So this one’s fun, and based off news that market volatility is approaching record highs.
Now, some schlubs over at Marketwatch are saying it’s being caused by a combination of this looming trade war with China, defense planners looking at the possibility of an Eastasia scheme to knock the USA out of hyperpower status, BRICS digital leadership, NAFTA uncertainty, an increased deficit, interest rates that are poised to rise, lack of consumer confidence, a drop in each market (DJIA/S&P/NASDAQ), and just plain old Twitter bullshit. And, by “schlubs,” I mean people who know what they’re talking about.
Also, Wall Street and The Billionaires are revolting (you can say that again, harrumph!) by starting to line up against #45, which I’m sure will have no economic consequence at all.
As a quick aside, Wall Street and The Billionaires is my 80s-themed synth-punk cover band name.
Which brings us to an alarming new normal:
The Era of the Cash Grab (Peace Be Upon It).
The last time this happened in American history (overtly) was right before the housing and financial markets crashed. See, both markets had recently become incredibly deregulated compared to historical rates. For a short time, Americans were chasing the American Dream in higher numbers than ever as housing markets throughout the U.S. increased, then increased again, then increased again.
House Hunters didn’t fucking help things, but I digress.
See, there was this notion that usually accompanies Boom Cycles – the Grab As Much As You Can Fit In Your Pockets, Then Grab More Mentality.
Regular people were finally achieving home ownership at record rates (thanks to predatory lending), which was happening because companies were creating mortgages at historic rates (because, MONEY), and were then repackaging the loans, the debt, anything they could get their hands on and selling that to yet other companies.
Everyone at the trough was getting fat, and few people indicated that something was drastically wrong – although had folks pulled back from feeding long enough, they would have seen the inevitable crash coming.
And then it hit, and that short 2-3 year period of monumental gains was followed by irreparable loss, but only for the homeowners. See, the mortgage companies pulled all the liquid assets and bundled their debt in such a way as to forego paying any liabilities in Bain Venture-style Luxe Bankruptcies. Major banking and finance players came crawling to The Fed with pockets turned out going boohoo.
And they got their bailout, because “Too Big To Fail.”
I don’t care if you want to bicker about the details. We know the crash wasn’t caused by foreign powers. It wasn’t caused by immigrants “Taken Mah Jurrbs.” It wasn’t caused by Automation. It was caused by plain, Good Ol’ Fashioned American-style Capitalistic Greed. But, you don’t have to take my word for it. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis website lists the formal timeline of the crash. Unsurprisingly, America’s corporate masters don’t want to acknowledge that, because fuck knowledge, amiright? Who needs to learn from recent history?
The poors, that’s who. Because while they were participating, they were the marks – the ones not protected by the plethora of middle management NDAs and legal loopholes; the people without attorneys and lobbyists.
Numerous bailouts have occurred, which may have well have made them a staple (or core tenet) of 21st Century American Capitalism. The issue isn’t that the bailouts occurred, it’s that those responsible for creating the circumstances for needing them went unpunished. Transfer Assistance Relief Program actually made money for the U.S. taxpayer. I still haven’t seen my dividend check from that, but am holding my breath /sarcasm.
There’s something on the way, and it will be coming for Americans in the wake of these deregulations.
So what do you get then, when the current administration’s track record isn’t of construction, but destruction? Take the following actions into account:
- Weakening the Affordable Care Act by removing the subsidy
- Implementing tax cuts that are permanent for corporations and temporary for individuals
- Limiting consumers’ ability to react to predation by lenders or bad businesses
- Movement to overhaul Dodd-Frank
- And More!
When all these start piling up, you have to wonder if these regulatory pushbacks were a move by Trump to aim to erase the legacy of his predecessor – who dared make fun of him once, or if it’s because of deeper-seated issues here. No matter what, the American public’s collective lives don’t improve because of these rollbacks. While Joe and Jane Six-Pack may not feel the burn or squeeze from these things initially, removing some of the regulatory teeth of agencies, whether they’re independent like the EPA or CFPB, or cabinet-level like, the Depts. of Energy or Education, these will screw people over eventually, much like the loosening of financial and housing regulations led to those sectors collapsing – spectacularly – in the mid-late Aughts.
There’s a Far Side joke where three old men are sitting on a porch. As old men do, they’re prognosticating about the oncoming storm based purely on what body part is acting up.
So what’s to happen next?
We’re looking at the possibility of a real Trade War; the incoming National Security Adviser doesn’t just want a war with Iran, but now we’re sensing more involvement with Syria; American debt is still growing; class mobility in the U.S. is at a near all-time low; most Americans can’t come up with $1,000 for emergency in a month; and the Political Class In Charge is still trying to gut regulations that protect the people.
Let’s not get started yet about how Automation is going to take all the jobs that are repetitive and predictable, climate change is going to cause further regional instability around the globe, the FCC aimed to kill your ability to discern #FAKENEWS from real verifiable information, Sinclair Broadcasting is trying to set up a monopoly on low-information voters, and 80-percent of the wealth that was created last year went directly to about two dozen families.
If your headspace feels a little tighter, it’s because the oncoming storm is causing the swelling.
“What do, Publius?” you ask.
“Educate yourself, you miserable cunts!” I respond after my second belt of Johnnie Walker Red (in this economy, we’re all making sacrifices).
But seriously, begin reading up on the things that must be done to keep the predators at bay, such as allowing the government to shepherd a little bit with the application of certain regulatory agencies.
And, if you have the ability to do so, check into any investment type vehicle you have. If you’ve got a retirement-type account, are playing the stock market or just have investment in local business, make sure you know what the Sacred Cohort of Upper Management is planning with policy. Because they’ve already separated the fools from their money, and now they’re coming for you.
Wall Street and The Billionaires want this massive deregulation to happen, desperately. But, they’re not so desperate that they need it all right now. Hence, the push against Pres. Trump. They’re not pushing back because they don’t want it to happen. They just would have preferred for it to have been enacted slowly – one deregulation per quarter, per industry. That way, the frog never finds out it’s been placed in a pan.
Now, as with the financial/housing crash of 2007-08, the previous Savings and Loan Crisis of the 80s and 90s, or the activities that led to the Great Depression, the people at the top (and some of those shitheels in the upper middle) are doing everything in their power to expand their ability to “create new wealth,” and by create new wealth I mean reach into your fucking savings, your retirement and your wallet – all without you even knowing until you’re left alone at the table with the check.
You don’t want to be the guy setting with an empty wallet and a swelled-up headspace, but at least you’ll be in good company with most of the rest of the country.