The Endless Rally

SUBHEAD: No, it isn't, but they can make enough people think it is, and that's what counts. Image above: The endless buffet as executed at the Phuket FantaSea in Phuket, Thailand. From By Ilargi on 17 November 2009 in The Automatic Earth - Well, yes, I guess that the best thing Obama's finance gurus could have wished for is for people to believe that if they can pull off something once, they can continue to do so indefinitely. All they'd have left to do after that is pray like a swirling bunch of derwishes that those people will keep on thinking so until either a miracle happens and the economy shows actual growth - to replace the made-up version seen so far- or at least until they are safely out of office. And I got to give it to them: they have even quite a number of readers of supposedly critically intelligent websites like the Automatic Earth going for the idea. Everything looks fine when observed from the right angle, so therefore it must be fine. The stock markets regained over half of what they lost, so the upswing we all feel so much more comfortable with is here and will go on for weeks and months and years. Man may see himself as rational and smart, but the human mind is one big mothersucker for an upswing, any upswing, screw the odds. Them things just feel good, what can we say, what can we do? It's who we are. Anyone remember what happened to the debt we were worried about not so long ago? Who cares, really? "They" must have gotten rid of that too, somehow, though I don’t understand how, but then, they are way smarter in that field than I am, and I know they are always looking out for me and my family. And the upswing they know I like so much. Unemployment in the USA, even when calculated in the deceptive and distorted way we have now become so fully accustomed to that we hardly raise our voices anymore, is much higher today than it was a year ago. The official U6 number is at 17.5%, unofficial data indicate more than 1 in 5 Americans are effectively un- or underemployed. A few million more homes were foreclosed on in 2009. The number of hours worked is lower. Pay per hour is stagnant at best. $1.5 trillion in consumer credit card space was pulled. States are reeling and panicking over double digit budget shortfalls. Tax revenues are plummeting. Federal debt has risen by a factor higher than seen since WWII, if not even more. Add your own favorite stats and color the pictures. Still, before any of these developments had even started, back in 2008 49.1 million US citizens had trouble finding enough food to eat. That probably means 15-20 million children. And don't forget that if they could have fed themselves, much of the food would have been of an inferior quality, since in most poor areas of the country, there's a hell of a lot more cheap burgers available than vegetables. Perhaps luckily for them, they couldn't even afford no high-fructosed whoppers. But that was last year. In 2009, how many more hungry children did we add to the tally? Whatever their number, Obama and his administration chose and choose to ignore them. For Washington, saving Wall Street institutions is much more important. First you save the banks, and if there's anything left afterwards, you may -or may not, depending on what the polls say- look at the 30-some million unemployed and the 20-odd million undernourished children. The money used to prop up the banks has led to the illusionary notion of actual profits being made. Which in turn is all the excuse that's needed to pay out bonuses, which in 2009 are set to reach new record levels. 20 million hungry children could be greatly helped with $1000 a year each for food. That would cost $20 billion, and still leave more than enough to pay some kind of bonuses. Or even better, dare we say it, pay back the government loans. Where I come from, the description of a nation that leaves its children behind in hunger while showering its upper classes with lavish amounts of more luxury than they know what to do with evokes pictures of present-day Somalia or latter-day Rome and the let-them-eat-cake France of Marie Antoinette. Not of a socially and politically highly developed society of the 21st century. For that reason alone, much the rest of the developed world will be greatly tempted to pull their hands away from America. They will simply conclude that a country that lets one out of every seven, six, five of its people go to bed without being properly fed, is a threat, plain and simple. The people in these countries will think that if their own representatives get too cozy with the US "leaders" who let that sort of thing happen, the same thing may some day soon be their fate. "President Barack Obama called the USDA report "unsettling" and vowed to reverse the trend of rising hunger." The trend the report talks about is a year or more old. And still the president had no idea until the report came out? I'd say it's unsettling that he responds the way the does. Isn't it sort of his job to know when 50 million Americans go hungry? Is there anything at all more elementary than that for an elected "leader"? The president has spent all he can afford, and more, on bailing out campaign donating bankers. He can't afford to feed the children, even if he would want to, which looks doubtful by now. Or rather, he might want to, just as he might want to send a manned mission to Mars by Christmas and reverse global warming by Thanksgiving. Not a priority, in other words. "They can make this rally last for years". No, they can't, but they can make enough people think they can, and that's what counts.

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