Green Shoots and White Lies

Hark! Hear the buzz?
It’s the sap of the economy stirring.
Animal spirits are back on the prowl.
Just this week, a Schwab analyst argued that the recovery would be much stronger than expected.
Down in the federal maternity ward you can hear the squall of new life as Team Obama slaps cold flesh and breathes life into clammy infant lips.
Recovery is abornin’
How Green Are Our Shoots!

Thus say both Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. And the public believes them. How come?

It all began in March. In the first televised interview by any sitting Fed chairman in 20 years, ((CBS, 60 Minutes)) Bernanke used the term, “green shoots” for the first time. He pointed out that the Dow Jones index had recovered from 12 year lows in 2008 and the banking system had stabilized. No more big banks would fail, he predicted. ((AFP, March 15, 2009.))

Two months later, His Timness echoed Big Ben. Geithner cited reduced spreads on corporate and muni bonds, the reduction in costs in credit protection at the big banks, and smaller risk premiums in the interbank market. He too said the economy was recovering. ((Tim Geithner, Statement before the Senate Banking Committee, May 20, 2009.))

In June, World Bank President Robert Zoellick joined the ‘shooters.’

Zoellick is a former US trade representative notorious for forcing US government subsidies and trade policies inimical to small farmers onto emerging markets. Zoellick noted “signs of global recovery,” but cautioned that they might be killed off if protectionism were adopted. ((Reuters, June 8, 2009. ))

Translation: foreigners had better not object to US government-managed trade policies…or the global recovery will fold.

Put out… or look out.

Zoellick added his own revealing metaphor to the shooter lexicon: “Right now there is a low-grade fever; it isn’t full influenza, but we need to keep a close watch…” [my emphasis]

Oddly, Zoellick’s own employees at the World Bank contradicted their boss’s assessment in a report only a couple of weeks later. (See “World Bank Global Economic Outlook” below.)

By then billionaire hedge-fund manager George Soros was also seeing green. And in July, chief wonk of the Obama economic team Lawrence Summers detected greenery in remarks to the Peterson Insitute for International Economics.

Green shoots were now being sighted by everyone

  • In July the International Monetary Fund published its World economic outlook update. The Fund revised expected global growth in 2010 upward to 2.5%. The main source of the improvement, it claimed, was a brightening outlook for Asia.
  • Simon Johnson, IMF economist–turned-Peterson-Institute-spokesman-turned green-shooting-star even went on PBS to announce, “we are turning some sort of corner.” (August 20, 2009)
  • Surveys of economists and business leaders in the summer showed that, in contrast to only a few months earlier, slightly more than half thought that the economy had bottomed.

Question: How can a depression heralded as equal to or worse than the Great Depression, a depression described as a ‘reckoning’ for over a quarter of a century of economic misdeeds, correct itself in less than a year?

Answer: It can’t.

Yet, by mid-year, that’s exactly what pundits were telling the public. And that’s exactly what the public was beginning to believe. Not surprisingly, by mid-year, stock markets the world over had rebounded sharply.

White Hats and White Lies

But the economy hadn’t really turned any corners. What was unfolding was a giant sleight-of-hand. The “good guys” of the liberal corporate-state were pulling a fast one, doing two contradictory things at the same time.

On one hand, Team Obama had to admit the enormity of the crisis, in order to justify the size of its own rescue efforts. Thus Tim Geithner in his statement to the banking committee in May took care to note the following:

1. The economy had lost 2.1 million jobs from December to February ’09, the largest three-month decline since 1945. (the second-largest three-month decline in 1975 was only half as big).

2. GDP fell at an average annual rate of 5.9 percent in Quarter 4 ’08 and Quarter 1 ’09 — the fastest six-month rate of decline since 1958.

3. Even before policy changes, the Congressional Budget Office was projecting a budget deficit for 2009 well in excess of a trillion dollars because of the weak economy.

4. The US faced economic problems of such a “unique character” that Congress had had to adopt the largest fiscal stimulus package in the nation’s history, at 5% of GDP.

On the other hand, Team O also had to pretend that the rescue had improved things dramatically or people would ask what the point of it was.

The Obamites managed to pull this off with a slew of white lies.

Some of the biggest ones:

Fudge One: Goldman Sachs had a great quarter, making a profit of $3.5 billion and the government made $1.4 billion on its investment in Goldman Sachs. The government also got a 15% return on its investment in the eight biggest banks.

Truth: Goldman had a great quarter only because it moved its reporting calendar to cut out December 2008, when it had a loss. And the goverment only made a profit on the TARP money it gave to Goldman because

  • It funnelled more money via the bail-out of insurance giant AIG to AIGs counterparties, including Goldman (which took in $13 billion of the AIG money).
  • Warren Buffett made a pre-TARP financial investment in Goldman.
  • Goldman got the benefit of exceptionally low interest rates from the government at the expense of savers and to the benefit of borrowers.
  • Goldman was issued FDIC-guaranteed bonds.

Without that extra welfare thrown at it, Goldman would actually be broke, not showing a profit. Ditto for the other banks.

Fudge Two: The labor market is getting better because jobs are growing. The unemployment rate fell from 9.5% in June to 9.4% in July.

Truth: That number only shows a slowing in the growth of unemployment. And even that small improvement has been offset by other aspects of the labor market that are worsening quite sharply:

  • The duration of uemployment is increasing.
  • Temporary jobs are declining.
  • The percentage of the eligible population receiving unemployment insurance has increased (0.1 percentage point to 4.7%. by September).
  • The four-week moving average of initial claims has moved to its highest level in a month ((Thomson Reuters, September 3, 2009.))

Even when jobs have been added, they’ve been created by government spending and they’ve been in areas like education, health, and government. In the purely private economy, in manufacturing, construction and retail, job losses have been huge.” ((Brown manure not green shoots,” Nouriel Roubini, Forbes, July 9, 2009.))

Note: Recent improvement in the ISM (Institute of Supply Management) Index that signals expansion of production (and thus hiring) also needs to be discounted against the huge price inflation an increasingly pressured dollar will entail. That’s beside the effects of a hike in the Federal Funds rate that’s bound to follow a dollar crashing scenario.

Note also: The ISM is a leading indicator of executive expectations for future productions, orders, inventories hiring, and deliveries.

Fudge Three: Increases in real personal income in April and May will increase consumer spending.

Truth: The increases were caused by tax-rebates and unemployment benefits kicking in, and most of it was saved, not spent (80 cents on the dollars). There was a temporary lift in consumer spending, but it petered out quickly. And as unemployment rises, benefits decline, and credit tightens in the future, consumption will decline even further

Fudge Four: The bank stress tests came out better than expected.

The bank stress tests led Ben Bernanke to conclude that nearly all of the banks had enough capital to absorb higher losses should the economy worsen, and that the Treasury stood ready to provide more. ((AFP, “Hope is alive for ‘green shoots’ as stress tests trigger optimism,” May 11, 2009.))

Truth: The bank stress tests used an unemployment figure of 10.3% (the most adverse case). But unemployment is likely to be 11% and above by next year. If you take into account discouraged and partially employed workers, some economists suggest the figure is more likely to be 16%.

Another point. The stress tests overlooked all the other ways in which the government was paying for the banks, through FDIC guarantees and cheaper loans, for instance.

Fudge Five: The housing market is improving.

In July, the Pending Home Sales Index was up 3.2%.

Another improvement was in the value of U.S. homes. In the second quarter that number fell year-on-year (the 10th consecutive quarterly decline), but it fell by a smaller amount than in the previous quarter, for the first time since 2007.

Truth: The improvement in home sales has been mostly in the lower end of the market and it largely reflects foreclosure sales and government credit, not real improvement in the market.

The slow-down in price decline has been offset by negatives in other areas:

  • 23% of all homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their houses are worth.
  • 22% of all home sales nationwide in June were foreclosure resales.
  • 29.2 percent of all homes sold in June were sold for less than the owners originally paid. (( August 11, 2009.))

Loan problems aren’t confined to subprime. Prime mortgages are going underwater too.

Meanwhile, the market also has to deal with the decline in commercial real estate, which is undergoing one of the greatest contractions in retail in decades. Rents, even in the best urban shopping districts, have been declining. ((Colliers International Spring 2009 Retail Report, May 14 2009.))

Beyond commercial real estate, there are also all the other plagues about to visit us, when personal loans, auto loans, and student loans tighten over the coming years.

Bottom line? There is no real basis for sustained optimism about the economy yet. Simon Johnson’s relatively upbeat assessment reflects only temporary inputs:

  • the government’s reflation effort (that created cheaper credit)
  • business write-downs (that created better balance-sheets)
  • the business cycle (that leads to restocking and inventories rising)

Johnson cites low inflation as another positive factor. However, with all the money pumped into the economy (including the latest cash-for-clunkers scheme), that’s also unlikely to be anything more than temporary.

This harsh reality is reflected in the World Bank Global Outlook Report of June 22, 2009. It notes the following for 2009:

  • Global growth is set to fall by 2.9%
  • World trade is likely to shrink by nearly 10%
  • Industrial production in rich countries will drop by 15% from August 2008
  • Developed economies will contract by 4.5% in 2009 and grow only in 2010 and 2011
  • The US economy will decline by 3%
  • Private capital flows to developing countries are likely to be halved, from $US 707 billion (2008) to $US363 billion (2009)
  • Industrial production in developing countries, excluding China, is set to fall by 10%
  • GDP growth in developing countries will fall from 5.9% (2008) to 1.2%.

A Verbal Pandemic Infects the Economy

Given this underlying reality, the media’s success in manipulating market sentiment has been nothing short of astounding.

And all it seems to have taken was the viral proliferation of a single meme. Call it a verbal pandemic.

Go back to March, when there was a second rescue of AIG and Citi in the offing, the Madoff investigation was expanding, and the US had a face-off with China. ((“Nightmare on Wall Street,” Lew Rockwell, April 1, 2009. )) Fear was widespread and consumer and business confidence were at multidecade lows.

To take one indicator, Google searches for “economic depression” were four times what they were before the crisis broke in 2008.

Then Bernanke came out with the phrase, “green shoots.” After he introduced it, it showed up 3,123 times in news articles that month. Compare that to 436 in February (according to Nomura Holdings Inc. research).

Bulls and bears both used it. It was applied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to the Iranian demonstrations.

In four months, ‘green shoots’ had grown seven-fold. Today, a Google search for the meme fetches 3.31 million hits.

As the phrase spread across the media, Bloomberg noted that business and consumer confidence spread with it. Sentiment changed. People stopped panicking and started talking about buying opportunities. It was that change in mood that let administration economists build their flimsy case for economic recovery.

Take a look at Summers’ list of improving indicators in his speech at the Peterson Institute on July 17. You’ll see the proof. At least five of the metrics Summers cites relate to sentiment. I’ve highlighted the relevant words.

  • Most businesses are now expecting better times, not worse, as they’d expected 6 mths earlier.
  • Consumer sentiment is improving.
  • Options are showing a less than one percent chance of the Dow falling below 5000 in 2009 (they were once showing a better than 15% chance).
  • Private forecasters are expecting positive growth at the end of 2009.
  • Google searches for economic depression are back to normal. (Yes, that’s on Summers’ list).

Let me repeat this.

It took two simple syllables, neither beyond the reading ability of a pre-schooler, for people to discount the hard evidence of the numbers and the harder evidence on the streets in favor of a sales pitch by the government.

We might even go a bit further. The stimulus by itself can have done no more than buy time for the banks and take the pressure of the interbank market. It’s taken sustained propaganda for banks and businesses to regain enough confidence to operate.

And they’ve regained confidence not in the economy, but in the government.

In brief, a story-line two words long shows up rational man of for a fiction and a fraud. Economic man, the maximiser of his self-interest, turns out not to exist.

Of course, outside economic text books, he had never existed. Man, as we find him in the world, adds up numbers as an afterthought to his feelings. When he feels good, he massages his numbers upward. When he feels bad, the numbers are downcast with him.

Economists who have caught on to this know that what they practice is no science of enlightenment. It is a black art. The knowledge keeps them humble.They stick to describing things the way things actually work. They look just ahead of their noses and count themselves lucky if they can balance their check books at the end of the day.

But government economists labor under the delusion of omnipotence. To a man, they believe they can make bull frogs sing in tune and bats bathe in the sunshine. It isn’t enough that their theories blew up the market. For that alone, lesser men would have cut open their veins or thrown themselves under a passing tram.

Now the delusion is they can fix it. And that is where the meme of ‘green shoots’ figures. It’s task was not so much to boost confidence in the markets as it was to boost confidence in the ability of government experts to fix markets.

For that, visible success.. or even marginal competence.. is no longer needed. The old rain-men had to make rain or they were fed to the lions. The rain-men of today can produce drought… or famine, or even plague and they become lions.

The more they fail, the more they are believed. When they have been completely refuted, they become Nobel laureates. They may not know what ails the market, but they know for certain it takes a village of economists to fix it.

Or, as economist Robert Samuelson put it in a sharp criticism of Summers’ speech at the Peterson Institute: “If the president and his allies claim often enough that their policies have succeeded, most Americans may believe them.” ((“Summer’s Spin: We Did It,” Newsweek, July 17, 2009.))

Lila Rajiva is a freelance journalist and the author of The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the US Media (Monthly Review Press, 2005) and Mobs, Messiahs and Markets (with Bill Bonner-Wiley, September 2007). She has also contributed chapters to One of the Guys (Ed., Tara McKelvey and Barbara Ehrenreich, Seal Press, 2007), an anthology of writing on women as torturers, and to The Third World: Opposing Viewpoints (Ed., David Haugen, Greenhaven, 2006). Read other articles by Lila, or visit Lila's website.

12 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. David said on September 12th, 2009 at 9:35am #

    Ms. Rajiva:

    You are getting close to what is meant by the term, “jobless recovery.”

    The game of wealth acquisition is now being played solely for the benefit of the one percent of the wealthiest people in the US.

    The rest of us have been written off as casualties of unfortunate circumstances or those undeserving of success because we failed to understand the system or god is punishing us because we didn’t pray hard enough. Take your pick.

    But stay tuned to Oprah for more good news or to Jerry Springer to make yourselves feel better.

  2. Max Shields said on September 12th, 2009 at 4:02pm #

    Lila Rajiva
    Superb analysis. The US is not simply run by corporations, IT IS A CORPORATION. The happy talk is identical to what goes on in large corporations who have been bleeding, while corporate CEOs continue to gain huge bonuses.

    The US has lived in a “dodge the bullet” mode since the 1930s. What is called “capitalism’s resilence” is really a “slight of hand” as you put it. The economy contracts, the numbers and talking points are fudged, the poor get relatively poorer and increase in total numbers. The concentration of wealth is demonstrated by the number of billionaires. None of whom earned a damn cent. What is it that gets Bill Gates his billions?

    But the jig has been going on for so long it’s hard to think of it being played any other way. First, there’s the recession, then the new administration claims that it’s worse than they thought before they took over, and then they make the rest up figuring this is just another roller coaster ride.

    But it aint.

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain said on September 12th, 2009 at 4:47pm #

    One is put in mind of the injunction that one should repeat a lie, over and over again, until, by sheer weight of repetition it becomes accepted as the truth. As with the economics charade so too with everything else. America’s famous ‘morality’ and dedication to ‘human rights’, or Israel’s ‘moral purity’, or perhaps anthropogenic climate change denialism all evidence not just the repeated lie becomes truth proposition, but its close comrade-in-arms, the Big Lie. This was the brainchild of the febrile imagination of Mr Hitler, who recommended audacity and ambition in lying. The bigger the lie, the more naked its untruth, the more likely that the average man, unused to lying so freely and still, being basically psychically normal, capable of being afflicted by guilt and shame and remorse, would swallow it, unable to believe or unprepared to accept that such blatant lies could be peddled. The bigger the better.
    The Big Lie culture suits the psychopath down to the ground. Thus the increasingly pathological aspects of late market capitalist society further the competitive advantage of the psychopath, as they lack conscience and will lie, and lie well, to advance themselves and harm others. This is true, and always has been, in business (if you want a friend on Wall Street, buy yourself a dog [or a politician])and politics. Obama seems the highest expression of this trend, so far. He clearly lied about almost all his policy priorities and ambitions. He has betrayed those gullible patsies who voted for him, over and over. He has ruled for those who paid for his political career from the beginning, the Zionists and the finance industry. And he has done everything in his power to resuscitate the Wall Street financial gravy-train.
    Just what the psychopaths hope to achieve by re-inflating the stock-market bubble while the real economy falters, is difficult to discern. Perhaps they really believe they can get the Greenspan Bubble Machine going again, for another era of hyper-greed, billion dollar bonuses and conspicuous excess. After all the economics on which the ‘efficient markets’ and ‘rational expectations’ and all the other mumbo-jumbo of this debased pseudo-science and propaganda system is based, is the greatest intellectual con since eugenics or phrenology.
    The Big Lie, endlessly repeated by the debased propaganda system we call the Free Press, that the global financial crisis was unexpected, is meant for the patsies who get their brainwashing from the mainstream media only. One could list a dozen, at least, who were shrieking alarm for years. One or two of the more malleable ones have been publicised, but the more radical ones have, as ever, been ignored. The mainstream economics cabal, meanwhile, continues producing propaganda for the parasite class masquerading as ‘research’, always justifying and rationalising greed, inequality, endless cancerous growth and elite privilege. Of course, for the time being, talk of ‘trickle-down’ and ‘rising tides lifting all boats’ has been dropped, some lies being just too big even for a thoroughly brainwashed public. But they are still inventive in their region of the Big Lie universe. My current favourite, from a Swedish Bank Prize (the so-called ‘Nobel’ prize for economics)winner no less, is the theory that the Great Depression of the 1930s was caused by workers refusing to take up the available jobs, for unknown reasons, but perhaps because they had better things to do. I’m sure Lewis Carroll would be envious of such talent at confecting dreamscapes posing as reality.

  4. Don Hawkins said on September 12th, 2009 at 5:27pm #

    The lie on many different levels is about to show itself. Many people I talk to just regular folk know something is up. Consume to survive now that’s change you can believe in. Not going to happen it has already started. Google Detroit and just read. How’s the summer shaping up in Australia Mulga? Any plans in place or being put in place for any of this even one. No just more foolishness and stupidity on a grade scale. Keep the system going at full speed and do the same thing over again oh that’s right with regulations. Just the next five months this I got to see.

  5. Don Hawkins said on September 12th, 2009 at 6:39pm #

    Just look at this chart and the next months bad enough then think ahead just a little. 5 years then 10 we don’t need Nostradamus on this now we have satellites that if nothing else shows us what’s coming. That chart is precep forecasts and the chart for ocean temperatures tells the story. .

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain said on September 13th, 2009 at 1:21am #

    Well, Don, there are bad fires in New South Wales already. Rainfall is below average everywhere, but particularly in Victoria. The water shortage is so critical in Melbourne that the incompetent and moronic state ‘Labor’ Government is stealing more water from the Thompson River, thereby sentencing the magnificent Gippsland lakes to death by algal eutrophication. If an El Nino type summer develops, which, on the balance of probabilities, means even hotter and drier weather than last summer, then Victoria is in deep shit. Melbourne having spread like topsy, as the free market growth obsessed political and business cretins so desired, its outer suburbs of massive ‘McMansions’ built with virtually no gardens, little distance between houses, even, in a move typical of the rank imbecility of life ‘down under’, no eaves, are a disaster waiting to happen. If a fire gets loose in those suburbs, on a day like Black Saturday this February, with the fire intensity index, never before seen higher than 100, hitting 192, and reportedly, in places, in the 300s, then there will be hell to pay.
    The eaves business is so indicative of how we have reached this impasse. We used to build houses with wide verandahs, a fine introduction from India, that cooled the interior of the house on the hottest days. However, as with everything here, greed is paramount, so housing estates are packed shoulder to shoulder, with no verandahs, not even any eaves. These huge homes, growing ever bigger as family size falls, with huge glass windows, often without curtains, so one can admire the plasma TVs within heating up the interior, are heat-traps. To cool them, one must have air-conditioning. Often enough this is left on all day in the summer, or started by remote control before the inmates return home after work. The amount of energy involved in air-conditioning is driving energy consumption in this country. Needless to say, energy efficiency is a subject not often aired, as it threatens profits. In Victoria the irony is even more bitter, as the electricity to drive these air-con plants comes from power stations burning brown coal, the worst CO2 polluter of all.
    As temperatures rise, August records being broken across the country (in Alice Springs, in the centre, on three consecutive days!)as the drought deepens, as estuarine environments like the Coorong at the mouth of the Murray, die, as perennial crops like vines and citrus, die and are pulled from the ground and burned, as the river red-gums, which often live for 500 years, die across their range in unprecedented numbers,so too does anthropogenic climate change denialism thrive. A real cretins’ crusade this, a Rightwing obsession as unpleasant to behold as your town-hall meetings shennanigans of the obese, obscene and obtuse, it is pushed relentlessly by the same moral, intellectual and spiritual poison as is behind the anti-Obama hysteria-Murdochism. Where you have FoxNews spreading the Murdochian malaise, here we have News Ltd newspapers, the hideous The Australian to the fore. The Australian is the type of propaganda rag that has the gall to call itself a newspaper, while presenting, in its editorials, opinion pages and even in its features, absolutely one-sided Rightwing diatribes equal to anything you see on FoxNews. Anthropogenic climate change denialism, coverage 99% one-sided, is their speciality.To add ghastly hypocrisy to injury, NewsLtd boasts that it will be ‘carbon-free’ by some date in the near future.
    So, Don, Australia (it rhymes with failure) is heading straight for climate change perdition, at accelerating pace, happily oblivious, smugly self-satisfied as ever, unequipped to think rationally after years of relentless brainwashing and with its citizens’ synapses clogged with saturated fat. By 2030, they say, a huge proportion of Australians over 65 will be demented. Methinks that they will be the lucky ones.

  7. mary said on September 13th, 2009 at 1:34am #

    I think the word is ‘unsustainable’ Mulga. When are your fellow citizens going to wake up? Not many in the UK are wideawake yet.

  8. Don Hawkins said on September 13th, 2009 at 5:01am #

    California and Australia have lately been making the headlines for drought problems. But Mexico is facing the worst drought it has seen in the last 69 years. That on top of the already existing water crisis, precipitated by terrible water management, is beginning to push things over the edge. Corn, wheat and other crops are faring badly, and officials are actually hoping to see a hurricane hit soon just so a looming food crisis might be averted.
    After months of drought, spring crops are failing and food may need to be imported, causing costs to rise. According to the article in the Los Angeles Times, “The need for rain is so dire that water officials have been rooting openly for a hurricane or two to provide a good drenching. “We really are in a difficult situation,” said Felipe Arreguin Cortes, deputy technical director for Mexico’s National Water Commission.”
    Officals are saying that El Niño is at least in part to blame, the cyclical warming pattern that causes weather changes, including taking rains elsewhere. We can consider that this, combined with global warming’s role in drought and water shortages in the first place have all added up to to the reported more than $1 billion in losses from spring crops, a loss both in food and income that officials say will be felt into next year.
    What is a kernel of positivity in this issue is that a strong realization that water management techniques must be revamped in order to avoid this problem in the future. Regardless of cyclical weather patterns or larger scale changes in rainfall globally, new ways of managing water are going to be needed to avoid this kind of crisis in the future. It’s something the entire globe, not just Mexico, is slowly having to come to terms with. Mexico City was once a lake, but now, thanks to over-pumping water reserves and poor management, desertification could be in its future – as is the case with many other areas. Returning to techniques that fall more in sync with natural systems (as the article notes) in the area could help, but it’s a matter of implementing much needed changes in an area already hurting. That may mean any changes will be slow to come. SF,Calif

    Again just think ahead 5 then 10 years and here in the States let’s watch our so called leaders the next few months and there great wisdom.

  9. Synic3 said on September 13th, 2009 at 7:53pm #

    An excellent article that explained and illuminated many points.

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain said on September 14th, 2009 at 1:16am #

    mary, the brain dead ‘Austrayan’ mainstream will awake, possibly, at one minute to midnight, realise that they are stuffed and start looking for scape-goats. Stupidity, ignorance and risible arrogance are the absolute prerequisites for life in this sad little country. Anthropogenic climate change denialism is growing rapidly here, impelled by ferocious Rightwing propaganda headed by the Murdoch apparatus. The denialist industry realised that by presenting climate change as a Left versus Right issue, with the despised ‘greenies’ on the side of the science, that they would win the instant and fanatic allegiance of Rightwing bigots brainwashed from birth in hatred, for the Left, other races, unionists, people smarter than themselves-you name it. So, as the evidence mounts, it is all dismissed by imbeciles with no idea concerning the science, but as certain as can be concerning what they hate. The recent tactic has been to exaggerate the economic costs, and appealing to rank greed never fails in this country. If you expected any good example coming from Australia, forget it! Indeed in recent days it has become apparent that the Victorian ‘Labor’ Government, about as moronic and arrogant a rabble as our politics has produced for a long while, intends to open an export drive in brown coal sales, the dirtiest greenhouse pollutant of all. But only to countries with ‘Carbon Capture and Storage’, which, alas, does not exist, probably never will exist, and certainly won’t exist for twenty years. Never fear-they’ll just lie, as they all lie, all the time. Our political caste shows every day that they are either in full denial, or that they are simply too thick to contemplate our fate or (my belief) that they simply could not give a toss what happens after they die.

  11. David Brat said on September 14th, 2009 at 5:35am #

    Very nice critique of “green shoots.” Never bought it myself. But do you have any ratios or proxies related to debt, foreclosures, commercial real estate etc.. which “will” bring an end to false dawn?

  12. Bob said on September 14th, 2009 at 6:02am #

    Somebody once said “copper has a Phd in economics”. The price of copper is double what it was in January. Want to know what is happening? Watch the price trend for copper.
    Have a great week!