Mike Oliver has spent a great deal of time on the coalface of capitalism and has some interesting things to say about the current economic crisis.
In years gone by I was a radical libertarian/objectivist fomenter in the U.S. In fact in the mid-1970’s when the late Chris Tame of the Libertarian Alliance spent a month or few crossing this once great land, he spent a few nights under my roof. He was a great guy and I miss him.
In any case in the years since my crusading lapsed (I used to be editor of The New Banner, perhaps the first widely read national objectivist/anarcho-capitalist periodical in the U.S.) I since went to ground. I became a futures market specialist and then a market analyst (for hire to major asset management entities such as multi-billion dollar mutual funds). I did my work and looked at the world from a market perspective.
In the summer of 2007 as a small hedge fund manager/analyst-for-hire I realized that the interventions of the U.S Fed under Bernanke were engineered to hold up/support the S&P500. I realized that if that persisted that the downside move that I had expected in the market ‘correction’ would turn into something other than a mere correction… as indeed it did.
The lovers of statism (and of we the people) decided to pull out all the plugs and defend the market at each and every low – to try to fake reality. Instead they super-charged the downside. What would have been a normal correction in the market ballooned into a disaster. Why?
Benanke allowed in summer of 2007 for an asset class never previously allowed to be used as collateral in fed borrowings by financial institutions, and even expanded what institutions could come to the Fed. In effect the Fed was “pricing” this debt (sub prime mortgages, etc.) at a level such that it would not have to hit the market and be priced openly and fairly.. The Fed was apparently afraid of the real consequences of seeing it priced openly. So they in effect took it off the market and froze it at the Fed window as “acceptable collateral” but as an unpriced asset. Hence from that point forward these sorts of assets on bank books were not “priced” in an open and market manner. Hence those who wanted to invest in the bank were uncertain as to the value of these assets. Hence uncertainty arose as to any and all bank valuations.
Uncertainty breeds doubt and fear and finally the collapse we saw in October and November. The lack of clarity of valuation – created by the Fed’s motherly and smothering love of “the people” in effect created the doubt and uncertainty that cascaded into the spiral we later saw in October of 2008. Oh sure, the chain of statist actions that helped to build and blow-up these malevolent factors date from before Bernanke, but he was pivotal at his unique moment in time.
Well, for the record my small hedge fund was up nearly 10% in 2008 while the lovers of “trend following” and statism sank some 30-40%. Good riddance.
Then came the onslaught of statist bandages and programs etc. And therefore here comes the final wave of statism – fully open to “caring” for us all in the wake of the failure of “capitalism.” And all the while many in the press and public accept the notion that the “market” failed and government has and will be our saviour. But reality ultimately will betray the fakery. There are already too many in the financial markets and in the financial press who realize the sequence of events, and who will not be fooled. The Charade has reached its zenith. The seemingly perpetual ascendancy of the State is in fact a paper tiger. Yes, the State will appear to rise as The Saviour, but its salvation and credibility will not weather the storm that it has itself created.