How did we come to this?
Let me tell you a story! Once upon a time, in the early 1990s, when the Berlin wall came down, and the erstwhile Soviet Union had imploded, the Global Elite (read White Western) decided that “history had ended” and it was now time for a Utopian New World Order, where their fancied “democratic”, free market, and essentially Anglo Saxon Protestant values would “flourish” in a new era of peace and harmony. A feel-good tale, just that at the moment, what we have is a New World Disorder, where chaos rules and the very existence of the West as a coherent entity is under threat, leaving notions of the “Sun never setting on their hegemony”. This is the story of how over the last three decades, the world splintered and embraced a Chaos Point where the New Normal is scary.
Markets Behaving Like Junkies And Weirdness In The Economies
Markets gyrate wildly! Economies swing between recessionary fears and euphoric growth projections! With so much confusion and chaos roiling the Global Economy, one would be forgiven for thinking it is now behaving like a “junkie”! Moreover, there is a sense of unreality about our economies where one moment it is like we are staring at the abyss, and the next seems like we are blazing away. This is why I call this a “Zig-Zag” Economy where the “recovery” from the pandemic is so befuddling amidst contradictory economic data, making prediction a game of Russian Roulette and a “forecaster’s nightmare” as even the best analysts and their fancied financial models fall flat in making sense of what’s happening, leave alone, what’s next. No wonder The Atlantic Magazine rightly called this “The Everything is Weird Economy”!
Sample this, gas prices are falling, yet inflation is high. Or, wages are growing, yet GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is declining. Employment is at an all-time high, and still, stagnation conditions persist. Moreover, everybody is on vacation, yet consumer confidence and the sense of well-being are at record lows, where all of us feel fine yet miserable about the future and the state of the economy. So, how does one explain all these “unexpected” anomalies? Perhaps, it is time we invoke Oracles and Diviners to help us understand what the heck is happening to the world. And, more importantly, the Americans. History would undoubtedly judge these times as “insane” and “zany” when the abnormal is The New Normal.
How Did This Happen?
The Global Elite thought they had all “fixed up” when propagating the Neoliberal Free Market Dogma. However, as “everyone and their dog” would tell you, neoliberalism has failed us and gave recession after recession, even with the Central Bank printing presses furiously working overtime and flooding the global economy with easy money. Perhaps, this was the more accessible part! i.e. conjuring money out of thin air and then distributing the largesse to anyone and everyone. However, it was also the case that the endless supply of money was channelled to a few at the top of the 1%, and the Global Elite thought they would create prosperity that their wealth would then “trickle down” to the rest of us mere mortals.
So, instead of making everyone happy, the Global Elite made a tiny few very happy, their lackeys or the so-called Middle Class, happy, but also made the lives of the rest 90% so miserable that the proles started to rebel and resort to “uncontrolled” violence, fed up as they were with the “empty” Utopian promises. The Global Elite panicked in 2008 when the Great Recession struck, and it seemed as though “everyone owed everyone” and nobody “could pay”. Despite the easier yet harder (an Oxymoron) choice of abandoning the free money policy, they doubled down on it, making the proles extremely unhappy and even angry to the point where they flocked to “conmen” like Trump. As anyone who follows Trump’s travails knows, he is good at articulating the “grievances” of those who lost out due to outsourcing, offshoring, and an economy that needed high skilled and higher value-adding workers, sadly beyond their reach.
However, the Global Elite wasn’t done yet. After all, they had figured out the mechanics of fooling some people all the time, so, despite the “noises”, Trump was one of them. The Oligarchs were happy to see the proles “entertained”, so the party went on and on. Moreover, Trump obliged them with Tax Cuts and other sops, some of which were unprecedented in scope and size. Of course, it is another matter that the Global Elite needed to keep the money flowing and the economy humming. More so, they needed an “enemy”, which would be their piece de la resistance, so they “resurrected” Russia as the new Bogeyman. Never mind that their Utopian New World Order was dreamt on the premise that with the Soviet Union gone, the world was ready for the Messianic Capitalistic enterprise.
Where Does India Stand?
While we celebrate our Independence Day and marvel at the Indian Economy’s feat of the “world’s fastest-growing major economy”, it is also time to reflect on the “cleaving” of India into many parts where a few “bright spots” are overshadowed by an overwhelming “dark stains”, leading to a highly unequal and grossly unfair economy, neatly divided into the Top 10% leaving the rest behind. The 1% among this August company, lifting off stratospherically. Indeed, the pandemic has not only exacerbated existing inequities, but has also made more than half of India’s people “invisible”, meaning that corporates, businesses, marketers, and sundry economic actors can only focus on those who “consume” and forget about those who “subsists”, leave only exist.
Otherwise, why would more than half of all Indians of working age (defined as those between the ages of 15-64) stop looking for jobs? Worse, only a fifth of Indian women is employed, skewing the rewards matrix and depriving the Indian Economy of Trillions worth of GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Suppose there was one statistic of the post-pandemic Indian Economy. In that case, it is this and where desi equivalent of The Great Resignation is playing out, just that this is driven by hopelessness, rather than spoilt for choice generations, as is the case with the West. Moreover, despite the media hype, the “real” growth rates are much lower as the pandemic contracted the Indian Economy so much that it is still “catching its breadth” (literally and figuratively).
When Will This End?
Hard to say! As long the markets are not allowed to be “free”, it would be “socialism for the rich” and “capitalism for the poor”. More so, when the Dollar is not backed by “assets” like Gold and is “created out of thin air”, much like the Oracles of yore, who used to conjure objects out of nothing. Though it seemed as though the Pandemic and Putin could have prompted a Great Reset”, chances of it are fading, as can be seen in the “race to bottom” moves of the West against the Rest! Maybe, it is time the latter “ganged up” against the former as Xi and Putin are attempting and catalyse a New Economic Order. Though India is officially “neutral”, Modi has enough “skin in the game” to side with the Rest. Already there are talks of “moving away” from the Dollar as the Reserve Currency, and using national currencies in bilateral, and for that matter, multilateral trade. Until these arrangements persist and produce results, The Great Derangement will likely be with us for a long time.