Roubini Warns a Crisis in 2013 Would Be Worse Than 2008

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Nouriel Roubini, the dour seer who was early (too early in the minds of some) to warn of possible financial crisis prior to the Great Upheaval, has been more cautious in his calls since having ascended to official pundit status. Nevertheless, he’s been warning of a possible crisis in 2013 for some time and is not backing off from that call as the date approaches.

In this Bloomberg interview, Roubini describes why a meltdown next year would be even worse than what we saw in 2008. Notice how he ducks the question of safe havens. He also discusses the prospects for the Eurozone.

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  1. Roman Berry

    Roubini doesn’t want to make the mistake of being right too soon. Nothing is more unforgivable amongst the Very Serious People than the sin of being right about something big before the VSPs decide it’s OK to be right (usually by way of getting it wrong for a very long time first.)

    Say that Hussein’s Iraq had no WMDs to speak of in an effort to head off the war? Saying that before the war branded you as Deeply Unserious.

    Say that the dotcoms were in a bubble prior to that bubble bursting? Deeply unserious.

    Say that Obama wasn’t a liberal in 08? Also deeply unserious.

    Housing bubble? Bankster corruption? Ditto.

    Roubini has a point. The too big to fail institutions are not only still too big to fail, they are bigger than when they did fail (and were bailed out.) And they certainly have learned nothing other than they will in fact be bailed out.

    I don’t know what 2013 holds. (Given that the next president will be a Republican or a Democrat, probably nothing much good.) I do know that nothing much that matters has really changed these last four years, and certainly nothing has changed that will prevent a repeat of the previous crash. And I also know that I have a bad feeling about where we’re headed. We’ll see.

    1. zephyrum

      Interesting point, that doom-calling is acceptable if the timing is right. Thanks for that insight.

      1. toschek

        The timing, of course, being right once the very serious money has made a safe escape leaving the taxpayers eating shit.

    2. Warren Celli

      Roman Berry said: “I do know that nothing much that matters has really changed these last four years, and certainly nothing has changed that will prevent a repeat of the previous crash. And I also know that I have a bad feeling about where we’re headed. We’ll see.”

      Cheer up, something has changed that can prevent a repeat of the previous crash. Here is some amazingly good news for all of those optimists — those infused with hopium and believe in the ‘system’, those that I have repeatedly chastised for being so gullible — that have always believed that a technological fix is right around the corner. It is finally here in the form of a new recently patented invention!

      This will surely take the gloomy look off of Nouriel Roubini’s sad face. An extremely accurate brand new law enforcement tool called the IRBM, model L1-ES! What is really ironic about this amazing new invention is that it uses Wall Street developed technology to turn the tides on Wall Street and their lackeys.

      You can see the device in action here…

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    3. citalopram

      I say bring it on. Maybe that will be what it takes to get people angry enough to do something about it.

    4. enouf

      Everyone, ..and i mean everyone seriously needs to smash their Televisions (and radios, if that’s where they get their MSM drivel from). What a shame it all is; the incendiary, the catalyst, the electron gun behind the lead shield in the living room, ..the light bulb that isn’t really lit, but still.. the moths hover.


    5. TK421

      “Given that the next president will be a Republican or a Democrat”

      Our next president will be either someone who wants to force people to buy private health insurance, drastically expand the security state, radically increase oil-drilling, and protect rich financiers or someone who wants to force people to buy private health insurance, drastically expand the security state, radically increase oil-drilling, and protect rich financiers. Take your pick!

      1. Woody in Florida

        The first one definitely sounded better. The second one sounds out of touch with the voters.

  2. Dan Lynch

    Agree with Roubini that the future looks bleak, with the possibility of another financial meltdown thanks to the too-big-to-fail banks and the gigantic derivatives markets, but I don’t follow his logic that we are out of bullets. There’s always this thing called “fiscal policy.”

    I am resigned to the fact that there will be no meaningful regulatory reforms or economic policy changes until the next big crash/natural disaster/world war. What worries me is what kind of political landscape will emerge from the next disaster.

    1. Dan Kervick

      Right. The idea that people in a world filled with extraordinarily valuable real material assets and countless unemployed resources have to stand passively and stupidly by and watch their economic order implode is ludicrous. The only limits that ever stand in the way of broad general prosperity in a world as materially rich as ours are the limits on political will and wisdom. Nothing is fated.

      If our private sector systems are too dysfunctional or too inherently limited to accomplish the necessary tasks of social investment and wealth generation, then the public must step in, seize control of resources from those who will not or cannot put them to work on behalf of the general good, and do the job ourselves.

        1. skippy

          Dito, there is absolutely zero reason people should be suffering to this extent, over antiquated ideological premise[s couched in armchair thunkit.

          Skippy… the cult of – I – is working out swell… eh.

          1. Rex

            True that the suffering is not equatibly distributed and the greedy that kicked the pain into high gear are getting away with it. That sucks. But I’m not sure that the idea of, “a world filled with extraordinarily valuable real material assets and countless unemployed resources”, is the answer either. We are bumping into the reality of too many people on a finite planet and we are gobbling up millions of years of resources in a small number of decades.

            Possibly we can find an answer somewhere between pain and annihilation.

          2. skippy

            Rex I’m acutely aware of what you say and agree, yet, the wealthiest[?] country’s this world has known are reducing their populations whilst they play last man standing?

            Skippy… so much for the state of enlightenment thingy.

          3. LeonovaBalletRusse

            Rex, Enter the diktat of The Georgia Guidestones. In Georgia! with all that his implies.

      1. Bam_Man

        the public must step in, seize control of resources from those who will not or cannot put them to work on behalf of the general good, and do the job ourselves.

        Absolutely! And then develop a “five year plan” to properly implement those resources.

      2. William Neil


        I like your spirit. Here are a couple of thoughts on Roubini and unused fiscal tools. I recall him saying in the video that there are sovereign deficit constrainsts which would seem to limit deficit spending and Keynesian job creation…these seem at odds with his willingness in his tri-authored long paper from November of 2011 (The Way Forward, at the New America Foundation)that we had to get over worrying about debt and deficits for up to five years to try to get employment high enough that budgets will begin to repair themselves from greater tax receipts and GDP. So it’s a bit blurry between this tape and that paper.

        That’s seems to be the risk we have to take, something James Galbraith had been urging for several years through the crisis…risk higher deficits in the 2-5 year run to break the deflationary cycle we are in, which is growing stronger around the world…we are being pulled down, not up by the policies and trends…

        The neoliberal alternative, which seems to be winning both here and in Europe, is the austerity formula that will reduce demand even further, counting on the self-healing properties of private markets newly invigorated by the smell of lower wages, pension costs and fresh offerings of the privatized formerly public assets…just saw a Greek update in the NY Times on what will be sold off…terms and prices not included…plus some cosmetic statements about not pushing the citizens to the wall…those public suicides and picking through garbage cans for food is so distasteful, no? It was a remarkable piece here at
        which appeared in Saturday’s print NY Times under the heading “Greek Leader Unveils Plan to Sell Government Assets and Reduce Spending,” by Niki Kitsantonis and Elisabeth Povoledo…

        It would be great if those economists who are or lean towards social democratic solutions to this re-run of the 1930’s could issue a more detailed joint paper or statement – Stiglitz, Galbraith, Krugman, Roubini, Auerback, Wray…and so on, because the public is certainly going to be confused by the fragmentary commentary as the events play out…maybe it’s impossible for thesejust listed to get together…but things are going downhill and time is running out…I think Roubini’s got the timeframe on that about right.

        1. Patriot

          I think it might be good to start MMT reading groups in our local areas. Time is running out and we have to get the word out to everyone.

          1. jonboinAR

            That’s an interesting idea. I’m pretty intimidated where I live. They’re ALL Fox News watchers; then there’s me. I’m from out of the area, and someone with fairly low natural persuasive ability, ie, something of a dork, or geek or something. Normally I could give a crap about that, but then I think I should be trying to “teach”, and I go “Man, there ain’t no way. Ain’t no way.”

            I know you have to start locally. I know where, but how? No clue.

        2. Flying Kiwi

          This guy was given an hour on New Zealand’s prime radio channel at 11.00am Saturday morning:

          He was essentially forecasting an imminent economic and societal collapse and resulting in a return (it seemed to me) to the Stone Age for mankind – subsisting in communities bounded by their watershed.

          I’m not sure that outside of those populations still doing it anyway most people have the knowledge or skills for subsistance, nor would I be as blase about the consequences of the cities emptying out into the countryside as he seems to be. Rather than the nine-year-old in his community getting lukemia I would like to have asked him if he was really so happy to contemplate a future without dentists!

          I don’t have as bleak a view as he does, yet for all that I’m glad I live in a remote part of New Zealand far from the madding crowd with my own fresh water spring and milk-cow, surrounded by sheep and with a bay full of fish and shell-fish at the bottom of the road. And it hsn’t gone unnoticed that the few similar properties around here that have changed hands recently have been sold to rich Americans unashamedly seeking bolt-holes.

          1. Up the Ante

            Do not let them fool you, Kiwi, they are running from the reactors and spent fuel.

    2. psychohistorian

      I think that instead of fiscal policy, war policy will be invoked to have fear override anger. I don’t want to think how that plays out but lets hope nukes don’t get used.

      1. Susan the other

        Hillary just announced that Afghanistan is now a full-blown ally. This means full-blown in the biblical sense: nukes. We can give them all the nukes they ever wanted or didn’t want. And we’ve probably already done it. This undoubtedly means that the mineral wealth in the southern mountains is as important to our global ambitions as it was to Russia’s. But their finances could not be faked. Then there is the nasty-looking theater between Putin’s Russia and the pontificating Hillary. Which is probably just that. But if war is the solution, for sure Russia is in on it. Our shifting our Navy to the Pacific is interesting. We are revitalizing the old SEATO as fast as we can. And if the ghost of John Foster Dulles has his way, we will claim these trading partners as high level allies too and give them nukes. This might isolate China, making free-trade strictly TPP. Of course, everybody in the solar system now knows there is no such thing as free trade. Or free markets. But nevermind. And the Mittster is calling for new trade relations with South America, many countries of which are included in the TPP. The list is long. The goal is power. Better us than them. I’m still not sure who them is tho.

      2. William Neil

        Yes, that’s the other great worry, that the West can’t mobilize the energy and political passion for a new New Deal, Second Bill of Rights, from the “civilian” pieces lying around us: energy efficiency,alternative energy, fighting Western forest fires and training an expanded tree removal and electric line repairing work force for the Mid-west and the East…you would think on the Colorado trip the President would have put his toe foward just a bit towards a new Civilian Cons. Corps…or in the wake of the still unrepaired damage that I see all around me within ten miles of the White House…or God forbid, drawing a line in the forthcoming desert sands on Global Warming and reading the riot act to Republicans…but…and you’re more than hinting at it…there’s the Iranian dynamic and Roubini sees it…easier to head down that very uncertain road that many in intelligence and the military in Israel and the US don’t want to go down because the game planning doesn’t turn out so well for us…what a roll of the dice that course is…on economics alone it’s a huge risk…but hey, in Maryland the consuming issue for our Democratic Party here in the sweltering summer is patching our budget with gambling schemes…political economy, no, we’re just fine in the Free State says the Party line…

    3. Art Eclectic

      I tend to agree. But I’ll buck popular opinion in that the only way reform happens is if Obama gets re-elected. Only a president not in fear of raising money for re-election can do what needs to be done. Romeny won’t be able to do it if he’s elected because he can’t shoot himself in the foot for his potential second term fundraising (same reason Obama can’t/won’t do anything prior to a second term.)

      It isn’t about the party or the man/woman sitting in the oval office, it’s about the long game of re-election coffer filling.

      Either way, I see a radically changed landscape in 2016 and if the victory goes to Romney, he’ll be a 1-termer, too.

      1. alex

        “Only a president not in fear of raising money for re-election can do what needs to be done.”

        1. The president can’t do it by himself – he needs congress. Admittedly though the bully pulpit is a powerful position.

        2. In addition to getting re-elected Obama (and his advisers) may be concerned about The Big Payoff you get after you’re out of office. The Clinton’s are now worth $80M and Tony Blair puts any street hooker to shame.

        3. Does Obama even realize how corrupt and ineffectual he is? I don’t know, but all too often people actually start to believe their own BS. The easiest way to tell lies is to actually believe your own lies.

        1. citalopram

          Obama doesn’t realize how corrupt he is, because like all elites he’s surrounded by people who tell him the opposite. He like the rest of his ilk in Congress, are clueless about their own reality.

          1. Art Eclectic

            You know the saying “Don’t hate the player, hate the game” ? The game is corrupt. In order to play, you have to embrace the corruption and use it to your own advantage. There hasn’t been a non-corrupt politician sitting in the White House in generations. You might make it into Congress without being corrupt but you don’t make Senator or better without being a player.

      2. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Has anyone here investigated the MAGNITUDE of the D.O.D. FEMA camp SYSTEM, and of bullets ordered by the “Military,” and of SecuritySoldiers at the Ready on U.S. soil?

      3. rps

        “Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of the day, but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing [a people] to slavery” Thomas Jefferson. Rights of British America, 1774 ME 1:193, Papers 1:125

    4. nonclassical

      ..already on the brink=”Trans Pacific Partnership”, international “laws” superseding all local law..

      Milton Friedman “Chicago Boys”, South and Central America, 70’s and 80’s..

  3. Doug Terpstra

    “…or maybe hanging in the streets” Roubini says with a shrug (about deterrence). It’s a growing sentiment, street justice, lynching without trial for the lawless elite. (We don’t need no steenkeeng habeas corpus!) And the longer Obama himself goes without pursuing investigations, prosecutions, or handcuffs and shackles, the better HE looks for a lamp post.

    As evidence of unchecked crime mounts, one begins to understand the bloodlust of the French Revolution and the vicious vengeance of Germans toward the banksters of the 1930s. “These are the times that try men’s souls.” It is such extended periods of abuse that trigger scorched earth reactions.

    1. JC1948

      People in the streets? Nah. That is what the National Guard is for–and why Bush called into force a unit specifically to handle the people in this country. Likewise, in a thorough story in the DDNews, “Police departments throughout Ohio are stockpiling millions of dollars worth of military gear — from army boots to mini-tanks — through a Defense Department program that provides law enforcement agencies free access to surplus weapons and equipment.”

      I suggest rather, that this is our fate. Besides, sports TV is all too popular every night and every weekend, and is a great distraction. Americans are too depressed to think and too scared to head for the streets. That’s my observation. I wish I was wrong!

      1. ohmyheck

        While you mention Bush as a previous culprit in our domestic militarization, you fail to mention Obama’s repsonsibility as well. He’s been in office for 3 1/2 years, and the situation has only gotten worse.

        Blame the Repubicrats. Two sides of the same NeoLiberal, NeoCon coin.

      2. Justicia

        When enough Americans are too poor to pay for cable TV and feed their families on servant economy wages, that’s when the revolution starts.

          1. Capo Regime

            Everyone forgets a key differentiator of Americans vs a vis say Italians (will riot) or Chines(will stand up in front of tanks or jump out windows) or Greeks or even Russians. Americans consume 90% of worlds pain pills and over 25% of adults are on some sort of psychiatric medicine (anti anxiety, anti depressant). I would argue many of the people so medicated are just the bright, alert, sensitive folks which spot injustice and are the ones to act and it becomes contagous.

            That so many americans are medicated on psych drugs (and another sizealbe portion are sick, obese and diabetic/pre diabetic) ) makes for a dampening effect on more civic actions. So add big police and drones and that essentially 50% or more of americans are out of it so to speak we get what we have…..

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        linked piece is WAY too long and verbose to be effective. Old School writing.

      2. left of left

        Agreed, it’s pretty belletristy, so
        it’s good that he boiled it down to
        two words.

        1. SR6719

          Just adding a few notes: in the same way that capitalism commodifies the material world, Guy Debord and the situationists argued that advanced capitalism commodifies experience and perception, as well as the processes of identity construction, and our sense of self.

          One method the situationists used to try and counter this was a technique they called “détournement”.

          from Wikipedia:

          “A détournement is a technique developed in the 1950s by the Letterist International and consisted in “turning expressions of the capitalist system against itself.”

          Détournement was prominently used to set up subversive political pranks, an influential tactic called situationist prank that was reprised by the punk movement in the late 1970s and inspired the culture jamming movement in the late 1980s.

          In general it can be defined as a variation on a previous media work, in which the newly created one has a meaning that is antagonistic or antithetical to the original.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Indeed, engineered chaos, the “creative destruction” of disaster capitalism, the perfectly Orwellian concept driving our brutal and unscrupulous elite. The Shock Doctrine requires a traumatized and disempowered population in order to entrench totalitarian power. And Obama is just the beguiling but ruthless tool to achieve it, the “more effective evil” as Glen Ford put it.

    2. nonclassical

      …not to mention U.S.’ own 30’s-40’s “depression era”…Deutchland featured 45% unemployment, which is reason, since Reagan changed what unemployment numbers mean, “unemployment” numbers have been a complete LIE-double “unemployment” numbers to be more accurate..

      How many are aware Reagan’s manipulation meant anyone, who had EVER had unemployment, at any time, is NOT a “NEW unemployment claim”…let alone FACT 2 of 5 who apply are refused…AND doesn’t count those fallen off…new manipulation is temporary and workers who earn only % of what they make for companies..where unemployed are expected to take “jobs”…can’t refuse, or they lose “benefits”…

  4. Glen

    He does sound sort of resigned to a “shit hit fan” moment of one fashion or another in the near future. Bummer. And we’re all out of bullets because we had to bail out the f&*kers that caused the last “shit hit fan” moment. Bummer. Seems like we could have used the bullets in a more productive fashion, but oh well.

    What’s all that clanking and banging noise going on in the background? Are they setting up the scaffolds for the hangings he’s predicting? Or are they erecting shelters for the global perfect storm?

    “What a beautiful world this will be
    What a glorious time to be free”

  5. Kiste

    And back in 2011 things were about to explode in 2012. Keep it up, Roubini. If you make a prediction every year, you will be right eventually. Works for that nice old gypsy lady with the crystal ball.

    And that’s what economists are. Old gypsy hags with crystal balls who get paid for bullshitting.

    1. Ruben

      The reasoning is very simple.
      1) There has been no real recovery since the 2008 meltdown. 2) The fundamental causes of the 2008 meltdown are still operative and have got worse.
      3) There is less room for fiscal policy now because its tools are exhaustible and were largely used to cool off the 2008 meltdown.
      Ergo …

  6. Shizel

    I like his matter-of-fact, resigned doomsterism. He is ultimately right, just because we kick the can for four years staving off disaster does not mean we can continue. Even if we muster political, it does not necessarily follow that investors will like it. The last summit failed big time and just because they get together every couple of weeks making promises about the future ( shooting blanks ), it has nil effect on the very real problems of today.

    1. Shizel

      The Corrected Version Of Previous Statement
      I like his matter-of-fact, resigned doomsterism. He is ultimately right, just because we kick the can for four years staving off disaster does not mean we can continue. Even if we muster the political will, it does not necessarily follow that investors will like it. The last summit failed big time and just because they get together every couple of weeks making promises about the future ( shooting blanks ), it has nil effect on the very real problems of today.

    2. Up the Ante

      “Even if we muster political, it does not necessarily follow that investors will like it. ”

      Uhh, that IS the overriding dynamic of the financial crisis. That’s what THEY have told us.

      ‘They’ don’t seem to like something.

  7. Capo Regime

    What? Virginia you mean to say we have not been having a recovery based on GDP growth? Here I thought that things were getting better. The president and the nice people on TV and the New York times have been saying we have a recovery. Sure everybody I know is miserable and has or is on verge of losing job but they say we have a recovery darn it! Guess I have to believe my eyes for a change!

  8. Capo Regime

    Hmmm. Some guidance from NC on safe havens would certainly be appreciated. One wonders where to go. Have lived and worked in a couple of countries but alas too old to again obtain skilled visa and do not have enough dough to qualify as retiree! I wonder if ultimately it will even matter….

    1. Art Eclectic

      The only safe haven is buying property that can be easily defended and has a legal water supply. I’d also stick close to major agricultural centers. The further you travel from the source of the food supply, the more in danger you are in times of unrest.

      I think if you’re trying to protect your “wealth” you are misguided. Think instead about protecting your health, your life, your family, and your food supply. Trying to game protecting money is a fools errand when you have no control.

      What do you REALLY need to live? Food, water, and shelter.

      1. JurisV

        For basic survival that’s all you need — food, water, shelter. But for ACTUAL human life you also need to be part of a human social group.

        The optimum size of that unit would be something on the order of the groups that our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived in: around 50 to 200 individuals. Why is that important? It’s because our brains evolved and optimized in hunter-gatherer groups (and their environment) as of about 50,000 to 100,000 years ago. All the awesome power, and weird quirks of our brains today are essentially as they were 50,000 years ago — but now in an environment that they are not optimized for. (reference — Prof Antonio Damasio)

        Some people have joked that we are trying to run modern software on our 50,000 year old computer brains — how well does that work?

        The rather depressing state of the political financial universe these days as Roubini warns, and the dismal predictions of where this “train wreck” is heading in so many of the comments in this thread made me think of, and yearn for, a “survival” that also retains those better parts of our humanity — the ones related to our social needs. Those needs point to survival in relatively small social groups. Food, Water, Shelter, and good company.

        1. proximity1

          This stuff would be funny if it were not so deadly serious.

          No one has bothered to explain how even by the fantasy vision of reverting to these supposedly better-tuned small groups of 50 to 200 individuals, human society persists, defeats and changes for the better a now-corrupt and self-destructive set of circumstances.

          Again, it is supremely naïve to suppose that lots and lots of people will just take shelter somewhere and wait it out while the rest of the world dissolves into complete chaos and civilization self-destructs.

          Those tempted by such a fantasy should go now to Mexico and gain a first-hand vision of what it looks like when a civilized society collapses; Greece is another real-world laboratory for those who can’t get to Mexico. In the case of Greece, millions of people are now suffering acute depression; Greece, which formerly had one of the lowest suicide rates of all Europe now has the highest or near the highest. People are not finding it a realistic course to retreat to bucolic encampments where they grow fruits and vegetables and carry on in many ways as they did before.

          In Mexico, one of the most common and constant problems–faced daily, for many–is the question of how to avoid being killed by one or another drug-gang, and how to keep one’s family safe, too.

          Beyond those features, meanwhile in the rest of the world, there are large and heavily armed standing armies; there are nuclear weapons stockpiles; there are nuclear power plants which, even if shut down, must be cooled and maintained in safe conditions before, during and after “decommissioning”. The waste fuel must be stored, and the already-“stored” waste fuel has to be kept out of contact with the open environment for longer than most people will allow themselves to think about.

          The upshot is simple–or should be, if it weren’t for people’s efforts to escape reality by desperate make-believe: running away and hiding out while the world collapses will neither help forestall the collapse nor increase significantly the survival chances of those who think that they can successfully hide out and survive for the period of time during which world-wide catastrophe “runs its course.”

          As things disintegrate, existing power-structures, though altered and already in the midst of inter- and intra-group violent conflict, will still have means of coercive force and no one has explained how and why these larger more powerful power centers would choose to just leave alone the bands of refugees scattered around all over the world.

          You don’t find that in Africa, for example, where warring war-lord groups are a near analog to the sort of state of confusion and conflict that could ensue as the so-called First World order collapses. There, you find children made orphans by the violence, kidnapped by press-gangs and forced into combat under the control of one or another war-lord.

          But all the foregoing also assumes that human ingenuity is so woefully defective that no one, no group, can come up with any alternative to those of the insanity of persisting on the present path to mutually-assured doom, or, the fantasy of going back to Bronze Age human society. That strikes me as bizarre.

          Before (19th century and later) people came completely under the thrall of a totalitarian technocratic order, in which high technology joined with a central economic dogma to place all human life and all aspects of society under the mad dictates of a central, profit-and-narrowly-defined-“efficiency-driven” system, there was a different order of human society–faulty, yes, but not the dead-end mutual suicide pact that we now have and from which few see a reaonable way out of or alternative to, apart from television fantasies of cobbled notions drawn from various versions and aspects of past societies.

          It would be better, smarter, saner and safer if we made a serious effort to cashier such fantasy visions of escapism and agree to accept a very hard truth, but one through which the best hopes for a livable future run:

          There won’t and can’t be such successful escapes for any significant number of people. The only alternative is to think, organize and act before that stage of catastrophe occurs and work to implement planned remedies which realistically attack the sources of our contemporary predicament, changing current failing practices with other–some newer, some older and proven, methods of arranging our social and economic lives.

          In attempting these things, I admit that we need much greater knowledge and understanding about our past mistakes–our recent and long-past history and what went wrong, where, when, how and why. In the process, I think it will be imperative to recognize certain core roots to our current problems in such key areas as modern technological systems which in and of themselves create and impose structures, thought-habits and requirements in our living arrangements which feed and exacerbate all of our ills–all of them, without exception.

          Current economic habits–the blind, short-term insanity that places every virtue and value on the basis of its utility for producing gains within minutes, hours or days, rather than years— dominates us and controls and restricts much of the terms in which we think we’re allowed to operate. As long as that technology and its successive generations are made the determinative factors for all questions of direction and priority, we’re going to find ourselves trapped in the vicious, self-destructive circle which sees more technology as the answer and cure for every ill which prior and present technology has produced.

          To gain the knowledge and understanding we need but lack, we must re-acquaint ourselves with what we’vfe lost or ignored from the past several generations.

          In aid of that, the following works of genius (none perfect or all-inclusive in itself) are of immense value and we should study these and help propagate what is best in and about each:

          many of these, if not all of them, are available in numerous major languages–

          Neil Postman’s books, esp. Technopoly

          John Ralston Saul’s Voltaire’s Bastards

          Konrad Lorenz’s books–all of them but esp. The Waning of Humaneness and Behind the Mirror.

          Edward O. Wilson’s latest book, The Social Conquest of Earth, or, alternatively, his On Human Nature.

          Benoît Mandelbrot’s (with Richard L. Hudson) The (Mis)Behavior of Markets

          those able to read French can read with great advantage these books (still not available in English editions):

          Jean-Jacques Salomon, Une civilisation à hauts risques and Le destin technologique

          Nicolas Bouleau, Mathématiques et risques financiers

          These few titles are a good start at gaining the kind of background understanding which would help us so much if we had. I acknowledge that many regular readers of this site will find this list far too elementary for their interests or needs. They long ago assimilated this information and much else beyond it. Obviously, this list is not intended for those readers. It’s intended for those who need a place to begin to gain an orienting perspective on many of the interrelated and urgent issues that confront society and which require a broader and better-informed public in order that those issues be addressed adequately.

          Those regular readers here who are much more advanced in their knowledge and experience in economics and finance and management will of course know of dozens of other works just as essential in their view. I can’t deny that they are right about them. Missing from the list above are important surveys on social and political history, on sociology, on philosophy and ethics. These, too, people need a grounding in and these, too, more advanced readers will throw up their hands in dismay at their being left out.

          Again, the selection above is for those without another, better, idea of where and how to begin to fill in the gaps in their understanding and their knowledge of the background to our present predicaments.

          Our current social course is one that might be described as “technologically-enhanded road to ruin.” Any salutary alternative will have to include the understanding that to continue to allow technology’s inherent priorities and imperatives to proceed as they have, unchecked, ill or unconsidered in their consequences, means a continued assured course toward social self-destruction.

          1. Capo Regime

            I,m half mexican and much of my family lives there. You are completely exagerating the risk of being killed by the narcos. Its a real problem but the total of people killed in mexico since 2006 is the same as one years murders in the U.S.A. Mexicos state is corrupt but unlike the us. much of mexico still functions as a socieity. The biggest source of problems for Mexico is the U.S.–its drug policies and lastly hyperproductive agriculture. A failed state is say South Sudan or The Congo. Mexico is an OECD country and not uganda or Haiti. You really have no idea what you are talking about. I will take guadalajara or monterrey over Baltimore, Camden or the Bronx any day. Will take Oaxaca over detroit or east st louis any day of the week day or night.

          2. jonboinAR

            Thank you for your thoughtful post. But we would have to organize, not just read/discuss/vent on this, great though it is, blog-forum. How to start doing that? I made a feeble effort in the past couple of years with another. Put in some time, got nowhere before I ran out of gas and forgot about it like a dusty Bow-flex machine in an abandoned workout space. WHAT do we do, and how to get started? Anyone?

          3. Doug Terpstra

            LBR, Mexico and Costa Rica seem to be as close to failed states as you can get so close to the US. Mexico has fallen sharply from only a decade ago, since NAFTA, the GFC, declining oil production, and the steep drop in tourism. I really suspect that the drug war and the narco violnce narrative is mostly a cover story for quashing revolutionary unrest.

            Costa Rica (in 2007) struck me as in a development stage somewhere between Mexico and much of Africa. Maybe more stable than Mexico for now, but surprisingly primitive. I think that’s how the PTB want it — dispossessed and disadvantaged. And that’s where they aspire to lead us.

          4. Up the Ante

            “nuclear power plants which, even if shut down, must be cooled and maintained in safe conditions before, during and after “decommissioning”. The waste fuel must be stored, and the already-”stored” waste fuel has to be kept out of contact with the open environment for longer than most people will allow themselves to think about. ”

            And they cluster in areas of greatest population.

            Houston definitely has a Problem.

          5. JurisV

            @ proximity1 –

            I usually like your comments and this one is no exception. I do have a problem with your snarky intro, however.

            ArtsEclectic was talking about bare-bones SURVIVAL and he/she stated that to REALLY survive you needed food, water and shelter. I responded that we humans need more than that — social interaction added to his/her list of food, water, shelter.
            If you are talking about survival after total devolution of our social structures into chaos, then we are in deep shit.

            I added the bit about hunter-gatherers group size because understanding that is incredibly important and deadly serious. Recent neuroscience findings tell us that our brains are really not suited for living in large complex societies without a lot of rules and social constraints. We revert to destructive modes quite easily. The only way we (as a complex society) are going to survive much longer in anything remotely resembling our present culture, we are going to have to learn about how our brains are limited and why we don’t handle large groups (into thousands and more) very well for any extended period. Trying to run modern social/cultural software on 50,000 year old computing brain technology does not bode well. We need to learn how to deal with those destructive cognitive quirks that we are stuck with — like it or not. In my opinion our brain limitations are “the monster that we need to hug.” There is no rational alternative.

            I was not talking about any “utopia” I was just responding to a statement that said to REALLY survive we need the three basics — my answer was no, we need a lot more!

            You had an impressive list of literature, but may I suggest that you read Antonio Damasio (or numerous others) on brain science — or better yet watch his INET in Berlin after-dinner talk about our human brains.

    2. ohmyheck

      “Gold. Bitchez!”….

      Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. (This is the short answer, should you ever read at ZeroHedge. And yes, I am making fun of the Ron Paul/Libtards who took over the place)

      1. Capo Regime

        Yep you are correct. Following up my post above. I may well get bad but it will take on a fractal explosive character if the Oxy and Prozac ever run out.

      2. Capo Regime

        Doug Tepestra,

        Costa Rica and Mexico failed states? Good lord. Go to the congo or haiti to see a failed state. Costa Rica is as stable as it gets–nice vialbe IT industry actually. Mexico last I checked had 22 million tourists and abotu 11 million the first half of this year. The financial times noted its macro and economic policy superior to that of U.S. or Europe–a low bar but it aint a failed state. Mexico builds cars, has a stock market with positive valuations and it actually builds naval vessels. If half the world could reach the “failed state” status of the Mexico the world would be a delightful place–the typical pakistani, sub-saharan african can only dream of living like your average mexican. Broaden your frame of reference beyond fox news or some other fact free basis for your postings.

        1. Capo Regime

          Doug Tespestra, Last we all checked Mexican GDP per capita neared 15k per year vis chinas 8k. Where do you get your ideas?

          1. skippy

            GPD, in my book, is one of the most damaging myopic econ metrics the econ priests have devised (lets not forget its inception).

            Skippy… how many – tails – does the whip have? How much flesh is there to render? Till bone is reached?

          2. Doug Terpstra

            Don capodecina, remedial reading and spell would improve your posts.

            I wrote: “Mexico and Costa Rica *seem to be* *as close to* failed states as you can get *so close to the US.” My main point was proximity and contrast, but yes, relative to Africa, it’s a utopia.

            I had spent many months in Mexico way back in the ’80’s, including D.F. and Guadalajara, and my personal observations were of striking differences for the worse. Other observations are from the northern frontera, where much of the increased drug trafficking occurs.

            Wikipedia on Mexico: its self-defined poverty rate ranks “behind Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Thailand. The overall poverty rate however is 44.2%, while a full 70% lack one of the 8 economic indicators used to define poverty by the Mexican government. … from 2004 to 2008 the portion of the population who received less than half of the median income has risen from 17% to 21% and the absolute levels of poverty have risen considerably from 2006 to 2010, with a rise in persons living in extreme or moderate poverty rising from 35 to 46% (52 million persons). This is also reflected by the fact that infant mortality in Mexico is three times higher than the average among OECD nations…” etc.

            Wikipedia also notes that Mexico’s homicide rate is roughly 2.5 times the U.S.

            See also on tourism. A bit like housing here, it’s declined for several years, but the bottom now appears to be in (really this time).

  9. docG

    I always enjoy listening to Roubini, partly because of his fascinating accent, but mainly because he is so intelligent, well informed and outspoken. Nevertheless, I see in this and so many other attempts to explain what is going on, a disconcerting abstractness, as though what is really being discussed is something like the standard model of physics and it’s relation to the Higgs boson. Will the standard model hold up as the Higgs is investigated further, or will it collapse, forcing scientists to seek out a new and better model?

    Everything is being considered on some sort of elevated plane of pure economic theory. Sure, every once in a while someone mentions the possibility of “civil unrest,” but again only in the most abstract terms. And of course we regularly hear about some entity usually referred to as “the taxpayer” or “the consumer” but again these mythical creatures are no more palpable to the average person than “bosons” or “hadrons.” The dynamic is always expressed in terms of sovereign states, banks, debts, something called the “Euro zone,” and, of course, that mythical beast: the “economy.”

    What is consistently missing in all these analyses and evaluations is any hint of the “C” word, as in: Class. Or more to the point: the international working class. This is the class at the center of the storm, the class whose ruthless exploitation produced the crisis in the first place, by encouraging working people to borrow in order to survive, since they were being paid so little, and governments to borrow to keep their workers from simply dying out from starvation or illness.

    Who in all these many discussions and explanations is speaking for this class, which in fact cuts across national and even international (in the sense of the Euro zone) lines?

    1. JTFaraday

      “Or more to the point: the international working class.”

      Up thread, per Citizen left of left, the Committee of Public Safety declines to accept those chains.

    1. pebird

      Not exactly, he is more part of the contingency plan.

      Power needs to hear truth occasionally.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        p, He’s not “the spoonful of sugar” to “make the medicine go down?”

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Awwww, how cute. Almost like an adorable pet Herald of “what is to come.”

  10. The Dork of Cork

    He does not want to mention Gold.
    Without Tally sticks it can only be Gold.
    As FOFOA says….. Gold is debt.

  11. proximity1


    jonboinAR says:
    July 8, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    “Thank you for your thoughtful post. But we would have to organize, not just read/discuss/vent on this…”

    True, but what are you organizing? Unless it’s people who’ve got some sort of informed perspective, with context, on the problems, their sources and backgrounds, your organizing is going to produce–supposing it’s effective–an organized association who do what, who want to do what?

    If you organize, do you then “teach about the issues”? Or, shouldn’t that come prior to much of the organizing?

    1. jonboinAR

      I donno. It seems to me you have to first work out what you have in common with those with whom you’re conversing. You would have to have some agreement as to what is the problem, where you wish to get to, and how to get there.

      In the immediate case the group of individuals would be we who frequent this and a few other sites. We appear to have a lot in common in terms of identifying a problem, that is, that a few are bent on destroying, for their benefits, the way of life of the rest of us, perhaps enslaving us virtually to become their chattel. We express a lot of helpless rage over this and call them names like “banksters”.

      So very roughly, the first step, identifying the problem, has been done, but only roughly (very). We would have to make an organized effort to hone it. That means more than ranting individually on a blog about the outrage du jour. It would require more systematic effort. But what would be the forum for this?

      The second and third steps would follow.

      Another blog frequenter and I tried to start something. I didn’t have enough perserverence. It was discouraging, as we couldn’t attract any interest from the blog kvetchers. I wish someone more erudite or educated or something than me would try. I’d join.

      1. proximity1


        jonboinAR says:
        July 8, 2012 at 11:02 pm

        I donno. It seems to me you have to first work out what you have in common with those with whom you’re conversing. You would have to have some agreement as to what is the problem, where you wish to get to, and how to get there.

        In the immediate case the group of individuals would be we who frequent this and a few other sites. We appear to have a lot in common in terms of identifying a problem, that is, that a few are bent on destroying, for their benefits, the way of life of the rest of us, perhaps enslaving us virtually to become their chattel. We express a lot of helpless rage over this and call them names like “banksters”.

        So very roughly, the first step, identifying the problem, has been done, but only roughly (very). We would have to make an organized effort to hone it. That means more than ranting individually on a blog about the outrage du jour. It would require more systematic effort. But what would be the forum for this?

        I think there are some lessons for us in the recent Occupy Wall Street movements’ efforts. What I suggest those efforts show us are

        1) the basic means of organizing are available, these proved adequate to mobilize OWS’s various initiatives.

        2) those mobilized lacked in part or in whole a coherent and commonly-shared view of the character of the problems and how they should best be addressed. That was indicated by the fact that in various sites around the nation, OWS encampments spent lots of time in doing background reading and discussion of divergent views of what’s wrong and why.

        3) the total numbers of people mobilized are evidence of the fact that, in the general population at large, there remains an overwhelming lack of awareness of even the level of sophistication that the OWS activists had and have.

        4) To mount a movement that is adequate, effective, more people in numbers greater by orders of magnitude than those who turned out so far have to become aware and interested; and for this to happen, they need more information, more knowledge, about our predicament than they now have.

        In short, to organize sufficient numbers of people, you must have, as a prerequisite, a better informed general public. All of which brings us back to a cardinal fact that cannot be stressed enough:

        the primary precondition to all progress is to first get people off the television and other debilitating mass-media communications which hold them in states of ignorance and helplessness–with all the advantages this offers to those who most profit by the staus quo.

  12. JTFaraday

    “Notice how he ducks the question of safe havens.”

    Well, good for Roubini for declining to give aid and comfort to those looking to ride the tidal wave and make a killing.

    It seems to me that one of our problems may be that– unlike Joe 401K-pack– too many people of direct power or indirect influence made too much money last time around and thus are not really worried about the fragile state in which they have left the global financial system.

    If I understand matters correctly, this would include members of US Congress who were instructed in advance by Treasury, (which used to be called insider trading and punishable with a prison sentence).

    Maybe this is why nobody actually does anything. The money is just too good.

  13. Hugh

    I thought there would be a crash in 2011. I was wrong. That said, I don’t see Roubini’s prediction as that much of a prediction. 2011 was a likely year, because it was after the stimulus had run out and before any election year goosing of the economy had gone on. Roubini is saying this now because so far in 2012 it looks as if Europe will manage to stumble through to year’s end without the collapse of the euro and, in the US, interim deals will push all the budget and austerity battles into 2013.

    Now things (especially Europe) could still blow up in 2012, but all this is about probabilities, and in that regard, 2013 just looks like a much nastier and more likely year. If US political elites really push austerity, it will be pretty much over, not just for us but the world economy. At the same time, the euro is a dead horse. How much longer can euro elites pretend its a Triple Crown contender?

    1. skippy

      ” How much longer can euro elites pretend its a Triple Crown contender?” – Hugh.

      That might depend on whom your friends are.

      Skippy… Love is fickle… or in some cases… a matter of necessity.

  14. The Dork of Cork

    Italy has already collapsed.
    Mario has did his job =- transfer the oil to up North.

    Italian oil consumption is down 15% YoY !

  15. Enraged

    In a nutshell: some people might go to jail, TBTF won’t change
    their M.O. and nothing will change.

    Oh… and there’s gona be another crisis in the next two weeks too! Oh well…

  16. Jim

    As this crisis intensifies, the reality begins to set in, that our elites seem less and less capable of formulating any just solutions. While many of us may have accepted this fact intellectually for quite some time, we are now being forced, as this crisis has continued, to absorb the full ramifications of this situation emotionally as well.

    One important ramification may be that the future responsibility for any just solutions is probably going to fall on all of our shoulders–since our present elites seem more than willing to stay on their untenable course under the assumption that their power will force us to eventually pay the price for their misdeeds and allow them to survive.

    What is scary is that we who stand in opposition to this regime(looking at the variety of opponents across the political spectrum) are a long way from any consensus on an alternative vision or organizing strategy to implement that vision.

    Hopefully NC will continue to serve as a serious platform to create, explore and critique alternative visions and organizing strategies as the responsibility for democratic solutions shifts appropriately from our present elites to its citizens.

  17. proximity1

    RE: Juris V @ July 9, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    In fact, there is a lot in your post I agree with and which I’d already understood prior to my reply, too, such as, for example:

    “I was not talking about any “utopia” I was just responding to a statement that said to REALLY survive we need the three basics — my answer was no, we need a lot more!”

    and in this, you were simply prescient: “…may I suggest that you read Antonio Damasio (or numerous others) on brain science —” Consider it done. Since posting my comment, I’ve been thinking of much about the usefulness of turning to Antonio Damasio’s and to Daniel Dennett’s writing; so they are high on my “to-read-next”-list.

    You may be much more expert than I on these issues but, leaving that aside for the puposes of this comment, here is the crux of our disagreement–

    unlike you, I think, following Lorenz, that while genetic adaptations continue and remain the deepest part of our inherent make-up, cultural adaptations have swamped the purely genetically-based adaptations in relative quantity –the latter still a minimuim of one human generation in their “dead-time”, that is, adaptaive reaction to natural environmental factors that create survival pressures.

    Stable (meaning able to persist over multiple generations) human conglomerations in sizes from several thousands to several hundreds of thousands of people have been common–though not the predominant mode of society–for well more than two milennia.

    (example) from Wikipedia’s “City” and “Çatalhöyük” pages–

    “(the ancient society of) Çatalhöyük (circa 7500 BCE to 5700 BCE) was composed entirely of domestic buildings, with no obvious public buildings. While some of the larger ones have rather ornate murals, these rooms’ purpose remains unclear.[6]

    The population of the eastern mound has been estimated at up to 10,000 people, but population likely varied over the community’s history. An average population of between 5,000 to 8,000 is a reasonable estimate.”

    So I think that humans now have long since undergone both genetic and cultural adaptations to “urban-type” environments which far exceed the hunter-gartherer groups of early human societies. That’s one central disagreement in our views.

    The other difference may be one of emphasis rather than fundamentals. My view is that our current world population is unquestionably unsustainable under present modes of industrial and economic life and so, whatever else happens, if there is a future for haumanity, it will be one with a far smaller world population. But, moreover, it’s the present technologies and the current trends in more of the same that make our circumstances now so fragile. Even a far smaller world population cannot, in my opinion, continue to thrive–or even survive–in the present which places all of society’s most urgnet questions blindly under the purview of technological imperatives. It is this, above all, that imperils us now.

    When to that are added the other elements of an educational sysyem that no longer educates–because it cannot compete with mass-media’s devastating influences and their primacy on entertainment; a political culture which is corrupt and socially destructive; and an economic order which makes (and is made by) technology’s all-powerful influences the decisive factor in judging what is valuable and what is worthless, the cocktail becomes one that is lethal.

    We can live indefinitely in large populations–those of tens and hundreds of thousands, but we cannot do that under present-day technology and the practices it engenders. It is these to which we are not and have never been either genetically or culturally “adapted”, and, I fear that they are beyond our capacities for adaptation.

    I think on that last point we are probably very much in agreement.

    Also on my ‘to-read-list’ is Brendan O’Flaherty’s City Economics.

  18. Kunst

    So would saying that Adolph Hitler was a threat to world peace in 1933 qualify as “too soon”? How about 1934, 1935,…1945?

  19. Fiver

    You know, he knows, and everyone else paying attention with a critical eye knows that the longer this continues with the current set of policy responses, the greater the odds of another iceberg – even if conveniently towed in front of the ship by the scumlords themselves. So in truth, picking 2013 in 2011 is not exactly “visionary”, and if it occurs in 2014 or even 2015, he still looks good vs the MSM cheerleaders or most “sophisticated” financial commentators appearing in major business media venues.

    But note Roubini’s forecasts are always premised on one or several “If ‘x’ happens, then…” where ‘x’ is either a terrible policy response, or no response at all. The half-loaf, muddle-through, “extend and pretend” approach, which we’ve seen for 4 years now, never gets its due from him because he doesn’t ever acknowledge the ingenuity of these private and government criminals, their capacity for pure, unadulterated bullshit in word or deed as required in official (public or private) numbers, claims, releases, threatening, bombing etc., or the wonderfully selective character of the law as applied these days. For example, warning with respect to the hyped up “financial cliff” scenario. What talent does it take to say “We’re screwed if..” when the “if” is so stupid as not to be credible unless done deliberately to provoke a “crisis”? A real forecast should say, based on a complete analysis of all the relevant factors: “Because an Obama re-election is a near-certainty, Bush tax cuts for the middle class, and all other broad-based, stimulative tax cuts enacted since the crisis will continue through at least 2014, to be funded by spending cuts in military spending of $bullshit this year and next. In addition…” Granted, I am nobody (and very much wish to keep it that way). I also wouldn’t bet the entire farm that Obama doesn’t give half the Bush cut for the rich back somehow in “eleventh hour negotiations”. But the drift is there. There’s not a chance in hell of a fiscal “fall” unless it’s as a deliberate action to create a “crisis”, and he knows it.

    Not denying he’s easier to listen to than many, as the possibilities he raises are all too real, but he is as plugged into elite power networks as it’s possible to be. Note his IMF, Fed, and Bank of Israel career path, as per Wiki (note: where’s Roubini stand when it comes to Geithner?):

    At bottom what he advocates is for the US and global public, either before or after another “panic” to eat up its peas again and pony up further, future trillions in “output” not even invented yet in exchange for another irrelevant packet of “real” financial reform, perhaps a housing “resolution” of sorts, a global “growth” program, something like a global central bank down the road – in short, just keep on doing what we’ve been doing, only a little less obvious pumping of wealth up the ladder. The corporate globalist evolution towards a global market state with global corporate imperatives remains on track. We’re totally screwed if that’s how it plays. For one thing, this financial crisis has virtually destroyed the global environmental movement so there’s no coordinated global response to the biggest mistake humanity could ever commit. At this crucial fork, the attempt to get this current economic monument to stupidity up and firing on all cylinders, enough to soar again to secure a final global mega-bubble is just not outside the box of dead-end solutions at all.

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