Thursday, January 24, 2008

is that crisis echoing in my bowels?

the great andre gunder frank once defined crisis (roughly) as a situation where the current balance is so disrupted that it can never be regained in the same place as it was lost.

the recent crisis that shook the stock markets, started davos-going captains of economy arguing whether we're dealing with a slowdown or a recession, appeared to be more or less taken under control in 48 hours by the world's exchanges, thanks a goodn deal to the fed's somewhat belated intervention.

since the balance was regained, then we can't speak of a crisis, right?



this one, is not a crisis that can or will greatly jar the stock markets, which are likely to function as shock absorbers to this quake. the actual impact spreads deeper into the core of world economies, kicking their behindsto up and catch with the tidal waves of globality.

the fed naturally took the world economy as a whole in consideration whille making its move but its actual target was the rejuvenation of america's economy; more precisely, opening up to the world the in-bound economy of introverted america that i recently mentioned in a post.

america's economy, on the whole, is probably vital enough to survive at least a decade of what is conveniently (but mistakenly) referred to as isolationism. however, strong is hardly synonymous with competitive. in america, as well as all over the western world, many jobs and subsequent incomes were forfeited to rising new economies as chindia and adjacent countries. many businesses that fed americans in the 1970s have now moved to asia - and africa is in wait for asia's leftovers. in the last two decades, the global wealth from hi-tech goods and innovative services kept unqualified job markets in the west as full as cotton mills once did, but slowly, a saturation point was achieved.

following the logical course of globalization, the only way is to rev up homely economies; the traditional businesses that have made fortunes and have built america into the largest world-economy by far, to levels of competitivity where they can do the same for (theoretically, at least) the entire world. in practical words, it is a question of making a cadillac as rational an option for a hungarian family as a honda borrowing the capital from turkey.

obviously, such an undertaking can achieve success only through a major reconstruction that has to follow a calamitious crisis and recovers some new balance at far higher average levels of technoology and innovation. for instance, like developing a hybrid engine that runs on laughter, to keep the cadilllac moving at no cost...

as a rational means of setting a huge economic potential that corresponds to three thirds of the country's total might in motion, whipping consumption is the obvious best option. low interest rates are imperative both to boost people's spending and to encourage businnesses to more productive ventures.

hence, the crisis is one of inadequately productive economies, rather than a financial shake up. sure, the financial system will have to adjust and adapt to the new impetus but will have to keep it going unless it, too, risks a majestic corollary collapse.

and hence, a brake is going to apply on the rolling train of globalization - a trend already in motion since the eu enlargement and the recognition of the recent polish plumber syndrome by the european public. this, in essence is a period, favoring home-grown economies over the "foreign" (*); a respite for local, regional and national businesses strained under the unfair competition from chindian goods, so that they can have a chance of getting back in the game.

not a return to mercantilist protectionism of course... the new term is more comparable to a referee interfering with a boxing game in order to give a fighter slugged below the belt time to regain his breath and composure.

what about the working class? after all, marx's proleteriat is the essential body of consumers that keeps the wheels of economy turning. the western working man, now faces the challenge of becoming a productive force in itself, so that his labor becomes the indispensable element to keep the economic world going on - the only such labor is that of the mind, so heretofore beginneth the real knowledge society.

now, let's take a look at chindia - the so called emerging economies that, in reality, are exiled or exported enterprises from the west.

despite the protests, it seems mathematically solid that globalized business has contributed to the welfare and wealth of those remote places, in many instances at the expense of the western proleteriat. if capitalism is not suddenly going to metamorphose into a charity system, that mutual advantage is going to be preserved.

however, where chindia are concerned, it needs to be reitirated that we are talking about an economy, where the capital, the technology, the know-how and decision processes and even the markets are dominantly western controlled. and although an impressive number of scientists, technicians, managers etc. are increasingly assuming responsible roles and some prosperity does transfer to the states and administrators of host countries, without the western input, the whole chindia adventure is, kindly, kaput.

consequently, the time has also come to call chindia and its upsetting influence to line; i.e., toward a more systemic organization where unfair advantages will not hamper core western establishments inordinately where the essential principples of capitalist competition are concerned. as a matter of fact, china, for instance is a slave market with an unending supply of dirt cheap labor - which is also summarily dispensable, too, as work accident stats testify. the situation does not change much elsewhere around, either. chindian goods emit more than their fair share of effluents and carbon gases, consume too much energy, are known to be produced with harmful materials (as toys that children have bought in turkey) etc., etc...

in other words, chindia productions are susceptible to regulatory censorship from western markets and consumers, due to a plethora of shortcomings in their philosophy of state (or raja or sheikh or bwana or sultan) managed capitalism.

thus, a ball has started rolling that will not come to rest in its point of origin, although it is likely to cross a "turbulent" and tumultous path. that, in the words of the great andre gunder frank, is a crisis.

what i attempted here is a conjecture about how the path of the crisis must travel for optimal overall results. crises, though, are not famous for following rational, globally optimal courses. stupidity is one virtue humanity has insistently maintained, since adam gulped down eve's apple. after all, politicians are going to be instrumental in the way this crisis is to be managed. and history bellows loud enough for even the stone statues of yesteryear's politicians to hear that wherever politicians and states are involved, the effluence is weirdly attracted to the fan.

one last word: there is also an irrationally rational possible (though less probable) and impeccably humane course, the whole crsisis shindig may veer to: a revival of the 1968 "hippie" revolution (**) - but that is to come later... the flower-power golden dawn of the polis as the abode and asylum of freedom, peace and wisdom once again!

(*) foreign, as in chindia... since this is really an era of globality, however, there can be no backbreaking of such developing remote economies. another likely method of bringing the "foreign" home, is to increase home's share in the productivity of the foreign... imagine the istanbul stock exchange quoting vietnamese rice packing company shares!
(**) for those, especiallly ex-commies, who do not accept 1968 as a revolution, i recommend (again) the great immanuel wallerstein's "1968, revolution in the world-system: theses and queries", in theory and society, vol. 18, no. 4, july 1989.

the deserved misery of brokeback-wall-refugees

i have long developed the conviction that the israeli - palestine question is already long answered: it is another of those squirmishes nobody really wants solved.

the status quo allows at once the israeli to reasonably shake off their backs droves of poor arabs who occasionallly tend to think blowing themselves up along with abraham' s other grand- children will give them a straight ride to heaven.

those arabs, divided within, due to greed, greasy political designs, avarice and incompetence are now particularly happy; since one side has finally won the graces of america and the other has justified iran's meddling in the region.

the peoople who suffer? they either enjoy the suffering or they have other agendas: nobody could really suffer a sleazy succession of "rulers" who have accomplished nothing since 1967, except to make them suffer more. "there are hospitals for animals in israel", a brokeback-wall-refugee to egypt from gaza was complaining to a tv reporter tonight; "we have no such hospitals in gaza for humans. we just want what exists for animals in israel for people in gaza".

sad rhetoric, possibly even true, too... but alas, why did the now brokeback wall go up, separating rowdy palestinians from both tame palestinians and israeli?

if they need israel that much for survival (and tthey do!), why blow their children to dust? what happened to the defiant joy that rocked half palestine the day hamas won the elections?

pain, suffering and misery are the bane of palestinians in this crisis for 40 years, and of course, that is sad. yet, a sadder issue is that the palestinians, at least since yassir arafat tripped both bill clinton and ehud barak on a course toward some settlement, have always made the choices that have rendered their lives even more wretched.

many refugees who jumped the brookeback-wall in the last 48 hours, probably harbor hopes that they can anchor themselves to a haven in egypt - itself hardly at the upper limit of struggling economies. most, of course, will not. the bokeback-wall will rise again high and stiff enough to break the back of anyone daring to seek refuge on the other side. as will rise more despondency.

this is the kind of misery that won't end even if every gaza dweller ties a bomb around himself and blows himself to jihady death. a misery that willl only break more backs, but will allow a gloating ahmadinajad to rationalize his existence and a sitting duckya to find worth in his self and deeds.

no, not possible... can one speak of a deserved misery?

Friday, January 11, 2008

the civilized civil war of americas and americans

it is too early to comment on the outcome of the u.s. primaries but the message of the process is obvious: a civil war is going on in the u.s. of america.

nothing like the sad fratricide of the 19th century; this is a far subtler, insidious but deep lying and possibly attritional struggle between the two politico-economic forces defining american power: to put forth a rough basis for the argument, let me point out that three fourths of the huge u.s. economy is introverted, takes place within the country. only one quarter of american output is global. naturally, economy, being the most easily measurable quality in social sciences, is less determining (in the orthodox marzist sense) than indicative. an introverted economy also points out to a "way of mind", a culture and assorted subcultures looking inward. since that introverted community is, on the whole, extremely privileged, too, it tends to become conservative, protective, xenophobic, apprehensive and vulnerable both in its moral and political preferences.

we are talking about two thirds of the populace of the most powerful nation in the worldç feeling threatened by a remote world that is competing with them in the areas of their traditional livelihood; chinese goods flooding them out of jobs, indian imports threatening moreç while alien immigrant cultures establish their bivouacs in hitherto all american communities...

on the "other" side, there is the "global" america that describes the shapes life can flow into around the whole world. an america of top notch science and technology and innovation and social liberties aesthesia and finesse etc.

no wonder the night obama and huckleberry finn - with chuck norris hopping with joy like a squirrel behind him- won the first race jay leno defined caucus as "a greek word which means every four years people will remember there is a place called iowa".

the let's-return-to-grass-roots double victory of obama and huck finn is a banner that there is some sort of a social war going on between america, "that vast, forgotten extent of land between new york and the west coast" as described by the comic character homer simpson.

then again, the mundane east coast that sandwiches homer's america moved to put them out of business in new hampshire. in grass roots america, obama and huck finn both represented the same outlook, ditto the global american party hillary and mccain represent.

my vote is for hillary (you do not expect me to back the republicans after dubya, do you?), not because i do not like barack obama but because he is too green to tackle this world where simple solutions are likelier to complicate the problems, rather than solve them. the two clintons are provenly abler to ride the buffalo.

the sad party is, if huckleberry finn -plus chuck norris who probably will then become secretary for the department of utter paranoia, a.k.a. homeland security- and/or obama win, everybody in the civilized world will bear the brunt of an unsuccessfully introverted america - reminiscent of when pres. wilson lost after world war I.

if (preferably) the clintons or senator mccain win, the global competitivity of grass roots america is likely to experience a boost as well as the global quarter, which, in practice, commands most of the world's economic activity.

dubya the (sitting) duck

i'd be surprised if dubya and his crew were to do anything right after (especially) iraq but why in tarnation did he have to wait until he was a sitting duck before visiting palestine (and of course, israel)?

was it an overload of intelligence for the neo-cons to realize that all problems in the near east funnel through the israeli - arab conflict and until that is resolved, none of the issues washington claims to be attending - violence, al qaida (?), iraq ethnicities etc., even pakistan - are simply impossible to solve? it is not garfucius alone who holds that position, many students of world politics from noam chomsky to howard zinn have argued the point to anyone who reads or listens.

that is not because the israeli - arab conflict is the ultimate confrontation in the world but it is a battleground where all weapons and tactics are used by all parties to secure non-solution in this actual frontier of modernity with non-modernity.

if the israeli - arab issue is resolved, not only will iran (maybe i should say ahmadinajad-ism) and other forces of darkness will l0se a sublime cause for self-justification, the festered rules of desert despots all over arab states will have to shake camel dung from the hems of their jallabiya and strut toward civilization.

unless they are going to be crushed under the economic output of emerging nations like chindia, the comparably richer near east arabs have to get fast to a level where they can export more than oil and so called "terrorism".

why was dubya so late? was he hoping for a rift among palestinians? not likely; if he had such clairvoyance (or the means to induce such clairvoyance!), he could have seen the big picture, too.

maybe the near east is the fade out gate for presidents moving out of office.

if hillary wins, it may turn into a blast-in porte for the clintons, though... bill had almost made a watershed headway before he left. a final victory will instate him/them as the last royal couple in world politics... even if it may cause hillary a second term.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

shop to open again

hello, i am sure you have missed me. had to close shop for medical reasons. will be back soon but need to warm up a little first.

look at what's been happening since that i could not put in my two bits' worth of wisdom: muslim pakistan snuffed out the last and sole remaining candle of hope on its hopeless trek toward civilization, while relatively, its arch enemy godless india has taken off already...

americans are so happy with almost a decade of running about as a global superpower as coherent as a headless chicken that they almost decided to replace dubya with dubious, more commonly recognized as barack obama (*), possibly just because they want to maintain oval as oval instead of oral, as far as white house offices are concerned...

the u.s. fed has put the brakes on globalization - the way we used to when we were young, riding bicycles that did not have working brakes, i.e., wearing out the soles of our shoes...

meanwhile chindia (**) have become the scourge of capitalism, now that oil has topped $100 a barrel. a new world war is expected to gain control of petroleum producing areas. however since wars are expensive enterprises as even dubya is learning, when prices of cheap chindian goods hit celestial levels because of oil procured at the end of oil wars, they will have to sell their merchandise in world markets at the end of bayonets...

well, i've been out on my back three weeks or so but the world is as crazy and absurd as ever.

thank heavens and their consumers...

(*) one of turkey's supposedly top tv anchormen, mehmed ali birand apparently cannot pronounce obama, he kept calling the candidate "barak omaba" in a number one fm radio commentary. i have to admit though, that the man's name sounds more african than american. (**) china and india are more than emerging markets in some eyes, they are emerging powers, too - among which some also add russia. such illusions always happen to those who view the world as a playing field of nations and their states rather than deeper forces: after the opec oil embargo in the 1970s, everyone was weary and reverent of the arabs and the 1990s were supposed to be the decade japan would finally rule the world, etc., etc. so, i turned the emerging powers into a merging concept.