ads without products

Archive for the ‘crisis’ Category

the new new normal

leave a comment »

Just spent the morning banging out a piece centred on this, from the NYT:

The “new normal,” as it has come to be called on Wall Street, academia and CNBC, envisions an economy in which growth is too slow to bring down the unemployment rate, while the government is forced to intervene ever more forcefully in a struggling private sector. Stocks and bonds yield paltry returns, with better opportunities available for investors overseas.

Didn’t we just have a “new normal,” only slightly different from this one, a few years ago? Anyway, hope someone takes the piece… We’ll see. Again, wish I could link to it from here if it goes. Soon enough, if things go right….

Written by adswithoutproducts

August 11, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Posted in crisis, economics

“the world is leaking”: a new temporality of disaster for a new decade

with 4 comments

True to his word, Giovanni Tiso has written an excellent post on the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Definitely go take a look…

I’m fascinated by the oil spill cam too, and like Giovanni said in my comments, there’s something mesmerizing about it, hypnotic. The Icelandic volcano seemed bent on introducing us to a new temporality of disaster for a new decade, replacing the shock and awe of telegenic terror attacks and rapidly escalating infection rates and (again telegenic) bombing raids, the tsunamis and earthquakes and hurricanes, that characterized the aughts with the awful banality of destructive persistence. But the gusher in the Gulf adjusts this new apocalyptic rhythm to the right physical scale.

Rather than the top of a mountain blowing off and then, surprisingly, causing real problems when it simply continues to smolder, we have a relatively small pipe at the bottom of the sea per-houring and per-minuting the Gulf toward total environmental collapse – and who knows what else.

I’m pretty immune to prophetic anthropomorphism, reading the palm lines of the image, and pathetic fallacy in general. I seriously mistrust Jamesonian acolytes for their tendency to just this sort of thing. (And that’s not the only faulty move I’m making in this post… Who gives a shit about “decades,” right?) There’s no Spielburgian divinity or Weltgeist storyboarding these things out to tell us something that we should already know… (Thankfully, really – we’ve got enough real problems to deal with without waking up to find a burning bush in the back garden etc) Being in England is only encouraging any I refute it thus-ism that was latently present in my makeup.

But on the other hand, it’s really, really hard not to read the whole world into and out of this one, hard not to take it as a sign of some sort that times have changed, and in particular not to anticipate lots more bad plumbing in the years to come….

(I should note – and not just here, but in an email to someone that I’m way overdue on – that Jonathan Lethem’s still newish Chronic City does a pretty good job of capturing this “new” temporality of disaster in narrative form…. I’ll try to say more about this when I’ve got more time, which has to happen sooner or later, right?)

Written by adswithoutproducts

June 1, 2010 at 12:49 am

wall street 2

with 2 comments

A Hollywood stuck in an endless circle of remakes, unable to conceive of novel characters or situations, meets and is mangled up with a world stuck in what promises to be perpetual economic crisis, ceaselessly recycling its heroes into vilains and back again.

The only way, it seems, that you can tell that time is passing at all is by the size and shape of the mobile phones.

Written by adswithoutproducts

May 15, 2010 at 6:57 pm

blame socialism

with 6 comments

What would we do without The New York Times? Without them, how would we ever figure out that what’s ultimately behind the economic crisis in Portugal isn’t bad banking or irresponsible lending or ill-thought-out fiscal policy, but in fact socialist housing law

Portugal’s antiquated tenancy rules, for instance, stem directly from two revolutions that cemented leftist antagonism toward owners and landlords: the first was in 1910, which ended the monarchy, and the second was in 1974, which overthrew a dictatorship and returned Portugal to democracy.

The post-revolution rules helped protect tenants, but also led to a chronic shortage of rental housing. This, in turn, persuaded a new generation of Portuguese to tap recently into low interest rates and buy instead — often in new suburbs — thereby exacerbating the country’s mortgage debt and leaving Portugal with one of Europe’s lowest savings rates, of 7.5 percent.

“This system of controlled rents is a major problem for the Portuguese economy, but we will probably be waiting for a generational change to have room for institutional reform,” said Cristina Casalinho, chief economist of Banco BPI, a Portuguese bank. Beyond fueling housing credit, she added, the system “basically stops flexibility and mobility in the labor market because you can perhaps find a new job in another city but it will then be very difficult to rent a house there.”

So you see how this works? It’s not just that austerity measures have to be inflicted upon the state sectors of Europe. It’s that theses measures ought to be imposed, as the welfare state in fact bears the ultimate responsibility for the crisis, setting up the imbalanced markets that led directly to all the bad loans. Hmmm….

Written by adswithoutproducts

May 15, 2010 at 1:22 am

Posted in crisis, socialism

the privatization of public wealth: now even faster!

leave a comment »

The Greek crisis is, simply speaking, simply the clearest and most direct illustration of the general tendencies in place for handling the financial crisis. In most cases, states have taken on enormous debt in order to refinance corrupt banks that will only later, when the loans come due, result in dramatic cuts and, you know, closed universities and reduced medical benefits and the like. With the EU / IMF intervention in the Greek economy, both steps involved with the privatization of public wealth under the conditions of crisis, are happening at exactly the same time. From the NYT today:

The government is now committed to whack back the public sector, including pensions and popular social benefits; to raise consumption taxes to record highs; and to promote tax reform, in an effort to shrink the enormous black market, reduce tax evasion and increase government receipts.

[…]

Embedded in the euro and thus no longer in control of its own currency, Greece cannot take the easy way out of its debt by devaluing. So Greece must either cut its spending sharply or default on its loans — which would badly damage German and French banks carrying a lot of Greek debt.

That is considered one reason President Nicolas Sarkozy of France has been so quiet on the Greek crisis, Mr. Fitoussi said. The Greek deal “is an indirect way of bailing out French and German banks,” he said. “The French understood this from the start, but Germany didn’t seem to.”

Katinka Barysch, an economist and deputy director of the Center for European Reform in London, said that that realization had hit home in Germany. “It might be unpopular for the Germans and Europeans to bail out Greece, but it will be even more unpopular for them to bail out the banks that owned Greek bonds,” she said.

The involvement of extra-state institutions, like the EU and the IMF, allow the process in play to be rendered more brutally efficient, faster. The US federal government can’t quite get away with, say, handing the Veterans Administration health services infrastructure to Citigroup, nor the UK government change the direct deposit address of welfare benefits from the urban poor to the Royal Bank of Scotland, but rather have to run up debt that will later be repayed by privatization and disinvestment. With Greece, however, the interim in the middle has been shrunk considerably…

Written by adswithoutproducts

May 3, 2010 at 7:41 am

Posted in crisis, economics

a spectre, the spectre, haunting Europe and everywhere else

with 4 comments

Is interesting to note where Marx’s spectre thing turns up. For instance, this from the start of a Businessweek article:

April 30 (Bloomberg) — While the specter of Greek contagion haunts southern Europe, corporate Germany is going from strength to industrial strength.

What is especially interesting is the way that the endless permutations on the original always bear – as if spectrally! – a little bit of the root sense of the original utterance. Crisis of capitalism, even when the recyclers of the trope don’t believe that such a thing is possible.

Written by adswithoutproducts

April 30, 2010 at 1:03 am

Posted in crisis, marx, Uncategorized

μέτρα λιτότητας

leave a comment »

From the NYT today, predictable news:

In Athens, the Greek government had no choice but to seek an I.M.F. solution after its costs of borrowing skyrocketed, but that has not made the negotiations for aid any easier.

[…]

According to people who have been briefed on the talks, the aim is to secure from Greece a letter of intent for even deeper budget cuts than the tough measures imposed so far, like reductions in civil service pay, in exchange for emergency funds.

Steps being discussed include closing down parts of the little-used Greek railway system, which employs 7,000 people and is estimated to lose a few million euros a day; limiting unions’ ability to impose collective bargaining agreements, which lead to ever-higher public sector pay; cutting out the two months of pay that private-sector workers get on top of their annual pay packages; increasing the retirement age and cutting back on pensions; and opening up the country’s trucking market in an effort to lower extremely high transportation rates that have hindered the country’s competitiveness.

With Greece now shut out of the debt markets, it has little leverage to resist — especially in light of the 8 billion euros it needs to repay bondholders on May 19. Analysts expect a deal by next week at the latest.

I’ve always been a fan of the euro – not that I’ve given it the amount of thought that I’ve given, say, the style indirect libre and such matters. But it does occur to me today that one thing the common currency seems directly to prevent is the present or eventual adoption of the Kirchner method of handling such crises:

On 15 December 2005, following Brazil’s initiative, Kirchner announced the cancellation of Argentina’s debt to the IMF in full and offered a single payment, in a historical decision that generated controversy at the time (see Argentine debt restructuring). Some commentators, such as Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, suggest that the Argentine experiment has thus far proven successful.Others, such as Michael Mussa, formerly on the staff of the International Monetary Fund and now with the Peterson Institute, question the longer-term sustainability of Pres. Kirchner’s approach.

In a meeting with executives of multinational corporations at Wall Street—after which he was the first Argentine president to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange—Kirchner defended his “heterodox economic policy, within the canon of classic economics” and criticized the IMF for its lack of collaboration with the Argentine recovery.

The Kirchner method, rather than starving labor and the state in service of debt repayment, imposes “austerity measures” on the international banks that made the loans (confident that they’ll be back when the situation improves – and they will) and allows leeway in the domestic effects of a financial crisis (i.e. Argentinians weren’t buying Japanese televisions for quite a bit of the decade…) But due to the eurozone arrangement, this way out, whatever the ideological predilections of those in power, is probably off the table now and for a time to come… As it turns out, the eurozone right now looks like an engine for stealing trains from the Greeks to keep Orlando vacations affordable for the Germans…

And of course, amidst all this, the NYT runs its inevitable ordinary Greeks admit that they are a nation of thieves, and therefore deserve the pain that awaits them piece….

“We did this to ourselves,” said Mr. Koptides, 37. “It is our problem. It’s not Germany or Europe’s fault. We did this to ourselves.”

Greeks seem to be engaged in national soul-searching these days, wondering whether traits they once found amusing might have led to many of their difficulties now.

Some say their country may have been unprepared to join the European Union in the first place. Some focus on how European Union funds sent to Greece were spent on wasteful projects. Greece’s last administration hid the extent of its debt.

“There has always been this way of thinking in Greece that the thieves are the clever ones and the ones who don’t steal are the patsies,” said Petros Anagnostou, 46, a book dealer. “We have to develop a conscience as a community, to see ourselves as a collective society. If it is a jungle out there, then we will eat each other and end up in a place like we are today.”

But of course the right path toward the reestablishment of “a community… a collective society” is by the elimination of the right to collective bargaining and the phasing out of public mass transit!

Written by adswithoutproducts

April 29, 2010 at 9:22 am

Posted in austerity, crisis, economics

the psychosomaticity of crisis

with 3 comments

From an FT article yesterday about the probability that European states are about to sell-off what’s left of their publically-owned companies in order to plug budget gaps:

“The original catalyst for privatisations in the 1980s and 1990s was ideological, but the current motivation will be far more financially-driven,” says Craig Coben, head of equity capital markets in Europe for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Governments don’t quite have the crown jewels they had before but they are going to be looking to take advantage of market opportunities.”

Of course, both episodes are ideologically-driven, and of course there was a “financial” issue at play the first time around too, but then again we know what Coben means. The first round of privatizations happened because it was the right thing to do, this time because, ostensibly, there’s nothing else to do, which may have as much to do with the volume and viability of other possible answers in the two cases, but again, we know what he means.

But there’s something counter-intuitive about the progression, isn’t there? A drive that starts in ideological realm, the realm of argument and fantasy, that procedes to materialize itself, to come true. That is to say, there’s something psychosomatic, something of the imagined-become-real symptom about the long progression of this crisis. You worry so much about having a heart attack, you get so anxious about assembling your collection of cures both conventional and holistic, chemical and folk-borne, that there you are, dead in the parking lot of your Recently Privatized Medical Facility.

Written by adswithoutproducts

March 14, 2010 at 9:42 am

nearly silent – the greek general strike

leave a comment »

I rather like the video attached to this BBC piece about the general strike against austerity measures currently going on in Greece. Just a string of things not happening, and it’s even as if the reporter is speechless in solidarity. But the ambient musak in the airport continues to play…

Written by adswithoutproducts

February 24, 2010 at 11:10 am

Posted in austerity, crisis

ballardianism on the gulf coast

with 2 comments


A third of the houses in Cape Coral, Florida, just up the interstate from where I’m currently typing this, are under foreclosure. The NYT has pieces on this town at the front of both the main and business sections of today’s paper – the first a depressing story about the great numbers of people living in the US with zero income save for food stamps and the second an eerie piece on the rows and rows of foreclosed and now abandoned houses. Here’s an extended snip from the latter:

Dave Robison has lived in northwest Cape Coral since 2002, when he moved down from Cincinnati, paying $160,000 for his house. He figured that he would stay until his house fetched enough to allow him to retire full time in Mexico. Now, he bitterly regrets that he didn’t cash in back in 2005, when the house was worth perhaps $400,000.

He walks his two greyhounds past a tan stucco house on the corner, where the grass on the lawn reaches three feet high, possibly sheltering possums and snakes. An official abatement notice is tacked to the front door, ordering the owner — someone in Reseda, Calif. — to cut the grass. A house across the street is similarly forlorn.

“You think you’ve got something and you don’t,” says Mr. Robison. “There’s nothing you can do but just ride it out.”

Farther down the block, another house sits cloaked in overgrown shrubbery with yet another abatement notice tacked to the door. Two years ago at this very house, I met the two women who were then living there — Elaine and Charlene Pellegrino — a mother and daughter. They were sifting through the belongings of Elaine’s husband, Charlene’s father, who had recently died, leaving them with two troubled businesses to run and debts they couldn’t manage.

Elaine Pellegrino, then 53, was disabled, living on Social Security. Her daughter was jobless. They had resigned themselves to losing their home and had stopped making the mortgage payments. Yet they were cognizant that they could stay for many months as their case worked its way through a local court system already overwhelmed by foreclosures.

Now their days there have ended. Tax documents sit in a rain-matted stack in front of the garage. A “for sale” sign lies warped and discarded in the weeds.

Inside the house, bills are scattered across the floor with playing cards, a March 2008 TV Guide and the innards of a VCR. A plastic trash bag brimmed with foreclosure documents. Behind the house, green slime chokes the swimming pool — the same green slime that now colonizes countless pools left to the elements in South Florida.

The Pellegrinos moved out in July 2008, Charlene explains. A bathroom pipe had burst, and mold had grown on the walls. She and her mother couldn’t afford repairs.

The strangest thing was how the bank implored them to stay, she says. Even after it became clear that they were not going to pay their mortgage, the bank figured that it would be better having them there to deter scavengers who would strip out the cabinets, the wiring, the toilets.

“They wanted us to stay on indefinitely,” Charlene says. “It was weird.”

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that the super-ultra-lux mall a few blocks from where I’m staying and which serves as my lifeline to the better papers and suitable workspace (via Barnes and Noble) and nightly drinks (via a series of faceless though upscale restaurants) doesn’t seem to be suffering much from the downturn.

More to come. Sorry to have been away. Headed back to London tomorrow on an overnight flight…

Written by adswithoutproducts

January 5, 2010 at 7:20 am

Posted in collapse, crisis

judt on social democracy

with 3 comments

Tony Judt’s “What Is Living and What is Dead in Social Democracy,” a talk given at NYU and printed in the NYRB, is worth taking a look at for the clarity of its diagnosis and the ultimate argument, which I take to come in these late paragraphs:

If social democracy has a future, it will be as a social democracy of fear. Rather than seeking to restore a language of optimistic progress, we should begin by reacquainting ourselves with the recent past. The first task of radical dissenters today is to remind their audience of the achievements of the twentieth century, along with the likely consequences of our heedless rush to dismantle them.

The left, to be quite blunt about it, has something to conserve. It is the right that has inherited the ambitious modernist urge to destroy and innovate in the name of a universal project. Social democrats, characteristically modest in style and ambition, need to speak more assertively of past gains. The rise of the social service state, the century-long construction of a public sector whose goods and services illustrate and promote our collective identity and common purposes, the institution of welfare as a matter of right and its provision as a social duty: these were no mean accomplishments.

We all, I think, understand what Judt’s getting at with this argument in favour of conservative, “anti-modernist” social democracy, given the tenor of the neo-liberal and neo-conservative approaches with which we’ve been long familiar. (Remember the “reality-based community” stuff back from the beginning of the war?) But on the other hand, Judt’s suggestion seems to contradict his criticism, earlier in the paper, of social democratic parties for their defensiveness, the fact that they’ve long since had “nothing distinctive to offer.” Still, worth taking a look at…

Written by adswithoutproducts

December 25, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Posted in crisis, socialism

against apocalypticism

with 16 comments

Why is it that capitalist culture has always been so well provisioned with visions of its own end? Whether in the catastrophic or entropic tense, it has always been easy to predict and represent an end of the world that arrives via the developments of capitalism. The crisis of overproduction (and the concomitant emergence of “unemployment” as a concept) during the Great Depression of 1873-1895 informed the mindless dystopia of Wells’s The Time Machine. The high pressure system that settled in after the two great wars of the early twentieth centuries postered its bedrooms with images of an all-too-achievable Mutually Assured Destruction. Our own fin  de la siècle (and start of another) can’t seem to stop showing itself its own imagined death scenes – by plague or alien invasion, loose nukes or technology gone sentient or, of course, environmental catastrophe.

So the first thing that it’s important to know about capitalist apocalypticism is that it’s persistent. These visions just keep appearing, always impersonating their predecessors while at the same time adapting these predecessors to new local dynamics. If one wants it to mark the arrival of an actual crisis, one has to admit that this crisis is nothing new, but rather a persistent feature of capitalism itself.

It’s understandible, to an extent, why many on the left find hope in representations of apocalypse. Slavoj Zizek has famously said that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. During a period in which it in fact became close to impossible to imagine either capitalism’s end or a potential replacement for it, many of us decided to take the end of the world as sort of allegorical stand in for the end of the current economic regime. If we couldn’t have the latter, we’d settle for the former and rebrand its anxieties as a strange sort of hope. Many of us, therefore, watched both the filmic representations of catastrophe and the increasingly ominous news about the state of the economy with at least some degree of perversely optimistic anticipation.

But if the “arrival” and playout of the current (and long-awaited) economic catastrophe signals anything at all, it is not the imminence of climactic collapse but its opposite – the very power of capitalism (together with the co-opted state) to avert crisis. The specter of collapse, the possibility of the arrival of the end of the hegemonic economic form, is deferred, as it has been and will forever be deferred, by means of a massive transfer of wealth from the state into private hands. “Too big to fail” was from the start an apocalyptic claim, an apocalyptic fiction, mobilized by the banks themselves in order to trigger the response that was bound to be triggered.

The cynical narrativization of the crisis by the banks and their helpers in government speaks to a larger issue  – the issue of the native temporality, or temporalities, of capitalism. While capitalism advertises itself as affiliated sudden change, unexpected novelty, and revolutionary change, in actual fact it works always and everywhere to flatten whatever forms of time that it can. It attempts, at every turn, to transform qualititative change into quantitative accumuation, differential turbulence into a concretized status-quo. In fact, recent economic developments point toward the secret trajectory (and capitalist use-value) of neo-liberalism. While for many years it was possible to think of the emergence of the liberal center-left as a hybirdization of social democratic politics in service of a cynical (and cynically capitalized) power grab against the strong right of the Thatcher and Reagan era, the last year or so has shown what the relatively strong state of the the third way was actually for – collusion with and the buttressing of corporations, the nullifcation of risk.  Along with risk, of course, disappears the temporality of risk – that is to say time itself, in any form more open than inevitable progression of the same. Catastrophe itself is ransomed off by state funds.

It is very important for us to be clear about agency and intention and reception when we discuss cultural works and ideology. “Capital” does not make films and other cultural works, though films take capital to make. While films of course are influenced directly and indirectly by those who would use them to distribute propaganda, this still, in our current culture, is not the driving force behind the composition of films. Further, while capitalist culture may make certain messages difficult or even impossible to distribute widely, it generally does not directly prohibit or promote certain forms of content to political ends. (Again, there are of course exceptions). The current bubble of apocalyptically-themed films should not be interpreted as propaganda. The rise of the genre, according to all indications, should be attributed to its mass-appeal.

But mass appeal is not necessarily equivalent to usefulness in the cause of mass politics. To be sure, the ultimate goal of any left-oriented cutural politics must necessarily be to appeal to the masses, but not blindly, without full consideration of the source and potential ends of the appeal. While the most obvious answer in this case might be the libidinal pleasure that comes of watching things be destroyed, often on an incredible scale, there are many genres and plot-types that can afford opportunity for the delivery of this sort of thrill. While the destructive violence is the affective content, there has to be something about the form in which it is contained that concretizes the special interest in this form now and before.

Capitalism has always fought a halting and ambivalent fight to separate itself from older social forms and cultural manifestations that have lingered on past its arrival, persistently obsolescent. The fight is ambivalent because at times it makes peace with one or more of the old forms in order to do better battle with others. Religion, the family, value-in-land, the strong state in certain incarnations, racial and sexual difference, the organic community – the trendlines run against all of these, though all of these causes have been taken up by states, parties, and factions in service of the progress of capitalism and capitalist reaction – as well as of course retrograde reaction against capitalism.

The appeal of the apocalyptic cultural product, beyond the libidinal magnetism of destruction, seems to me to take the shape of another one of those concepts lingering on past the point of its own obsolescence. That concept is, of course, eschatological itself – anticipated endings, summations, terminal crises. Like religion or racism, natural hierarchy or sexual difference, it is a concept that functions to abridge that which is difficult to contemplate and live with.

When I was a Catholic school boy, I used to wonder about the purpose of Judgment Day, the biblical Apocalypse. If most everyone – all but a tiny fraction still living when the world ends – have already been judged and sentenced at the hour of their death, why design a system in which everyone is resummoned from hell or heaven, or has their purgatorial sentence commuted, only to judge them all again, redelivering a verdict that almost all of the souls have long since known and lived (after-lived?) with? The only good answer that I can come up with now is that the Apocalypse is one of those contradictory temporal abstractions that softens the cognitive blow that comes of the contemplation of sublime temporalities – the time of incessance is reified down into a concluding punctum. It is mystification by shorthand, a perspectival trick.

Nothing ever ends, and certainly nothing ends like that. There’s a picture of a queen on the notes in my wallet. And my children attend a school where there are crayon-drawn illustrations of scenes from the Bible on the walls. Not all that different from Emma Bovary’s ravenous desire to experience an event like those that she’s read about in her aristocratically-originated romances, we today still long for the cognitive and psychological benefit that comes of abbreviation and culmination. It is pleasing to have what troubles us – whether the corrupt inhumanity of our economic system or the slow-motion collapse of our enviroment – narrowed to two hours, wrapped up before the closing credits, fully contained within a dramatic movement.

Whatever happens, and whatever the news and the entertainment providers tell us, nothing will ever come to an end, at least not at once, and definitely not climactically. This is simply not the way the world works, nor has it ever, nor will it ever. Change comes sometimes in fits and starts, othertimes at a glacial pace, but whatever the change is, it never brings anything fully to an end and always bears within it the contradictions that it would have us believe it had eliminated. The terrors that await us – economic or environmental – will never finally arrive, but rather will take the pattern of crisis and resolution, new crisis and new resolution, that we’re quickly becoming accustomed to in our still relatively new century. Most important of all, if we would use art to provoke improvement, we would do well to accustom our audience both to the real paceless pace of capitalism as well as the rhythm of life in a better world, which would be anything but apocalyptically accented.

Written by adswithoutproducts

November 29, 2009 at 10:12 pm

crisis coming in the mail now too

with 2 comments

Oh dear. My wife received one of these in the mail today. I guess the check bounced. The Philly Inquirer was a good paper, too.

Written by adswithoutproducts

September 15, 2009 at 1:30 am

Posted in crisis

photoessay in aggregate: crisis visible

with 2 comments

A really good collection of reader-generated images of the “recession” available here at the NYT.

What’s nice about these images is that amidst a flood of mediatrope – the smashed window of the RBS, the laid off junior exec with his golf club, etc – a lot of these images reach out to show a different side, a more everyday side of the situation. One that is a lot more chilling than the dystopian cliche-mongering of the image I’ve clipped in at the top.

The deprivation or cancellation of public utilities and services, whether that means having the water shut off to an individual family home for non-payment of bills or the disruption of mass-transit routes due to “budget cuts,” renders the crisis in small scale, becomes a matter of the residential street rather than the Grand Avenue or Financial District. The socialization of banks coincides with the cancellation of the small scale socialism of the city or town.

busstop

The pictures render all of this very clear. What is happening (and what, I’m starting to guess, is about to reinflate the bubble for yet another last ditch run at two or three years of less than total collapse, leading to an all the more total collapse a little bit later on – you start to get a feeling for the rhythm of these things, the way you developed a feeling about the weather an the changing seasons in the place where you grew up) and is going to continue to happen is the transfer of wealth from the local and national public sphere and public infrastructure to  formerly or currently private enterprises. It’s like global Yeltsinism, this… Just watch…

carabbas

For the reference of my non-USA readership, Carabba’s is a fucking chain of bad Italian restaurants. Everyone’s talking about what to do to turn the nascent, confused, blocked, aspirational protest movements into something more. I think quick but hard meditation on the simplification of slogans, the ellision of 68er double-entendrism and in-humor, and the adoption of something along the lines of No 4th Grade Teachers Working Second Jobs at Fucking Carabbas, Ever would be a first step on a path towards something.

And the very best part about all this is that it prompts us to take up another axiom, perhaps not as a slogan but as a rule for our work and thinking about all of this. That would be: Nothing new about this crisis. Because, of course, it didn’t take the bursting of the bubble to have 4th grade teachers waiting tables at shitty roadside restaurants, for utilities to get turned off, for perfectly good houses to be abandoned, or for mass-transit budgets to be cut, now did it?

Written by adswithoutproducts

April 3, 2009 at 9:12 am

hoaxum

leave a comment »

Perhaps one of the most comforting ways to think of the current crisis, if you’re an academic in the humanities with some or lots of investment what we call “theory,” is that it is a giant, real world Sokal hoax, except one written collectively but especially by the Sokaled themselves, and that has exposed the so-called “discipline of economics” as a self-spinning, jargon-laden fraud.

Their journals should be defunded, their tenureships revoked, and I hope that their TIAA-CREF accounts have been well and truly emptied, those guys.

Red asses not yet red enough, here, at the NYT.

Written by adswithoutproducts

March 5, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Posted in crisis, economics