Wednesday, August 17, 2011


In my book and on my blog I've written about the impact collapsing economies could have on global security, and how we can see historical parallels to what we are experiencing today with what happened in the 1930s. It's not pretty. But it doesn't seem to matter.

The Europeans, who should know better - and who have taken steps to rein in some of the stupidity - nonetheless have embraced their own blind alley of debt. Meanwhile, in the United States income inequality, wealth gaps, and personal debt loads continue to grow. America's financial mandarins, however, are doing just fine, which is part of the problem.

All of these developments, as unfortunate as they are, were pre-conditions to the frivolity and stupidity that preceded the global calamities of the 1930s and 1940s.

Those of you who've read my book, or taken my classes, understand what's happening. Even the global institutions that were designed to help avoid these situations are in trouble. But no one seems to be able to piece any of this together. There is no sense of urgency, or instruction. Which is strange, because we've done this before.

As I pointed out in my book, and on this blog, history is now whispering in our ear.

This is why this piece from Market Watch is so interesting. I'm not so much concerned that it's advocating higher taxes on those who got us into - and are now profiting from - our market mess. Nor does it discuss the international implications with any depth. Still, the article is important because it points out how our domestic situation is on a path to blow up in our collective faces. The date the author is point to (2012) isn't as important as the parallels he discusses.

Apart from growing impatience domestically, the author points out that there “are two remarkable similarities in the eras that preceded" 1929 and the market collapse of 2008. Both eras "saw a sharp increase in income inequality and household-debt-to-income ratios” and in each case “as the poor and middle-class were squeezed, they tried to cope by borrowing to maintain their standard of living.” The end results was a market crash. The serpents of Nazism were unleashed, and economic warfare followed.

It's a short but good read. But don't get too caught up in the tax the super rich stuff (as much as I agree with the argument).  Your focus should be on tying what's happening today to what happened 80 years ago.

Seriously. History is whispering in our ear.

- Mark

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