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Speculators – Our Evil Overlords

Written By: - Date published: 9:49 am, June 21st, 2010 - 44 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war - Tags: ,

Many think that Capitalism has been corrupted, socialised. It hasn’t – it’s been purified.

We used to have capitalists that produced things; they weren’t the worker’s friend, but they did actually serve a purpose, setting up factories, providing the machinery for workers to use. But now we have a new class of capitalist that doesn’t do anything but accentuate boom and bust, making money on the way. People like John Key, Michael Fay and Graham Hart. They buy and sell, strip assets and bet against the common good. But they don’t create anything, their wealth is ultimately derived from the work we do.

Currently these speculators are subsidised by the rest of us. In New Zealand, with no capital gains tax, they pay no tax at all on their core business activity – speculating. Productive industry subsidises them with 28% of their profits; the workers with up to 33% of their incomes, and 15% of everything they buy.

What’s so valuable about what they do that means they should be able to avoid tax entirely? They create housing bubbles, a problematic exchange rate and the Credit Crunch. For that they get to be some of the richest in the land and pay nothing in tax towards their health & education, or that of the employees their businesses benefit from.

They aren’t some monolithic class to overthrow however. Less than 2%* of the population are true capitalists – those who live off the work of others. Some of those capitalists are, like Bill Gates, productive capitalists, but more and more are pure speculators. About 85% of us are ‘wage slaves’ – who fund most of our lives through wages, salaries or as ‘independent contractors’. The rest, a diminishing amount as capitalism becomes more pure, work for themselves as farmers or small business owners.

As we live in a democracy, that means we, the workers, get to set the rules. We just need to see that taxing these people and restricting their activities won’t just not harm our society and economy – it will improve it. I’m sure we can do much more to restructure our society to do without this class of speculators, who impoverish the rest of us both monetarily and socially; but at the very least we need a Capital Gains Tax so they pay something towards society, and a Tobin Tax to limit the damage of their dangerous activities.

* In each of the anglo-saxon countries 1% of society owns approximately 1/3 of the wealth. In Britain 169 individuals own 10% of the economy, whilst the poorest 50% own 1%. Elsewhere in anglo-saxon land it’s similar, although Australia with its compulsory super saving has the bottom 50% owning 6%, significantly better than the rest. In non-anglo saxon countries the financial sector of the economy is much smaller, and wealth is distributed much more evenly. (From: Economics For Everyone)


44 comments on “Speculators – Our Evil Overlords ”

  1. dave brown 1

    Very confused analysis because it takes the appearance of capitalism as its reality.
    Capitalism hasnt been purified, it is becoming more an more irrational and anarchic.
    That is because it no longer has the capacity to reinvest all profits in production as the rate of profit is insufficient. Marx called this the contradiction between capitalisms productive capacity and its private ownership that demands that production is profitable. Private ownership of capital is why more and more surplus capital (all of it the surplus value of workers) goes into speculating on existing values. This creates speculative bubbles and busts, but the real crisis is in the inability to generate more profits from prodution. This proves that the historically progressive aspect of capital which is to develop highly productive industries is now well past its useby date. Productive growth (such as in Chinas) is overshadowed by destructive growth of massive arms industries, and the huge betting on future values yet to be produced. The answer is to socialise prodution under the ownership of the vast working majority in society and to produce for need and not profit. This could begin capital gains taxes and the like, but in the end merely redistributing income while the capitalist class retain private ownership of the productive system will not solve the historic impasse of capitalism in its dotage.

    • uke 1.1

      Yeah – with you.

      Production is not a free-floating “good” as opposed to speculation’s “bad”.

      Our current woes are equally to do with the problems of over-production and its assorted moral paradoxes, such as keeping on producing just so people have jobs. A case of means becoming the ends.

  2. vto 2

    But bunji bunji, they perform a necessary role in cleaning out dead wood. They act like the blowflies and maggots feeding on dying carcasses.

    If they see a business that could be better operated as several businesses then they will buy the one and split it into several. The end result is generally a better performing set of businesses. Better performing businesses are a plus for the economy.

    Similarly, in reverse, they may see several smaller businesses that may perform better by combining them.

    They perform a role. A necessary role. Just like blowflies and maggots. Imagine if the natural environment had no flies or maggots… the entire ecosystem would falter and we would hav no beautiful trees and flowers. They may not be picturesque but they are a link in the chain.

    They are exactly the same as folk who scour the garage sales for junk they can do something with and on-sell. Same same.

    I think you are confusing what they do with other associated issues like the GFC and asset bubbles. Suggest you look to those who make the rules for the root of those problems ……………

    • A post with me in it 2.1

      Let’s not pretend that most of these maggots are serving the public good or that their ROI is in the public good in all cases, eh?. Otherwise we will fall in to the trap of thinking that amassing wealth and making us the 5th most unequal nation in the OECD as a ‘good thing’.

      But I definitely agree that the buck stops with the law makers. The maggots do not care for the public good and actually have a great disdain for it if their typical neo-con commentary is analyzed. (i.e. Summed up it would read: “I got mine so screw you.”)

      A capital gains tax is not going to stop this. It has not worked in the other OECD countries that have it…which is most of them. It is not a bad idea to help with the problem, but it is certainly not a solution.

      Tobin tax etc would be fantastic if almost all nations did it together and such a plan has already been ‘okayed’ by the WTO. Of course since most of the OECD governments are bought and sold for the most part by the richest members of that nation (guess who?) I cannot see this ever happening.
      The more wealth they have, the more money they have to buy them out with.

      Think I am being crazy? Just examine how the 3 strikes law (currently being decried by most of the legal profession amongst others) is about to be passed into law and you will see how this process works. Much of that political money did not even come from NZ.
      Or maybe the ridiculous financial regulation bill that Obama is pretending will solve their problems in the US?? Even when the public is screaming for something drastic to happen, they managed to buy their way out of effective legislation – in fact writing much of it themselves. (i.e. ex-goldman employees making up much of Obama’s financial team)

      Face it. We are all but screwed save for some sort of radical shift or a revolution etc. (i.e. almost impossible) Once they amass ridiculous amounts of wealth it is pretty much too late to change things via conventional means.
      Labour/Clark may have WANTED to solve this problem, but spent 9 years trying to avoid falling foul of the right wing PR/money machine. Tell me this was not so?

      It sucks, but it appears to be true from where I am standing.

      Democracy isn’t when it can be bought and sold.

      anti-spam: truth

      • RedLogix 2.1.1

        We are all but screwed save for some sort of radical shift or a revolution etc.

        I’m innately a rather cautious fellow and the last thing I personally want is a massive revolution. History shows them to be very messy things indeed; they are the kind of thing your should be careful about wishing for.

        But rationally I’m afraid you’re right.

        • A post with me in it

          I should have been more specific.
          I certainly am not suggesting that I WANT that to happen. I am just listing the sort of scenarios in which that sort of change could happen. (as far as I can see)

          To suggest that mass revolution is a good idea is a very naive position. The hidden premise is also that things have gotten so bad that it could precipitate in the first place!

          • RedLogix

            How about this sequence stacking up in the USA?

            1. Resentment at corporate offshoring of jobs, a massive betrayal of American working class.

            2. The bail-out of the banks during the GFC crisis has exposed the venal and innately corrupt nature of the system for all to see. Perceived as a betrayal of the American middle class and all it stood for.

            3. I’m predicting that BP will either walk away or be bankrupted to avoid the fallout from Mocando. In the long run it has to in order to protect the interest’s of it’s shareholders. That would be a betrayal of the American nation…and might well be intolerable.

            Public anger at the sociopathic nature of corporate capitalism must be building to a crisis point; the only open question is what will be the trigger point? And that is probably impossible to predict.

            • A post with me in it

              I understand what you are saying but I do not think that there is a popular movement all heading in the same direction on this? There SHOULD be but then if that were possible then those sort of things would never have got to where they are in the first place.
              And it would not even take a mass disruption or anything silly. Just effective legislation.

              Basically the democratic and republican party are two different arms of the ‘business party’. (paraphrasing Chomsky here) There is effectively no credible third group of any sort, let alone political.
              US politics has been turned into a tennis match between these two ineffectual parties. Ineffectual in the sense that the primary goal of a party is to represent the best interests of its members as a whole. So no one there to champion the cause.

              The tea party movement is also floundering around with all sorts of contradictory and unhelpful rhetoric. Started by a republican smear campaign they are now well off the reservation. Bat shit crazy and not even barking up the right tree – just barking mad.

              I am just not seeing it to be honest. And during all this goldman are making more profits than ever and now have shills in the whitehouse advising the only party who was ever likely to fix this problem. (to be honest I never actually thought they would…but they are the CLOSEST)

              The democrats are RANTING at the right people but only because the masses have woken up long enough to realize who is causing them pain. Soon they will fall back to sleep and it will be business as usual. In fact one could say that the current ‘financial reform’ bill is just a sleeping tablet to help the process along for most of them.

              In NZ it comes a lot cheaper: A few stories about how some rich tax evaders got whacked, SFO jumping on the head of some old white haired guy, expenses scandal to undermine a potential spin line from the opposition….
              ….and back to sleep they go. Nice little voters. Nothing to see here, move along folks. Go back to your treadmill. Soon we will be in the running for FIRST place in inequality.

              It is about the time national are buying out the pacific island community via corruption of public spending, maori party with pretty much they same bill they created themselves over and gaining most of the working man’s vote that I am just about ready to stop reading the news altogether to be honest.

              What revolution?? Who is leading this?

              Answer: No one. No where.

              • uke

                “The democrats are RANTING at the right people but only because the masses have woken up long enough to realize who is causing them pain. Soon they will fall back to sleep and it will be business as usual.”

                But exactly how long is “business as usual” going to be available as an option for the masses?

                • A post with me in it

                  Where did all the filthy rich in south africa go when it collapsed there? And that was an extreme example.

                  How about other countries?

                  Please provide a link where people who did anything other than break international/local law (which they aren’t) got their assets socialized or some such in a rich country?
                  When the ship sinks, steerage are the last to leave. And there will be no allowances for woman or children either.

                  • uke

                    That wasn’t really what I was getting at; and I mostly agree with everything else you’re saying.

                    I think, as Draco suggests below, we are surely approaching a point (both economically & environmentally) where people in even the richest countries will be forced into austere life-styles they are unfamiliar with and unprepared to cope with. It is already starting to happen in the US. The good ol’ times will soon be over & there will be a paradigm shift.

                    Which way it goes we can’t predict. But, as for your request, let me give you one link of interest:


                    • A Post With Me In It

                      tou che

                      Although somewhat dated but a link nonetheless. 🙂

            • Draco T Bastard

              The actual point in time may be next to impossible to predict but the conditions that bring about the revolution are fairly obvious. Declining living standards for the majority, a large segment in absolute poverty and a very small minority living it up (Gini Coefficient approaching 1) and most likely in a dictatorial position.

      • vto 2.1.2

        I dont think I said the likes of Hart act in the public interest. Most people dont when they go about their daily toil. It was suggested that they perform a necessary role – subtly different. And it is a necessary, and very old, role. There aint nothing new in what they do.

        And as for speculation, who doesn’t? The student speculates on the use of their degree.. the house buyer speculates on increased demand for their house… the butcher speculates that the public will buy their sausages.. the used card dealer speculates… the politician speculates.

        This post is like a huge trawler net which has opened up and scooped every current issue going and mixed them all together. Which is not helpful.

        The main thrust of bunji bunji, if I may speculate myself, seems to be that the system is a bit poked. (and that he/she hates people who have dissected the system and taken advantage of it to enrich themselves. sounds like envy to me). But I agree the system is a bit poked. Those of you who suggest that the workers share of the economy has shrunk seem to be correct. And are definitely correct that reversing that trend is one of the most beneficial things that could happen to society. Good luck with achieving that – I’ll back you… but just be careful who you stab in the process.

        • Bored

          The real issue is that there have always been issues and problems, which as you say are picked up like a huge trawlers net on this post and thousands of others. My take is that the issue is the songs volume and if the record gets stuck…..then peoples tolerance for their normal human condition which is different to that of a small coterie of priveleged disc jockeys gets very thin…what happens next is Paris 1789.

        • A post with me in it

          You are mistaking what I was saying. I am talking about their role, not their attitude when I talk about their net worth. The amount they cost versus their public good is the ROI I was talking about. This has nothing to do with attitude and just does not stack up.
          Also your point is a straw man because you are listing activities which are NOT the mainstream of the people mentioned in the article.

          You argument on speculation is not valid. Just because you can find analogies in daily life does not mean that they have anything to do with whether they should exist in the financial world.
          The financial system is not a natural system (although you would never know it from the way people talk about it!) and is full of artificial rules and regulations around such activities.
          If it is not in the public good it should get nuked as has been done for many other ‘naturally occuring’ practices/situations such as for monopolies, mergers etc.

          Don’t worry I will not be stabbing anyone in the back. Or even the front. I don’t have enough faith in the human condition to enter politics. 🙂

          • vto

            It seems you and bunji and I are each talking about slightly different things and getting all mixed up.

            But I don’t follow your idea about speculation and the financial world. If you are going to nuke unworthy speculation then where would you draw the line as to what is in the “public good” and what is not?

            Would it be ok for… the butcher to speculate on selling three sausages to Aunty Gladys tomorrow?.. the butcher franchise to speculate on selling a million sausages to folk in another city next year?.. the nationwide meatworks to speculate on selling a billion sausages to a foreign country by buying a rundown meatworks in another country?..

            And what about the car wreckers yard… is it ok for them to speculate on pulling apart the $50 corolla and selling the pieces for $500 to people who need the pieces? What about the investment banker who arranges a deal where Fiat buys Daimler to pull the good bits out and sell the rest to some other carmaker? Is there a difference??

            Your talk of the financial world is the bit that is erroneous because for most of these evil overlords they trade in real world items (Key excepted and, mostly, Fay). Hart is simply a secondhand dealer writ large.

            But if it is the financial system that you are aiming at fine. Speculating on the value of a currency, or the future value of a product… but wait, hang on, that’s what the car-wrecker does. Speculates on the future value of a product. and the butcher. and the candle-stick maker. You may dismiss analogies with the wave of a hand but they are entirely appropriate sometimes for exposing realities. Bringing things ununderstandable down to an understandable level.

            So where do you draw the line as to what is acceptable speculation and what is not? examples?

            • A post with me in it

              Easily answered. Volume, context and on selling in a short term.

              Volume due to the purpose of an organization and/or financial vehicle. Context in the thing being bought and sold for what purpose. The term in terms of purpose of the purchase.

              A car wrecker is buying a product, converting it into another product and on selling that. If at a profit then he pays tax on the difference as a natural consequence of his activities. (which is why your example is silly BTW)

              Capital gains taxes can and should be applied to at least short term investment.

              Profits from currency trading should incur tax as does any other return.


              I would not count buying and tearing down companies as this is not exactly a large problem. Also the laws around selling of goods and transfer of wealth are covered in the investment part….

  3. DeeDub 3

    I get really tired of apologists for the worst kind of human behaviour using analogies with nature to justify it.

    It’s obvious, simplistic, and really dumb IMHO.

    • vto 3.1

      Was that directed at my comment DeeDumb? Did you have something useful to say, I must have missed it…

    • blacksand 3.2

      I think the comparison is useful, coming from a background in ecology rather than economics. What I do have issues with, is people making analogies and suggesting that ‘natural’ makes things desireable – something that VTO isn’t (I think) actually doing.

      I think the flaw isn’t making analogies with ‘nature’, but assuming that nature is ‘good’ – sorta is, just not necessarily from any one viewpoint.

      Case in point, and I’ve been thinking of this one for quite a few months now is parasites. Tapeworms, leeches, whatever, all things that you wouldn’t want anywhere near you but do serve an important function. The important thing to remember though, is that an system where the parasites are doing really well isn’t necessarily a particularly healthy one.

      The other big one is dog eat dog/ survival of the fittest. A situation where dogs are eating dogs doesn’t actually sound like a healthy dog society, much less one that we should aspire to. Likewise, right wing economist notions of survival of the fittest is stuck in a very backwards (and distinctly individualistic) notion of fitness. One of the whole reasons human societys have attained the heights they have is exactly because of the ability to group together and work for mutual benefit. Same kinda goes for wolves really; group selection shows a different kind of fitness than the ‘I’m alright Jack’ sort.

      The kind of evolutionary principles that right wing economists tend to use were past their use-by date long ago. In the same way that Lamarkian principles were palatable to soviet economists and propagandists, modern day practitioners of the same will find reasoning where it fits their idealogy. I don’t think it’s a case of dishonesty, but of seeing new information through the lense of your own pre-existing understanding of the way of things. Post Darwin all sorts of idealogues were finding arguments to support their views, with some very nasty consequences, be it directed at Arabs, Irish, Jews, Slavs, Chinese, Japanese, Aborigines… (the list kinda does go on).

      But back to the thread proper; I do agree with VTO, parasites have a place. Just not doing very well at the expense of their hosts. Ultimately that’s not even good for the parasites, but we’re talking generations for the repercussions – what you really want to do is optimise the effort required to keep the parasites in check vs the cost of the remaining parasites.

      I remember coming across some interesting discussions regarding Cheney et al years back – Doves vs Hawks theory, but it’s late, and the last thing I need at the mo’ is spending the wee hours with Google and it’s fascinating offspring…

  4. RedLogix 4

    Back in the sixties Hyman Minsky challenged the orthodox thinking:

    Minsky’s model of the credit system, which he dubbed the “financial instability hypothesis” (FIH),[5] incorporated many ideas already circulated by John Stuart Mill, Alfred Marshall, Knut Wicksell and Irving Fisher.[6] “A fundamental characteristic of our economy,” Minsky wrote in 1974, “is that the financial system swings between robustness and fragility and these swings are an integral part of the process that generates business cycles.”[7]

    Disagreeing with many mainstream economists of the day, he argued that these swings, and the booms and busts that can accompany them, are inevitable in a so-called free market economy unless government steps in to control them, through regulation, central bank action and other tools. Such mechanisms did in fact come into existence in response to crises such as the Panic of 1907 and the Great Depression. Minsky opposed the deregulation that characterized the 1980s.

    At the begining of the business cycle everyone is risk averse, so money is only invested in ‘sure bets’, ie solid cash flow positive investments from which the profit will pay off both the principle and interest in a predictable time frame. But in essence what happens is that Marx was right, the capitalists retain too much of the profit from productive enterprise. (Note NZ’s Wages Share of GDP is now a miserable 44% and falling.)

    Therefore they accumulate too much money, far more than they can find safe productive investments for; so they begin to put the money into speculative investments. This class of investment depends not on positive cash flow, but on the anticipation that the asset value will increase. Obviously this form of speculation cannot go on forever, but it can persist for quite some decades funded by increasing amounts of credit creation from the banks.

    But even this speculative phase is overtaken by a final, more fatally unstable one. Eventually there is so much credit floating around in the system that entire market sectors are created that are really nothing more than a form of ponzi scheme. These markets are not connected to any real asset, or even the inflation of asset values…they are simply dependent on staying afloat on a tide of more new money entering the market than is being paid out. They are of course innately bankrupt from the outset, but that doesn’t stop the credit printing process from pumping up massive bubbles ripe for the popping.

    I’m not a great fan of CGT’s. They are complex and expensive to administer, and not especially effective. Lots of countries already have them and they all too have experienced the same cycle of instability.

    Tobin Taxes or FTT’s are however a very good idea, but unless such a regime was implemented in a coordinated global fashion there would be obvious difficulties. We would already have one on place, except that the US refuses to even discuss them.

    Most importantly the entire financial system must be properly regulated, so that credit creation remains strictly related to the actual needs of the real productive economy, and is not allowed to balloon out of control feeding the unstable and damaging speculative and ponzi phases of the business cycle.

    PS. Another interesting reference to Minsky.

  5. john 5

    The above link is about this very subject.An interview with Michael Hudson. If link doesn’t work go to http://www.informationclearinghouse.info for the interview.With the neo-liberal disaster capitalism, disaster for ordinary working people who haven’t got spare cash to speculate for capital gain in the housing market and other areas or enough to get wads of unearned cash from interest payments, You get far more money by speculating than you do from creating jobs,employment and new industries; That’s why it has collapsed overseas like a house of cards it’s built on nothing other than greed. Example??? You ask:The US has offshored much of its manufacturing,other than bombs and bullets,increasing the profits to shareholders hugely by means of very very low wage rates in those countries. But not good for the ordinary American Worker 40,000,000 of whom are on food stamps now. But fear not Wall Street which was bailed out for its bad bets that went wrong are still paying 10s of millions in bonuses to their speculator staff while millions of Americans lose their homes.Social provision is being trashed with massive tax cuts to the rich and reckless spending.American government is bought and sold by the corporations.
    Here in New Zealand due to the untaxed capital gain in the property market ,huge amounts of houses have been bought up by baby boomers to cash in for capital gain,not taxed, at the right time .They don’t care about young Kiwis starting out in life who can’t afford to buy a house :these houses have been grossly inflated by yes immigration but also the selfish monopolising of them as money makers by people who borrow money and then get ordinary Kiwi wage slaves to pay off the mortgage for them,many of whom will be young families priced out of buying. Is that right!?
    Of course key’s regime is borrowing a billion bucks on which the public purse will have to pay interest on top to foreign banks to fund a tax cut to the rich who are already raking it in with untaxed capital gain from the housing market,plus ordinary Kiwi will find less social provision due to money having to be paid to foreign banks. The rich will just speculate more and have more foreign holidays!

    The young kiwi particularly has it hard due to having to pay on top student loans and then the toll charge on housing for all the freeloaders raking in the capital gain to even get into the housing market. This regime is doing its utmost to destroy the public sector through privatization and irresponsible borrowing to the point they cry we’re broke we can’t afford your social entitlements.Why? because we’ve blown it on tax cuts to the rich and thrown away income by selling the cow we once owned but we still need to pay a foreigner for the milk which was gratis beforehand ’cause that’s the ideology folks.

    • john 5.1

      It’s useless mate! Stop beating your head against a brick wall you fool. Kiwis an endangered species, who can’t politically grow up will always suck Key’s sh.t! Bye mate over and out.

    • john 5.2

      Michael Hudson successfully exposes the dead end of Rogernomics,neo-liberalism and the New Right.All along in reality the mixed economy is best.


      [too long]

      The url address of this article is: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11381

      [lprent: One more of these copy-paste jobs and I’ll dump you on a permanent ban. The idea is to express your opinions in your own words with judicious linking and quoting. ]

  6. tomfarmer 6

    Interesting about the title of this blog is how you prefer “Overlords” to Czars..

    R/L : I’d put it to you that financials can hardly lead BAU and its cycles when they have in fact their own bike.. and no, this bike is not entirely – whilst deliberately so – obvious.

  7. Croc 7

    Can anyone explain to me inflation? I understand stand how it works, but what don’t understand is why? Inflation is a rise in the general price of goods and services which is the same as an erosion in the purchasing power of money.

    In 1967, the year NZ currency was decimalised, a $30 crate of beer would have only cost $1.92. Assuming the same rate of inflation over the next 43 years, in 2053 that same crate of beer will cost about $440.

    Doesn’t this whole system just seem incredibly….dumb?

    Figures are from the NZ inflation calculator: http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/statistics/0135595.html

    • Bored 7.1

      The really interesting thing here Croc is the implication for those who have surplus cash. If inflation continues they can buy the beer for todays fair price and hold onto it to make a massive amount.

      “Investors” leverage this activity by buying a rentable asset for a 10% deposit, meaning that the capital amount they pay will stay constant at the purchase price, whilst the sale value increases due to inflation. What also increases is the amount of rent they take with which to pay interest on a relatively diminishing amount. The experience to date has been that they can make a multiple return on a limited investment.

      You will get some apologists who will state they have taken a risk as you might get deflation or a market collapse. True, but if you have only put down 10% and used the correct risk mitigating vehicles like limited liability companies and trusts then you are risking bugger all on your investment spread.

      There are a lot of ways to leverage capital to give multiple returns, and it is largely the inability of those with little surplus income to do this that results in the acumulation of wealth for a limited class of wealthy people who can do this.

      • Bored 7.1.1

        Post script to the above.

        Inflation in Europe was from Medieval times up until the Industrial Revolution and the first great age of capital very low, as demonstrated by prices recorded against items such as ducks and sheep which varied less than a few percent over decades. What enabled inflation to take off was a number of factors related to technological change that enhanced the ability to scale production and consumption massively. The financial system took advantage of the growth model to allow itself to fall into the habit of financing todays growth with future debt. Underpinning the whole thing was cheap fossil energy and abundant natural resources.

        Take away the energy and resource availability and low prices and voila….deflation? Hyper inflation to get rid of debt? I’m open to suggestions, what I do know is that the current paradigm has reached that point in its life cycle where it is unsustainable and will change.

        • RedLogix

          Steven Keen has consistently pointed to deflation as the dominant force in that equation. His argument goes that no govt could conventionally print enough liquidity (with debt attached) to outstrip the monstrous amount of excess credit that needed to be unwound.

          However even he expressed surprise at the roughly $20T of ‘quantitative easing’ that has occured during 2009 alone (almost 30% of global GDP). In his opinion that was enough to delay deflation, but unless they keep on printing money (as the Chartalist’s have long suggested) then inevitably deflation will win.

          • Bored

            Love that term ñ€˜quantitative easing’….the priesthood of money dont want us to know what things realy mean.

          • uke

            So ‘quantitative easing’ is really just Inflation with a friendly face?

            John Ralston Saul made the argument that all leveraged lending and borrowing, from the Medicis in the middle ages onwards, is inflation-producing. It always dilutes the real value of the currency.

    • Quoth the Raven 7.2

      Here is a video explaining the business cycle with regards to the state’s monetary inflation.

      Interestingly enough the first trough in the business cycle occurred after the end of the Napoleonic wars. During the war England suspended the pounds convertibility to gold and inflated the money supply. At the end of the war the currency having been devalued parity was reestablished and then, as one who is not inculcated in Keynesian thinking would expect, depression.

  8. Adrian 8

    I would have thought that a speculator is one who makes money by holding assets that have a rarity value and that the temporary removal of them from the market raises their price and in the hope and expectation of profit pockets the difference without physicly adding any value. A butcher making sausages takes mince and casing adds labour and asks a fair price, a speculator would buy or just agree to buy all the mince or meat and charge the butcher a higher price thus deserving the epithet of arsehole. In the case of land the arsehole holds the land thus creating a shortage ( which is happening now in NZ ) but he’s a developer if he adds roading, sewage lighting etc.

    • vto 8.1

      Well perhaps our arguments each fall apart over what constitutes speculation. In my book people speculate over whether they can sell their goods or services. Be it sausages or large companies. Or even US dollars for example. People take a chance that their thing will be bought by others at a certain price at a certain point in time.

      The manufacture of those goods or services is a different matter, though usually interwoven i.e. the manufacturer and the speculator are rolled into one though the roles are separate. Can confuse the issue. As happened here imo, and with ‘a post with me in it’ above.

      And just a little further tangentially… it is this confusing of interweaving issues imo that lets the left down at times in their policy making ideas etc. Throwing the baby out with the bath water, which I very much put this original post of bunji bunji’s in.

      • A post with me in it 8.1.1

        I think so. Financial speculation is the only problem we have and it is definitely in a class of its own and can be easily identified. I would not have considered the others to be part of the discussion at all hence the confusion.

  9. tomfarmer 9

    apparently I cannot reply directly to R/L.. so here goes in open thread..

    cryptic..me? c’mon R/L..!

    Is it not clear that tis financials being cryptic.. and why not.. why shouldn’t they be..? they have, after all is said and done, taken the pot o’ gold for themselves..

    democracy gave them access.. Tis not ten years in NZ that the popular worship of “Big Money” came to rule all debate… little wonder “small people” found expression by those able and willing to rule by way impersonal price..

    Yea, am I not correct.. the growth executives and their corporate captures in politics relate most is money growth.. to hell with product and commodity and other jobmaking enterprise.. givem a ‘line through Treasury’, a faster buck and more… more… more..

    Such a bore. Though no less a fact..

    Small wonder then that financials seek hidden agenda, cronies and expression, Can’t have voters at large sussing them out.

    For you, your cause, and search of applause I’d say, in short: know your enemy. Better than you know yourself.

    Else a disservice shall result to the good folks you would attempt assisting.

  10. Speculation is over price, not value. Value already exists in the commodity due to the labour time required to produce it (given average conditions etc etc). Speculation is in already existing values, so that increased demand or supply only affects price that fluctuates around the value. That’s why the neo-classical concept of the market is fatally flawed, it takes secondary movements in prices as determinant of values, arse before face.
    The problem with capitalism is that it has outlived its useby date. Humanity needs a new society in which the majority controls production and allocates its according to needs arrived at by democratic decision. Past examples of ‘socialism’ are no good as models since they inevitably fell into bureaucratic stagnation without workers democratic control.
    The real challenge is to conceive of revolution in today’s conditions and rise to the challenge of how to make a democratic transition to socialism (or some other name) without recycling yesterdays debates and habits.
    viva la revolucion!

  11. Pete 11

    Why do you think that a government can quantify future need better than the market can? The market being a complex set of ever-changing signals, made by people.

    A property developer does provide a needed service. They provide somewhere for someone to live. If the property developer didn’t do it, supposedly the government would do so.

    But why would the government be any better at predicting where people want to live, and in what fashion? Or would everyone be forced to live in much the same way? Who would get the sea views?

    How would a government bureaucracy be any better at managing such projects? There is an intrinsic cost in a building a house – labour, materials and land. None of those inputs will be cheaper anytime soon, especially land, because of land use regulation artificially limiting supply.

    Texas didn’t experience a boom in housing prices, even though cheap credit was available, just like everywhere else in the world. Why? Lower levels of land use regulation. Supply kept pace with demand.

    • RedLogix 11.1

      You’re quite right Pete that the market is perfectly good at delivering results, but you have to define what result you want the market to deliver. When unmoderated, unregulated it tends to deliver unintended results.

      The majority of us here at The Standard more or less conceive of a mixed market, part State owned, part private, and largely regulated according to a liberal, democratically accountable process…to achieve the kind of social and environmental outcomes that simple considerations of human dignity, equality, compassion and respect would suggest.

    • dave brown 11.2

      Socialist ‘governments’ do not function as capitalist governments do. Capitalist ‘governments’ defend capitalism and limit policies to protecting capitalist rights such as private property.
      Socialist ‘governments’ would be representative of democratic decisions taken by the people about what needs should be met by planned production based on social ownership.
      The market is no good at meeting needs as it presupposes Say’s Law that demand would match supply (becuase of price movements). But underlying the market are the property relations, who owns capital produces only to realise a profit. Prices cannot fall to allow consumption if no profits are made. Consumption requires incomes. What do you think causes the huge income disparities in the world today?
      If capital decides not to produce then there is no production and no income to buy commodities. That is why Keynes amended Say’s Law to say that demand could meet supply only if state intervention substituted for the capitalists failure to invest and allowed consumption to encourage production.
      Keynes mixed economy however cannot solve the inherent mismatch of production and consumption under capitalism because it requires a forced transfer of taxes from profits which is resisted by capital and its state when its profits come under pressure.
      So to solve the problem of the anarchy of capitalist production it is necessary to replace the law of value and the market with the socialisation of the means of production and planned production for need and not profit.

  12. john 12

    A good article on the failed free market system and obviously our Governments have been captured by this self serving simplistic eco-social model which is so destructive of social solidarity.




    [lprent: don’t just copy-paste, quote with some of your own words in there. ]

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