James Howard Kunstler: Undermining the globe
News that that a swarm of termites deep inside the British banking system have been fiddling the interbank interest rates (LIBOR) for years in order to systematically vacuum a few billion pence off the exchange floors for themselves is the latest blow to the credibility of the global money system – and probably a fine overture to a looming climactic implosion of the gigantic, creaking, smoldering, reeking, duct-taped edifice of broken promises, booby-trapped hedge obligations, counterparty follies, central bank euchres, sovereign flim-flams, and countless chicanes too various, dark, and deep to smoke out.
Next, we’ll probably hear that Lloyd Blankfein over at Goldman Sachs has been tinkering with the rotation of the earth in order to gain a few micro-milliseconds of advantage in his firm’s high frequency trading rackets. After all, back in 2008 Lloyd himself claimed to be “doing God’s work.”
In short, world banking is now hopelessly pranged, and I am not at all sure the project of civilization (modern edition) can continue by other means. The impairments of capital formation are now so profound that no one and nothing can be trusted. Not only are all bets off, but nobody will want to make any new bets – and by that I mean venture to invest accumulated wealth (capital) in some useful project designed to sustain human well-being.
What remains is just the desperate hoarding of whatever remains in assets uncontaminated by the pledges of others to pony up.
All this points to a dangerous new period of political history, a deadly Hobbesian scramble to evade the falling timber in a burning house as the rudiments of a worldwide social contract go up in flames.
Such is the importance of legitimacy: the basic condition for governance, especially among supposedly free people. You can meddle in a lot of distributory issues – who gets what – but when you mess with the most basic operations of money to the extent that no one is sure what it’s really worth, or what it represents, then you are deeply undermining society. This is now the condition that is set to blow up republics.
Reality dislikes fraud and accounting tricks. Reality is serious about settling scores. Reality eventually intervenes and puts an end to monkey business. What will it be this time?
Europe and America have been buying a month here, a month there (of a fragile, continuing status quo) on the installment plan. That’s what QE, TARPs, LTRO, EFSF, Operation Twist, et cetera, are all about. Think of them as multi-billion dollar (euro) fire extinguishers bought on credit cards. Europe is now completely out of credit to buy more fire fighting equipment.
For months now it has been down to whether Germany intends to keep supporting Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, the French banks (and a few stray forgotten places between the backwaters of the Danube and the Gulf of Finland) without any say in how they manage their allowance. Much as Germany enjoyed the Ponzi heyday of the Euro zone, a big “tilt” sign now flashes ominously over the continent, signaling game over.
All fall down.
Everybody gets real poor real fast. M. Hollandaise over in Paris has already sealed his fate with his stupid plan to return to “go” on the Ponzi game-board. Merkel’s tattered scarecrow of a coalition will blow away in the next national election. The Club Med countries will soon boil up in street-fighting, Holland and Finland will drink themselves to death, and across the channel outsider Britain will fizzle away to a burnt bowl of mulligatawny. That’s what the end of the summer looks like to me.
Over here, in this sorry-ass edition of America, the election will look more and more like a World Wrestling Federation staged dumb-show between two catamite hostages of a foul corporate oligarchy. Imagine that horse’s ass Mitt Romney spending the next four months denouncing Obama-care, modeled on his own health care reform in Massachusetts, while Obama pretends he has a grip on an economy where the rule of law is absent due to Obama’s own omissions and negligence.
And if you can’t stand that spectacle, just look around at America itself: a wasteland of futile motoring and discount shopping populated by depressed, overfed clowns bedizened with sinister tattoos, pretending to be Star Warriors. No nation ever seen in human history ever laid such a disappointing egg.
Only to have it fry on the sidewalk.
James Howard Kunstler’s newest nonfiction book, TOO MUCH MAGIC, will be available in stores in July 2012.
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Other books by James Howard Kunstler: