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Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable.  

I am filled with joy.  It can't be helped.  

Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired.  Filled, just filled, with Joy. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bubbles and Pirates

The largest economy in the world is the Global Economy. No single "country" whatever that means, or even Continent, can claim to be Number One in a vacuum.

The United States has the largest economy among political systems, and by 2007, China became the 2d largest with the highest growth rate, at 9%.

Japan, with no natural resources and half the population of the US, is in 3d place, with the world's largest banks. Remarkably, considering its location exactly between the US and China, it is still in torpor from the real estate crash of Tokyo decades ago.

India has a growth rate that matches China in many ways, but is economically and radically different. The growth is accelerated not by low-wage manufacturing, but by service industries producing well over half the GDP. Both India and China each have a Middle Class larger than either the United States or Europe.

Russia still enjoys the rich bottom lands and bread baskets of the Ukraine, but these are still locked in with transportation difficulties exposed the the predations of Pirates and the spoliation of pollution. Russia, is not, as DeTocqueville predicted, the "country of the future", but it is the great warning to the future of the damage that piracy and pollution can wreak.

The economies of the countries in the Middle East are extremely small. The Oil billionaires look down on everyone--the Bedouin shepard, other billionaires, and especially the Middle Classes, which almost do not exist. This is the curse of Oil -- it creates controllers and dependents. Dubai, with its glittering architecture, looked promising, but then it collapsed economically -- and names the world's tallest building after a neighboring billionaire.

Back to China. This year, a variety of GDP growth rates and projections have been announced. Most of the numbers are astounding, not just because the rest of the world is suffering as a result of a pirate attack on Wall Street. The Chinese Government still "controls" the announcement of the numbers. And the Government is lying. The figures coming out of China are "political". The concept of gathering the facts and reporting them is still completely "foreign".

The publication and projection of false figures will have the accelerating and inevitable effect of creating a large Bubble in the Chinese economy. Prices are increasing for everything faster than wages. As the power drive of Hong Kong continues to roll across China -- all of its cities are in capitalism's thrall-- they compete with each other to pollute the air, water, and farms.

The rulers of China are elderly and short-sighted. They are stuffing their pockets as fast as they can, and are oblivious to long-term investments or the impact of toxic waste, industrialization, and thoughtless change. The Government officials engage in a crude form of competition which consists of banqueting -- they eat and drink to excess, as a form of political demonstration and power-mongering. This is the kind of anecdotal behavior which presages disaster and reveals character, or lack of character, at the top of their society, which is the bottom.

The Bubble that was created in the coastal real estate of the United States in 2008, causing a rise in prices of homes to a level roughly two times what the members of the middle class could purchase with their dual but decreasing earner households, is now forming in China. There are other similarities -- both spouses work, few children, large "middle" class, many opportunities to make money. There are also differences -- regulations, no privatized "Treasury Department", no Wall Street gamers.

However, it should be noted that in China, the pirates are already IN power. They conquered China quickly after WWII. More recently, in Wall Street USA, the pirates had to buy the Pentagon, the Treasury, all the large newspapers, the Congress, the Presidency, and even the Courts. This took more time.

The historical fact is that Pirates and Bubbles go after each other. Pirates have a crude fascination -- its part of their man-child fantasy -- with things that burst. The Chinese bubble is growing larger, rapidly. They have, like the Russians, polluted the land and rivers of China, which once fed the most successful breeding population on the planet. The Pirates are already in charge.
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