We’re forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air,
They fly so high,
Nearly reach the sky,
Then like our dreams,
They fade and die.
Fortune's always hiding,
We've looked everywhere,
We're forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air.
-Pluralized chorus of 1918 American popular song, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”
We are five years away from the centennial of this most appropriate song which does celebrate – or at least remind us – what our current economic times are all about. And, although not trying to appear as Nostradamus, half a decade seems to me as possibly the right length of time for all presently existing, or fast building-up, economic bubbles, in single file or spectacularly all at once – in domino-fashion, to burst and trigger a great American economic meltdown. This time around, its magnitude will not identify the crisis as “a next” but as “a final” financial crisis.
A final financial crisis which is sure to precede a socio-political upheaval, a revolution of sorts, that will forever change these United States and how Americans view themselves, bringing any notion of hegemonic pretense and economic-military imperialism to a past tense in the history books.
There has been a well programmed indifference by the Obama administration not to demand from Congress any real structural changes in our financial system after the 2008 debacle; only some cosmetic play with smoke and mirrors to placate the ire of Main Street against Wall Street; and an even greater disdain in holding the reins of government guarantees to an unmanageable growth of worthless programs sure to result in an accelerated escalation of the nation’s national debt to the point where the only way out might be to convert the 80 percent lower socio-economic strata of the population to soylent green, accomplishing two tasks at once: (1) getting rid of that least or non-productive part of the population, and (2) converting the bodies and souls of these lower classes into another tradable commodity, just as pork bellies or winter wheat. We may just wish to call this commodity, “disposable-underclass.”
In our consummate ignorance we accept brainwashing by the two-party self-serving leadership without resistance or challenge. Myths such as “some banks are just too big to fail,” or the nonsensical idea that “America needs an imperial military,” or that “our exceptionalism will bail us out of any crisis at the end,” are sculpted in the American psyche and bring our irrationality to a peak. And if that has become our uniform state of mind, how are Americans to lucidly see the bubbles which build up around them? Are we so out-of-touch with reality that we fail to see...
A bond-bubble certain to burst in the short term, shaking Wall Street once again…?
A municipalities-bubble of gigantic proportions which will affect most, perhaps all, urban as well as rural communities, as they face untenable financial burden created by irresponsible decisions of past short-term-minded politicians?
An educational-bubble brought about by a system of irresponsible federal guarantees where little meaningful or productive education (or training) is created at prohibitive costs that enrich only a few educational-entrepreneurs and pseudo-educators? The upsurge of “universities,” mostly in online education, and “career-colleges” has reached obscene proportions in both their number and lack of control by the government. For-profit as well as non-profit schools (where founders benefit via undeserved ongoing lucrative compensation) have sprouted all over the American economic landscape. A truly laughable matter when diplomas/certificates, including highfaluting masters and doctoral degrees, from most of these carny institutions are only worth the paper in which they are written. But, unfortunately, such worthless paper will eventually have to be dearly paid by the American taxpayer, as guarantor, to the tune of a trillion dollars or more. A bubble which will soon be bursting at the economy’s door!
And, of course, we mustn’t forget that mirage-bubble which in some form is always part of Wall Street and its continuing replay of Holland’s 17th century Tulipomania, what some of us might consider a business-morality play. This mirage bubble actually is a hybrid mix of multiple bubbles roaming in many sectors of Wall Street, two significant ones coming to mind: the “carbon bubble” and the yet-to-be acknowledged “social-media- stocks bubble.”
Just a few days ago Al Gore called to our attention, in a rational and business-savvy way, how Wall Street’s valuation of the $7 trillion in assets of the oil-gas companies might be overstated by $2 trillion or more, if one considers the reality of the world we wish to live in and the changes that are likely to occur in a sane society. As much as Mr. Gore continues to be mocked by business illiterati, rationality simply sides with him.
As for the social media stocks’ bubble, that’s another no-brainer requiring minimal analysis. The parts (those glittering stocks such as Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and a few dozen more) have a combined valuation by Wall Street which defies its present single source of their revenue: advertising. The fog may continue to blur the vision of investment analysts, but sooner or later the inevitable will come to pass, for the whole is far smaller than the sum of the parts. It is an udder (total advertising revenue) that cannot provide the incredible amount of revenue these firms need to suck in order to prove their worth to investors. Dot-com redux!
We might be forever blowing bubbles but, somehow, reason and fairness must be allowed to win the joust over greed, or it will be economic curtains for all of us.
© 2013 Ben Tanosborn
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