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2011: Vermin Time in the World’s Markets

Author bio: 
Richard Cottrell

About twenty years ago, I was incarcerated for several memorable days in the legendary insalubrious Strand Hotel in Rangoon, once a famous watering hole of the imperial boxwallahs. The old pile had descended considerably from that state of grace. The last sound one heard at night before finally surrendering to the pillow was the scuttling of thousands of cockroaches across the teak floors. Come morning the room would be thoroughly fumigated, but by nightfall the indomitable creatures of the night were back in force. I can hear that same sound of rapacious scuttling right now. It comes from the swarms of international corporate cockroaches as they scurry to cut a picking from the misery and chaos in Japan.

Try this.

Japan’s Nikkei share index climbed 3 percent, recouping some of the week’s stinging losses as Japan reeled from an earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear power plant crisis.

Get that. Don’t you feel those stinging losses to the marrow of your bones? Thousands perished in a monstrous tsunami. Their thoughts as the gigantic wave from hell appeared can hardly be imagined. Whole communities have vanished like, forever. Thanks to the idiocy of the ruling classes in cahoots with the grossly corrupted nuclear lobby, millions of tonnes of water slapped bang into an atomic power plant that should never have been there in the first place. Hungry for electricity, prosperity and votes, the usual triangulation of callousness in Japan, every sage warning that a country with the dodgiest seismic record on earth ought to think very hard before embarking on what can now be seen plainly as a very dangerous course, was ignored. And this in a land haunted still by the ghosts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The quake altered tilted the world’s orbit and shoved the Japanese isthmus about fifteen meters nearer China. But this is nothing compared to the pandemonium that struck the markets. Japan has been living for years off the proceeds of artificially inflated stocks, pickled as she otherwise is in a state of virtually nil growth. Japan is often called the ‘world’s third largest economy.’ This is only correct in the sense that she makes her money as a globe-hopping exporter of cash and resources which are then repatriated and served up at the alter of the Great God Nikkei. When the quake and the waters struck, his wails could be heard all the way to New York, London and Frankfurt. Even as no-one knew just how many had died, whether the thousands upon thousand of grieving relatives would ever find the bodies of the their lost ones – this in a land where respect for ancestors is a totem of existence - or if Japan really had spawned another Chernobyl, the fatuous G7 met in conclave to save the global corporatocracy from their own stupidity and greed.

Reflect on the wretched heavyweight cockroach Larry Ludlow of CNBC who turned to camera with one of those pretentious poses beloved of Delphic televisual persons who consider themselves to be superhuman. “The human toll here,” he solemnly opined “looks to be much worse than the economic toll and we can be grateful for that.” Glory be.

Here’s the truth. The New World Order has sprung a serious leak thanks to the terrible events in Japan. The foretold ills of interlocking the world economy have come home to roost. The intervention which is now coming from the G7 to shore up the Yen has to be seen alongside the relief, so to speak, expressed by the market investors, who cuddle up to the feel-good factor that the Japanese government and wealthy ex-pat Japanese will repatriate vast sums held or invested abroad to rebuild the damaged parts of the country. Think of all that lovely cream topping to be skimmed off a soaring Nikkei. This is very close to saying ‘disaster – what disaster?’ Of course these investors that we hear so much about are very rarely physical persons. There are no investors in stock markets any more. There are only gamblers who have turned the markets into casinos. Now there’s a new pool table to play, just as prospects continue to look flat more or less everywhere else.

The money that these gamblers play with is not of course their own. They are rolling the dice with the proceeds of billions thrown at the crooked banks and their accomplices in the corporate galaxy, which is in turn extracted from the pockets of taxpayers.

The Japanese calamity, appalling as that is, has been forced to compete for word count with another grotesque disaster, although Libya and the carnage there is the gift of human hands. Japan rises and falls on the decibel scale according to the degree of risk that fall out from the stricken reactors might contaminate other countries, notably the United States. Libya is in some respects the same, because of her rating as a global oil supplier. It seems fairly plain that the uprising was stirred deliberately, the usual suspects having judged that a timely ‘flower power’ insurrection would tie up a neat hat trick of pro-western successions from Egypt to Tunisia. The knack of western leaderships in succumbing to these American-inspired self-righteous nation-building exercises has already given us the famous stews of Afghanistan and Iraq and the virtual destruction of Pakistan. If - and it probably is no longer if – Gaddafi is eventually toppled, then the appetite for more such interventions will only increase.

When the Libyans, like the Tunisians and the Egyptians, eventually discover that they are not to be the sovereign inheritors of their own country (as they so naively imagine), but instead colonial subjects of the New World Order, and some ruling potentate appointed for the purpose, it will be much too late to do anything about it. Remember the injunction of Rousseau and others, who warned that invariably the consequence of swapping nurse was something worse. What the world will remember, however, is the glorious humanitarian mission that rained freedom from the skies, even blandishments that worked without a shot fired, or so ‘Wooster’ Cameron and Sarkozy hope, the quick and painless war that will lift their flagging electoral fortunes. It was ever thus.

Japan and Libya, in their different ways expressions of the corporate tide sweeping the globe. Across Africa we see the rule of debased tribal dictators armed and backed by big business and western intelligence agencies, the CIA well to the fore. The Pentagon’s Africorps (note the giveaway chime with Hitler’s Afrika Corps) is a scarcely veiled form of colonialism redux designed to shield rapacious looting of the continent’s vast reserves of oil and minerals. In Asia, the world’s earliest unashamedly corporatist police state, Singapore, is praised as the shining example of the Asian miracle. Try dropping a cigarette end or a gob of chewing gum around that little piece of real estate and see what happens to you. The same as if you run for office against the incumbent rulers.

The new age oligarchs are everywhere. They run China thanks to the Red Army PLC. They run the great Gazpromian Federation thanks to Commissar Putin and poodle western corporations, yapping for a few crumbs from the big round table. The Drug Lords hold sway in Mexico and Colombia with a nod and wink from the US Army’s Southern Command and the CIA’s own narcotics ratlines. Countries like Chile and Argentina, who know more about internal repression than is good for them, thanks to the decades of US backing for fascist dictatorships under the infamous Operation Condor, have surrendered their wealth and resources to the west with scarcely a quibble. Cockroaches all.

It is big western ‘investors’ (code: banks, hedge funds and the smirking spivs who run so-called investment trusts) who are now deforesting the Amazon basin to grow ‘eco-fuel.’ Democracy is an empty phrase anywhere you look as traditional class and ideological divisions have collapsed. All power to the oligarchs! For they have managed to achieve what eluded a jumbo jet of thinkers like Marx, Adam Smith, Keynes, Saint-Simeon, Hobbes, old Tom Paine, etc. Yank the strings and their marionettes, the debased class of politicians, will dance to any tune that you call. Elections are a meaningless exercise, nothing more than a cash-and-carry run by the likes of George Soros and his fellow ornaments of the New World Order. You may think you just bought ‘trust me, the last honest man alive’ pack of Obami wonder cookies only to get home and find a free Bush Baby fridge magnet with every one. (Collect ten bags and collect a free book of Wee Georgie’s book of Texas barbecue cocktail recipes)

The long running story since 1945 is the promotion of greed as a way of playing to the crowds in the public Coliseum. The result was the slow death of both political pluralism and rationalism. Who for example ever asked the Japanese directly if they wanted their ever-shaking land dotted with nuclear power stations? So in this sense we are all trinket-maddened cockroaches scuttling after the latest consumer fantasy or some such other media-hyped candyfloss. Nintendo rules, OK? The corporations who manufactured this rhapsody are now in the business of pulling the support rug because the false palliative of democracy serves no purpose any more. They have bigger games to play.

Virtually unnoticed, thanks mainly to Libya and Japan, the biggest unelected boondoggle since the Roman empire has just held another huddle in Brussels, the outcome of which is a blank cheque allowing the EU to underwrite any new financial crisis which may be waiting around the corner with the engine running. Independent inspectors of the murky gloom of bankocracy, as distinct from hired Pollyannas, have long been warning that Europe’s banks are seriously sick (snooty Germany’s especially) and hopelessly over-exposed to both credit derivatives and junk bond risk. If, as they probably will, Greece and Ireland default, along with Italy and Spain, the member states are now committed to another round of massive bail-outs with the added provision that Europe can now print and offer its own Treasury bills. This is not much throwing petrol on flames as sticks of nitro-glycerin.

And that’s not all. This huge shift to institutionalized fiscal centralism was achieved minus any formal Treaty revisions, a process which, like the recent Lisbon adjustment, can drag on for years. Those countries already on life support systems can now be forced over the will of their own governments and electorates to sell off the family silver and pay the proceeds straight to their creditors. No such power to effectively foreclose on nation states has ever existed in history, short of invading them. The cockroaches are champing at the bit, as well they might given all those choice morsels at knock-down prices.

This is exactly the outcome against which Angela Merkel set that firm unsmiling jib of hers, since Germany is up for the lion’s share of the risk. So why the volte face? Quite simply Germany’s very real on-going economic miracle would not for all its strength stand up to a crash in the banking system which a Euro zone implosion would imply. Against her inner instincts (and most Germans) to revert to the much-mourned Mark, the self-inflicted strait-jacket of globalism offers no safety exit. For all that Weimar still casts a long shadow across the German state, the unforgotten mass unemployment and wheelbarrows of worthless paper scrip to buy a loaf of bread. Frau Merkel blinked.

The link between pumping up the tottering Yen and broadly the same group of nations getting ready to crank up the Euro within the same time frame is scarcely co-incidence. They are part and parcel of the Cockroach Spring, 2011.