Tuesday, March 24, 2009
President Barack Obama will address the nation later today, in part, to urge international leaders to join the many and varied efforts by his administration to rescue U.S. and global financial markets from their seemingly inexorable march into an abyss.
In this commentary, Jim Kunstler speculates on what might really be going through his mind.
If central casting called for a poised, straight-talking, and capable-seeming president, it would be hard to come up with someone better than the Barack Obama who walked and talked around the White House grounds with Steve Croft on "60-Minutes" Sunday night. He may perfectly represent the majority who elected him, though, because he also appears to be in full commanding denial of the realities overtaking our American experience.Of all the most cogent criticism that has been heaped on all the bailout efforts to date, they all boil down to pretty much the same thing - we're trying to sustain the unsustainable and nobody really wants to admit it.
Those realities include the fact that we can't possibly return to the easy credit and no money down "consumer" economy no matter how many nominal dollars get shoveled into the fiery furnaces of banks too-big-to-fail.
The public can't process this reality and the president, for all his relaxed charm, is either not ready to articulate it, or can't process it himself.
Not Washington, not Wall Street, and not Main Street.
Most of the country (and nearly all of its policymakers) are still steeped in denial and the thought of having to remake the system from the ground up is just far, far too unfathomable.
More from Jim who now has a new photo up at his blog and apparently doesn't quite know the FOMC from the FMOC (whatever that is).
In retreat from this reality, we've set in motion two forces that are pretty certain to bring us to grief. The first proceeds from the fateful FMOC decision last week at the Federal Reserve Bank to begin buying massive amounts of our own treasury bonds and bills. This is predicated on the idea that the mechanisms of wealth production -- even of illusory wealth, such as the fortunes created by trading securitized unpayable debt -- can keep chugging along, spinning off limitless additional suburban villas, chain stores, car trips, and deep-fried snacks. It would be sententious to explain how this destroys currencies, but wherever "monetizing debt" has been tried before in history, that is the outcome. The result would be ruinous at every level and would lead straight to the second terrible force: social upheaval brought on by the conversion of economic problems into political turbulence.Jim goes on to talk about what is now commonly referred to our current "sucker" stock market rally and how anyone holding U.S. Treasuries might want to consider their exit strategy.
Given all this, it's kind of hard to believe that the savvy, thoughtful Mr. Obama is going along with such a disastrous program as the one his "team" is rolling out. Perhaps his ease and confidence masks a tragically conventional world-view, an incapacity to imagine "change" outside a very narrow range of possibility. I must say I doubt this is the case. I think, he is going along, for the moment, with a consensus of wishes to prop up life as we know it at all costs. This consensus emanates from the top down and the bottom up. The millions of "Joe-the-Plumber(s)" out there don't want to rethink the terms of existence anymore than the lords of Goldman Sachs. I also think that circumstances will force Mr. Obama's hand before long -- specifically that a moment will arrive when he goes on TV and tells the American public that things have changed way beyond the scope of what they even imagined when they pulled the levers last fall and voted for an uncharted future.
As usual, well worth the time to read, though not something that is likely to lift any spirits.