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Michael considered fate at 14:45   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
I'll admit two things up front immediately: 1) nobody is going to want to read this post, and 2) I can't quite get a finger on the FTC anti-trust agenda.

Back in Feb. Whole Foods entered into a buyout agreement with Wild Oats, its only close competitor in the organic foods market. Sure sure, perhaps the two of them together represent most of the national organic food market share. Sure, maybe the two of them might not make for the most trustful merger. Certainly, they could try and price-gouge us poor poor organic food consumers. But come on! This is a company selling upscale in the first place and secondly, they would hardly be what I would refer to as a Monopoly.

The bottom line here is that these sorts of federal competitive policies don't really do shit at the end of the day. Wal-Mart has killed the American downtown. Target has paved over the old wounds with shiny and economical plastic. When Portland, Maine got a new Wild Oats it went in right next to a 25 yr old local business called the Whole Grocer. It is a few years later and we've acquired a Whole Foods a mere stone's throw from these other two organics.

Meanwhile, we have seen a list of telecom transgressions longer than their broadband is slow and kludgy. We've seen the FTC and FCC approve mergers of companies that were once two divisions of the same company that, essentially, was split up a few years earlier!

This is the glut of a super-sized nation. Starbuck's stores across the street from each other. Targets and Wal-Marts sharing the same parking lots. This is a country with too much money and not enough slow-the-fuck-down and I truly believe we've been hoodwinked into this lifestyle of more delivered now at the expense of our wallets, our independence, and our freedom.

So where is the obligatory article link? It is here in the form of a Yahoo! Finance article that describes one man's opinion on where our economy is going (and when we say "our" we really mean the entire world's, at this point):
The coming bust started in 1971. That was the year Richard Nixon took the United States off the gold standard, thus converting the U.S. dollar from money to currency -- that is, from an asset to a liability, and an instrument of debt. That was the year the dollar died.

After Nixon was forced out of office, the U.S. economy went into a slump under presidents Ford and Carter. We had high inflation and low growth, otherwise known as "stagflation," before Ronald Reagan and his dedication to supply-side economics -- Reganonomics -- came along.

Reagan cut taxes and started borrowing money, increasing the national debt. As a nation and as a people, we began borrowing and spending to spur the economy. And the economy boomed until 2000.
Ahh, "trickle down" indeed! Trickling so slowly that only now, thirty some-odd years later, is the shit starting to hit the proverbial fan.

So how bad will it be? Opinions differ but it would appear that it will be bad to some degree and it will come. These things are certain. The Global economy is so complex now that it is impossible to discuss the individual economies of countries in the singular. The exchange of goods and services sneak through even the most detailed of economic statistics. Black markets churn. Internet outsourcing, casino off-shoring, and immigration (illegal or not) create all sorts of difficult-to-measure effects.

When you throw America's suburbanization and love for all things large and costly, like SUVs and McMansions, and then stire in a little peak oil scare mongering into the mix you get, well, a pretty badly painted picture:
.. the activities that have become "normal" for us during the post World War Two era will very shortly become untenable. An economy based on suburban expansion and incessant motoring is on the top of the list of supposedly "normal" activities that will not be able to continue. I would maintain that even if we had 20 years, no combination of bio-fuels and other alternatives would enable us to keep suburbia running.
He goes on to say:
Perhaps the most imminent danger is that the financial markets, which have been driving our insane, hollowed-out economy, will soon recognize what's in store and implode, creating a crisis of capital that will leave us with no ability to make any emergency investments, such as would be required to rebuild the railroad system. The equity markets sure blinked last week when two hedge funds based on phony-baloney collateralized debt obligations tanked. The collateral underlying this load of hallucinated "wealth" is comprised of contracts made by the insolvent for suburban houses worth far less than the value stated on the contracts -- with every indication that the real value will keep dropping.
I may not agree whole-heartedly, as I shy away from broad doom-saying oratories, and I definitely believe in human ingenuity. However, I also believe in the short-sightedness of mob mentality and the blinding nature of greed for the green. I suspect the amount of "free" money, so easily borrowed in this decade thus far, won't continue forever. The imbalances of our global economy, as it stretches its legs and learns to fly, combined with an ingrained atmosphere of we-can-afford-anything in the US is probably not going to be the rosy affair we've all dreamed about.

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