The Rise of the Right Wing Populist: Blame It on the Banks

By Thomas Fricke, Chief Economist and a member of the ECF leadership team and previously, Chief Economist of Financial Times Deutschland. Originally published at Speigel Online; English translation published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

Everywhere, so it seems, right-wing populists are feeling the wind in their sails. Contrary to common belief, this shift is not so much caused by the refugee crisis, but rather by the historical disaster that followed the big financial crisis since 2007.

The number of refugees coming to Germany are dwindling, the right to asylum has been tightened, and integration issues are being addressed. So what reason is there to rant against foreigners, to lament over Merkel’s political course or her failure to change it or to complain about the “lying press”? At this point German right wing leader Frauke Petry along with Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen could pack up and head for a lonely island. Well, unless: it’s not the worries over the refugees that caused the increase of followers of right-wing populists these days.

Quite possible. Don’t the French have Le Pen even though their numbers of refugees don’t even compare to those in Germany; and don’t the Americans have their Donald Trump – without a chancellor Angela Merkel to blame for a wrong attitude towards refugees? Countries presently experiencing a shift to the right share one commonality which points to something deeper: In all these countries the crisis that emerged in 2007 still lingers on in one way or another. Losses that were incurred throughout the crisis are paid off today in part by those who often do not even have an idea of what hedge funds and derivatives are.

In an impressive historical study (PDF) Bonn-based economist Moritz Schularick and two of his colleagues recently found that staunch right-wing parties systematically gain followers after such crashes. This applies to Germany after 1929, but also for banking crises that occurred, for example, in Scandinavia in the 1990s. The experts analyzed more than a hundred financial debacles that have occurred in 20 countries since 1870. Their findings: Right-wing parties gained an average of 30 percent in the first post-crash elections. This seems plausible: In France the extreme right-wing Front National had its first big rise in the wake of the franc crisis in the 1980s. In Germany the Alternative für Deutschland emerged during the Eurozone crisis.

A cross-check by Schularick et al. shows that no shift to the right occurred in the wake of recessions in which no financial crashes were experienced. In other words, the banks obviously play a part in this phenomenon.

One might argue that the financial sector does not rank so highly on the country’s “hate list”. True, but it’s also the case that structured financial products or integration problems in derivatives don’t as readily serve as outlets of anger. Nevertheless, what was bequeathed by the financial crisis could, from a collective point of view, reveal much more about the reasons why there is so much dissatisfaction with politicians and elites — much more so than could ever be attributed to a refugee crisis alone.

According to Forsa opinion surveys, only 25 percent of Germans believe that ordinary citizens benefit most from the Euro, but 81 percent believe that they are adversely affected most by the Eurozone crisis. Welcome back, disillusionment! More so, since at least the second part in this assumption is not far off the mark.

The Bill is Paid by Savers

Typically, in the course of a financial crisis banks will be rescued, like it or not. They are rescued even though they have played their part in creating the problem. They are rescued because without banks nothing works and because we know from experience that a non-rescue might result in economic collapse. The problem is that bank bailouts are costly for the government and this often leads to higher taxes or cutting pensions. People start putting two and two together.

Then politicians have two neat positions to choose from: with the panic in the financial markets in mind to act as the benevolent uncle and rescue the banking institutions or to refrain from doing so and thus risk an even greater crisis with ensuing mass unemployment and as a consequence to be voted out of office – no desirable option either. Politicians rarely appear as helpless as they do in such crises (admittedly, some of them don’t require a financial crisis for this). No wonder politicians are losing esteem.

To make matters worse, crashes typically are preceded by euphoric times when bundles of money were made by a few, times when more money was invested in speculations than in new plants and secure jobs. Rarely had the wealth gap been larger than at the time of the crashes in 1929 and 2008 – not much has changed since then. The wealthiest ten percent even in Germany own nearly two thirds of the assets, while 40 percent of Germans own nothing – a reality after three decades of financial globalization. A sense of cognitive dissonance is arising amongst the people.

What’s more, for savers interest rates seem to be a thing of the past. Even this is a typical after-effect of large crashes, because in a debt crisis there is hardly any demand for new loans, and little investment is made by the economy. Zero interest rates are not an invention of the often scolded Mario Draghi, they are found in the United States as well, in Japan and in other crash countries. The bill is in part paid by those (savers) who never benefited from the boom.

Plenty of Room for Crackpots

All this obviously helps in the hands of the heralds of simple worldviews rather than the specialists of financial reforms; particularly since old economic wisdom indeed suddenly seems absurd in such crises – like the mantra that (financial) markets somehow always work efficiently as has been preached by the majority of economists. In the 1930s the financial crash led to major rethinking and to moving away from overly naive liberalism.

The hitch in the matter is that on the way there the trust in the old tribe of experts implodes without it being replaced by another. There is plenty of room for crackpots who fill the vacuum with mistaken theories and doctrines of salvation. It is rather unlikely that Donald Trump, shall we say, wants to eliminate the concentration of wealth. He rather, like in a daze, makes a racket about Mexicans and Marxists.

The financial debacle and its aftermath certainly cannot explain everything, but it does explain at least much the discontent that the Trumps, the Le Pens and the Petrys today exploit their own ends: topics like zero interest, overburdened politicians, extreme inequality or business experts who have lost their credibility; it is just that they have no solutions for these matters at all.

It is not enough to erect fences to block Balkan routes or to tighten asylum laws to make people happy again and politicians respected. Instead, reforms are necessary which ensure that incomes rise for everyone, that banks are back into the business of being service providers, or that the economy expands so it spreads more money to the people by design. Then perhaps people would not be so angry at everything. But this is no job for Big Talkers.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. cm

    What a very strange article for NC…

    “Typically, in the course of a financial crisis banks will be rescued, like it or not. They are rescued even though they have played their part in creating the problem. They are rescued because without banks nothing works and because we know from experience that a non-rescue might result in economic collapse.

    Hmm, seems like Bill Black might disagree with that statement.

    “Then politicians have two neat positions to choose from: with the panic in the financial markets in mind to act as the benevolent uncle and rescue the banking institutions or to refrain from doing so and thus risk an even greater crisis with ensuing mass unemployment and as a consequence to be voted out of office – no desirable option either. ”

    Textbook example of false-dilemma? Interesting that the idea of punishing bankers is simply not an option.

    1. James Levy

      You might be able to design a system that supports our current population and standard of living without banking and credit systems, but it doesn’t exist now, so you’ve got to keep them functioning somehow. It takes enormous courage to have faith enough to force major changes during a crisis, and once the crisis has passed the power of the financial sector is normally too great to break. So the real-world choices are almost as limited as the author points out they are. The really critical question is why the Right, which everywhere today supports money and power, gets a boost when the moneyed and the powerful screw up.

      1. I.D.G.

        Because when things turn ‘tougher’, most persons turn more reactionary and conservative, no other way around.

        Conservative means to conserve, specifically to conserve the status quo, those who have reactionary policies that promise to keep things as are (or were) get better support than those who promise change and uncertainty.

        That’s why things have to changed when they are good, because when they are bad the outcome is going to get worse for most, not better.

        Only when we have destroyed all we had, and we have lost much (sometimes requiring civil war or even total collapse), we may accept radical change, after false promises, just by sheer necessity.

        We are that dumb, unfortunately (as species deciding our collective action).

      2. dk

        Well that’s easy.. when the powerful screw up, they make powerless pay the price. The meanwhile less-powerful try to put as much distance between themselves and the powerless as possible. What better way to do that than to push for disenfranchisement for anybody outside of one’s one peer group? People are looking for ways to maintain or advance themselves with the least effort and perceived (immediate) risk.

        The Left instead suggests the reallocation of benefit, which amounts to a redefinition of class and peer grouping. That will demand greater effort and risk than leaving most of the status quo in place, even though the return for effort may be significant. People who feel that they are already in a relatively good position may not be as inclined to take the risks of the Left, even when they recognize its benefits.

        Also, when the Left is undermined by corruption, it starts to behave more like the Right. When the Right becomes more corrupt, it doesn’t change that much from what it already was (at least for people already in a comfort zone). So for people who like uniformity and continuity, or feel that cynicism is a safer bet than idealism, the Right has something to offer that the Left doesn’t.

        The swing to the right occurs from anything that sets off increased peer-level competition, usually something that produces declining resource/population ratios.

      3. Carla

        “The really critical question is why the Right, which everywhere today supports money and power, gets a boost when the moneyed and the powerful screw up.”

        “Everywhere today” the “Left” winds up supporting money and power as well. I submit to you that the Right is simply less hypocritical.

        The “Right” tells us they’re going to f**k us over, and then they f**k us over.

        The “Left” tells us they’re going to help us, and then they f**k us over.

        Pick your poison.

        1. Mike Sparrow

          Carla calling them “left” is your first mistake. They are not. Once you figure out that error, your posting will improve.

          Modern political dialectics has you captured.

    2. JustAnObserver

      This is a classic example of partially correct thinking. The assumption is that its the *banks* that need to be rescued whereas a more correct way of saying it would be that the banking system – or the useful parts of it at least – need to be rescued; Most particularly the payments system. Once you look at it like that you see that bailout is not the only option – a takeover by the state of the failed institutions is, in fact, a much more efficient method aka Nationalisation (or Conservatorship for all you Newspeak fans out there).

      Simply: There’s always a choice – Sweden or Japan – and that choice is wholly about power & politics, never economics.

      1. jonboinAR

        “… bailout is not the only option – a takeover by the state of the failed institutions is, in fact, a much more efficient method aka Nationalisation (or Conservatorship for all you Newspeak fans out there).”
        Ding! Ding! Ding! This is what could have been done differently. Bailout with a price commensurate with the cost of rescue, just like in business!

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      I don’t get your beef, and you misrepresent Bill Black.

      His complaint isn’t about the bank rescues, it’s about not prosecuting bankers, not putting in new execs and boards, not requiring the banks to radically change how they do things after the bailout that he objects to.

      Plus that remark struck me as tongue in cheek that did not translate well out of German.

      1. cm

        S&Ls outright failed during the RTC days, and this article (possibly badly translated) does not appear to me to raise bank failures as an option. If the author condones “prosecuting bankers, putting in new execs and boards, and requiring the banks to radically change how they do things after the bailout” then I didn’t see it.

        Instead I see the article suggest “banks will be rescued” as the only recourse. I (like James Levy) believe the banking system needs to be protected, but banks themselves certainly do not need to be rescued. We’re so far past “moral hazard” I even wonder if it the concept is still taught.

        1. VietnamVet

          This is correct. The bankers said fire me and I will crash the system. Thanks to the revolving door and campaign buy-outs, politicians and the public accepted this as fact. Indeed, Greece proves that there is no alternative. However; austerity, natural and man-made disasters and casino gambling plus the elites’ contempt of the masses assures that the banking system will collapse once more. The next fix will be a bloody revolt unless the banks are nationalized, the bosses jailed and the payment system kept up and running in the meantime.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          S&Ls were small individually and not tightly coupled with each other domestically or internationally. The banking system of the late 1980s bears no resemblance to the banking system of 2008.

          You saw what happened when Lehman collapsed. Treasury and the Fed thought they could let it go because it was only sorta big, not super big. If Morgan Stanley had failed, and it was next on the list, Goldman would have gone down immediately and JP Morgan would have been next. That would have taken down the entire dollar derivatives trading system and pretty much every international bank of size.

          The big banks ARE the banking system, sadly. The mistake was we did nothing about punishing and replacing the individuals running those banks, nor have we taken steps to make them less powerful.

          Now we could have resolved them, but government ownership is just another form of bailout.

          1. Whine Country

            Can’t the problem be solved by separating the payments function from the investment banking function? The current TBTF creates a positive feedback loop for the riskiest part of banking because of the implicit guarantees. In other words, the investment banking side grows larger than it would naturally grow BECAUSE of the implicit guarantees of TBTF. If you separate the two, the positive feedback loop would cause the payments portion of the system to grow faster because the TBTF guarantees would be limited by excluding the investment banking portion (which would then be a negative feedback loop). I continue to believe that repeal of Glass-Steagall was the critical element that put us where we are today. That is why whenever the subject is raised, the conversation is immediately turned in another direction and posed as a better solution. My theory is that bringing back Glass-Steagall will pretty much downsize the investment banking portion by itself. The trouble is that the really powerful people know this and will do all in their power to make sure it does not happen.

          2. JEHR

            I sometimes wonder, if the banks had been allowed to fail then the collapse would have been felt by everyone including the financial elites and squillionaires, and not just the savers and homeowners. If the whole financial system had truly failed, then we would have been looking for and finding better alternatives. I really wanted the banks to feel the pain that they created for others.

  2. readerOfTeaLeaves

    The point that savers are not getting interest, while speculators get bailed out with savers’ money, is spot on.

    And the savers (or, as Romney might call us, ‘takers’) have less money than we’d calculated, due to zero interest.

    From what I see, the contempt for the Political Class is scorching.

    We need new economic thinking.

    Also, someone needs to turn off the italics, please.

    1. ambrit

      I’m guessing that the ‘italic’ scripting is in honour of the afore mentioned Mario Draghi.

    2. Mike Sparrow

      Without the speculators getting bailed out, the savers would have no money anyway. The US from a rate of growth view, peaked in 1969 and the 60’s expansion was the peak in total. But due to Asiatic Communism and anti-capitalism becoming a major pop-culture phenom, a classic decade long “correction” like in the past wasn’t possible. Debt had to expand enough to “win the war”. The dirty secret this board can’t admit. The fact it continued afterwards is of no surprise. The system wasn’t going to change back. The US dollar was the reserve currency..

      The truth is, there is little populists upswell in the US. Very little of it. When it attempts to live, it is laughed at(and people are going to learn that very well). A big part of that was the bailout stopping the correction and whether you like it or not, a long winded recovery has taken place with a slowed down debt expansion.

  3. Kaiser

    “only 25 percent of Germans believe that ordinary citizens benefit most from the Euro, but 81 percent believe that they are adversely affected most by the Eurozone crisis. Welcome back, disillusionment! More so, since at least the second part in this assumption is not far off the mark.”

    HA??? Germans are more adversely affected than the Irish and Greeks??? It takes an imbecile to write such tosh.

    Ireland paid 42% of the Eurozone bank losses! Germany paid 1.5%. And the Greeks have just been continuously attacked by the Euro elites. It takes right wing notions of Nationality to believe the above quoted section in the first place. If that’s what one believes, voting for a right wing idiot, isn’t such a leap.

    All in all, a splendidly silly article.

    But, please, won’t someone think of the Germans.

  4. Mustsign topost

    The misconception is to call rightwing movements populist. They are not (eg Ukraine, Brasil…). Recessions are periods of consolidation, blood on the streets and all that (France). Military Keynesianism (Fiscal) is Oligarchic in essence.
    Is it surprising that TTIP has secret tribunals, that the pentagon budget is unauditable* or the other innumerable cases that show that the nazis didn’t lose.

    Magpie’s Asymmetric Warfare: Nazis, Marxists, and Socialists?

    World Bank Woos Western Corporations to Profit From Labor of Stranded Syrian Refugees @alternet

    GRAND FORMAT. Les enfants syriens, main d’oeuvre bon marché d’Erdogan via @LObs

    Words are for meaning

  5. susan the other

    Well duh, Germany. Only now when it looks like Deutschebank has managed to begin to reduce itself to basics, when the Panama Papers have implicated the entire western banking system, when German exports look at risk, when European meddling in the ME has reached such an awful extreme that middle easterners are emigrating to Germany, does Germany publish an article that states the obvious. Things are a mess the world around, not just the EZ. It isn’t true however that solutions are being proffered only by right wing populists. They are being proffered by lefties and socialists everywhere – but those guys traditionally do not get much press. And you can blame that on the freaked-out oligarchs. And their determination to globalize their power. They’ve got their nerve pointing the finger at right wing populists.

  6. ke

    Trumps are messengers and relief valves, like all politicians.

    Just so as you know, DNA is a derivative, closing the loop for most to establish a shared frequency / event horizon. You need energy to jump the barrier, but once over, you see the points of quantum porosity, to walk right through.

    Ironically, I have a brother in Kabul, and a heroin dealer as a neighbor. I don’t know which is worse, the biker scrum delivering heroin, the doctor scrum injecting babies with mitochondrial DNA, or the socialist scrum teaching peer pressure as a way of life, but what I do know is that it helps tremendously to have a sense of humor, in NAZI Germany or America.

    You might want to work as a laborer in Canada, before you present its healthcare system as a model to be copied. Agency doesn’t work, for what should be obvious reasons, except as a counterweight.

    1. ke

      actuarial ponzis and totalitarianism work hand in hand, surprise. Propose a villain, get the tools, and hunt down all non-participants, choking the middle class with weapons it helped build, on the theory that the individual is powerless. Repeat.

    2. RMO

      I’ve worked as a laborer in Canada since 1990 and I find the health care system works fine, even though it’s been chipped away at for some time. I’ve never had trouble getting care, affording the coverage and the care I’ve been provided with has been excellent. As it has been for every friend and family member who has needed it.

      I would love to see a picture or video of a biker or doctor “scrum” though.

      1. ke

        Chipped away for new enrollees since the day Harper took office, and most of those new laborers aren’t natural, so they have no voice. Put up or shut up or be replaced by the next rotation of temps, at the likes of p&g, 3m, shell. Etc

        Same as America. F the kids and immigrants to maintain the shell game one more day. Canada is a bigger disappointment.

        1. ke

          P&G has the worst scrum technicians/laborers, with all the benefits. Bred to treat the temps like mules. All you have to do is drive by the employee parking lot to see the ratio.

        2. EoinW

          The chipping began in the 1990s with the Liberals starting it. Plus it effects all Canadians. How can you have a doctor’s shortage that lasts a quarter century(and still going) if it hasn’t been deliberately created? Harper and the Liberals are in the same boat – undermining the health care system in order to discredit it and have an excuse to reform it. Unfortunately for them, Canadians value their universal health care so much it’s been politically impossible to do more than chip away at it.

          Makes for a safe conclusion that the best thing anyone could do for average Americans is to bring in their own universal health care system. The lack of such a safety net explains why so many Americans are on the warpath against the establishment. Meanwhile Canadians continue to contently sleep walk through their lives and allow our poster boy PM and his elites to keep running everything.

      2. ke

        Get yourself a copy of one of those prehire psych tests.

        In case there is someone on the planet that doesn’t know, Canada has largely moved to a two tier labor system, and like America the top tier assumes those in the lower tier have “issues” because, after all, all you have to do to be in the top / tier is comply, with pension feudalism.

    3. JEHR

      Why do you pick on Canada’s healthcare system?: we are doing the best we can and it does not bankrupt people who need treatment.

  7. Steven

    In The Global Minotaur, Yanis Varoufakis provides a bit of interesting history with the revelation that US policy makers (i.e. Wall Street and its banks) supported the creation of the Euro as a crutch to assist the US dollar when its banks and government (I believe the debt of the US and other governments which have retained their right to print money is called ‘near money’) got carried away with money and/or debt creation. To US and global oligarchs, what is important is MONEY, i.e. the claims they have on the world’s wealth.

    Protecting the value of those claims, i.e. the value of the money in which they are denominated, is really the only form of ‘cosmopolitan internationalism’ they support. But the need to act against the interests of the people in their ‘home countries’ (if the global oligarchs even have such a thing??) is enough for them to oppose “right wing populism” in any form. ANYTHING that interferes with their ability to pile up ever more claims on the world’s wealth (like jobs for the people in their native countries or environmental standards that make life there tolerable) is thus anathema.

  8. Gaylord

    People generally do not understand what we have done to planet earth that is now impinging on our viability since we have passed critical tipping points. Nobody is prepared (or could be prepared) for what is going down. Economies necessarily will contract and ever more resources will be diverted from social needs to mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, because a reduction in military spending will not be allowed. Social order will break down and martial law will be enforced in many places. The great unwashed public will become increasingly angry with TPTB as conditions worsen due to overcrowding, resource scarcity and climate disruption impacts, but there is a new regime in place and the authorities are ready with harsh punitive measures that could resemble the Holocaust. Conflict and cruelty will escalate; the term “dog eat dog” comes to mind, even to the point of cannibalism among starving masses of dislocated refugees. The extreme rich may be able to insulate themselves for a while, but even they cannot escape the onslaught of super storms, rising seas, earthquakes, fire, floods, drought, and disease when these indomitable forces of nature become widespread, nor will anyone be immune to the devastating effects of nuclear power plant meltdowns that will result from sustained power outages. I’m sorry to say, I believe all we can look forward to is chaos within a decade or so, and I suggest it may help to prepare oneself mentally for what is coming. Have a nice day.

    1. jrs

      I like your thinking though, you didn’t suggest the usual BS about preparing physically – prepper rants, but said prepare mentally, so I guess meditate or adopt a stoic philosophy. I like it.

    2. different clue

      There is a blog I used to read years ago which apparently still exists. It was also trying to develop an approach of mental adjustment to the coming Long Shrinkdown. It is called Truth to Power and is by Caroline Baker.

      I think The Archdruid is also writing about how people might undertake the mental adjustment.

      Dmitri Orlov used to write about preparing for The Long Collapse, but lately his blog has been more about culturist anti-Americanism and Russian Triumphalist Nationalism and etc. But Orlov might still have things to contribute to thinking about mental adjustment.

  9. Mike Sparrow

    There is no such thing as “right wing populism”. Most of the “right wing” movements are nothing more than Rothchilds financed scams to “retake” the global monetary situation. Just not impressive posting. You don’t get it at all. Until you understand how the US dollar became the worlds reserve currency, you don’t know shit. It wasn’t a overnight process. It took until the 1970’s for that process to complete, but it had to be done for America to beat Asiatic Communism.

    I would argue the banks aren’t the problem, but high finance. Hedge Funds taking the cake. Who is the biggest financier of that system……………take a guess people?

    How about Zero Hedge. I know ever “writer” they have. Guess who is the real high chief? Once again, destroying the Morgan/USD alliance ain’t gonna do sheet if these “right wing populists” have their way. They will just smile and the sheep will know they have been played by dialectical illusions.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Huh? I see you don’t get out much. It might help if you familiarized yourself with European politics before spouting off. There are most assuredly right wing populist parties in Europe, starting with Front National in France and AfD in Germany. And contrary to your “Jewish banker” bigotry, they are rabidly anti-Semitic (Marine Le Pen is trying to distance herself from Front National’s anti-Semitic roots, but a lot of people don’t buy it).

  10. David

    I think the writer is confusing the rise in support for candidates and parties of the so-called extreme right (which is a fact) with some wider rightward shift in politics as a whole (which is not a fact). Immigration as such has only played a minor role in the rise of Trump, Le Pen etc. and then only insofar as support for them reflects the lived experience of voters who have been affected immigration, or exploited by its manipulation. But when the major political parties are hopelessly in thrall to economic orthodoxy and to the financial system (as was also the case in the 1930s, remember) then voters who want change will turn elsewhere. And it wasn’t only the extreme right that gathered strength in the 1930s, it was the Communists as well, and for essentially the same reason. That latter option isn’t available now.

  11. Lexington

    Then politicians have two neat positions to choose from: with the panic in the financial markets in mind to act as the benevolent uncle and rescue the banking institutions or to refrain from doing so and thus risk an even greater crisis with ensuing mass unemployment and as a consequence to be voted out of office – no desirable option either.

    This is a false dichotomy. The key question is not whether to rescue the banks or not but how the rescue is structured. In the 2008 crisis the financial institutions in question could have been temporarily nationalized, those responsible for the crisis fired, losses allocated in a way that optimally served the public interest (allowing that defining the “public interest” is itself fraught with political considerations), and the TBTF banks broken up. That none of this happened reflects the power of the financial sector, which could shield itself from accountability and force weaker political constituencies to make them whole at their own expense. I suppose it’s some small sign of progress that at least some insiders like Thomas Fricke are finally putting two and two together and realizing that populist anger is fueled by the realization that their own elites -which very much includes many of Fricke’s colleagues- have time and again betrayed them.

    Unfortunately Fricke’s sneering condescension toward the Le Pens, Petrys and Trumps of this world just shows how much still needs to be learned. As unpalatable as it might be to contemplate these people are the future of Western politics. Fricke’s obsession with “right wing” politics, the bête noire of the managerial-technocratic class to which he belongs, mistakes the incidental for the essential: at root these movements are populist and anti-elitist rather than fundamentally conforming to some conventional classification on the left-right continuum, but right wing politicians have proven to be much more adept at exploiting them. The old mainline “leftist” parties in Europe are now managing partners in the neoliberal consensus these movements are challenging, and in any case they have no stomach to champion the nativist, nationalist and anti immigrant sentiments that animate them.

    Fricke’s conclusion bears repeating:

    Instead, reforms are necessary which ensure that incomes rise for everyone, that banks are back into the business of being service providers, or that the economy expands so it spreads more money to the people by design. Then perhaps people would not be so angry at everything.

    Translation: maybe if we throw the pitchfork wielding mob a few bones they won’t burn down the manor.

    What Fricke doesn’t get is that moment has come and gone. The Trumps, Petrys and Le Pens of this world are a testament to the failure of Western elites to honour and maintain the postwar political settlement that bought political peace by extending benefits to a critical mass of citizens and in so doing obtaining their acquiescence to the status quo. The Trumps, Petrys and Le Pens speak for the growing masses who realize the status quo has nothing to offer them and therefore in their eyes has no legitimacy or absolute claim to imperishability. . Such sentiments are a dagger pointed at the heart of the technocratic class to which Fricke belongs. If Fricke’s people were competent they would never have let things progress this far or, having having failed to forestall the crisis, would now be working feverishly to defuse it before it engulfs them. Because they are incompetent they refuse to acknowledge the dimensions of the crisis (never mind engage in any kind of honest self criticism about their responsibility in creating it) and instead confine themselves to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic while finding comfort in repeating nostrums about how Trump is a buffoon who is just taking advantage of benighted idiots for his own gain (like Gandhi said, first they ignore you, then they laugh at you…)

    No doubt they will still be repeating those nostrums when the flames of the burning manor finally consume them…

    1. cassandra

      Very well spoken: this is what the original article should have said.

      I also see the rise of the mavericks less as a right-wing movement than a populist reaction to blatantly incompetent policies on the part of the elites. When Russian immigrants in Germany go out on the streets to promote conformity with German culture, you know something has gone too far. Because the left has been so completely lobotomized by political correctness, there was no other political space for rebellion. Not just Le Pen’s, but a number of other parties like the SDP and UKIP are clarifying their objections to extremist Islam and ethnic isolation. (Tommy Robinson’s leaving the EDL is an interesting example). It appears that Coln New Years pulled ostrichs’ heads out of the sand in more than one country, exposing rape and sexual abuse as a major issue; and the EU response is… No Go zones: What DO we do about Islamic isolation, which appear to conform with extremist Salafism promoted by Anjem Choudary and his ilk? EU chauffers were connected with the Brussels bombing ring; really? After all this intrusive police-state security? Immigration (both USA & EU): a nice idea, but after all this time, shouldn’t we have at least tried policies other than passive hand-wringing? Hungary, Slovakia and Poland are in open revolt against the EU quotas, and fences are up in what used to be Yugoslavia; not exactly Schengen-friendly. BTW, wasn’t the EU supposed to guarantee the integrity of the European border? How’s that working out for you? Everywhere we look: Greece: an economic policy that won’t fix the problem for 15 years. How do you define loanshark? Democracy: The EU told us all what they thought about that other Greek idea after the Oxi vote, so ignoring the Dutch referendum on the Ukraine Association comes as just another expression of the EU’s respect for this quaint institution. And then they’re scandalized by Brexit; imagine! In the USA, we have opaque trade deals like TTIP and TPP being struck in secret, so as not to unduly upset the people. There’s an inexhaustible litany of inexcusable malfeasance. Truly out to lunch.

      But I digress.

  12. INDY

    Let’s see……….
    We have a credit bubble collapse….. predicted by Steve Keen, Bill Mitchell, and Nouriel Roubini, among others…..
    In the wreckage we find lots of NINJA Loans…….

    Which basically bankrupt the holders thereof……… Banks……. the suckers who bought them from the banks……….

    So, USGOV believes it must bailout the banks to save the economy???

    Really????? That’s the only option????


    How about creating Post Bank via Executive Order……. same as the GWOT, WODs..
    Then……. creating: Bank of Industrial Development, Renewable Energy Development Bank, Fossil Fueled Energy Development Bank, Transportation Development Bank, Agricultural Credit Bank, PassivHaus Conversion Bank, Federal Investment Bank, Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, and one Bank for each and Every State ala the Bank of North Dakota.

    Then putting the banks into receivership under Chapter 11 (debtor in posession) with the management team replaced for the purpose of maintaining the payments system, while the deposits are moved to Post Bank.
    Then financing needed infrastructure via the aforementioned banks via USD$ issued by the Comptroller of the Currency’s Bureau of Electronic Money.
    Then nationalizing the pension funds under PBGC at par followed by conversion of their holdings into 8% Federal Pension Bondss issued by the Federal Investment Bank in exchange for submission of same to said bank.
    Then providing jobs to one and all via state Labor Offices, at what would become minimum wage — $200 billion/yr cost.
    Then charging the bank managers with treason, standing them infront of a firing squad, cremating the remains, and throwing same to the four winds.

    I’m dead certain you will not publish this!!!


    1. Norb

      Standing the capitalist system in front of a firing squad is what we need. Difficult to do when the entire society consists of capitalist wannabes.

      The revolution will occur in the human mind- the hope lies in embracing cooperation instead of competition.

      The notion that human society can consist of small, individual entities competing to produce the goods and services we need to survive in this world is proving false. Ruthless, unregulated competition is the root cause of our dysfunctional society. Large-ness of enterprise and inequality are the unavoidable results of unregulated capitalism. Freedom and democracy will perish in such an environment.

      The populist movement that needs to be constructed is one of organizations dedicated to providing the goods and services needed by the masses. Not one of organizing the masses in bloody revolt against the ruling elite. Figuring out the best way to deliver the goods it what this is all about. Define a good life and then provide it.

      In the end, the taboo subject of social planning must be addressed. The elite have successfully obfuscated the topic of social planning because they understand its power.

  13. TG

    With respect, the issue of third-world refugees is neither trivial nor solved.

    In the United States, without the specific opening of the doors to the overpopulated third-world that began around 1970, the population would have stabilized at about 240 million. That was the decision of the American people themselves, to decide how many children it was appropriate for them to have under current circumstances.

    Post-1970 government immigration policy has already increased the population of the United States by about 80 million beyond what it would have been (the number of ‘foreign born’ is a meaningless statistic: look up “demographic momentum” on wikipedia). At current rates the population of the United States will pass a half billion by 2045 and very likely pass a billion before the end of the century.

    These numbers are not trivial. The United States no longer has a vast surplus of unused resources. In EVERY case for a society without an open frontier government policies aimed at forcing population growth higher – regardless of whether through encouraging high native birth rates or opening the doors to an excessively high rate of immigration – have been associated with lower wages for the many and higher profits for the few.

    And in europe: no, the refugees are not being sent home, the numbers are not falling, integration has not been solved, the place is already pretty crowded, and again, you have to consider the demographic momentum of adding large numbers of young people from countries with high fertility rates.

    Much is uncertain but concern about this issue is well justified.

  14. digi_owl

    Yep, this is looking more and more like a rerun of the GD…

    I just wonder who will be the leader with the funny mustache this time…

  15. David

    As Lexington and I have both pointed out, “right-wing” populism is very real, and is not being manipulated by others (though there are certainly some who would like to try). It arises from the failure of all other political movements, or their active complicity with the system itself. As history shows, people often vote negatively rather than positively, and the vote for Le Pen and her equivalents is basically to Get the Bastards Out. So abusing Le Pen, Trump etc., and abusing and lecturing their voters, is a course of action so stupid that one suspects either terminal stupidity or deliberate suicide by the elite.
    A comment on Yves anti-semitism point. Anti-Semitism has never been a mass political force in France, and in fact has seldom been a mass mobilizing force in politics anywhere in Europe. Simplifying wildly, extreme nationalists have often been anti-semites because Jews were the ultimate cosmopolitans (the same cultural worries that today are projected onto Muslims). Likewise, large parts of the European right-wing establishment were anti-semites in the 1930s, but this was based on fantasies of international judaeo-masonic conspiracies of bankers, dislike of secularism, fear of communism and the desire to preserve an old-fashioned rural France. Both of these tendencies have effectively disappeared now from everyday politics, with the obvious proviso that no political movement ever disappears so completely that some tiny fragment of it can’t be found somewhere.

Comments are closed.