The Economy: It’s Different This Time

The Economy: It’s Different This Time. By Charles Hugh Smith.

Here are a few of the many consequential differences between all previous recessions and the current situation:

1. Households have never been so dependent on debt as a substitute for stagnating wages.

2. Real earnings (adjusted for inflation) have never been so stagnant for the bottom 90% for so long.

3. Corporations have never been so dependent on debt (selling bonds or taking on loans) to fund money-losing operations (see Netflix) or stock buybacks designed to saddle the company with debt service expenses to enrich insiders.

4. The stock market has never been so dependent on … stock buybacks … to push valuations higher.

5. The economy has never been so dependent on absurdly overvalued stock valuations to prop up pension funds and the spending of the top 10% who own 85% of all stocks, i.e. “the wealth effect.”

6. The economy and the stock market have never been so dependent on central bank free money for financiers and corporations, money creation for the few at the expense of the many, what amounts to an embezzlement scheme.

7. Federal statistics have never been so gamed, rigged or distorted to support a neofeudal agenda of claiming a level of wide-spread prosperity that is entirely fictitious. …

9. The economy has never been in such thrall to sociopaths who have mastered the exploitation of the letter of the law while completely overturning the spirit of the law.

10. Households and companies have never been so dependent on “free money” gained from asset appreciation based on speculation, not an actual increase in productivity or value. …

14. The corrupt linkage of political power, media ownership, “national security” agencies and corporate power has never been so widely accepted as “normal” and “unavoidable.”

15. Primary institutions such as higher education, healthcare and national defense have never been so dysfunctional, ineffective, sclerotic, resistant to reform or costly.

16. The economy has never been so dependent on constant central bank manipulation of the stock and housing markets. …

We are coming to the crescendo of a three hundred year experiment in money and banking. It began as European states — needing money to raise armies — relaxed the restrictions of centuries on fractional reserve banking, and created central banks. Allowing some the privilege of creating money out of thin air is pretty much a one-way path, and we are about to enter a new phase.