Introducing the Fiat Currency – Car of the Year, 2012

I realise there’s a strong Dali/Bunuel influence in that headline, but at the same time there is an even stronger dimension of infantile joke to it. The reason for this is that I’ve just spent a few hours on a quiet Saturday afternoon trawling through some of the prepubescent surreality of financial press reportage on both sides of the Pond. And I’ve decided that, if you can’t beat them, then you might as well join them.

This morning, the Wall Street Journal recorded that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, ‘who made millions on Wall Street and billions at his financial data and news company, threw his support behind Goldman Sachs, still licking its wounds from an employee’s resignation letter in the New York Times’.

OK – fine, there is history here. The NYT broke an early Hackgate story that caused Newscorp’s perverted dissembling sociopaths lawyers to threaten them with ruin should they ever repeat it. So the Murdoch-owned Journal naturally feels entirely at home running a piece suggesting that Goldman’s departing whistleblower was goaded into it by the dangerous radicals at the Apple Times.

I’m no fan of the uber-Liberal neo-fascist New York Times: it libelled me way back in 2009 by referring to months of research about Gordon Brown’s depression as ‘a guess’, while misusing an interview I had foolishly given to Channel Four.  But nevertheless I have checked various reports, and consulted with a trusted source in the city of skyscrapers. On the basis of that, I’m satisfied that the Goldin Sacks departee’s explosive letter was unsolicited.

But c’mon fellas: Bloomberg throwing his weight behind Goldman? Isn’t that like Cleopatra throwing her weight behind Marc Antony? Mussolini throwing his weight behind Hitler? David Cameron throwing his weight behind Andy Coulson? No, hang on a minute…um, let’s not, er, prejudge what might allegedly happen in the coming months. Rather, let us imagine an impossibility: the Church agreeing with Lloyd Blankfein that he is “doing God’s work”.

For the past two years, a group of religious institutions that hold Goldman shares has asked Goldman Sachs to review executive compensation packages……and has been successful in getting its proposal taken up at regular shareholders’ meetings. There is capitalist due diligence at stake here, not just religious sensibilities: Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s base salary was tripled to $2 million in 2011, up from $600,000 the prior year. His share bonus was worth $12.6 million, a 42 percent increase from the year before. Neither of those statistics bears any relation at all to the empirical performance of the firm.

This year, the religious groups, including the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, again sought to have its proposal voted on by shareholders. But for the first time, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sided with Goldman, which argued it had already complied with the request. The Nathan Cummings Foundation, a Jewish group that has been a leader in bringing Goldman to book, said it was astonished that the SEC rejected its request. “We were asking for an examination of whether Goldman’s pay levels were appropriate,” said Laura Campos of the NCF, “If people are only motivated by extremely high compensation, it focuses them on the wrong things and can be harmful to the culture.”

Er…yes, and also the client base, oddly enough. Perhaps one might call this the SEC throwing its weight behind a bunch of complete arseholes who are demonstrating how important it is, in the prevailing American corporate culture, to be complete arseholes.

Such corporate aims are rarely reported in the WSJ. In my extensive experience of travelling in the States, they are also antithetical to the average entrepreur trying to make a go of it on Main street and MainWeb USA.

Mr Entrepreneurial John Doe continues to be a person with feet firmly attached to the ground, but utterly bewildered by the bollocks emanating from the White House/Big Business/Fed axis of doubletalk. And Mr Doe – along with Britain’s credit-starved self-starters – would take one look at the latest Citibank stock market predictions, and wonder whether the authors of it shared any DNA with them at all.

Citibank’s outlook for the FTSE –  as reported in today’s Daily Telegraph – suggests that it could reach 12,000 over the next decade. You can sort of see what Citibank are on about: years and years of near-zero interest rates and high sovereign bond yields giving multinational company shareholders a dividend bonanza….an endless stream of QE up to version 16 keeping those stock values nicely pumped up.

But you can also see that this forecast is worse than dumb…it is deranged. Anyone who believes that QE/Zirp-produced cash-rich balance sheets can continue over such a long period is merely demonstrating the degree to which they have not just lost the plot, but may never have grasped any kind of narrative at all. A FTSE doubling during a globally depressive pauperisation of mass market consumers everywhere (such as would accompany that sort of decade) would produce bourses so totally unrelated to real economic health, it would be like launching a conglomerate tomorrow called the South Sea Black Tulip & Spanish Eldorado Company.

The US economy (despite endless Obamite hype) is already struggling to move out of recession because there simply isn’t the mainstream  consumer demand there to drive it. The idea that manufacturing concerns could prosper in the future not on sales, but accountancy gains, is quite the most twisted and delusional perspective on social economics I’ve ever encountered. What would the unfortunate citizen recipients of this policy be doing during such a period – smoking home-grown dope and eating each other?

What’s more – but probably even less – the notion that a 30 times world gdp funny-money dark star of derivative obligations would happily sit in its ethereal Heaven while all this was going on below…..well, to be honest it beggars belief that any adult, analytical mind could think in such a manner.

The time is surely approaching when somebody needs to say to these space cadets, “Look, paper-shuffling does not generate real wealth and human sustenance. That is done via farming, extraction, manufacturing, retailing, and near-full employment. Take any of those elements out for too long, and you simply cannot complete the virtuous cycle of wealth-creation, you be-suited, swivel-eyed, cloth-eared pillock”.

So I just thought that, in keeping with such a level of analysis, I’d give this post a silly headline. That’s the sum total of my rationale. But I tell you what: as a raison d’etre, it beats the living crap out of trickle-down wealth, repackaged sub-prime debt, credit default swaps and Bloombergs getting behind Goldmans.