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jonathankaplan


Onward

...wherever you go, there you are...


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the sun will come out tomorrow.
good pic
jonathankaplan
Populism makes me nervous. I'm a nervous guy anyway, an ex-risk manager (a psyche one never manages to overcome, at least, not me, not yet), a conservative person with paranoid tendencies. Populism is, on one level, about the masses feeling discord with the system, and with the "elite" that succeed in that system.
In very recent times, there has been ever-increasing dissatisfaction with the system (in the US, at least). As an adjunct, two populist movements have sprung up, the Tea Party and OWS (Occupy Wall Street). Although these two groups come from different parts of the political spectrum, they have considerable similarity. The Tea Party thinks that the DC elite has corrupted the system and too greatly diluted the US Consitution and Bill of Rights. Even non-Republicans know that DC is corrupt, that money runs the system, that there is something wrong. The OWS group thinks that the Financial elite has corrupted the system and, through tricky machinations, has stolen a chunk of their wealth. They don't know HOW exactly, but they know it was done, cause they feel the pain. Even non-Dems feel the economic pain. Right now, the different leaders of these two groups are relatively unsophisticated and naive at using the popular emotion these groups symbolize. So far.
Arab Spring has some similarity with these concepts, and the various leaders of the successful movements, now that they have "won" power, are a little lost. This creates a power vacuum, and who knows exactly what future gets sucked into that void. The same has happened with the Tea Party and with OWS. Their leaders are not strong enough, not clever enough, to coalesce into a civil movement of change. If they can't do it, then the masses can easily transition to what the masses do best/worst, become a group of angry mobs. Perhaps OWS is a little behind the Tea Party in this rut, but they are catching on quickly, I see that Rev. Sharpton (and various labor unions) have been visiting some with the OWS....ugh. If when these movements, here in the US (and/or in the Arab Spring) are "taken over" by more powerful, charismatic leaders, we better hope those leaders are not as nefarious as they could be. If not, we could (in a bad scenario) end up with far less freedom, both political and economic, than we currently delude ourselves into thinking we have.
Populism is majoritarian. I am a very visible individual in an historically persecuted minority. The idea of mobs forming, then showing up outside my door banging loudly, makes me nervous. Do you think I should be anxious about this?

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I don't understand the current fear of hyperinflation. The amount of inflation required to control current debt is small. If the economy were returned to potential, we would be close to primary budget balance. If we paid the same amount for healthcare as the rest of the rich world, we'd have primary balance even today.

Where does the sense that we are doomed to hyperinflation come from? Except for automatic stabilizers that kicked in in the great recession, government is *shrinking* as a share of GDP.

The worry that I see, and that the markets see is that we are so irrationally afraid of inflation that we will refuse to pick up what look like trillion dollar bills on the sidewalk available in interest free funding of medium term infrastructure improvements, and further monetary easing.

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