Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Megabubbles and the collapse of the West

Peak Oil is a great website for off beat and doom filled stories that will often appeal to dismal scientists.

This one caught my eye.

I must say this is one "new economic theory" story that is more off beat that most.

You Vote: What Megabubble Will Be The Next To Bring Us Down

Hollywood tag lines fit Exxon Mobil's $40 billion profit as well as the movies: "There will be Blood. There will be Greed. There will be Vengeance."

Our "war of civilizations" is not of theologies but a primal battle to control basic resources essential to survival. Yes, there is blood ... and oil ... and greed ... and vengeance ... and wars for survival.

At the highest level, this war's being waged in the elite towers of Wall Street and London and Dubai and Singapore: Quants in Turnbull & Asher shirts trading commodity derivatives, gunning for megabonuses, soaring high, like stealth bombers detached from the bloody fighting 40,000 feet below.

That's also how Eric Janszen's radar reads the world in Harpers Magazine's "The Next Bubble." Inside a thought-bubble common on Wall Street, he invents a new economic theory from the simple observation "that the Internet and the housing hyperinflations transpired within a period of 10 years."

Get it? Two bubbles, 10 years apart: An anomaly, yet suddenly we have a bizarre new economic theory: "There will and must be many more such booms, for without them the United States can no longer function. The bubble cycle has replaced the business cycle."

We're told the "next bubble" is already here: "Alternative energy," says Janszen. In his new "perpetual bubble-blowing machine" theory this means that biofuels, solar, wind, nuclear, hydroelectric and geothermal energies are the new bubble, until it peaks and "creatively destructs" around 2013.

2013? Yes, then Wall Street will replace it with a new bubble. Bubble after bubble, accelerating, increasing in size and frequency ad infinitum. And each time, "we will be left to mop up after yet another devastated industry," while Wall Street "will already be engineering its next opportunity." Unfortunately, the only thing perpetual is greed.

Small wonder Janszen dismisses my challenge on his iTulip.com Web site, claiming I have "no idea how the economy actually works." And yet, since my days at Morgan Stanley, I've seen many other theories that undercut this bizarre idea of a "perpetual bubble-blowing machine" which is predicated on a weak assumption: That the planet has an inexhaustible supply of oil and other natural resources. Unfortunately, that assumption is faith-based wishful thinking, much like Greenspan, Bernanke and Paulson's assumptions that the subprime problems were "contained."

The main alternative is "Peak Oil" theory, which the world's Exxon-Mobils hate. "Peak Oil" forecasts a different end game. Janszen's theory simply predicts America's economy will "creatively self-destruct" in 2013 while Wall Street is busy creating a newer, bigger bubble. In marked contrast, "Peak Oil" forecasts:

A "not-so-creative destruction" of the oil industry The end of Wall Street's "bubble-blowing machine" A steady decline of the oil-dependent global economy Widespread resources wars intensifying through the 21st century


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