A Shaky Foundation

Michael Krieger

And so castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually.
– Jimi Hendrix

There’s a widespread belief out there that the U.S. and the global economy in general is on much sounder footing ever since the financial crisis of a decade ago. Unfortunately, this false assumption has resulted in widespread complacency and elevated levels of systemic risk as we enter the early part of the 2020s.

All it takes is a cursory amount of research to discover nothing was “reset” or fixed by the government and central bank response to that crisis. Rather, the entire response was just a gigantic coverup of the crimes and irresponsible behavior that occurred, coupled with a bailout designed to enrich and empower those who needed and deserved it least.

Everything was papered over in order to resuscitate a failed paradigm without reforming anything. Since it was all about pretending nothing was structurally wrong with the system, the response was to build more castles of sand on top of old ones that had unceremoniously crumbled. The whole event was a huge warning sign and opportunity to change course, but it was completely ignored. Enter novel coronavirus.

I’ve been concerned about the coronavirus outbreak from the start, and have been tweeting about it consistently for well over a month.

This observation proved prescient within just a few weeks, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) screwed up its early response to the pandemic in the most sloppy and unimaginable way possible. For whatever reason, the CDC instituted ridiculously stringent guidelines for testing potential infections by limiting testing to only those who recently traveled from China or had contact with someone known to be infected. The CDC continued to stick to these insane guidelines as the disease began to spread rapidly all over the world, particularly in South Korea and Italy.

The event that finally prompted the CDC to change its guidelines was the emergence of the first confirmed incidence of community spread coronavirus in the U.S., which occurred in northern California. The health professionals caring for that patient had requested testing days earlier, but the CDC rejected the initial request, putting medical staff and others at risk for no good reason. On top of all that, the limited testing kits the CDC had sent out didn’t work properly. The level of incompetence and failure we’ve seen from the CDC is almost hard to fathom, but given how hollowed out and corrupt our society has become, shouldn’t be surprising.

At this point, nobody knows what the eventual impact of the coronavirus on the planet will be. Anyone who says they know for sure is lying, but I think we should be taking it very seriously given the potential tail risks. A global pandemic is an uncertain and dangerous thing in the most robust and healthy of systems, but the consequences within a fragile house of cards system such as ours can be devastating.

A month ago, stock market valuations were near the highest ever and interest rates were near the lowest they’ve been in recorded human history. A gigantic “everything bubble” of historic proportions had been blown and investors were flying too close to the sun. It was a balloon looking for a pin, and it found one in the coronavirus. Nobody knew what the pin would be, which is exactly why the stock market collapsed so rapidly the moment investors began to appreciate the gravity of the situation. The fragility of the financial markets should be taken as a warning sign with regard to the rest of the system.

Financial assets have been intentionally blown to nonsensical levels in order to coverup the massive rot underneath. They’ve been masking the fact that much of the underlying economy consists of little more than financial engineering scams and war-making enterprises. The imperial oligarchy we live under is an utterly rotten, corrupt, and fragile superstructure that’s been carefully hidden for ten years under a facade of euphoric markets and a mass of debt-based consumption slaves.

The coronavirus itself should be seen in this context. The global system as it exists is simply not prepared for anything like this, but the reality is things like this do occur from time to time. Maybe we’ll get lucky and avoid the worst case scenario with this virus, but that’s not the point. There will always be other pins, and when your entire superstructure is fundamentally fragile and led by mediocre, corrupt sociopaths, it doesn’t take much to bring it down faster than you can imagine.

We stand at a moment where the fragility of our Potemkin Village paradigm will increasingly confront the harsh realities of meatspace. Coronavirus is a warning. It’s exposing a lot already, and will likely expose far more as it continues to spread. It’s exposing our ridiculous financial bubbles, it’s exposing the fact the U.S. can’t even manufacture its own surgical masks or medicines, and it’s exposing the clownish ineptitude of our leaders and institutions.

It’s important we take this warning to heart and do something useful with it. It’s crucial we understand that the current paradigm is long past its useful life and likely won’t be hanging around much longer. Don’t cry or experience nostalgia for what was, rather, get your stuff together so you can help build and usher in the new world to come.

Those too attached to the way things have been will have a particularly hard time adjusting to the turbulent times ahead, so you want to do whatever you can in order to avoid being in that group. Change doesn’t have to be bad, but resistance to change can be deadly. Don’t allow yourself to be a casualty.

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