I’d like to address a number of forms of depression that I think currently grip our American communities.
First, the disclosure…I am neither a psychologist nor an economist….just an observer.
I recently heard an NPR report that Bill Ackman, a well-known hedge fund manager, believes Herbalife is a financial pyramid scheme.
As my brain often makes seemingly mysterious connections, I immediately started thinking about pensions funds and our current financial marketplaces….realizing that our current financial management systems depend on constant ‘growth’ to remain solvent…and our past growth has been unsustainable in terms of using the Earth’s resources (even at current population size).
Then I realized the financial scale of pensions and American money-management.
Then I became depressed.
I’m not inclined to depression, almost never feel anything like depression. But – as I thought about American money management – I became depressed.
Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity (wikipedia). Economic depression is a sustained, long-term decline in economic activity (wikipedia).
Why was I suddenly depressed?
America has recently seen a serious and sustained decline in economic activity. We have seen this decline coincident with the aging of the baby-boomer population.
I believe we have also seen this decline of economic activity at a time where bankers and investment managers were no longer able to ‘manage’ the investment banking system…primarily attempting to use complex financial instruments to offset the financial damage being done by a pension and money management system that was becoming dysfunctional. In essence, the result of their initial confusion and frustration with the existing financial system was complex manipulation which led to an economic depression.
Troubling enough as the last five years have been, it appears to be the mere ‘tip of the financial iceberg’. America has built a private financial management system that, to a great extent, stayed solvent by using the ever increasing ‘investments’ of our boomer population to pay our social security system debts (I don’t just mean here U.S. Social Security, I also mean all the private pension, retirement, risk management systems)….an unsustainable approach both in terms of ecological and population science.
The current Obama Administration has ‘plugged’ the initial hole with a bank bailout and increased American borrowing. The period 2007 thru 2012 was just the first crumbling of our national/international scheme of paying past debts on the backs of future earners.
We will see more and more depression if we continue our current unsustainable financial system.
In listening to President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address I realized his good hearted ideology will be ‘flattened’ by our current financial dilemmas. I also had the feeling he does not ‘get it’ because he has little background in math and finance. He will not solve America’s depression. (By the way, I have liked the guy, just don’t see him solving our current social dilemma).
In reading reviews of Mr. Obama’s address I did come upon one article and a reference to another piece by Patrick Doherty, who I believe does ‘get it’.
He is realistic and responsible in his thoughts and recommendations.
I would add that we need to combine Mr. Doherty’s notion of a broad based increase in demand with a broad based increase in respect for good work.
As Lamar Alexander quoted in his short Inaugural speech…Find the good and praise it.