Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Great Depression Probably Wasn't All That Great, Actually

Merryn Somerset Webb, editor of MoneyWeek, has this to say in today's Observer Magazine about everyone in Britain - yes, that's everyone, in the entire country - who was born after 1968:

'People under 40 are not used to losing jobs or being made redundant. We are not used to property prices falling or not having what we want. As adults we haven't suffered hardship.'

Anyone care to disagree?

And let's not even get started on how asinine the rest of the feature is. Fretting about your haircut is not the same thing as having panic disorder, or OCD, or PTSD, or clinical depression. And if worrying about her split ends is the worst kind of anxiety that Harriet Green can imagine, I'm not entirely sure what qualifies her to write a cover feature about a) anxiety disorders and b) economic hardship.

On which note, forgive me if I'm wrong about this, but when 'the mother of all recessions' does eventually strike, I don't think it's middle-class Londoners and people who are used to checking into the Priory when they get a bit overwhelmed that are going to be the hardest hit by it, do you?

So just maybe the Guardian and the Observer could ease up a bit on this whole 'ooh blimey recession is coming, we're all going to have to shop at Asda instead of Waitrose, it'll be just like the Great Depression, what larks' tossery, and give a tiny bit of consideration to who might actually be suffering from real economic hardship, and what that suffering might be like, and what we might be able to do about it.

I thought that was what being a liberal was all about. No?


LC said...

Don't throw away that unused fois-gras! Spread it onto small squares of left over ciabatta to make delightful canapes for your next dinner party. Mmmm... credit crunchy...

chuffy! said...

Do you buy 'The Observer' specifically to get annoyed at it? On past form, you should at least give up on the sections with staples in them...

oyebilly said...

"People under 40 are not used to losing jobs or being made redundant."

Nearly, did but left.

"We are not used to property prices"

Don't own a property.


It doesn't matter unless you want to sell it or get screwed on the interest rates which are still low as at the time of writing.

"or not having what we want."

What kind of entitled twaddle is that?

"As adults we haven't suffered hardship."

That much is obvious.

I don't want to read the whole article. Thank you for summarising it.

And, I love your "asda what larks" comment.

Anonymous said...

Don’t believe one optimistic word from any public figure about the economy or humanity in general. They are all part of the problem. Its like a game of Monopoly. In America, the richest 1% now hold 1/2 OF ALL UNITED STATES WEALTH. Unlike ‘lesser’ estimates, this includes all stocks, bonds, cash, and material assets held by America’s richest 1%. Even that filthy pig Oprah acknowledged that it was at about 50% in 2006. Naturally, she put her own ‘humanitarian’ spin on it. Calling attention to her own ‘good will’. WHAT A DISGUSTING HYPOCRITE SLOB. THE RICHEST 1% HAVE LITERALLY MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. Don’t fall for any of their ‘humanitarian’ CRAP. ITS A SHAM. THESE PEOPLE ARE CAUSING THE SAME PROBLEMS THEY PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT. Ask any professor of economics. Money does not grow on trees. The government can’t just print up more on a whim. At any given time, there is a relative limit to the wealth within ANY economy of ANY size. So when too much wealth accumulates at the top, the middle class slip further into debt and the lower class further into poverty. A similar rule applies worldwide. The world’s richest 1% now own over 40% of ALL WORLD WEALTH. This is EVEN AFTER you account for all of this ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS from celebrities and executives. ITS A SHAM. As they get richer and richer, less wealth is left circulating beneath them. This is the single greatest underlying cause for the current US recession. The middle class can no longer afford to sustain their share of the economy. Their wealth has been gradually transfered to the richest 1%. One way or another, we suffer because of their incredible greed. We are talking about TRILLIONS of dollars which have been transfered FROM US TO THEM. All over a period of about 27 years. Thats Reaganomics for you. The wealth does not ‘trickle down’ as we were told it would. It just accumulates at the top. Shrinking the middle class and expanding the lower class. Causing a domino effect of socio-economic problems. But the rich will never stop. They just keep getting richer. Leaving even less of the pie for the other 99% of us to share. At the same time, they throw back a few tax deductible crumbs and call themselves ‘humanitarians’. Cashing in on the PR and getting even richer the following year. IT CAN’T WORK THIS WAY. Their bogus efforts to make the world a better place can not possibly succeed. Any 'humanitarian' progress made in one area will be lost in another. EVERY SINGLE TIME. IT ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT WORK THIS WAY. This is going to end just like a game of Monopoly. The current US recession will drag on for years and lead into the worst US depression of all time. The richest 1% will live like royalty while the rest of us fight over jobs, food, and gasoline. So don’t fall for any of this PR CRAP from Hollywood, Pro Sports, and Wall Street PIGS. ITS A SHAM. Remember: They are filthy rich EVEN AFTER their tax deductible contributions. Greedy pigs. Now, we are headed for the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time. Crime, poverty, and suicide will skyrocket. SEND A “THANK YOU” NOTE TO YOUR FAVORITE MILLIONAIRE. ITS THEIR FAULT. I’m not discounting other factors like China, sub-prime, or gas prices. But all of those factors combined still pale in comparison to that HUGE transfer of wealth to the rich. Anyway, those other factors are all related and further aggrivated because of GREED. If it weren’t for the OBSCENE distribution of wealth within our country, there never would have been such a market for sub-prime to begin with. Which by the way, was another trick whipped up by greedy bankers and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. The credit industry has been ENDORSED by people like Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGenerous, Dr Phil, and many other celebrities. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. Now, there are commercial ties between nearly every industry and every public figure. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for their ‘good will’ BS. ITS A LIE. If you fall for it, then you’re a fool. If you see any real difference between the moral character of a celebrity, politician, attorney, or executive, then you’re a fool. No offense fellow citizens. But we have been mislead by nearly every public figure. We still are. Even now, they claim to be 'hurting' right along with the rest of us. As if gas prices actually effect the lifestyle of a millionaire. ITS A LIE. IN 2007, THE RICHEST 1% INCREASED THEIR AVERAGE BOTTOM LINE WEALTH AGAIN. On average, they are now worth over $4,000,000 each. Thats an all time high. As a group, they are now worth well over $17,000,000,000,000. THATS WELL OVER SEVENTEEN TRILLION DOLLARS. Another all time high. Which by the way, is much more than the entire middle and lower classes combined. Also more than enough to pay off our national debt, fund the Iraq war for twenty years, repair our infrastructure, and bail out the US housing market. Still think that our biggest problem is China? Think again. Its the 1% club. That means every big name celebrity, athlete, executive, entrepreneur, developer, banker, and lottery winner. Along with many attorneys, doctors, politicians, and bankers. If they are rich, then they are part of the problem. Their incredible wealth was not 'created', 'generated', grown in their back yard, or printed up on their command. It was transfered FROM US TO THEM. Directly and indirectly. Its become near impossible to spend a dollar without making some greedy pig even richer. Don't be fooled by the occasional loss of a millionaire's fortune. Overall, they just keep getting richer. They absolutely will not stop. Still, they have the nerve to pretend as if they care about ordinary people. ITS A LIE. NOTHING BUT CALCULATED PR CRAP. WAKE UP PEOPLE. THEIR GOAL IS TO WIN THE GAME. The 1% club will always say or do whatever it takes to get as rich as possible. Without the slightest regard for anything or anyone but themselves. Reaganomics. Their idea. Loans from China. Their idea. NAFTA. Their idea. Outsourcing. Their idea. Sub-prime. Their idea. High energy prices. Their idea. Oil 'futures'. Their idea. Obscene health care charges. Their idea. The commercial lobbyist. Their idea. The multi-million dollar lawsuit. Their idea. The multi-million dollar endorsement deal. Their idea. $200 cell phone bills. Their idea. $200 basketball shoes. Their idea. $30 late fees. Their idea. $30 NSF fees. Their idea. $20 DVDs. Their idea. Subliminal advertising. Their idea. Brainwash plots on TV. Their idea. Vioxx, and Celebrex. Their idea. Excessive medical testing. Their idea. The MASSIVE campaign to turn every American into a brainwashed, credit card, pharmaceutical, medical testing, love-sick, celebrity junkie. Their idea. All of the above shrink the middle class, concentrate the world’s wealth and resources, create a dominoe effect of socio-economic problems, and wreak havok on society. All of which have been CREATED AND ENDORSED by celebrities, athletes, executives, entrepreneurs, attorneys, and politicians. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for any of their ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS. ITS A SHAM. NOTHING BUT TAX DEDUCTIBLE PR CRAP. In many cases, the 'charitable' contribution is almost entirely offset. Not to mention the opportunity to plug their name, image, product, and 'good will' all at once. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. These filthy pigs even have the nerve to throw a fit and spin up a misleading defense with regard to 'federal tax revenue'. ITS A SHAM. THEY SCREWED UP THE EQUATION TO BEGIN WITH. If the middle and lower classes had a greater share of the pie, they could easily cover a greater share of the federal tax revenue. They are held down in many ways because of greed. Wages remain stagnant for millions because the executives, celebrities, athletes, attorneys, and entrepreneurs, are paid millions. They over-sell, over-charge, under-pay, outsource, cut jobs, and benefits to increase their bottom line. As their profits rise, so do the stock values. Which are owned primarily by the richest 5%. As more United States wealth rises to the top, the middle and lower classes inevitably suffer. This reduces the potential tax reveue drawn from those brackets. At the same time, it wreaks havok on middle and lower class communities and increases the need for financial aid. Not to mention the spike in crime because of it. There is a dominoe effect to consider. IT CAN'T WORK THIS WAY. But our leaders refuse to acknowledge this. Instead they come up with one trick after another to milk the system and screw the majority. These decisions are heavily influensed by the 1% club. Every year, billions of federal tax dollars are diverted behind the scenes back to the rich and their respective industries. Loans from China have been necessary to compensate in part, for the red ink and multi-trillion dollar transfer of wealth to the rich. At the same time, the feds have been pushing more financial burden onto the states who push them lower onto the cities. Again, the hardship is felt more by the majority and less by the 1% club. The rich prefer to live in exclusive areas or upper class communities. They get the best of everything. Reliable city services, new schools, freshly paved roads, upscale parks, ect. The middle and lower class communities get little or nothing without a local tax increase. Which, they usually can't afford. So the red ink flows followed by service cuts and lay-offs. All because of the OBSCENE distribution of bottom line wealth in this country. Anyway, when you account for all federal, state, and local taxes, the middle class actually pay about the same rate as the rich. The devil is in the details. So when people forgive the rich for their incredible greed and then praise them for paying a greater share of the FEDERAL income taxes, its like nails on a chalk board. I can not accept any theory that our economy would suffer in any way with a more reasonable distribution of wealth. Afterall, it was more reasonable 30 years ago. Before Reaganomics came along. Before GREED became such an epidemic. Before we had an army of over-paid executives, bankers, celebrities, athletes, attorneys, doctors, investors, entrepreneurs, developers, and sold-out politicians to kiss their asses. As a nation, we were in much better shape. Strong middle class, free and clear assets, lower crime rate, more widespread prosperity, stable job market, lower deficit, ect. Our economy as a whole was much more stable and prosperous for the majority. WITHOUT LOANS FROM CHINA. Now, we have a more obscene distribution of bottom line wealth than ever before. We have a sold-out government, crumbling infrastructure, energy crisis, home forclosure epidemic, credit crunch, weak US dollar, 13 figure national deficit, and 12 figure annual shortfall. The cost of living is higher than ever before. Most people can't even afford basic health care. ALL BECAUSE OF GREED. I really don't blame the 2nd -5th percentiles in general. No economy could ever function without some reasonable scale of personal wealth and income. But it can't be allowed to run wild like a mad dog. ALBERT EINSTEIN TRIED TO MAKE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND. UNBRIDLED CAPITALISM ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT WORK. TOP HEAVY ECONOMIES ALWAYS COLLAPSE. Bottom line: The richest 1% will soon tank the largest economy in the world. It will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. The American dream will be shattered. and thats just the beginning. Greed will eventually tank every major economy in the world. Causing millions to suffer and die. Oprah, Angelina, Brad, Bono, and Bill are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MULTI-MILLIONAIRE HUMANITARIAN. EXTREME WEALTH MAKES WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. WITHOUT WORLD PROSPERITY, THERE WILL NEVER BE WORLD PEACE OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL. Of course, the rich will throw a fit and call me a madman.. Of course, they will jump to small minded conclusions about 'jealousy', 'envy', or 'socialism'. Of course, their ignorant fans will do the same. You have to expect that. But I speak the truth. If you don’t believe me, then copy this entry and run it by any professor of economics or socio-economics. Then tell a friend. Call the local radio station. Re-post this entry or put it in your own words. Be one of the first to predict the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time and explain its cause. WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE.

So what can we do about it? Well, not much. Unfortunately, we are stuck on a runaway train. The problem has gone unchecked for too many years. The US/global depression is comming thanks to the 1% club. It would take a massive effort by the vast majority to prevent it. Along with a voluntary sacrifice by the rich. THATS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. But if you believe in miracles, then spend your money as wisely as possible. Especially in middle and lower class communities. Check the Fortune 500 list and limit your support of high profit/low labor industries (Hollywood, pro sports, energy, credit, pharmaceutical, cable, satelite, internet advertising, cell phone, high fashion, jewelry, ect.). Cancel all but one credit card for emergencies only. If you need a cell phone, then do your homework and find the best deal on a local pre-pay. If you want home internet access, then use the least expensive provider, and share accounts whenever possible. If you need to search, then use the less popular search engines. They usually produce the same results anyway. Don't click on any internet ad. If you need the product or service, then look up the phone number or address and contact that business directly. Don't pay to see any blockbuster movie. Instead, wait a few months and rent the DVD from a local store or buy it USED. If you want to see a big name game or event, then watch it in a local bar, club, or at home on network TV. Don't buy any high end official merchendise and don't support the high end sponsors. If its endorsed by a big name celebrity, then don't buy it. If you can afford a new car, then make an exception for GM, Ford, and Dodge. If they don't increase their market share soon, then a lot more people are going to get screwed out of their pensions and/or benefits. Of course, you must know by now to avoid those big trucks and SUVs unless you truly need one for its intended purpose. Don't be ashamed to buy a foreign car if you prefer it. Afterall, those with the most fuel efficient vehicles consume a lot less foreign oil. Which accounts for a pretty big chunk of our trade deficit. Anyway, the global economy is worth supporting to some extent. Its the obscene profit margins, trade deficits, and BS from OPEC that get us into trouble. Otherwise, the global economy would be a good thing for everyone. Just keep in mind that the big 3 are struggling and they do produce a few smaller reliable cars. Don't frequent any high end department store or any business in a newly developed upper class community. By doing so, you make developers richer and draw support away from industrial areas and away from the middle class communities. Instead, support the local retailer and the less popular shopping centers. Especially in lower or middle class communities. If you can afford to buy a home, then do so. But go smaller and less expensive. Don't get yourself in too deep and don't buy into the newly developed condos or gated communities. Instead, find a modest home in a building or neighborhood at least 20 years old. If you live in one of the poorer states, then try to support its economy first and foremost. Be on the lookout for commercial brainwash plots on TV. They are written into nearly every scene of nearly every show. Most cater to network sponsors and parent companies. Especially commercial health care. Big business is fine on occasion depending on the profit margins and profit sharing. Do your homework. If you want to support any legitimate charity, then do so directly. Never support any celebrity foundation. They spend most of their funding on PR campaigns, travel, and high end accomodations for themselves. Instead, go to and look up a top rated charity to support your favorite cause. In general, support the little guy as much as possible and the big guy as little as possible. Do your part to reverse the transfer of wealth away from the rich and back to the middle and lower classes. Unfortunately, there is no perfect answer. Jobs will be lost either way. Innocent children will starve and die either way. But we need to support the largest group of workers with the most reasonable profit margins. We also need to support LEGITIMATE charities (Check that list at This is our only chance to limit the severity and/or duration of the comming US/global depression. In the meantime, don't listen to Bernenke, Paulson, Bartiromo, Orman, Dobbs, Kramer, OReiley, or any other public figure with regard to the economy. They are all plenty smart but I swear to you that they will lie right through their rotten teeth. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. These people work for big business. The 'experts' they cite also work for big business. They are all motivated by their desire to accumulate more personal wealth. THEY WILL LIE RIGHT THROUGH THEIR ROTTEN TEETH. So don't fall for their tricks. Instead, look at the big picture. The economic problems we face have been mounting for well over 20 years. All of them caused or aggrivated by a constant transfer of wealth from poorer to richer. This is not brain surgery. Its simple math. Like I said, you are welcome to run this by any professor of economics or socio-economics. If thats not good enough, then look up what Einstein had to say about greed, extreme wealth, and its horrible concequences. I speak the truth. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL.

Its already underway. A massive campaign to divert our attention. Trump, Buffet, OReiley, and several others are now running their mouths about the economy. They even have the nerve to acknowledge the possibility of a US/global depression. Still, they refuse to acknowledge the underlying cause. Instead, they blame the other guy. The other industry. The other country. The other political party. They will never acknowledge the link between distribution of wealth and economic stability. THEY DON'T HAVE THE GUTS.

A word for those to respond with the usual 'I know more than you. I'm smarter than you. Look how smart, knowledgable, and articulate I am' crap. Let me say this in advance. I don't claim to be an expert in this field. But I did go on record with these predictions long before any public figure uttered the word 'recession'. Since then, I've gone on record against people like Greenspan, Bernenke, and Paulson. So far, my predictions have been accurate. Like I said. This is not brain surgery. For the mostpart, its simple math. When you concentrate the world's wealth, you also concentrate its capital, shrink the middle class, and the potential market for every major industry. Homes go unsold. Bills go unpaid. Banks fail. More products go unsold. Jobs are lost. More banks fail. and so on. and so on. Throughout the cycle, the rich will tighten their grip. Concentrating the world's wealth and resources even further and ensuring the collapse of every major economy worldwide. Think it can't happen? Think again. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL.

patroclus said...

LC: Hahaha, credit crunchy!

Chuffy!: I just get angry when journalists try to claim that some foible of their own is symptomatic of some major trend. Worrying about your split ends in the night is probably not a sign of a global anxiety epidemic or of imminent economic collapse. I used to worry about my hair in the night a lot during the 'boom years', and now I hardly worry about it at all. I'm not sure that tells you much about the global economic situation, but it probably does tell you that I'm a bit less stressed out now than I used to be.

Billy: Quite. What about all the people under 40 who don't own any property, either because they didn't want to or because they couldn't afford it?

Anon: >>This is going to end just like a game of Monopoly.<<

With everyone getting bored and wandering off to make a cup of tea and watch Eastenders? I think you may be right.

GreatSheElephant said...

Is it possible to go on record if you sign in as anonymous?

False hope, thy name is paragraph break.

Annie said...

'not used to losing jobs' - *laughs hollowly*

God, I hate the Observer. I really must stop buying it.

Dave said...

I was born before 1968. You youngsters don't know you're born. When I was a child I had to walk 25 miles to school - in my bare feet - after having worked for 12 hours down t'pit. And I lived in a hole in the ground.

Jayne said...

Man, you really set Anonymous off there. I tried to read it but have the attention span on a gnat, plus I don't like being SHOUTED at.

Jayne said...

Sorry, I meant attention span of a gnat. Am not quite sure what my attention span would be if I was on a gnat. Probably even shorter.

patroclus said...

GSE: I was going to delete Anon's comment, but left it because I actually agree with quite a lot of it, although I'm not an anti-capitalist and I've got a lot of time for philanthropists.

But yes, Anon might have thought to edit down his argument a bit, and to take into account the fact that this blog isn't American. And to realise if you're going to claim the upper hand over Ben Bernanke, your argument might be more persuasive if you spelled his name correctly. And if you didn't hide behind a pseudonym. But apart from that...

Annie: I find the Observer deeply depressing for some reason (no offence to anyone reading who works there). I'm usually so depressed by page 5 that I never make it to Armando Iannucci's bit, which is a shame.

Dave: Luxury.

Jayne: And so ad infinitum?

LC said...

>>>Jayne: And so ad infinitum?

My ego and I would just like to point out that I 'got' that.

GreatSheElephant said...

I didn't.

I don't disagree entirely with what anon was saying either, being of a fairly left wing bent. However he/she rather lost me with the ad hominem remarks about Oprah - interesting how the worst abuse was reserved for the one black person in the list.

Sarah said...

I didn't read anon's comment because it was too bloody long.

I worry because I bought a house last summer, because it was possibly our last chance to buy a house before they all became completely unaffordable, and now it seems like we might have bought at the top of the market. We're not greedy, we just wanted security of tenure. Now if house prices drop we'll be in negative equity and possibly spend the rest of our lives paying £700 a month for a house that is worth three beans and half an egg. And if we do need to move because I get a different job somewhere else in the country, we won't be able to as we can't sell the house because the amount we get for it isn't the amount left on the mortgage. And if we decide to have children we might not then be able to afford them and pay the mortgage and buy them shoes when they need them.

And when I get old my pension won't be worth anything.

I'm glad I have nothing to worry about, being the post-1968 generation.

cello said...

I've taken agin all* journalists. And to think that I once thought of them all as champions of the truth and holders of liberty and democracy. They are just salespeople, but not as honest and with delusions of importance. I take great delight in doing the opposite of whatever they say is now 'going down' and unthinkably unfashionable.

* obviously a gross exaggeration. But I do think that admirable journalists are getting rarer. A lot to do with declining margins and the need to generate online hits at any cost.

Lettuce Hater said...

if you check the magazine, nigel slater has a fab recipe for a carrot and beetroot salad, which i made on sunday night

that almost cancels out the kathryn flett column, in which she says she is going to sort out some work experience for her male au pair on the sports desk of the observer

with the small people, i had barely 17 minutes in which to peruse the observer before it was used to mop up a knocked-over cup of tea (definitely cheaper than kitchen towel)

patroclus said...

Sarah: You'll be fine - the kids can always make their own shoes out of bits of leftover ciabatta.

Cello: Yes, the 'generating online hits at any cost' thing is certainly throwing up some interesting new approaches to journalism. I blame Nick Denton.

Lettuce Hater: Nigel Slater remains on my 'Good' list, along with Marina Hyde and Armando Iannucci. Kathryn Flett, on the other hand, irritates me beyond belief. The other week she had a column about how she'd never been to a music festival apart from one, and she'd forgotten when it was and couldn't be arsed to look it up. I swear, that was all there was to it.

DX said...

Anonymous: I'm three seasons to late, but I feel it must be said. Greed is a vice, but so is envy.