“Last night I had a dream. You were in it and I was in it with you….”
— Randy Newman
As in this age of Hollywood sequels and prequels, America prefers to recycle old ideas rather than entertain new ones, so you can see exactly how the 2020 presidential election is shaping up to be a replay of the Great Depression, with Roosevelt-to-rescue! — only this time it’ll be with somebody in the role of Eleanor Roosevelt as chief executive. Donald Trump, of course, being the designated bag-holder for all the financial blunders of the past decade, gets to be Herbert Hoover. As was the case in the original, economic depression will segue into war, with maybe not such a happy ending for us as World War Two was.
There should be no doubt that the money part of the story is on a slow boat to oblivion. The world has been running on loans to such a grotesque degree that it’s managed the impressive feat of bankrupting the future. The collateral for all that debt was the conviction that there were ample amounts of future “growth” up ahead to service that debt. That conviction is now evaporating as car sales plummet, and real estate goes south, and nations twang each other over trade, and global supply lines wither. Globalism is unwinding — and not for the first time, either.
As in the standard Hollywood screenplay format, expect an “all is lost” moment when the “hero” (the USA) faces the existential dread of realizing that there is no more borrowing with the collateral gone. Translation: when the Federal Reserve discovers it can’t cue up yet another round of “Quantitative Easing” (QE) and ZIRP without destroying the value of the dollar — which it might do anyway, since monetary inflation is a great benefit to those who can’t pay back their debts, and the USA is the biggest deadbeat of all. An inflationary depression won’t be the same as the deflationary depression of the 1930s, but remember (cliché alert): history doesn’t exactly repeat, it rhymes. Financialization, it’ll turn out, was just money with its value removed. Imagine how pissed off the voters will be.