I consider that the COVID has done one thing. It has shown us that just in time ordering no longer works. We had a car that needed new shocks before the COVID, and we ordered the parts: they arrived (via airfreight, cost $160) just before all mechanic shops were closed by the government. The car is now fixed, and Kea is very happy. But if we had not done that in a timely manner, we would be waiting for the parts for another six weeks. They are now arriving by sea freight. Similar things have been happening with Pharmaceuticals and computer parts. Many things that I can usually get are no longer available: Amazon or Newegg won’t ship them.
Globalism is dead, it is pining for the fjords. It has passed this mortal coil. Free trade and free movement of people has gone as well. That system is too fragile. We need to be anti-fragile. The “strong man” fascism of Stalin, Mao or Mugabe is also fragile. But we used to have an active state sector that worked as an employer of last resort, and zero unemployment. It worked until an idiot called Muldoon borrowed too much to industrialize for the international market, because with Britain joining the EU we could not do what we had done for a century — sell them as much butter, wool and mutton as we could make.
The only current politician who has a memory of other ways of working is Winston Peters, and he has pivoted. Into full nationalist: to the horror of our PM. But he was born in 1945, and remembers what things were like when the social democratic project went bankrupt in 1983. Chris Trotter, who is a classic boomer cloth socialist, comments.
(David Seymour, the leader of ACT — a libertarian — was born in 1983. Jacinda Ardern, the PM, was born in 1980. James Shaw, the leader of the Greens, was born in 1973, as was his co-leader Marama Davidson. Simon Bridges, the leader of National (cuckservative) was born in 1976. We don’t have a boomer problem in NZ. It is the millennials who are screwing things up perpetuating the policies of the 1960s).
Five years on, however, in 1972, my political memories are much more vivid. I shall certainly never forget that Saturday evening in November when for the first time in 12 years there was change of government. There had been a Labour government in my lifetime, but I was no older in 1957 than David Seymour was in 1984. For me, “Big Norm” was a political phenomenon: a breaker of moulds; a man who made it possible to believe in a better world; my hero.
What would Shaw’s and Davidson’s memories of 1989 have been? Of a riven Labour Party tearing itself to pieces over “Rogernomics”? Of a National Party, circling like a flock of vultures over the bloody entrails of a discredited government? Of the unsettling sense of a world they’d never really known being dismantled before their eyes? Of its replacement being full of sharp edges and dangerous spikes: a world that promised winners everything and losers nothing? Did they celebrate their sixteenth birthdays dreaming about building a better world, or wondering how to navigate their way through such a shitty one? A world where walls came down; students were shot down; heroes fell down; and history itself was said to be winding down.
Winston Peters, meanwhile, possessed a very clear picture of what his country looked like before Rogernomics and after “Ruthanasia”. He and the National Party had been elected on a “no ifs, no buts, no maybes” promise to restore “the decent society”. What was that? For Peters it was a society that allowed a dirt-poor cow-cockey’s son from Northland to become a pin-striped lawyer in a double-breasted suit. It was a society that offered work to all who wanted it – and felt only disdain for those who didn’t. It was a society that knew better than to leave the rich in charge of an economy. A society smart enough to know that in such a small country only the state was big enough to guarantee both prosperity and fairness.
Most importantly, Peters had lived long enough to know that what New Zealanders had done once they could do again. That economic change is the product not simply of improved technology but of political will….
Certainly, it’s a pretty safe bet that Jacinda, Simon, James, Marama and David could not tell you very much at all about List and the state-led capitalism which he championed and which has, historically, always outperformed the laissez-faire variety so beloved of the English-speaking capitalist countries. Not that their ignorance of economic nationalism worries them unduly. Having no clear memory of the world that existed before the triumph of Neoliberalism, they find it difficult to imagine that countries and economies could possibly be run successfully according to principles not sanctioned by their Treasury advisors.
The other party leaders may snigger at Peters now, but when the unemployment rate is climbing steadily towards 15 percent, and a third of New Zealand’s small businesses have shut down, there will be much less to snigger at. When Neoliberalism’s failure can no longer be hidden – even from those politicians who have grown up knowing nothing else – the man who has lived long enough to know that his alternative economic model works will be the man to know. And, when all the votes have been counted, he will still be the man who decides which of all those young leaders, born in the 1970s and 80s, becomes New Zealand’s next prime minister.
We need to be able to make as much as possible locally. From cloth to leather to flour to wheat to computer chips to medications to rifle parts. Because many of the places we thought would always be able to supply us will be crashing as fast as us or faster. It looks like the US economy has contracted four to five percent in this last quarter, which includes the first period of COVID 19 lockdown. It is worth noting that the lockdown is on a state by state basis.
Before the coronavirus knocked the global economy off course, the US economy was expected to grow about 2% this year.
But by mid April, more than 95% of the country was was in some form of lockdown. Although some states have started to remove the orders, they remain in place in many others, including major economic engines such as New York and California.
Many companies have warned of significant hits related to the pandemic as they share quarterly results with investors.
On Tuesday, General Electric said its revenues had fallen 8% in the first quarter, while Boeing – already in crisis after fatal crashes of its 737 Max plane – reported a 48% revenue fall, and said it planned to reduce output and cut jobs.
“The coronavirus pandemic is affecting every aspect of our business, including airline customer demand, production continuity and supply chain stability,” chief executive Dave Calhoun said.
Despite the widespread warnings, share prices have increased in recent weeks after steep declines earlier in the year. Those gains reflect the Fed’s intervention, but not its forecast for the economy, said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors.
“[Mr Powell] provided a very sobering assessment of the economic impact, acknowledging that this will not just be a short, sharp shock, but a more prolonged event,” she said.
“With financial markets being backstopped by the Fed for the foreseeable future, they will likely continue to signal a narrative that is very detached from the Fed’s own solemn economic assessment.”
About once a week we do a video chat around the family, scattered (as Kiwi families are) across two hemispheres. Son two said that he was chatting to a jeweller in his small town, whose accounted expected that 30% of the businesses he works with will fail. Daughter said in her province there was a depression before the COVID lockdown and a third of the big retail chains and businesses are expected to fail, along with 90% of the family run businesses. If these predictions are true, this is a depression.
Historically, in New Zealand the government and the ideology that was in charge when a depression starts is not in charge when it ends. The last similar contraction was 1983-4 (prior to the 1987 crash) and that was the end of democratic (nationalist) socialism as an economic system here — which Trotter recalls fondly. Prior to that the 1930 depression destroyed the laissez-faire approach of the Forbes-Coates government, and led to the first Labour government.
Winston knows his history. He sees this as the end of the Neo-liberal project. What he forgets is that Neo-liberalism is yoked with progressive social policies. The infernal deal was that the socialists- would be good little disciples of Gramsci, work through the institutions, but leave the business and financial sectors alone: they belonged to transnational banks and corporations — who wanted an atomized, commodified population they would (a) work cheaply and (b) buy from the company store. Looking at it from that aspect, Ardern, Bridges, Davidson, Shaw and Seymour are on the same side. They all want some form of global economy, and they all want an atomized, diverse state with no families, no tribe, no totems, no taboos, or other limitations on their quest for power and agency.
And definitely no God. It may be that the Almighty is merciful, and sending us a correction now. Because man is more than an economic unit. The economy is an epiphenomena to our fear. It is not the economy, stupid: instead it is stupid to measure everything by the economy.