A feature of this age is words and phrases have fluid definitions, rather than the old, fixed definitions from our dark history. Vaccine used to mean a preparation to simulate the immune system in order to prevent infection. Now it means the sponsor of the regime friendly cable chat shows. Recession used to mean two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth, but now it means a thing that never happens. After all, who can really say what words really mean anyway?
It looks like we may be getting a new definition for bear market, which used to mean a prolonged decline in equities. The rule of thumb is that a long decline that reached 20% off the previous high is a bear market. Yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached that point when it dipped below 29,300. It is now off 20.4% from the high in January 2022 when stocks rallied after the end of Covid. The index is now below the level it was at when Biden took office.
The main reason the market is in decline is the global economy is a mess and Western finances are even worse. The wild spending during Covid was always going to come with a hefty cost, but the assumption was that the economy would just turn back on and everything would be fine. Western government could then stretch the cost of Covid policies over a long period of time. Instead, we have inflation, war and a global energy crisis that is demanding government action.
The post Cold War economic model, the New World Order, is based on the assumption that conflict between major states was a thing of the past. America was the last remaining superpower, who would police relations between the major powers of the world and prevent minor powers from getting out of line. Disputes would be sorted through the various international organizations. The business of the world was no longer ideology. It was business.
That turned out to be a grand bit of self-deception. The ideological fervor of the West, particularly the Global American Empire, was the main driver of Covid policy and is now the main source of economic chaos in the world. Western rulers saw the pandemic as a chance to launch their Build Back Better schemes. This not only led to massive shutdowns of the economy, but the scrambling of global supply chains. It turns out that the magical replacements did not just appear as assumed.
Then we have the war on Russia and to a lesser extent China. This is a two phase war, with one phase public and one phase private. The public phase is the vast array of sanctions levied against Russia and any country aiding Russia. The private phase is the currency war being waged by Washington. The booming dollar is supposed to curb domestic inflation and protect the petrodollar. There are also acts of economic sabotage like the recent attack on European gas lines.
The question that is never asked, but may turn out to be the most important, is why has it taken so long for economic data to turn sour? Shuttering wide swaths of the economy to fight the flu should have triggered a massive recession. Expanding the money supply through massive credit creation should have resulted in massive price hikes and many asset bubbles. The policies of the last three years should have brought disaster, but here we are with only the threat of disaster.
One thing the last three years has revealed is that the people who think they are indispensable to the running of society are not that important. The managerial elite made one terrible decision after another but the system carried on, because the people who actually work found a way. Businesses figured out a way to keep the lights on, despite the best efforts of government. Their people figured out how to get their work down, even with the lockdowns.
One possible source of the paranoid terror we see in the ruling class is the unspoken understanding that they are unessential. Their pompous self-regard is a mask concealing a deep fear that the Dirt People might figure out that the Cloud People are just an expensive ornament. Joe Biden is a dementia riddled vegetable, which makes clear that the job of president is ceremonial. Next in line is a former prostitute with the IQ of a goldfish. These are not serious jobs.
Another possible reason the economic data is defying economic theory is that the numbers are not what they claim. An iron rule of life is that anything with value will be faked or stolen. Economic data has value to the ruling class, as it is seen as a tool of control, so faking the numbers is possible. For example, many people think the Biden people have been giving us fake gasoline demand data. This would be an effort to jawbone down gas prices.
This is an old game that was popular in the Obama years. Every month the Feds would release rosy economic data, only to revise down the numbers at some point in the future when no one was paying attention. How much of this is going on today is hard to know, but we can use inflation as a guide. Anyone who has been to the grocery store knows that inflation is much bigger than the official government stats. We can probably assume similar manipulation everywhere.
Even so, you can only fake this stuff for so long. Providing fake data and false narratives is like check kiting. It works initially, but eventually the gap between reality and the false narratives gets too broad to maintain. This is what we see with immigration in Europe, where the it has toppled two government recently. Those romantic stories about how immigration enriches society do not hold up when the subway station is a warzone controlled by African gangs.
The other question, now that reality seems to be catching up with Western governments, is how bad will things get economically? The Europeans are just at the start of the long dark winter promised by Joe Biden. The British pound is in crisis and members of the ruling party are revolting against the new PM. The Euro is not doing much better, having fallen to ninety-six cents on the dollar. Of course, the dollar is soaring as people flee to the reserve currency for protection.
The soaring dollar creates a dilemma for the Federal Reserve. If they continue to withdraw dollars to fight inflation, they risk a currency crisis. If they back off the tightening, they risk a fresh explosion of inflation. Because of the dollar’s relationship to energy markets, it would also trigger rising energy prices. Then there is the politics, which is already turning up. Bad political environments tend to result in bad economic decisions, which make for more bad politics.
That is the final question at this stage. Can the managerial elite of the Global American Empire talk their way out of this? A central belief of the ruling class is that if they can create a plausible narrative and talk about it enough, it becomes reality. Can they convince the world that this is all just transitory and what lies ahead is the promised utopia they have been plotting for decades? They talked their way out of responsibility for the Covid vaccines, so anything is possible.
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