Saturday, October 3, 2020

Life After Walmart

This society has perfected self-destruct mode, so it's time to try something different. Step 1, stop worshipping false profits...


Having watched this slow motion train wreck known as globalization for my entire lifetime, here at a high level is directionally what I believe is the best way forward. 

The first step will be humility and an acknowledgment of failure. Recognition of the fact that globalized capitalism didn't create broad based prosperity, it destroyed it. We can hope that the impending reset will be sufficiently cataclysmic to instill a sense of contrition in today's morally challenged leadership class.

Second it will require ideological capitulation. Strict adherence to past (failed) ideologies of capitalism, communism, and socialism have been and will continue to be a constraint on building a new economy. The best ideas need to be implemented regardless of ideology. A nascent economy requires greater government intervention in the early stages and less as it matures. Strict ideologists on all sides will reject this type of policy migration, hence these zealots will impede economic progress, leading to more poverty. We will know we're getting back on track when we dispense with the exceptional mythology. 

Third, over time, society needs to wean itself off of stimulus addiction. It never seems to occur to today's stimulus junkies that borrowed GDP aka. "fiscal stimulus" is merely stealing from the future for instant gratification now. Monetary stimulus is the policy of subsidizing debt accumulation, another form of borrowing from the future. These serial stimulus bubbles allow policy-makers to ignore the difficult aspects of economic reform. I predict that all of the current fiat currencies will be destroyed by today's money printing addiction. At first monetary policy was used to control interest rates. After 2008, they added quantitative easing to subsidize government borrowing and inflate risk assets. Now, they are monetizing the entire U.S. deficit which is currently 17% of GDP. The integrity of the U.S. dollar is being systematically destroyed. The concept of a universal basic income only makes "sense" as an act of desperation in a late stage failing economy heading into depression. Eventually it will lead to hyperinflation, and a total lack of investment. In the process it will destroy all incentive to work and to create new businesses. Ultimately it will lead to widespread poverty. Nevertheless, it appears inevitable given the amount of poverty we are about to experience. The only benefit is that it will destroy all debt. 

Today's economists need to acknowledge that top down macroeconomics as a policy has failed. Economies are not created by economists, they are created from the bottom up one business, factory, and industry at a time. The role of government is to set the rules and regulations which create a fertile ecosystem for business. A nascent economy needs as many business startups as possible which requires minimal taxation and minimal regulation. In addition, access to credit and strong bankruptcy protections for borrowers. Again, ideological intransigence will die hard. It's difficult for people to accept that a lifetime of work has failed. And it's difficult for leftist radicals to accept that not everything about the past was wrong or didn't create middle class prosperity.

To deal with these large scale oligopolies that have come to dominate the global economy - Amazon, Walmart, Microsft, Facebook, Google, Apple etc. - the best solution is not to force anti-trust break-up. The best solution is to place expirations on intellectual property patents of five years. After which, all intellectual property becomes public. That will allow startups to compete and overtake larger, less entrepreneurial organizations. They will be creatively destroyed.

Tariffs to protect jobs and the economy need to be made permanent. A permanent moat around the domestic economy to protect against foreign dumping. There is no way to compete against Third World nations that have no labour or environmental standards. The tariff should be high enough to disincentivize corporate industrial arbitrage i.e. building in one country and dumping in another. And yet not so high as to deter all trade and otherwise, prevent competition. 

It may seem odd to hear all this coming from a lay person with a mere Bachelor degree in business. However, it's a testament to these times that most economic pundits today are still solely concerned with fiscal and monetary stimulus. They are stimulus junkies to the core. For them, the idea of economic reform doesn't even exist. Why? Because they have been among the prime beneficiaries of today's failed policies. They have a vested interest in keeping the globalized exploitation scheme in place as long as possible. 

None of the above is communist, capitalist, or socialist. These are commonsense ideas that directionally tell us how close we are to getting back to something approaching a good economy.

But first, there is a good hard lesson to be learned. And if it's one thing we know for certain, these people are not fast learners.