Hammer Time

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Hammer Time by James Howard Kunstler

Looks like somebody threw a dead cat onto Wall Street’s luge run overnight to temporarily halt the rather ugly 2000 point slide in the Dow Jones Industrial Average — and plenty of freefall in other indices, including markets in other countries. A Friday pause in the financial carnage will give the hedge funders a chance to plant “for sale” signs along their Hamptons driveways, but who might the buyers be? Hedge funders from another planet, perhaps? You can hope. And while you’re at it, how do you spell liquidity problem?

Welcome to the convergence zone of the long emergency, where Murphy’s law meets the law of unintended consequences and the law of diminishing returns, the Three Amigos of collapse. Here’s where being “woke” finally starts to mean something. Namely, that there are more important things in the world than sexual hysteria. Like, for instance, your falling standard of living (and that of everyone else around you).

The meet-up between Kanye West and President D.J. Trump was an even richer metaphor for the situation: two self-styled “geniuses” preening for the cameras in the Oval Office, like kids in a sandbox, without a single intelligible idea emerging from the play-date, and embarrassed grownups all standing ‘round pretending it was a Great Moment in History. You had to wonder how much of Kanye’s bazillion dollar fortune was stashed in the burning house of FAANG stocks. Maybe that flipped his bipolar toggle. Or was he even paying attention to the market action through all the mugging and hugging? (He did have his phone in hand.) Meanwhile, Mr. Trump seemed to be squirming through the episode behind his mighty Resolute desk as if he had “woke” to the realization that ownership of a bursting epic global financial bubble was not exactly “winning.”

If I were President, I’d declare Oct 12 Greater Fool Day. (Nobody likes Christopher Columbus anymore, that genocidal monster of dead white male privilege.) The futures are zooming as I write, a last roundup for suckers at the OD corral, begging the question: who will show up on Monday. Nobody, I predict. And then what?

The great false front of the financial markets resumes falling over into the November election. The rubble from all that buries whatever is left of the automobile business and the housing market. The smoldering aftermath will be described as the start of a long-overdue recession — but it will actually be something a lot worse, with no end in sight.

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James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler says he wrote The Geography of Nowhere, “Because I believe a lot of people share my feelings about the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work.” Home From Nowhere was a continuation of that discussion with an emphasis on the remedies. A portion of it appeared as the cover story in the September 1996 Atlantic Monthly. His next book in the series, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, published by Simon & Schuster / Free Press, is a look a wide-ranging look at cities here and abroad, an inquiry into what makes them great (or miserable), and in particular what America is going to do with it’s mutilated cities.