Monday, July 30, 2012

Shock Doctrine End Game: Thanks for Playing

It was radical (Canadian) left-winger Naomi Klein who wrote "The Shock Doctrine", a book that described how (inter)national disasters have been used opportunistically in past decades to impose extreme capitalism.  The phenomenon she described was to take advantage of the prevailing state of "shock" to privatize the economy and provide much greater access for multinationals.  At the time I remember finding her analysis to be interesting, if not somewhat paranoid.  Just today however, I came across this chart below which shows in the most graphic detail possible, exactly what she is talking about.  It's the shock doctrine taken to its logical extreme.  As we all know, following the events of 2008, large U.S. companies engaged in massive layoffs ostensibly in a bid to merely 'survive'.  Little did we know, that in the process they took the opportunity to redefine the term 'survive', and used the crisis as an excuse to liquidate the middle class.  All I can say is 'wow', relative profits are 5 times higher than in 1980 when Reagan took over from that "candy ass" Carter  - all due to America's 30 year "Going Out Of Business Sale", sponsored by massive outsourcing.  No country can achieve profit margins of that magnitude without selling itself off.  And note that even at their nadir in 2008, profits were still in the 7% range - double the 1980 level.  Shared sacrifice indeed.  And as I wrote at the time, it was highly apparent that companies were taking layoffs to ridiculous extremes.  When companies such as Microsoft which has the highest (monopolistic) profit margins in corporate history are taking advantage of the crisis to lay people off, then you know it's all just a burnt offering to Wall Street.

From The Economist (July 21st, 2012):

And as the Economist article states, companies are sitting on record levels of cash which they could be investing in the U.S.,  but choose not to.  These mega companies don't have any problem selling into the U.S. market, only investing in it.  Meanwhile the stooges in Washington at the behest of their Corporate masters have created the ideal incentives to ensure the arbitrage continues, until there is nothing left to sell.  As one would duly expect, the chart below shows middle class net worth has crashed over the same period and is now back at 1989 levels.

Source: BusinessWeek

So it seems that Ayn Rand and her loyal followers won the class war hands down.

In due time the masses will awaken from their QE-sponsored coma and raise a pitch fork in honour of her pyrrhic victory...