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Tuesday October 14, 2008 - 21:37:44 GMT
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Forex Blog - Death of Dogma...for now anyway

In case you did not notice, the economic ideologues in the White House and Treasury hoisted the white flag of surrender on Austrian economics in the last week.  TARP, as it was initially defined (and now redefined) was an attempt to cast a government bailout in a market mechanism and with a little sorcery keeping government ownership in the private sector limited to FDIC temporary takeovers of weak and failed banks. 

To quote from the Treasury Secretary Paulson just a few weeks back in his Congressional testimony to convince Congress that TARP was the way to address the crisis, he said "There were some that said we should just go and stick capital in the banks, put preferred stocks, stick capital in the banks. And that's what you do when you have failures. You know, that's what happened in Japan. That's what happened in other spots. And we have dealt with some failures. And we've dealt with them where there's capital. But we said, the right way to do this is not going around and using guarantees or injecting capital, and there have been various proposals to do that, but to use market mechanisms."

Even the most extreme dogmatists who play economists on TV like CNBC's Kudlow was one of the loudest cheerleaders for government intervention. 

Austrian economics make for a very pragmatic approach to policy making in bull markets and credit bubbles...they are the license to get paid.  Low taxes, self-regulation of markets (derivatives, shadow banking) and trickle down economics on steroids.  With no serious support in mainstream academic economics, supply side economics (these ideologues assert allegiance to Austrian economics, albeit falsely) gets top billing on cable news providers in the business space CNBC and Fox as the get super rich mentality dominated Wall Street for the last 5 years.  It was as if nothing was leaned from 9-11 like sacrifice and rainy day preparation much less risk management for tail events.  Anyone telling you about being overleveraged, too concentrated or hopelessly backward looking (yesterday is a good guide to the next century) were chastised – run out of government, run off of Wall Street and run off of Main Street. 

Now that the biggest asset bubble in history has burst (property market and its derivative the credit market and its derivative the credit derivative market) the bloviators of Austrian/supply side nonsense warn that Obama is going to socialize the economy (this is one for the Daily Show).  Unless Bush changed parties the only socializing of business institutions is happening right now and is being done by a Republican president, Republican Treasury Secretary, Republican Fed Chairman and Republican FDIC Chair.  This is not about finding the religion of government intervention and regulation but is all about insuring against the downside after 5 years of off the hook excess.  And more clearly it means killing the private banking system to save a public banking system.      

And yet all we see on TV are fear tactics - who is Obama, he pals around with terrorists (not only Ayers but Pelosi and Reid), he wants to nationalize Dairy Queen, and he wants to raise everyone;s taxes.  Are you afraid yet?  Are you angry yet?  We all know what Pelosi, Reid and Ayers share in common – they all hate the country and love the enemy right?

Not even the WSJ could ignore some of the hypocrisy of the campaign.  Today it reported on how McCain (well the RNC) is raising money on Wall Street and joining Lou Dobbs slime job on the very people who the Arizona Senator is asking for money.  I can't remember a presidential campaign when the nominee of a leading party is running as a de facto independent and against the current party leader President Bush. 

9-11 should have left the US with a deep sense of prudence, sacrifice, tolerance (against intolerance) and unity.  Instead it left us with no sacrifice outside of military families, no prudence whatsoever on Wall Street and Main Street, discernable intolerance and a nation at war with itself ideologically and politically. 

Soros has a new book out and from what I gather (have not read it) he uses a term that I think has more staying power than reflexivity -  economic fundamentalism…a take on religious fundamentalism…or the economic theory and practice that turns what is convenient into a dogma.  Well when dogmas or ideologies become entrenched in the functioning of markets and policy, they tend to run to extremes and end "violently." This week should leave little doubt that economic fundamentalism died violently.    

Well folks liberal socialism crosses party lines as today proved.  And when the financial system, left to its own, neared disintegration the government stepped in and stepped in big time - hopefully not permanently and hopefully not leaving too big a footprint when it leaves.  But if there is any lesson here it is pragmatism is always a better approach than dogmatism, just as tolerance over intolerance, unity over disunity, prudence over exuberance and sacrifice over selfishness are all far preferred traits. 

Thank goodness, in a pinch, the US is still a nation of pragmatists and not ideologues.   

Now pardon me while I get ready to downsize.

If you think I am voting for Obama you are right.  It is time to let the other side have a go and say no to fear mongering. 

But locally I am voting Republican and against my liberal Democrat House Rep Joe Courtney for voting against the bailout twice.

David Gilmore




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