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Finance and the Mafia State

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By Sell on News, a global macro equities analyst. Cross-posted from Macrobusiness.

The argument advanced by the historian Philip Bobbitt that a transition is occurring in world politics from the nation state to the market state has long appealed as a snapshot of what is occurring in world politics. It is, as with any thesis about a large subject, far too simple to reflect accurately all that is happening, but it is nevertheless a fine starting point. As we witness the political travails plaguing southern Europe, it gives us a useful analytic to trace the outline of what is happening.

That, at least, is what I used to think. I am starting to wonder if something very different is happening. Several tensions seem to be occurring that suggest that the transition to a “market state” is problematic at best. The first, and most obvious, is the resilience of nationalism, or at least approximations of it. Max Walsh commented in the AFR that the Europe experiment was designed to mitigate the effects of nationalism:

The EC is about buying time. This was the strategy originally favoured by Jean Monnet, the “founding father” of “modern” Europe. Monnet judged that unification between the previously hostile nations of Europe would never be delivered through the ballot box. Instead, he advocated, it could be achieved by incrementally transferring more and more government functions from national to European administrations.

The EC has been successful in increasing its writ by stealth.

The delaying is just papering over the absurdity of enforcing a union that does not have underlying cultural support, yet purports to be “democratic”. As the historian Anthony Beevor points out the rise of nationalism in Greece – anti Nazi slogans against Merckel, for example — is a gloomy portent. Europe is already falling apart and likely to revert to nationalism of some sort:

“The great European dream was to diminish militant nationalism,” he says. “We would all be happy Europeans together. But we are going to see the old monster of militant nationalism being awoken when people realise how little control their politicians have. We are already seeing political disintegration in Europe.

Meanwhile, the nationalism of America, Russia and China is much as it has been. Military systems are national, and will remain so. The current geo political battle is over Central Asia, both for reasons of military positioning and for its economic significance, the reserves of gas. There is no sign of a fading nation state, as John Chan reports:

“In Beijing, Russian and Chinese leaders publicly stated their opposition to the drive by the US and its allies towards military intervention in Syria. In a joint statement, Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao declared: “Russia and China are decisively against attempts to regulate the Syrian crisis with outside military intervention, as well as imposing… a policy of regime change.”

Writing in the official People’s Daily, Putin declared: “Without the participation of Russia and China, without considering Russia and China’s interests, no international matter or issue can be discussed and implemented.” Russia and China have blocked UN resolutions for sanctions against Syria.

Both Russia and China have a great deal at stake in opposing US machinations in the Middle East. Russia has longstanding ties with Syria. Moreover Putin and Hu are well aware that the drive for regime change is also directly against Syria’s main ally, Iran, that is confronting threats of war from the US and its allies. China and Russia have significant economic interests in Iran.”

It could be argued that this is just transition, but the problems of the “market state” go much deeper. Bobbitt’s argument is largely justified with reference to commerce: international trade and globalisation, altthogh he does mention the capital markets. But what is evident with the series of financial crises over the last 15 years, which used to occur mainly in developing countries but which are now consuming the developed economies, is that the markets that have the real power are financial markets. And these are stateless.

Worse, they have taken over the role of the state to set the rules of money in a deeply pernicious fashion. Indeed, we can go further. Global financial markets have become destroyers of states, not a new kind of state. That the traders rely, as citizens, on some sort of state structure to live, is merely an irrelevance, an inconvenient aside.
As I have argued before, it is impossible to deregulate financial markets because money is rules about value and obligation. So what happened instead when financial markets were “deregulated” is that the governments’ role as the setter of rules was handed over to traders, who made up their own rules: more than $700 trillion of derivatives, intense high frequency trading and so on. It results in a weird contradiction: governments trying to save their systems from the new rules being created by the traders, yet the traders relying on the state’s rules about finance to overlay their games of meta money. Meta money traders have to have conventional share trades between buyers and sellers to apply algorithms to manipulate the markets at high speed.

You need conventional commerce in commodities to use derivatives to play commodity futures, for example. It is why governments are constantly attacked by players in the financial markets who are simultaneously hard at work exploiting those “errors” to make money. Meta hypocrisy to accompany the meta money, I suppose.

The tsunami of this meta money, which is borderless, stateless and has no thought for its effect on governments or polities, still relies for its very existence on the rules set up by governments. And as has been obvious since the GFC, governments and tax payers are expected to clean up the mess when it inevitably all goes wrong. That can be done once. When it goes wrong a second time, the firepower will not be there, as is increasingly evident in Europe. The conventional rules will have been weakened too much by the rules invented by the traders of meta money.

It represents a comprehensive failure of government, and will not lead to the creation of a new type of state. It is rather a new type of chaos. It is especially pernicious when governments start to dabble in the meta money, as Greece did when the government covered up its debt by using derivatives. That is wholly unforgiveable. It is bad enough that governments have allowed traders to make up their own rules with money, in effect playing Russian roulette with money itself. But when they, too, start using the same tricks, then the road back to sanity becomes long indeed.

The danger is that it is a road to anarchy, no matter how often one quotes Adam Smith and fantasises about the invisible hand. Even Alan Greenspan eventually figured that out: that letting self interest and greed run rampant is not a sure fire route to an altruistic result. Such liberalist logic can be defensible in commercial markets; it is nonsense in finance.

Rather than Bobbit’s market state, the breakdown of rules, the capturing of policy and the utter mess that is confused public and private interests suggests something more redolent of Moises Niam’s “Mafia State”.

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70 comments

  1. emptyfull

    I think Merkel and Co. will try to stage a “Lehman moment” using Greece as their Lehman. Remember, the US Treasury was given all its extra firepower only after one “not-quite-too-big-to-fail” bit the dust. Greece is expendable; Spain and Italy are not. Greece breaking out of the Euro will cause big enough shockwaves to convince the German public (and other nations’ publics)that the ECB needs extraordinary firepower and that they need to cede more sovereignty to the EU to avoid total collapse of the Euro.

    Not sure they’ll be able to move fast enough to keep everything from blowing up.

    That’s my guess, but I’ve been predicting Armageddon for a while and still “the Lord tarries.”

    1. Hubert

      interesting theory but the German public does not have any say in this. If it would this project would not have started / already ended.
      The Anti-Euro(zone) party is a compelling project. It will be branded as right-wing but still it will become a factor in German politics. But long before they blow up the system somebody or something else will …..

      1. C

        When the Irish were voting for the EU constitution the second time (they rejected it the 1st time and the Irish government basically forced a second vote with the Prime Minister declaring that this time they would “get it right”) A german friend commented that Germans feel they must ratify because they receive all thge benefits of the EU. The implication seemed to be that the Germans were footing their bill.

        Now that Greece, Italy and others are defaulting the early mood in Germany to make them pay seems to be giving way, at least based upon my friend, to a question of whether this is all worth it.

        At this point Germany is already close to a constitutional crisis over its attempts to save the Euro and ordinary Germans are wondering whether the purported benefits of integration are worth it. After all they were the largest economy in Europe before. They still are, but now they are owed a lot of money that will probably never be repaid. After all a loan that can’t be paid back isn’t a loan, its a gift.

  2. Ruben

    “It is especially pernicious when governments start to dabble in the meta money, as Greece did when the government covered up its debt by using derivatives. That is wholly unforgiveable.”

    Couldn’t agree more.

    That single act of chicanery by itself, justifies the pain of those that elected the kind of leaders that would perpetrate the fraud.

    1. patricia

      Yah, because living in chronic pain without medication is a fair consequence for electing an official who did the opposite of what he said while campaigning.

      And you can say that because you’re suffering too, right? It’s the price you pay for voting in Bush or Obama or Clinton or Reagan, and you’re happy to do it. Even just for all those people dead in our wars. Endless pain is only fair–I mean, you have your life yet, after all.

      Now if we were talking about cancer or heart meds, you might draw the line. Oops.

      Honestly, Ruben!

      1. Ruben

        I’m sorry for coming out so heartless, I really am. I know some Greek people because of business. I especially remember a taxi driver that was the manager of a fashion store, and very nice women in lab coats smiling at me, unable to operate their broken machines.

        I wish people would understand the meaning of voting for someone, essentially a professional liar, a charlatan. I’ve never voted for anyone. It seems so obvious, nobody can represent me, and for sure nobody can represent anybody but him/herself, family, closest friends. How can so many people not come to terms with this blindingly obvious fact?

        If people go and vote, giving the system legitimacy, they should and will face the consequences, regardless of the stupid comments of a heartless observer. For the Greeks, it is now dying for lack of medicines. This is what they get one decade after voting for someone.

        1. proximity1

          RE:

          “I wish people would understand the meaning of voting for someone, essentially a professional liar, a charlatan. I’ve never voted for anyone. It seems so obvious, nobody can represent me, and for sure nobody can represent anybody but him/herself, family, closest friends. How can so many people not come to terms with this blindingly obvious fact?”

          “If people go and vote, giving the system legitimacy, they should and will face the consequences, regardless of the stupid comments of a heartless observer. For the Greeks, it is now dying for lack of medicines. This is what they get one decade after voting for someone.”

          And, how, please, by “not voting” have you contributed in any way to keeping those you describe as the liars out positions of elective power?

          While it’s perhaps true in theory that “If no one voted there’d be no elections and, thus, no corupt elected officials”, it does not follow that there’d be a better, fairer electoral system instituted in place of the now-corrupt one or that any sort of electoral system at all would ensue, rather than, as the thread aptly takes for its topic, a Mafia-type system of arbitrary power which just as thoroughly–and no less brutally or insidiously–excludes all average people from any effective political role in their societies.

          Your argument appears to be “If there are a lot of shameless liars, it’s the fault of those who do their best to be honest.”

          What ought the more-or-less would-be-honest Greek people to do? Try to out-manoeuver the liars by beating them in a competition in dishonesty?

          1. C

            Agreed!

            The other day I read an interesting article about the proposed boycott of the Egyptian elections. The boycott was called for by secularists and liberals who opposed both the islamist and military candidates.

            As the Muslim Brotherhood spokeman noted: “every time they do this it helps us.”

            I personally agree that most elections in the U.S. are a choice between a liar and a cheat but there are third parties, and there are write-ins. In most states party access to ballots is determined by the amount of votes a party got in prior elections.

            If you do not like the choices, I mean cannot find a way to vote for either one (and I do understand) then find a third party you can support and vote for them, fight for ballot access for the non-liars. You may not get who you want today but you are more likely to get it in the future.

          2. Ruben

            “And, how, please, by “not voting” have you contributed in any way to keeping those you describe as the liars out positions of elective power?”

            They got a bit less support than they would otherwise. More people need to do the same. Eventually, if a large majority turn the back on the call to choose their bosses among charlatans, a new system may emerge, not necessarily a mafia-state. It might be something good. Granted, it’s a long shot. Need to be carefully studies. But people have found great solutions to intricate problems many times and ocntinue to do so in so many other fields.

            “Your argument appears to be “If there are a lot of shameless liars, it’s the fault of those who do their best to be honest.””

            My argument actually is that government in its current form is a magnet for shameles liars, it concentrates them into positions of power. If I were a shameless liar, it would be rational to enter politics, as there is where I can better exploit my skill with impunity, wrap it up with a patriotic for-the-greater-good ethic, and for the maximum personal gain.

        2. patricia

          Ok. And you are right that we bear some accountability for our vote, and we carry some responsibility for the fact that our elections mean nothing anymore. And we’ve been irresponsible for so long that we are now going to face great unnecessary pain to overhaul the system. And the longer we wait, the worse the pain. And we are going to wait until we are at the brink.

          Not voting doesn’t get you out of it, though. Or voting third party, as I’ve done for decades. Some of us carry more responsibility than others, yet it lands on all of us because that is how it goes in society. And no one should have to pay the price of enduring chronic pain or meeting early death over it, yet that price is paid most often by those least responsible. So justice doesn’t really exist in this context–although in a healthier society, it could be mediated.

          Which is the difficulty, isn’t it? You want no one to represent you except in your small circle, but you live in a large society. It’s a conundrum of diminishing returns, but there it is.

          I was frightened about the earlier post about Greece’s people learning to endure chronic pain, because I do and am deeply grateful for pain killers, and am dreading that situation arriving at my house, which seems likely.

      2. nonclassical

        ruben,

        your statement “means” (meaning) there is no TRUTH…and there is plenty. We all know who the villains are, what they did-can follow the $$$$…Patricia’s statement appears to have been misunderstood…

    2. Heretic

      You said concerning Meta-mobey…

      That single act of chicanery by itself, justifies the pain of those that elected the kind of leaders that would perpetrate the fraud.”

      Do you actually believe that the Greek people knew the extent of fraud and deception that was being foisted on them by their politicians? Do you think, that there was a discussion of CDS or financial games, so that the Greek people would have a hint of the financial deceptions that were being played?

      In your statement, you are saying that despite ones’ ignorance, a person still deserves the negative consequences…. Which means people who invested with Madoff fully deserve their losses…

      I believe that the Greeks could be accused of being lazy and complacent in their zeal for honest politicians, honest businessmen, and a functioning tax and accounting system. The consequence of this suffering.

      What is relevant now, is that the Greek people rise up to remove the parasites within their society. A full audit of government transactions, and any related business parties is a good start. May Tspras prove good at hi word.

      1. Ruben

        I share your hopes in the last paragraph. Good results sometimes -rarely- happen in electoral politics. We´ll know soon, I guess. Thougb I got to tell you, if he wins, Mr. Tsipras will betray his word, the question is how fast and to what degree.

        For liberal -representative- democracy to be really an effective system, it is necessary that voters know about the complex government and finantial games, that voters look at data, that voters become good judges of character, that voters become resistant to slogans and propaganda, that they evaluate and weight complex trade offs, that they demand and review projects with concrete deliverables and deadlines, flow charts and time tables, CVs and previous accomplishments and allegiances. That they scrutinize assumptions and methodologies. Otherwise more often than not, they will be screwed by their representatives, and there is no point making excuses based on ignorance. They willingly played the game.

  3. The Dork of Cork

    Yes , The Shield of Achilles is quite a read and opened up my limited understanding of the pre and post cabinet war period….which affected my part of the world so dramatically.

  4. McKillop

    If “. . . those that elected the kind of leaders that would perpetrate the fraud.” deserve the pain they are suffering is the concept of collective punishment given new justification?
    As the idea that “we are all greedy” excuses particular financial fraud so does this silliness.
    Do the children, friends, and other relations of the people who “. . . elected the kind of leaders. . . ” also deserve to suffer? Even unto the seventh generation?
    Perhaps if had known I might have been able to do something.

  5. John Merryman

    The problem is that to the real economy,money is a contract, but for bankers,it is a commodity, since it is the service they provide. The can manufacture as much as the can create demand for. Thus the incentive to promote debt.
    In the long run, it is just part of the process of evolving money from the premise of property to economic contract and the entirely different assumptions entailed.

  6. Jose

    Beevor says that

    “…we are going to see the old monster of militant nationalism being awoken when people realise how little control their politicians have”

    Perhaps he forgot to mention that little extra problem in liberal democracies, namely the almost zero control that the electorate has over the politicians it puts in power via elections.

    Leaders may be constantly repaced but policies always stay the same. This has been the rule for the western world especially in the last decades.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Claire, your link reminds us how London profits from aiding and abetting “mafia” moguls and sundry criminals of every stripe. It’s all about the dough.

  7. Ed

    The Moses Naim article is worth reading.

    As the commentators were quick to point out, Naim seems to be describing the United States in his essay. But instead he lists a group of small countries in his example, some of which (North Korea?) don’t fit well into his concept.

    The behavior described in the essay was pretty standard towards the end of Chinese dynasties. For better or worse, European states avoided that because if a government started doing little except provide opportunities for plunder for the friends and family of the ruler (again, this was pretty common when Chinese dynasties started to decline), it would start losing wars to better run governments. The external threats to China were so limited that the situation just got worse until the government got so feeble that it couldn’t even defeat the bandits, gangs of displaced peasants, and nomads it had handled before more easily.

  8. Warren Celli

    The argument advanced by the historian Philip Bobbitt; that a transition is occurring in world politics from the nation state to the market state is at best a very surface snapshot of what is really occurring in world politics.

    One has to go a lot deeper and look at the transition in the psychological health of aggregate humanity to see what is really going on.

    The symptomatic outward transition of that diminishing aggregate psychological health is evident in the upper level struggle of the old fashioned Vanilla Greed for Profit faction vs the newer Pernicious Greed for Control faction and how it is infecting the greater global population. That is the “something very different” that is happening here. It is the conflicting goals of each faction that explain what is taking place globally.

    The old fashioned Vanilla Greed for Profit faction is still focused on profit and believe that these are just more boom bust cycles and profit taking is soon right around the corner; but many of them are now becoming worried as they struggle to stay afloat. Their parasitic goal has always been to keep the host victims alive and relatively healthy for future profit extraction.

    The newer Pernicious Greed for Control faction has a different goal. They are focused on control rather than profit and are masters of the Noble Lie. Their parasitic goal is intentionally created chaos to create a two tier ruler and ruled world with themselves as rulers, and the rest of the world, the ruled, engaged in a debilitating perpetual conflict with each other. They care not about keeping the victim alive to exploit another day.

    Through this lens one can see more clearly what is going on. Herd thinning, culling populations, stateless financial markets, the rise of nationalism, the creation of the Eurozone, massive global propaganda, destruction of nation states, endless new divisiveness schemes, etc. These events are all occurring as a result of the intentional chaos creating destructive effort of the Pernicious Greed for Control faction mixed with — and unwittingly aided and abetted by — the Vanilla Greed for profit faction.

    This is a psychological disease in aggregate humanity that negatively affects the morality of all of us. It is Evilism mutating into Xtrevilism. Until it is viewed in those terms we will not get well. The power of the Noble Lie, one of the most harmful symptoms of the disease — there are many more — needs to be fully understood. This will create a new skepticism and a renewed call for the transparency and verification required to institutionalize those who are most sick at the top and effect a cure.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    1. John Merryman

      It is a natural cycle. Organisms expand holistically and contract discretely.
      When the potential momentum and energy powering society slows, the various organs contract into themselves,until the organism dies and one better suited to the situation arises.
      When the oak tree falls, there is more sunlight for the underbrush,until new trees take the space.

      1. Warren Celli

        John Merryman said; “It is a natural cycle. Organisms expand holistically and contract discretely. When the potential momentum and energy powering society slows, the various organs contract into themselves,until the organism dies and one better suited to the situation arises.
        When the oak tree falls, there is more sunlight for the underbrush,until new trees take the space.”

        It is a “natural” process, yes. But human organisms, unlike oak trees, have a more flexible and complex intellect mechanism that expresses itself by free will. That free will choice mechanism decides to trigger, or not trigger, another unique and complex feature of humans — deceptive externalized tools of dominance (DETODS) — that work in concert with other organisms (human or not) or deceptions that are opposed to them.

        The “natural” process of the growth of aggregate humanity is not cyclical, it takes place in growth spurts. That is a failure, or intentional ruse, of economics, always looking for cycles where the aggregate evolution of humanity takes place in growth spurts of all shapes and sizes.

        We are morphing, now very rapidly, into the next iteration of humanity as the DETODS combine and in their aggregate take on a life force of their own — they become the fledgling Onotron. Our morality now is critical as we imbue the Onotron, through our aggregate creation of DETODS, with its morality for years into the future. Without curing the disease of Xtrevilism, and its wellspring Evilism that it has mutated from, we run the risk of creating a psychopathic monster.

        http://www.boxthefox.com/

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          But always lurking in the human brain/mind is the Inner Crocodile, no matter how far we evolve from the primitive state:

          “Thinking in Complexity: The Complex Dynamics of Matter, Mind, and Mankind” by Klaus Mainzer, “Second Revised and Englarged Edition with 23 Figures” (Berlin, Heidelberg, New York; Springer-Verlag; 1994, 1996 — Chapter 4: “Complex Systems and the Evolution of the Mind-Brain: 4.4 Intentionality and the Crocodile in the Brain.”

          1. Warren Celli

            The “Inner Crocodile” is perception, free will is its trigger. It manifests as a deceptive externalized tool of dominance (DETOD).

            Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

          2. LeonovaBalletRusse

            Warren, in the book’s terms, in sum:

            “Indeed, the cortex is the youngest part in the evolution of the human brain. there are some much older, but more primitive structures which also can be found in the brains of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fishes. Some scientists assume that basic feelings like lust and pain and all the servo-mechanisms which were necessary to survive in a reptile’s life are essentially realized in these early structures of the brain. This center would give the impulses for all kinds of activities, using the cortex only as huge and effective associative store. Thus, in this interpretation, the “self” is replaced by a little crocodile in the brain operating with some highly complex instruments like the cortex, in order to survive in a more and more complex environment [4.59]. Intentionality would be made possible by the cortex, but initiated by the basic instincts of the crocodile in the human brain.” (Mainzer, op cit., p. 166).

            The book, “Your Inner Fish,” shows more in amusing detail.

            Let this frame “Snakes in Suits,” un-evolved “traders” and such.

      2. proximity1

        RE:

        It is a natural cycle. Organisms expand holistically and contract discretely. When the potential momentum and energy powering society slows, the various organs contract into themselves, until the organism dies and one better suited to the situation arises. When the oak tree falls, there is more sunlight for the underbrush, until new trees take the space.

        “Natural,” and so, “acceptable”, or “inevitable”?

        It may be, as you observe, “a natural cycle” but there is nothing inherently benign or necessarily desirable in “natural cycles” merely because they are –or are thought to be– natural. Your comment seems to discount as important something that Konrad Lorenz points out in his The Waning of Humaneness, namely, that “The human mind is capable of contriving conditions with which the natural constitution of humans can no longer cope. Given this circumstance, some culturally acquired as well as some “instinctive,” genetically programmed norms of behavior, although still virtues and effective qualities in the recent historical past, have become, instead, detriments leading to destruction.”

        1. Ms G

          Seems we have evolved towards complexity, starting with the amoeba, through dinosaurs, monkeys, humanoids . . . then at various ongoing tipping points entropy crashes everything . . . . that’s from a very aerial view though. Closer to ground-level, seems that the complexifications and crashes have tended to benefit and destroy two similar sets of humanoids (in relation to each other).

          As in finance and banking, health care payment systems, (etc etc), management-speak (I mean, Six Sigma? Really? WTF!) and now political speech (What is UP with Schneiderman’s “transitions” “transformations” nonsense?!), ) a certain simplicity must return to our world of interactions, devoid of skimming systems and mouse traps.

          Eliminate all the middle-man functions in FIRE, for a start.

          It’s Sunday evening.

  9. Renodino

    We live in a Patrician Society. See Rome and Venice. Sounds so much nicer than a Mafia State, but the result is the same.

  10. Bev

    from:
    http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/2012/06/in-memory-of-journalist-carl-von.html

    In memory of Journalist Carl von Ossietzky

    It will be to the eternal fame of the Nobel Foundation that it bestowed its high honor to this humble martyr and that it is resolved to keep alive the memory of his work. It is also wholesome for mankind today, since the fatal illusion against which he fought has not been removed by the outcome of the last war.

    The abstention from the solution of human problems by brute force is the task today as it was then.

    Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years, 1956

    …………

  11. Claire

    But can anyone not living in a Mafia State (where police and local authorities have merged with criminal gangs) really understand what this means?

    Too much information is too much, and we become desensitized. Sometimes it’s the little details that pierce the viewer, and help us understand.

    For instance there’s a moment (25 seconds to be exact) in the following video “Putin’s Russia now a Mafia state” (beginning at 1:28 until 1:53, of a 2min, 48 sec video)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsZWuKK5yYA

    A gang was raping students…..

    The Rector’s daughter (and presumably one of the students who was raped) explains: “None of the gang was detained. Instead my Mother was arrested on trumped up charges for fraud. She was held in pretrial detention for three years. She suffered two strokes.”

    This message is delivered without hysteria, in a neutral, matter-of-fact voice by a very beautiful young woman.

    But what she’s describing and what she and her Mother have lived through, is already beyond what most of us can imagine. (To say nothing of the family of 12 shot dead by local authorities at the beginning of the video)

    Multiply this by how many Mafia States are on earth and how many innocent people are already suffering as a result.

    And yet by destroying states and destroying the rule of law this is the kind of world that these oh so clever hotshot traders and financial gangsters are helping to bring about.

    1. kevinearick

      …but it is still a circle jerk among robots. So kone is buying. University. Somebody with a clue still has to do.

  12. Lambert Strether

    I actually read Bobbit’s The Shield of Achilles. Let me find my copy… [pause] I think one good take-away is the idea that we’re undergoing “a change in the Constitutional Order.” Yves’s experience at the mortage lender (?) conference, where participants were literally unaware of the “wet ink” requirements for title transfer, could be thought of as one an example of this.

  13. F. Beard

    The tsunami of this meta money, which is borderless, stateless and has no thought for its effect on governments or polities, still relies for its very existence on the rules set up by governments.

    Yes so why does government tolerate this? Government has no need for banks since it has no need to borrow. As for the private sector, can’t it come up with its own money solutions without government privilege for any of them?

    1. Warren Celli

      “The tsunami of this meta money, which is borderless, stateless and has no thought for its effect on governments or polities, still relies for its very existence on the rules set up by governments.”

      Baird commented; “Yes so why does government tolerate this? Government has no need for banks since it has no need to borrow. As for the private sector, can’t it come up with its own money solutions without government privilege for any of them?”

      Because it is not a true statement. The tsunami of meta money’s very existence relies on the ILLUSION that there are rules set up by government. They own the governments and create the propaganda that creates and maintains the illusion of rules to keep the marks in the game. They keep the illusions alive as a means to their intentional destruction. Like the illusion of the government sector and the private sector that you have swallowed so deeply. Or the illusion of a viable electoral process and so on…

      As long as people are busy with remedies for illusions nothing will change in the reality. Their remedial efforts are like letters to Santa.
      This is a moral crisis. The Noble Lie and the corporate structure are at the heart of it. It is Xtrevilism creating the illusions.

      This is the world’s greatest snow job ever. PT Barnum would marvel in orgasmic awe.

      http://www.fountainofbaloney.com/fb2images/ubalcurve-2.png

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

      1. Ms G

        “pols provide the host to the parasites” — yes, and in order to distract from this great socio-biological truth, the pols + parasites invent the faux-parasite structure where it is the victim-citizens who are cast as parasites.

  14. Schofield

    Capitalism is much like a not very bright attack dog. It has difficulty knowing what it should be attacking. Attacking to lower prices and improve quality good; attacking home investment through outsourcing and restraints on debt creation bad. It’s been precisely the Libertarian banging on the drum “free to choose” approach that has the dog confused between ego-centric and moral-centric behavior and this has ultimately given us the Great Stagnation. As both Locke and Goethe said “No Liberty Without Law.”

    1. fairleft

      Schofield, I think it’s worse/different than that, though definitely capitalism is not very bright, and always needs government direction/control if it is going to be a socially beneficial capitalism. Finance capitalism is the way it is. Whether libertarian theory exists or not, when finance is dominant it will load industry and householdds with debt and funnel an ever greater share of the economy’s profits to finance. There’s really no ideological confusion, just financiers and their backers doing what they do, and running the political system to make sure they can do it. I suppose the purpose and rise of the libertarian theory is a symptom and/or defense mechanism, part of what a sophisticated “running the political system” entails. But capturing and confusing the talking heads and ‘intellectuals’ is a relatively minor aspect of the overall control.

  15. Paul Walker

    Just imagine what the shape of things would be if the folks running the Mafia State actually understood how to run a sustaining cotinuing criminal enterprise. So much for self interest.

  16. Tommy Strange

    It is not leading to ‘anarchy’. Anarchism is eternal war against capitalism, i.e. an economic system that allows a few to decide the fate of the planet and our people. This whole casino, to me, is the inevitable result of believing in capitalism. There is no alternative! Maybe if more of the USA’s middle and upper middle class realized a new road has to be fought, we wouldn’t all feel so helpless. Anarchism/libertarian socialism offers the base, bottom up and engaged when all our voices and futures matter. And it must involve a majority of the civil society to move forward. You can choose other phrases or post modern cliches, but it is obvious to so many in the USA and much of the third world, the nation state that continuously goes to war, and now liberates finance to destroy and rape and burn even faster, is not a goal for the future; and an economic system that allows a few ‘smart’ people to rule economically is a dead end. A few new laws will not fix this. Sociopaths are in power everywhere. How do you reform amoral monsters? You have to take their power away. It is not a ‘new world’…merely a logical outcome of relying on economics that benefit constant profit demand over justice and well being.
    PS the planet is burning.

    1. Chris Rogers

      Probably because in Mexico he’d be shot by an assassin, whilst the USA would term him a terrorist threat with the outcome being similar to that with the assassin.

  17. Hugh

    It always surprises how posters will discuss bits and pieces of kleptocracy but will do almost everything in their power not to call it that. Kleptocracy is rule by looters. It is not anarchic. It only seems that way to the 99%. Look at it from the looters perspective and it all makes sense. Looking at kleptocracy as killing the goose that lays the golden eggs is a 99% perspective. For a kleptocrat, one loots to collapse and then one loots the collapse. The bank bailouts in the US and European austerianism are good examples of how crises are simply converted into opportunities for greater looting.

  18. rotter

    Europe at the end of the 20th century had become very envious of America’s ability to harvest wealth and project millitary power. All that was seen as a good thing by a certain type of person. Unfortunately that type of person strains toward the top in government and finance, the way a sperm cell strains mindlessly toward an ovum.
    The big catch there is that America is destabalizing, its ability to harvest wealth is deteriorating along with its sense of national and cultural identity. Its ability to project millitary power WILL HAVE TO FOLLOW, inevitably.
    Europe should have waited to see the end of the movie before embarking on the United States of Europe project.

  19. Karl

    In the face of the likes of China, a market state is at best a paper tiger and more likely a failed state being sold out to the highest bidder by ‘the markets’. And who might the purchaser be? China seems to have the sense to play it both ways. Keep the nation state and play the markets _to the advantage of the state_. Crowd sourced ‘power’ (i.e. individuals pursuing their own self interest, read, ‘the market’) does not stand a chance against the power of the real organization, determination, discipline and focus shown by a nation state driven by a sense of purpose to benefit _the state_.

    I can only imagine the Politburo sitting back quietly smoking a cigarette and chuckling to themselves watching the US and EU paddle themselves down the plug hole with all the cash drifting in their direction. Rather, the politicians let the banks do the paddling and no one takes the blame for the direction.

    And by the twisted logic of the moment it seems that ‘the national interest’ is deemed to be a ‘communist’ or ‘socialist’ idea. The Federalist Papers may as well have been written by Marx. For all its oligarchic prejudice, even Sparta had a sense of a national interest.

    Who is going to stand behind (or more likely in front of) the likes of a Jamie Dimon staring down the barrel of a rifle?

    I’m not a hawk, but it seems we need to think this way – if only to avoid having to live it. If it took hundreds of years of war and tyranny to get to the Declaration of Independence, ‘we’ may have a long steep climb in front of us. Time to get organized.

    1. Shutterbuggery

      Karl, I might be a bit of a pessimist but I don’t think anything is going to change until the first tank runs over the first protester.

      Sad, but I think its gonna come to that in my lifetime (I’m 61).

  20. Jim

    What are the historical origins, evolution and contemporary mechanisms of modern power and governance that are responsible for our present financial/economic/cultural/political crisis?

    Up until now, the terms which are continually bantered around as explanations for our present impasse (kleptocracy. plutocracy, oligarchy, market-state, vanilla greed and pernicious greed, etc.) appear to have largely dropped from the conceptual sky of individual theorists/writers.

    But each of us has a responsibility to bring these concepts down to earth.

    For example:

    Where and what are the historical origins of kleptocracy?

    What specifically are the institutional representations of vanilla Greed and pernicious Greed and where they different in 1789,1915 and 2012?

    Philip Bobbit’s analysis draws a worthwhile distinction between princely states, kingly states and territorial states but does he capture why the market was just as crucial to the origins of political modernization as the state?

    Bobbit’s framework also doesn’t seem to be able to account for the emergence of the market-state, perhaps as early as 1850, when the corporate capture of governments by finance produced the first form of the managerial state and globalized capital.

    And is it true as stated in the above essay that “…the markets that have the real power are financial markets and these are stateless.”

    If these financial markets are completely stateless than why did the U.S. bailout specific financial institutions?

    And why did particular nation-states come to the conclusion that total government liabilities should include the assets a a particular countries banking system?

    I would argue that the theorists and commetariat on Naked Capitalism, including myself, have yet to come up with of coherent explanation for the evolution to our modern despotic form. As a consequence our suggested solutions may be as inadequate as our suggested analyses.

    1. Warren Celli

      Jim said: “I would argue that the theorists and commetariat on Naked Capitalism, including myself, have yet to come up with of coherent explanation for the evolution to our modern despotic form. As a consequence our suggested solutions may be as inadequate as our suggested analyses.”

      I would argue that the folks here have done a great job of exposing massive fraud and corruption in the ‘rule of law’ and an attendant tanking of our societal morality. And many of the problems have been clearly delineated with countless solutions having been tendered. Regardless of the motivations of the gangster elite there is a general agreement that more transparency, greater equality in representation, and equality of enforcement are needed in formulating and enforcing the ‘rule of law’.

      The remedial actions thus far, within the confines of the system, have been energy dissipating efforts as effective as a limp dick. The greater gains, especially in terms of creating societal awareness, a precursor necessary for change, have been made on the streets. The solutions lie in that direction.

      Are we ready for the election boycotts and Constitutional rewrite yet?

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

      1. kris

        Reading your short commentary, I am not surprised at all that you agree with the professor.

  21. gordon

    There seem to be so few people prepared to defend the nation state. Have we forgotten that the nation state is where the democracy is – what democracy is left, anyway? Or are people so tired of democracy as spin, bribery and distractions that they have given up on that too?

  22. stevelaudig

    So those awful Communists won’t hand over the population they govern to the vultures of financial capitalism just because the vultures don’t want to miss a meal. Nice to see at least one or two governments stand against the invisible garroting hands of the marketplace. How quaintly patriotic the Reds are.

  23. bluffraise

    The EU needed a basket case clause for countries like Greece. Banks would clear funds in Euros but the offending country would be have to float a EuroGreece currency. This would fluctuate and allow them to compete until such time as they could join the big boys(Euro) again.

    This slow motion train wreck is getting a tad painful to watch.

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