These roaring ‘20s are a roaring dumpster fire. The rich get richer while the poor get sick and die. The market goes up while life expectance dives. Computers mint money while we all get cooked alive.
The last roaring ’20s ended in a motherfucking pyre. The stock market crashed and spread across the wire. The Weimar Republic croaked and Hitler got in line. What makes you think it’ll be different this time?
We’ve been here before, we’ve been here many times. Do I need to tap the signs? How many times do I need to tap the signs?
1. The Business Cycle
Anybody predicting a crash tomorrow is a fool, but anybody ignoring that the market always crashes is the greatest fool indeed. The process of boom and bust is so regular that it has a name. The Business Cycle. Like laundry, we tend to shove all our shit inside and forget about it.
In their 2016 publication, Kanye West and Chris Brown described the business cycle when they said, “Waves don’t die, baby, Let me crash here for a moment… No lie.” As they illustrated, the shape of capitalism is a wave. Just look:
By any metric, every capitalist economy crashes in and out of recessions. It’s as regular as waves crashing on the beach, and it treats human lives like so many grains of sand.
The wave rise when capitalists bet on money coming in and it crashes when the money doesn’t. This has been happening since colonizers bet on slave ships coming in, and it continues today. That’s all the stock market is. A bunch of bets on future earnings.
Right now the wave is cresting high. Capitalists are betting that Tesla is worth 111X earnings (Toyota is 9.4X). They’re betting that Uber has any value at all (it doesn’t). They’re even betting that URLs linked to GIFs linked to made-up coins are worth millions of dollars.
Everybody’s betting on some greater fool to pick up the shit they bought, and at some point the joke’s on someone. Just one of these shitty bets has to fail to spark a panic, a run, and a complete crash.
Who knows what triggers it, but it always comes. Keynes called these urges ‘animal spirits’. The whip-sawing markets they produce are called bulls and bears. These violent ups and downs are regular, inevitable, and yet we always deny that they exist. It’s like putting your laundry in and being surprised that it spins.
Wall Street is full of metrics like yield curves and PE ratios, but you can read the most telling signs on the regular street.
In America, life expectancy is going down while billionaires’ wealth hasincreased by 70%. Globally, the people living in extreme poverty hasincreased for the first time in 20 years while more millions have been hoarded than ever. 2,750 people now control more wealth than half the world. As a Credit Suisse report says, “Wealth creation appeared to be “completely detached” from the economic woes of the pandemic, the researchers said.”
To return to our roaring ’20s comparison, Thomas Piketty et al write that:
In the US, the return of top wealth inequality has been particularly dramatic, with the top 1% share nearing 35% in 2020, approaching its Gilded Age level.
This level of inequality is a moral abomination, but also an economic one. The workings of the stock market are becoming completely unmoored from the real human economy. People are becoming rich from companies that don’t make money and the future returns that a stock market is betting on will never come in. At some point the contradiction will just snap.
The truth is the contradiction has already snapped, in 2008, but it was papered over with government paper. But now White Empire has blown its load with COVID relief (but not elimination). A huge proportion of US dollars ever produced have been ‘printed’ in the past 12 months.
This would have actually been OK if it had eliminated COVID and invested in America’s crumbling infrastructure, healthcare, schools, etc. But Biden delivered just 8% of promised social spending and 106% of military corruption.
He delivered zero-patent free vaccines and now many more COVID deaths than Trump. He delivered less cash relief than Trump and corrupted the CDC into throwing sick nurses and teachers back to work.
All the money’s gone right back into more inequality, which is the very problem precipitating collapse. He’s just kicking the can down the road, and filling it with explosives and nails.
The made-up money has gone to corrupt elites and bankers so techies are like, fuck it, we’ll make up money too. It’s bubble upon bubble and one pop anywhere will blow it all up.
No society can survive such a bifurcation between Wall Street and Main Street. Eventually the chasm becomes causes an earthquake that shakes everything up.
3. I Saw The Sign
The last sign is this one, people like me, furiously tapping the sign. It’s not just random Sri Lankan bloggers, who you should take with extra salt and chilli. Plenty of writers, historians, and scientists all saying that we’re about to go off social, democratic, and climate cliffs, which are actually all one cliff. We’re just blowing through sign after sign.
In truth, we’re going in a circle right back to the roaring 1920s and we know what comes next. A financial crash. Then Nazis. Then war. This time it’s even worse because the gods themselves are angry. The livable Earth itself is collapsing under the weight of White Empire. We’re going off a road that says FISCAL CLIFF AHEAD and also, CLIMATE LANDSLIDE. And everybody’s fucking coughing. It will not be a pleasant ride.