Friday, August 20, 2010

[Video] Gerard Celente - The Anti Kool Aid

I first saw Gerard Celente on one of those Fox Business shows when the network was new and I was exploring what it was offering.  (as an aside Fox Business debut pretty much marked the top in the S&P 500!)  A quirky fellow... but I found many of his views intersected with mine. I went to go look at his website after the interview and I was pretty impressed with his old calls.  Quite a bit of is social rather than just pure economics so being a student of humankind, I find his broader talking points quite fascinating.  He is not afraid to say things that makes Americans uncomfortable - and hopefully makes them think if they are open minded about the society we have created.  You will recognize many similar themes to what has been seen in these web pages the past 3+ years.  Long time readers will recall the coming "pooring of America" I often cited back in the early days of the website as the U.S is broken into an elite 'capital owner' class and "everyone else".   [Dec 8, 2007: Do the Bottom 80% of Americans Stand a Chance?]   Corporations are now "people" (per the Supreme Court), lobbyists rule the land (and create the rules), and almost every major industry in America is an oligarchy as 'anti trust' is something found only in textbooks.  It's not just banks, let's be clear. Of course if you dare talk about wealth and income disparity or power concentration, you are immediately called a socialist (or worse... a "European"!) and the conversation ends.  But of course it is spoken about (in quiet whispers) in the halls of our investment banks.  [Sep 7, 2009: Citigroup 2006 - America, A Modern Day Plutonomy]

Since Celente makes my views look like Kool Aid Drinker in Chief, I hesitated to post some of his interviews until they were in a business format.  CNBC would never have a charlatan like this on their prestigious channel, so we had to wait for Yahoo Tech Ticker to do an interview with him - that happened early this year.  It was his normal 'happy' stuff. [Jan 12, 2010: Trend Forecaster Gerard Celente on Yahoo Tech Ticker]

As they say in the movies... he's baaaaaaack.  (p.s. sweet suit Celente!)

 If nothing else and you completely disagree - much like Howard Davidowitz, he is very entertaining.

(I) And Now We're Headed for the Greatest Depression

The fake "recovery" was nice while it lasted, says famous apocalyptic forecaster Gerald Celente, founder of the Trends Research Institute. But now the fun's over, and we're headed for what Celente describes as the "Greatest Depression."
Specifically, the always startling Celente says the country is headed for rising unemployment, poverty, and violent class warfare as the government efforts to keep the economy going begin to fail.
The crux of the problem, Celente argues, is that the middle class has been wiped out. America used to be a land of opportunity for all, where hard-working people could build their own small businesses in their own communities and live prosperous and fulfilling lives. But now a collusion of state and corporate interests that Celente describes as "fascism" have conspired to help only the biggest companies and the richest Americans. This has put a shocking amount of the country's wealth in the hands of a privileged few and left the rest of the country to subsist on chicken-feed wages and low job satisfaction as Wal-Mart "associates" -- or worse.
The answer, Celente says, is to bring back the laws that prevented huge companies from getting so big and powerful, and put some opportunity back in the hands of ordinary people.  But doing that is going to take a while.  And in the meantime, we're headed for trouble.

(II) America Won the Cold War But Now is Turning into USSR

There's a lot of talk these days about America being an empire in decline. Gerald Celente, director of the Trends Research Institute, goes a step further, arguing America is following a similar path as the former Soviet Union.
"While the many glaring differences between the two political systems have been exhaustively publicized - especially in the U.S. - the glaring similarities [go] unnoticed," Celente writes in The Trends Journal, which he publishes.
In the accompanying video, Celente describes some of these similarities, including:
A rotten political system: He compares politicians (Democrats and Republicans alike) to "Mafioso" and says campaign contributions are really thinly disguised "bribes and payoffs."
Crony capitalism: Like in the USSR of old, Celente laments that so much of America's wealth (93%) is controlled by such a small group small portion of its population (10%). Owing to that concentration of wealth, the government makes policies designed to reward "the bigs" at the expense of average citizens (see: Bailouts, banks).
Military-industrial complex: The USSR went bankrupt fighting the cold war and Celente fears the U.S. is "squandering its greater but still finite resources on a gargantuan defense budget, fighting unwinnable hot wars and feeding an insatiable military stationed on hundreds of bases worldwide."
As with many observers, Celente thinks America will suffer the same fate in Afghanistan as the USSR, the British Empire, Alexander the Great and all others who've ventured into the "graveyard of empires."
The irony, of course, is that while America defeated Soviet Communism and won the Cold War, perhaps our greatest threat today comes from China and its booming state-controlled economy.

(III) 'Too Big to Fail' is Killing the Middle Class

August has been a hot bed of merger & acquisition activity.  M&A activity is generally viewed as a good sign for the market and economy.
To the contrary, says Gerald Celente, director of the Trends Research Institute. “This country went from a nation of Main Street, mom and pop businesses to Wall Street and 'too big to fails',” he tells Tech Ticker in this clip. ("Not only were they 'too big to fail,' they were 'too big to jail'," he says of Wall Street execs.)
Deregulation and bailouts favor the country’s largest corporations, at the expense of small business, Celente believes. “They’re squeezing out everybody else." Policies like these have created the widest wealth gap in the industrialized world, he says; “10% of the nation controls 93% of the assets."
Former IMF Chief economist Simon Johnson makes a similar point in his book, 13 Bankers. In it, Johnson claims, six banks (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo) control 60% of America’s gross national product.
The only way to turn the tide, says Celente, is to “put back what was in place that worked,” like the Glass-Steagall Act and the Sherman Antitrust Act, which exists in name only. “That’s what stopped the robber barons from raping the country.”
Celente is confident more regulation on the largest companies will help entrepreneurs, which in turn strengthening a fading middle class – the backbone of our society. “America becomes strong again when the middle builds big again,” he says.
Unfortunately, Celente sees the trend going in the opposite direction. “The merger of state and corporate powers, let’s calls a spade a spade. It’s fascism.”

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