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What’s Wrong With The Economy: 9 Toxic Dynamics


These nine dynamics are mutually reinforcing.

Beneath the surface signals of an eternally rising stock market and expanding GDP, we all sense something is deeply, systemically wrong with the U.S. economy. These nine structural dynamics generate secondary dynamics, all of which are toxic to social mobility, sustainable prosperity, accountability and democracy:

1. The financialization of the economy, which transformed services, credit, risk and labor into commodities that could be traded globally. Financialization generates enormously asymmetric returns: those with access to low-cost credit, global markets and expertise in finance collect the lion’s share of gains in income and wealth.

2. The technological transformation of the economy, which has placed a substantial scarcity premium on specific tech/managerial/communication skills and devalued ordinary labor and capital. As a result, the majority of gains in wealth and income flow to those with the scarce skills and forms of capital, leaving little for ordinary labor and capital.

3. The end of cheap fossil fuels. The fracking boom/bubble has obscured the long-term secular trend: the depletion of cheap-to-access and process oil. As many analysts have observed (Nate Hagens, Gail Tverberg, Richard Heinberg, Chris Martenson et al.), the global economy only grows if energy and credit are both cheap.

4. Globalization, which transformed the developing world into the environmental dumping ground of the wealthy nations and enabled the owners of capital to offshore waste and labor.

5. The destructive consequences of “growth at any cost” are piling up. “Growth” is the one constant of all existing political-economic systems, and none of the current Modes of Production (i.e. the structures that organize production, consumption, the economy and society) recognize that “growth” is not sustainable.

The first two dynamics drive three other dynamics that have hollowed out the productive economy:

6. The dominance of debt-funded speculation as the means of “getting ahead”as opposed to producing products and services of intrinsic value that serve the core needs of communities.

7. The economy’s gains in income and wealth are concentrated in the very top of the wealth-power pyramid: the top 5%–entrepreneurs, professionals and technocrats, etc., and within this class, most of the gains go to the top 1/10th of 1% –the existing owners of wealth, and financiers/speculators with access to cheap credit.

The net result is the bottom 95% have few opportunities to “get ahead” outside of gambling in the asset bubbles du jour: the stock and housing market. While the average middle class household may be able to borrow enough to speculate in the housing bubble, two factors limit the odds of success for ordinary investors/gamblers:

A. The gains in housing are concentrated in specific markets; outside these hot markets, gains are modest.

B. Asset bubbles eventually pop, leaving those still owning the assets with losses. The risks are thus intrinsic and high. The average investor/gambler lacks the experience needed to recognize the bubble has stopped expanding and exit the market before ll the other speculators rush for the narrowing exit.

8. The devaluation of ordinary labor and capital means the bottom 60% of the economy that lacks the requisite skills with a scarcity premium in the Emerging Economy have lost easy access to the ladder of social mobility.

9. The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the self-serving few corrupts the economy and democracy. The U.S. economy is dominated by insider and elite rackets, skims, scams and cartels/quasi-monopolies, all of which corrupt the economy by creating perverse incentives for exploitation and gaming the system to benefit the few at the expense of the many.

This corruption in service of maximizing private/personal gains at the expense of the system itself also corrupts the mechanisms of governance, which are now little more than cloaking devices that protect insiders and elites from scrutiny and consequences.

The 20% above the bottom 60% may appear to have some access to social/economic mobility, but this is largely an artifact of the bubble economy since 2009. Once the bubble deflates, the illusion of social mobility for the “middle class” between the bottom 60% and the upper 20% vanishes.

The “upper middle class” between the bottom 80% and the top 5% is being squeezed by the over-production of elites, i.e. the over-abundance of those with college degrees and the relative scarcity of secure jobs within the top 5%. As a result, credential inflation is rampant, with Masters Degrees replacing Bachelors Degrees as the default for a white-collar job, and PhDs replacing Masters diplomas as the new default for positions that lack security and upward mobility.

In other words, the number of people who qualify for and desire a slot in the elite class (top 5%) far exceeds the number of slots available. As Peter Turchin has explained, this competition generates social disorder at the top of economic heap as the top 20% fight over the few positions open in the top 5%. The disgruntled, frustrated losers far outnumber the relatively few winners.

These nine dynamics are mutually reinforcing, meaning that each dynamic strengthens one or more of the others, reinforcing each other so the sum of the nine is far more powerful than a mere addition might suggest.

The New Aristocracy (the top 9.9%) (The Atlantic)

*  *  *

Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog

346 Comments on "What’s Wrong With The Economy: 9 Toxic Dynamics"

  1. MASTERMIND on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 5:23 am 


    Energy economist are not the same as regular economist..And they know much more than a former filthy uneducated construction worker..

  2. MASTERMIND on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 5:44 am 


    Bloomberg: Without immigrants to replenish it’s ranks, Europe runs the risk of dying off.

    I’ll make a call to Soros tell em to open those borders up!

  3. MASTERMIND on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 6:03 am 

    Macron meeting with Italy PM to go ahead Friday: presidency -AP

    Mad Man Macron is going to tell him he better change his tune!


  4. Davy on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 6:15 am 

    “7 Reasons Why European Banks Are In Trouble”

    First, banking regulation has become tighter after the financial crisis. As a consequence regulatory and compliance costs have rise substantially.

    Second, there are risks hidden in banks´ balance sheets. That there is something fishy in European banks´assets can quickly be detected when comparing banks market capitalization with their book value. Most European banks have price-to-book ratios below 1. With a price-to-book ratio below 1, buying a bank at the current prices and liquidating its assets at book value, an investor could make profits. Why are investors not doing that? Simply, because they do not believe in the book value of the banks´assets.

    Third, low interest rates have contributed to increasing asset prices. Stocks and bond prices have increased due to the monetary policy of the ECB, thereby leading to accounting profits for banks. Monetary policy has, thereby, artificially propped up banking profits during the last years.

    Fourth, according to the ECB non-performing loans (NPLs), i.e. loans where borrowers have fallen behind in their payments, amount to €759 bn., that is 30% of the banks´ equity.

    Fifth, more trouble for banks lies ahead. Due to artificially low interest rates, insolvency rates have fallen. In Germany in 2003, 39,470 companies (1.36% of existing companies) became insolvent. By 2017 insolvencies had fallen to 20,200 companies (0.62%). Companies that otherwise would have had to close, can survive due to interest rates close to zero. Their survival is not without cost as they suck up resources that could be used in other projects. Every year of the ECB´s zero interest rate policy 10,000s of bankruptcies are postponed adding to a growing stock of zombie companies. The zombie companies contribute to the anemic growth because they mal use resources that could be use more productively in other lines of production. Once interest rates increase rapidly these zombie companies will come to the roost and insolvency rates will return to more normal levels leading to problems for banks.

    Sixth, lower interest rates have posed severe problems to banks´net interest margin. The passive, the transformation and the credit margin of banks have fallen. The passive margin results from investing deposits of bank clients in the overnight interbank market. Banks could earn traditionally a margin this way but not in a world of negative interbank rates.

    Seventh, banks in the Eurozone are still connected closely to their government. As of January 2018, Eurozone banks held €3.536 bn. Government debt on their books which amounts to 13% of their balance sheet total. When in the next recession, the sovereign debt crisis looms again banks can expect losses on their sovereign debt portfolio.

    As a result of these losses, banks will be forced to restrict credits as their equity shrinks. Ironically, the ECB´s zero interest rate policy designed to promote credit expansion will finally lead to a credit contraction. There will be a severe recession and a fall in the money supply. The crisis will not only endanger the banking system but the euro as such, because troubled Eurozone government will try to recapitalize their banks through a monetization of newly issued debts.

  5. Davy on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 6:18 am 

    “Economists are chicken gut readers and nothing more. They never predict correctly or are on time. Always looking in the rear view mirror for the future. LOL”

    Sounds like what you do 3rd world.

  6. JuanP on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 7:56 am 

    By now, we al know that MM’s reading comprehension is no better than his writing skills. I wouldn’t mind reading his functionally illiterate comments if he was smart and had something to say; I can withstand illiteracy, but not stupidity. I don’t blame him, though, stupidity is inherited and you can’t help having defective genes. This lawn mower is going Paddle boarding in the ocean. It’s a gorgeous, sunny, warm day in Miami Beach. I’ll be back in a couple of hours.

  7. joe on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 9:00 am 

    Isn’t anyone paying attention to the fact that immigration and superstates are part of yesterday’s economy? Countries don’t need people, they NEEDS to take care of old people. Right now the working generation is being taxed to death on stagnating wages (due to wage competition from migrants) to pay for the care of the aged. Taxes pay the pension and healthcare pot. The masses get poorer and richest 1% don’t have to pay their fair share. What if THEY had to pay 30-40% of their riches in taxes. The western world would grow again as governments could spend and nobody would care less about immigration cause they’d be too busy working. Sadly our economy is in a downward sprial. Productivity is going to be eroded by increasing marginal costs of energy which will be another drag along with aging population on the western world. Those paddy feilds and spice markets back home will provide better oppertunities for industrious young brown men in 10 time than the hopes of coming to Europe or America. We may indeed have to sit by and watch the brown world destroy itself due to overpopulation and lack of forward planning by their governments who have had 50 years of freedom to prepare. The next phase of disaster for the darker countries will be in their own hands. When they should have been selling condoms and education they sold resources and migratory. What a failure. We may have to build that wall no matter what…..

  8. joe on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 9:08 am 

    The EU will complete its banking union in the next year or so. It’s not going to need a stimulus package because the vast pool of credit it will draw on to ensure another crisis will be averted. The UK will not be part of it so it remains to be seen what will happen. States will no longer get a say in what will essentially become the private business of the ECB. They will of course have to buy out all the countries (like Italy) who currently support their banks. In the end the ECB will be the lender of last resort in Europe. The next phase will be to complete the Treaty of Lisbon and publicly announce the European Union as a new and sovereign country…..

  9. GregT on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 10:22 am 

    “But I use a computer at work all day so I can still post anytime I want to”

    Irresponsible at work as well, no surprise there.

  10. MASTERMIND on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 10:45 am 


    Make sure you clean those dishes well today at work..And don’t worry, just keep working hard and someday you will own your own boat..


  11. JuanP on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 10:52 am 

    Russia 2 – Saudi Arabia 0

  12. JuanP on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 10:55 am 

    Micromind, I have owned a number of boats in my life. My last one was a Montgomery 17. Been there, done that! LOL!

  13. GregT on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 10:57 am 

    ” just keep working hard and someday you will own your own boat..”

    Juan comes from an extremely wealthy family MM, and has chosen to help others instead of only helping himself. He already owned his own sailboat, that himself and his wife lived on.

    How about you MM? Have you ever owned your own boat? Other than the one that you played with in the bathtub?

  14. MASTERMIND on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 10:57 am 


    Russia is ready for the world cup!

  15. JuanP on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 11:06 am 

    I had an Optimist as a child, a laser as a teenager, a herreshoff 28 cat ketch, a Compac 25, a Nor’sea 27, and a Montgomery 17. My wife and I lived aboard the Herreshoff for several years. Now I own 2 Alpacka packrafts that I use regularly and have access to friends’ boats whenever I want. If you were smarter maybe you could build an Origami paper boat, but we all know you are not that smart. LOL!

  16. GregT on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 11:12 am 

    Russia is hosting the World Cup MM.

  17. GregT on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 11:16 am 

    I still own an optimist Juan. Both of my kids learned to sail in it. I built it myself stitch and sew.

    I now use it to go fly fishing in the local lakes.

  18. JuanP on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 11:33 am 

    Goooooooooooal! Go Russia! Russia 3 – Saudi Arabia 0

  19. JuanP on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 11:37 am 

    Greg, I learned to sail with an Optimist, too. It is the best sailboat for a child to learn sailing with. My first job was as a sailing instructor using Optimists to teach kids and Snipes and Lasers to teach grownups. Teaching your kids to sail must have been a memorable experience!

  20. MASTERMIND on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 11:40 am 

    Russians are white trash..and there woman are but fucking ugly..Putin is just one false flag away..Its coming for sure soon..and the media has already turned by liberal brothers and sisters into raging globalist Neocons over this collusion nonsense..And the right is always down for war..They know the Saudi’s are going to be out of exports in the next decade or two..So the only game in town left is Russia..I don’t care how many nukes they have..We will hit them so fucking hard they will be totally annihilated. it will be the worlds biggest nightmare on earth..and nobody will ever fuck with us again..

  21. GregT on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 11:48 am 

    Yes it was Juan, I even have a picture of my son sailing it when he was around 6 or 7 years old. It’s hanging on the wall in one of our guest bedrooms. I look at it almost every day.

    I still have the rudder and daggerboard, but gave the mast, sail, and rigging to an employee about 15 years ago. I even helped him to build a boat for his daughter out of Okoume ply and mahogany. Our little boat is over 30 years old and still going strong. Perfect for one adult fly fishing on the lakes.

  22. GregT on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 11:51 am 

    “We will hit them so fucking hard they will be totally annihilated. it will be the worlds biggest nightmare on earth..and nobody will ever fuck with us again..”

    You’re a complete fucking moron MM.

  23. MASTERMIND on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 11:53 am 


    Just wait a few years until the oil starts to run out..and your phone rings and its your kids…and they say ‘Dad, the lights have gone out and there is no food at the store”..And you hear gun shots going off in the back ground..It will be a nightmare even Hollywood could never imagine..

  24. MASTERMIND on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 11:59 am 


    Is my argument really that unreasonable? They have already laid the ground work through the media..Just imagine if a false flag event occurred?

    What do you think America would do to Russia? Would the US demand action? And if they were to strike Russia, don’t you think they would have to hit them with everything they got?

  25. GregT on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 12:03 pm 

    “Just wait a few years until the oil starts to run out..and your phone rings and its your kids…and they say ‘Dad, the lights have gone out and there is no food at the store”

    My kids are both very well aware of future potentials MM, and know that if things go south, we will always have a place for them here.

  26. JuanP on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 12:04 pm 

    Goaaaaaal! Goooooooooal! Goooooooal! Goooooal! Gooooooooooooooal! Go Russia!
    Russia 5 – Saudi Arabia 0
    What a great day for Russia, Russians, Putin, and the world! Russia couldn’t possibly have asked for a better result. The Russians beat the crap out of the Saudis. Russia wins the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup opening game in Moscow earning 3 points and a positive 5 goal difference. I couldn’t be happier right now. I am going to troll the board’s imperialists like crazy for a day and rub this amazing triumph on their faces. GO RUSSIA!

  27. GregT on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 12:05 pm 

    “Is my argument really that unreasonable?”

    That wasn’t an argument MM, more like the ramblings of a babbling idiot.

  28. MASTERMIND on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 12:07 pm 

    Brexit could make UK car industry ‘extinct’

  29. JuanP on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 12:08 pm 

    MM, I wish you were a little bit smarter and less insane so you could understand how incredibly stupid, ignorant and insane you are. LOL!

  30. Cloggie on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 12:15 pm 

    I love it:
    oil giant 1 – oil giant 2


    My sympathy ranking for this tournament:

    1. Russia
    2. Iceland
    3. Uruguay

    My expectation: some permutation from {Germany, Brazil, Spain}

    In other related great news: the United States qualified for the world championship soccer 2026… by organizing it:

  31. JuanP on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 12:21 pm 

    Cloggie, I just hope the Uruguayan team plays a clean game and Suarez doesn’t bite anyone. My sympathy goes all to Russia. I hope they move on to the second stage.

  32. Cloggie on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 12:26 pm 

    Big things could happen in Germany this week, like the fall of the Merkel government.

    Coalition partner CSU from Bavaria is exercising solid brinkmanship over pushing through new legislation regarding “refugees” (welfare tourist/gate crashers really). They have to because they threaten to be decimated in the upcoming elections by the populist AfD.

    The CSU just issued an ultimatum:

    Very telling is that a more conservative CDU member and quiet pretender to the throne Jens Spahn has distanced himself from Merkel. They are sharpening the knives. Germany could become the next and most important European domino to fall.

  33. MASTERMIND on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 12:29 pm 

    Soccer is for faggots who can’t play real sports..And notice how much Clogg loves it..And what else does clogg love? Alpha males..Putin, Spencer, Trump,Hitler, he is always praising and worshiping men..He is obviously a dick sucker..I have never once heard him talk about a female. Everyone else on this blog has..Madkat has about his ex wife, Greg about his wife, Me about my girlfriend (who is hot).Davy about his wife..but not poor clogg? so either he is so ugly and unattractive that no female wants him or he is a faggot..

  34. Cloggie on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 12:40 pm 

    Uruguay won the first championship in 1930:

    In those days South-America had more standing than today.


    Holland was in the finals three times (1974, 1978, 2010) and lost three times: against Germany, Argentina and Spain resp.. We should have won at least once considering Dutch international soccer dominance in the seventies:

    European champion 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1973.

    Now we do not even participate.

    Dutch team in the seventies:

    “Dutch” team now:

    No comment.

  35. JuanP on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 12:51 pm 

    MM “Soccer is for faggots who can’t play real sports..”
    Soccer is by far the most popular sport in the world, ignoramus. Your stupidity is as big as your ignorance. If you want to talk about childish games you need look no further than baseball, the most infantile sport in the world by far. And real men play rugby while cowards play American football; just look at all the protection those cowards use. LOL!

  36. Cloggie on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 12:52 pm 

    And notice how much Clogg loves it.

    I stopped regular soccer watching decades ago, the only aspect that currently interests me about it is politics.

    Me about my girlfriend (who is hot).

    Fresh from the oven? Seriously, you are a single as you post way too much (garbage at that).

    I have never once heard him talk about a female.

    Unfortunately for you I am as straight as they come, the first woman I asked to marry was a Canadienne, I was married for 7 seven years to a foreigner and was “engaged” with quite a few other foreigners (all, before and after my marriage. Currently I am in a “complicated situation”, but this snake-pit would be the last place to discuss the details of that.

  37. peakyeast on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 12:56 pm 

    Those big “sports” organizations are top performers at corruption. Everybody with just a tiny bit of sense would ignore these corrupt politicially controlled money machines.

  38. JuanP on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 1:05 pm 

    Cloggie “I stopped regular soccer watching decades ago, the only aspect that currently interests me about it is politics.”
    I agree. If the World Cup wasn’t in Russia I wouldn’t care about it at all. I never liked soccer; I played rugby as a kid, but my thing always was nature sports, particularly water sports. One of the reasons I left Uruguay was the national obsession with soccer. Most Uruguayan men only talk about soccer, politics, and women; I found all three subjects boring to talk about with them since men don’t know crap about them as a rule, but always have very strong opinions about them.

  39. MASTERMIND on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 1:06 pm 


    I bet it is complicated most woman don’t like Nazi’s..I mean did you see any woman marching in Virginia? It was a sausage fest..Maybe if you stopped being a cult follower of white nationalism you could get a decent girlfriend..I mean racism is taught and isn’t natural..just put a bunch of young kids together..they don’t even understand what racism is..Its a meme like religion, a virus of the mind..So maybe you should take my advice and try to make the best of things before your society collapses into Anarchy.

  40. Anonymouse1 on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 1:07 pm 

    Omg, Marmitard NEVER LEFT, FFS. He is a sock tard and he posts constantly as ANONYMOUS. That dumbass has been here all this time, just with a new set of sock puppets, though he mostly uses ANONYMOUs these days. Hes been playing his stupid game of socks for years and he never stops. The only thing that changes, is his expanding roster of stupid alt names.

  41. MASTERMIND on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 1:09 pm 


    Soccer is the most popular sport because its the cheapest sport..that is why the poorest countries play it the most..they can’t afford baseball bats, hockey pads, basketball shoes, etc..People in the shit hole countries like you come from..

  42. JuanP on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 1:15 pm 

    Mm, How could you possibly know what other countries are like if you’ve never been outside your mom’s basement. You don’t even know what your own country is like; I bet I have traveled across the USA more than you! LOL! Go Russia!

  43. Cloggie on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 1:18 pm 

    Salman shows up in Moscow:

  44. Cloggie on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 1:26 pm 

    “People in the shit hole countries like you come from..”

    Uruguay is 87% white and has a staggering 95% renewable electricity:

    “Nearly 95% of Uruguay’s electricity comes from renewable energy, mostly hydroelectric facilities and wind parks.[12] Uruguay is a founding member of the United Nations, OAS, Mercosur, UNASUR and NAM.”

    Your country is more of a shithole country than Uruguay.

  45. MASTERMIND on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 1:33 pm 


    Uruguay has the population the size of Chicago..Call me when renewable’s can power a country with over 100 million people..

  46. MASTERMIND on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 1:35 pm 


    Don’t ever get tired of posting your links of hate from your shit hole blog..I mean the platform you use is about as filthy as your bedroom I bet..LOL And why don’t you allow any comments on your blog? You need a safe space? lol

  47. MASTERMIND on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 1:37 pm 

    Russia is ready for the World Cup!

    What a great country! Pure white trash just like Clog and his white nationalist cult base..Who is brainwashed to the level of Pavlov’s dogs..

  48. MASTERMIND on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 1:38 pm 

    I am watching the US Open with Tiger playing..A real sport for sophisticated gentlemen.

  49. Cloggie on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 1:40 pm 

    “Uruguay has the population the size of Chicago..Call me when renewable’s can power a country with over 100 million people..”

    Sophism pure and simple. Big countries have proportional more hands to get things done. Unfortunately in your case those hands are attached to bodies with brains who famously in large majority “don’t give a fuck” about abstract themes like climate.

  50. JuanP on Thu, 14th Jun 2018 1:46 pm 

    MM is a typical American retard who thinks that bigger means better. That is probably why he resents Russia so much, because he can’t stand the fact that Russia is the BIGGEST country in the world. The USA is neither the biggest nor the best country in the world. It is, though, without doubt, the most violent, criminal, genocidal, agressive, and abusive country in the world. With citizens like MM how could we possibly expect the USA to be any better.

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