doomed to die.
For many years the Actuaries have ever used their dark knowledge for good, crafting lifestyle mortality tables to prolong the statistical lives of men, gently shepherding the prosperity of the world with Langrian derived probability distributions. But even as they built their glass castles of maths, their hearts rotted within.
Deep in the heart of a smoldering caldera somewhere beneath the Actuarial Science department at University of Michigan, the Actuaries gathered on the eve of the 2008 Summer Solstice to perform their solemn rites. But among them came a leader, remembered now only as The Grey Sybil, who spoke to them passionately of the crimes of the Wizards that feared their dominion over Death. She exhorted the assembled Actuaries to embrace their own deaths as they would a lover and waltz slowly into sleepless dark eternity.
Every Actuary has the power to predict the time and circumstances of their own demise, down to the second and the detail. Yet this has always been forbidden among their Circles, for even when this dark knowledge does not cause outright madness, the Actuary is forever changed and his powers forever twisted.
The Grey Sibyl led the Actuaries in the ritual, leaving each with intimate understanding of their own demise. With the Actuaries corrupted by the energies of the underworld, the delicately built and maintained markets tumbled down to their foundations. They launched their war on the Wizards soon after, toppling Lehman Brothers (of the Resplendant Robes) and AIG, the largest Wizard’s Guild in the world. By the time the Wizards had assembled to resist, much of what was good and innocent in the world had been lost- resulting in what we humans understand as the financial collapse.
And while the war has ground into a stalemate, the Grey Sybil and her chief lieutenants known only as The Four Horsemen continue their clandestine struggle against the Wizards, seeking to pull the rest of the world into the oblivion they themselves have embraced. And so the world spins ever on into an uncertain but not unlikely future.
At least until the Freemasons build the great pyramid and the All-Seeing Eye returns to rule over us with unblinking vigilance. But that’s a story for another day.
Posted on February 7, 2011, in Adam Kornya, History Lessons and tagged actuaries, adam kornya, alan greenspan, economy, federal reserve, gandalf, hamburglar, Politics, tea party, wall street, wizards. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.