Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cutting out our tongues, and serving them up in a rich stew

I was going to devote this week on News from the Zona to news from Iraq, adopting, as I have done before, Titus Andronicus’ principle:

“Enter TITUS dressed like a Cook, LAVINIA veiled, Young LUCIUS, and others. TITUS places the dishes on the table
Welcome, my gracious lord; welcome, dread queen;
Welcome, ye warlike Goths; welcome, Lucius;
And welcome, all: although the cheer be poor,
'Twill fill your stomachs; please you eat of it.
Why art thou thus attired, Andronicus?
Because I would be sure to have all well,
To entertain your highness and your empress.”

Like Titus, I would like to busy myself cutting and dealing in pie – meat pie, boy pie, girl pie, the bloody pies of Iraq, which seemed, at one time, to so charm an American public that, with a cretinous smile and patriotic hearts bursting to revenge 9/11 on anybody but the, uh, perpetrators – who were away in safe havens in Pakistan to provide the cutest little threat that ever dumped money into a defense contractors hot little hand – this self same public, le peuple in all their glory, allowed itself to be led to the feast by a usurper and a fool, only to find – alas – that there was more in the cooking than could be well borne in the eating, and that the tongue grows weary of all those human all too human bones. But eat up! Eat up! There is always more meat pie.

Such was my purpose. But I am going to swerve from this rich, indigestible topic, and comment instead on news from the zona. In particular, on David Leonardt’s piece on the ‘miscalculation’ of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil – otherwise known as Obama’s economic advisors, Geithner, Romer and Summers.

“To make the case for a big stimulus package, they released their economic forecast for the next few years. Without the stimulus, they saw the unemployment rate — then 7.2 percent — rising above 8 percent in 2009 and peaking at 9 percent next year. With the stimulus, the advisers said, unemployment would probably peak at 8 percent late this year.

We now know that this forecast was terribly optimistic. The jobless rate has already reached 9.4 percent. On Thursday, the Labor Department will announce the latest number, for June, and forecasters are expecting it to rise further. In concrete terms, the difference between the situation that the Obama advisers predicted and the one that has come to pass is about 2.5 million jobs. It’s as if every worker in the city of Los Angeles received an unexpected layoff notice.”

Uh huh, as Li’l Kim might say at this point. It turns out that if you look at the glass from the top, it is full of sparkly water from the finest springs, and if you look at it from the bottom, the thing has been fucking dry for ages. The see no-s have concentrated on the great task they saw before them – to make sure that the richest level of Americans were as well off now as they were in 2007. And to this task they devoted the major portion of the government’s resources – not simply TARP, but the amazing Fed loan program – which has its equivalent in the Arabian nights tale of the hawker who bought tarnished pots for gold. And thus, and thus, my lords, was an opportunity squandered and the great squeeze put in its place. Did the treasury and the fed take the giant predatory financial sector companies and put them through the rigors of bankruptcy, such as befall the poor schmuck who gets behind on the Visa payments? They most definitely did not. Did they set up modalities in the vast and living banking system that allowed consumers to trade their own pots for gold – in other word, trading in old debts for new debts at the 2 percent rate? Oh no, for such deals smack of communism. Such deals are only meant for the Fed and its confederates, who need to be, what is the phrase? Oh, made liquid again. Yes, liquidity – the very sound has something of saliva in it, something silvery, something glittery, does it not?
And so the models, apparently, don’t understand:

“These models, which are also used by Wall Street and various research firms, do a decent job most of the time. But they are notoriously bad at forecasting turning points because they are based on an assumption that the recent past will more or less repeat itself.”

This is, of course, a smoothing out, a tidying up of why the models are bad – which has nothing to do with the recent past repeating itself and everything to do with the notion of market clearing. For the models are premised on that old hoax, the Dr. Moriarty of economics, known as the self-adjusting market. Ah, that dear old fiction, the market, which dances to the beat of an equilbrium while magically mounting higher and higher! The models, shall we say, are top down models, and find it frankly unscientific and pathetic that there should be any other. For why should the bugs have a say in the choice of the bug spray? This, and none other, is the beginning of Economics 101, taught to fresh faced predators everywhere. But my model, to which I am sticking in spite of the see no-s, is the mangle of inequality. A mangle that has enmeshed a greater and greater number of souls, as it was obvious it would not just to the Marxists among us, but also to those who have attentively studied Memlinc’s pictures of the Last Judgment.

Will't please you eat? will't please your
highness feed?
Why hast thou slain thine only daughter thus?
Not I; 'twas Chiron and Demetrius:
They ravish'd her, and cut away her tongue;
And they, 'twas they, that did her all this wrong.

No comments: