fascinated by financial markets, larger trends in economy and how it relates to politics and society.
trained in the social sciences of political science, sociology and anthropology with focus on comparative global and regional economic development, political process, social movements, and mass media.
deeply suspicious of models of economics detached from history and politics seeking to claim explanatory powers when working with time frames that extend beyond the time it takes for programmed traders operating computers to knock the dow down one thousand points (although even here, dare i say, there was a pretty intense set of hearings on wall street going down on capitol hill that day, if one wants to seek to explain how and why such a "random market event" happened on may 6, 2010)...
in my view, the rise and fall of local, regional and global empires is at the heart of modern capitalist world history. i see economic processes embedded in political processes. theoretical efforts to abolish political structures from market forces are mathematically possible, buthistorically fraudulent. in this way, one could argue, the economy is too serious a topic to be left to professional economists, who prefer the elegance in market theory to the ugliness of real markets in historical practice.
the recent crash of the american financial markets in 2008 cannot be understood apart from a serious analysis of the relationship between congressional reforms of banking laws and the rise of the shadow banking system and the explosion of derivatives and mortgage securitization which these reforms, lobbied for by wall street agents inside and outside the executive branch of government, made possible.
now, post bankster bailout, we are living through one of the most important "end game moments" in american history, characterized by the collapse of ideological consensus between the two dominant political parties on the level of the social contract between workers, corporations, and government, which characterized the postwar period of american prosperity (1947-1973).
the past three decades of deepening official political party polarization (and declining electoral participation in politics until the past two presidential elections) have been punctuated by the rise of a potent mix of crony capitalism (eg wall street/oil/military/medical industrial complexes) and the bipartisan promotion of corporate and military globalization (the neoliberal and neoconservative forces at the heart of american politics).
but only one political party has any historical identification with working class interests, and that political party, as witnessed under Clinton and Obama, remains overwhelmingly dominated by corporate money, hence its inability and unwillingness to force the republican party to come to the table to renegotiate a new social contract in light of the new economic realities of permanent economic insecurity as a product of the bipartisan commitment to globalization.
this social contract contradiction at the heart of the political process in america is now becoming a source of political and economic crisis, as unemployment rates continue to rise into dangerous levels associated with developing and not developed modern industrial democracies.
the resolution of this structurally based socio-economic crisis remains to be seen, and it is not restricted to the usa, but it manifests itself directly in the bear and bull market debates ongoing around the state of american and global financial markets. to what extent is democratic politics compatible with the corporate globalization model of accumulation?
as corporate profits recover across the globe, though consumer-workers face more difficult conditions of economic survival, can a speculative driven casino economy continue to support the american dream? or is the american dream a myth destroyed by the ideological extremism of those who claim to only believe in the freedom of the capitalist marketplace?
libertarianism versus statism has become the false dichotomy driving republican based economic rhetoric. the democratic party's rhetoric embraces market regulation but in practice neither party confronts the nationalist elephant in the room: how can the most powerful financial interests in the nation fund the elections of officials constitutionally sworn to uphold the rights of american citizens to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness when so many of these corporate actors funding these politicians have global economic interests at odds with those of most americans?
how can a political party represent american interests when their primary source of campaign funding comes from these same global corporate actors with no commitment to the domestic economy beyond what is most profitable for their management teams and shareholders?
the ideological crisis in american society reflects these contradictions at the heart of the political process, brought on by the successful lobbying of american multinationals for a "new world order," organized by and for global corporations, paid for by american taxpayers and their american military with its mission of "full spectrum dominance," or better said, "global force projection."
much of what passes for intelligent debate inside the wall street and washington echo chamber of investment analysts and business and political news show talking heads, media pundits, political hacks, and professional political strategists ignores the central problem confronting the current model of capitalist accumulation in a democratic society: deepening inequality tends to reinforce pressures for more authoritarian politics, which reinforces more rather than less crony capitalism, and leads to more pressure below for individual conformity as a tactic of pragmatic survival.
escaping the current regime's race to the bottom requires a new social contract, and a new relationship between corporate market forces, government, and the civil society. this requires some new political coalition from below, or a new elite fraction from above, or most likely some combination of forces from above and below, to change the current course of political economy.
the alternative to a new democratic social (and therefore economic) contract in america is the rise of an american version of corporate feudalism backed by a national security state authoritarian regime.
this is the model being promoted since 9-11, in the name of fighting the war on terrorism. it is a model increasingly rejected by the social bases of both political parties, though both groups of political elites continue to embrace its logic and the budget appropriations supporting its expansion domestically and internationally.
the new corporate militarist authoritarianism promoted by both political parties reflects their failure to resolve the problem of deepening economic insecurity in america, since it is a way to expand the domestic stimulus without alienating the republican party elite, nor making the democratic party elite appear "soft on defense." but it is a political compromise with a tragic end game: it reinforces the worst trends in american society towards criminalization of the poor and the politically dissident, while removing the commitment of the state to provide humane levels of support for a social welfare system required in the age of the "new normal" where rising economic inequality coexists with deepening levels of structural unemployment in the century of the "new world order" of american corporate globalization...
if there is a new bull market in the stock market, it will be a product of developments which, ironically, most of wall street will at first resist with all their power and might. but as has been demonstrated repeatedly, wall street's short term greed and its institutional arrogance usually gets in the way of seeing how what is good for the average american is, in the long run, better for wall street, even if it has to be dragged along kicking and screaming the entire process moving forward.
hence the definition of progressive economic reform begins with a truism: wall street, like much of corporate america, lacks a sense of the common good, the public interest, and therefore should never be the primary, much less the exclusive source of policy for how to manage and grow the american economy.
the news from below should be clear: the crisis of the american economy can only be resolved from the bottom up. invest in people and the people's infrastructure, invest in the preservation and sustainability of one's natural and cultural resources, and the definition of what is economically profitable will change as well. there is a better way to think and do capitalism. begin by taking people and their needs seriously, create honest and fair marketplaces, and the sound investments and profits will follow.
a progressive capitalist view begins with the understanding that money and markets are solely means to a socially useful end, not ends in themselves.