Which Side Are You On?

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Which Side Are You On? by James Howard Kunstler

You had to love the narrative that the financial media put over about the 1000-plus point zoom in the DJIA on Wednesday: that pension funds were “rebalancing” their portfolios. It dredged up the image of a drowning man at the bottom of the deep blue sea with an anchor in one hand and an anvil in the other, switching hands.

Thursday’s last minute 900-point turnaround was another marvelous stunt to behold. Somebody gave the drowned man a pair of swim fins to kick himself furiously to the surface for a gulp of air. The truth, of course, is that pension funds are sunk, however you balance their investment loads while they’re underwater. They over-bought stocks out of sheer desperation during ten years of near-ZIRP bond yields, and started rotating back into bonds as they crept above the ZIRP handle, and now with bond yields retreating, they’re loading up again on still-overpriced stocks that pretend to be “bargains.” Everybody knows that this will not end well for pension funds. Glug Glug.

The financial press and their red-headed step-siblings in the regular news media seem to think that getting rid of Mr. Trump will power the perpetual bull market into an Elon Musk nirvana of Martian vacations, hyperloops, and another chapter of US world domination — with Wonder Woman running the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spearheading an army of eunuchs. The New York Timesmade yet another pitch for impeachment today (Friday) in an editorial by the revered swamp fossil Elizabeth Drew, 83, who laid out everything but a credible case against the Golden Golem of Greatness. The newspaper makes itself more ridiculous each day in its furious gyno-narcissistic hysteria.

What The Times and its media compadres fail to notice is that the nation has entered an irreversible transition out of our familiar techno-industrial arrangements into the uncharted territory of deferred fantasies and real hard times. Financialization of the economy was the last ploy to keep this boat floating. It allowed political and business leaders to pretend that asset-stripping the interior of the country — so that coastal moralizers could enjoy micro-green lunches and sex-change surgery — would promote the general welfare. The banking traumas of 2008 should have put an end to that gambit, but the players rotating between the DC Swamp and Wall Street only tripled down on that action — basically borrowing more and more from the future in the form of bonded debt that cannot possibly be repaid.

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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.