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Opinion: Stagnate Production And Inflation Will Get Us

Paper Money
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EDITOR NOTE: The following article is a sober yet entertaining account of everything that’s wrong with American Capitalism. In a nutshell, it’s a version of capitalism that no longer recognizes itself, for the basic tenets of supply and demand, production, and competition have been traded in for money printing, financial engineering, and other maneuvers that present the facade of economic growth. Hence, the idea of capitalism today is somewhat a sham. Competition and production are no longer the factors defining real growth, and wealth inequality is a function not of competitive market forces but of central bank policies (read: most Americans’ wealth status have been written not in stone but in “paper”...and lots of it). 

This is why inflation will rip everyone's faces off: production will continue to stagnate no matter how many trillions the Federal Reserve prints and throws around.

This is how market capitalism is supposed to work: consumers decide (for whatever reason) to buy more toilet paper. This increase in demand strips the shelves of TP and pushes the price up as demand exceeds supply.

In response, capital flows to enterprises that ramp up production of TP to meet this new demand / scarcity of supply. Price returns to equilibrium.

Yea for our wunnerful market capitalism ... but oops, this isn't what actually happens in our economy. What actually happens is less of a happy story. As correspondent A.P. explained in Our Wile E. Coyote Economy: Nothing But Financial Engineering (June 12, 2020), the real money in the American economy isn't made by increasing production of goods and services or making better quality products; it's made with debt that funds financial trickery like stock buy-backs.

The "business" is just the facade used to justify the corporate bonds, loans, stock buy-backs, etc. Corporate America has perfected this game, and so have Wall Street and SillyCon Valley, which produces one money-losing unicorn after another that IPOs for tens of billions of dollars, all based on the pixie dust of future profits and valuations.

Production is for losers. Financial engineering is for winners. Simply put, capital has no interest in gambling on building factories and training employees. Not only is that risky, it's a low margin endeavor, which makes it of zero interest to capital.

How many billionaires have been minted in America in the past 20 years for building anything? Billionaires become billionaires by either hijacking the human mind's receptors for attention and addiction or by selling corporate bonds and leveraging the debt to skim billions of dollars.

Not only is capital not available to boost production, neither is the expertise or labor. A great many of the people with the hands-on experience needed to build stuff and manage complex production processes have retired or will soon retire, and there isn't a second team ready to take the field.

If production is absolutely necessary, then Corporate America will have it done on the cheap overseas. Sure, the quality is terrible but the American consumer will buy without question; that's why corporations went to all the trouble of establishing a heavily moated monopoly or cartel: the consumers have either no choice or a false choice between members of a cartel offering the same lousy quality and high prices.

But Corporate America's go-to solution to everything--globalization--is running out of rope, and the cliff beckons.

Corporate America's tired trick of offering a couple bucks more per hour for the opportunity to double your workload no longer works because the issue isn't the couple bucks per hour; it's that the workforce no longer has the requisite skills because our educational system and Corporate America have failed.

The Federal Reserve can conjure up trillions of dollars out of thin air to further enrich the nation's parasitic scum, but they can't print experienced, motivated workers or people with entrepreneurial skills.

Corporate America gave up training its workforce a long time ago, and SillyCon Valley has perfected the art of poaching employees from competitors rather than invest in training.

As for the underpaid workforce who's supposed to do the real work -- as I've noted here many times, the pandemic has given many workers an opportunity to reassess their options, and some consequential percentage (including many small business owners) have concluded that the wisest course of action is to follow Johnny Paycheck's suggestion to Take This Job and Shove It .

The top 5%--speculators, technocrats, managers and the chattering classes-- haven't grasped that America is now a variation on the old Soviet joke: The Soviet joke was we pretend to work and you pretend to pay us. In America, the joke is: we work like crazy to make you rich and you pretend to pay us.

This is why inflation will rip everyone's faces off: production will continue to stagnate no matter how many trillions the Federal Reserve prints and throws around. With capital addicted to financial engineering and the purchasing power of labor's wages in permanent decline, we're about to reap the consequences of hollowing out our real economy to benefit the most parasitic and socially useless sociopaths at the top.

Originally posted on Of Two Minds

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