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Trump's Stock Market and Un-Shared American Prosperity


Trump's Stock Market and Un-Shared American Prosperity

Tim Koechlin

The stock market is up, but what does that have to do with national well-being when the economy is so unequal and democracy so corrupt?


Once again, the “Hate Trump” meme deflects from a significant issue here - the role of the “Stock Market” and markets in the global capitalist economy (largely based in the U.S). The fact that Koechlin holds a PhD in Economics and is Director of the International Studies Program at Vassar College demonstrates the vacuity of the elites in the U.S., who hold tremendous bureaucratic - if not political - power.

You might think that this has been done by design. (See the playbooks of the oligarch and plutocrat bosses for how to manipulate people and institutions to maintain power). It would be a fairly interesting study if ithey weren’t destroying humanity and remaking the biosphere into a place that many species can no longer inhabit.


All the broadcast news on commercial TV, public TV and NPR radio give the Wall Street stock market tally daily as if it’s important to most people. The more important factor is what the wealthy are investing in. This morning, Secretary of the Interior Zinke’s plan to exploit National Monuments for resource extraction, mainly oil, were compared to the conservation efforts of Theodore Roosevelt on NPR. If the true cost of fossil fuel consumption were tallied, the filthy rich would invest in alternative energy, unless they do know that catastrophic climate change will result in the deaths of millions, and that’s exactly what they want to happen.


Citing high stock prices as an indicator of “our nation’s wealth” is disingenuous and misleading, as these are “paper prosperity”. Think 2007-2008. They have little to no effect on the quality of life for most of us.


Most economic measures touted by the government have little or no meaning or relevancy to the majority of people. The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is up - so what, wages are not. The unemployment rate is down - so what, if you are not registered at an unemployment office as looking for a job, or if you are in prison, you are not considered unemployed; you simply are not counted, you do not exist. If you have a part-time job, or a full-time job that pays poverty wages, you are considered employed. Manufacturing productivity is up - so what, wages did not go up, only corporate profits. The average salary of the US worker is such-and-such - so what, the “average” can conceal several multi-million dollar salaries at the top and many poverty level wages at the bottom.The stock market is up - so what, it is the rich who own the stocks and realize the profits.


Exactly.Part of it is that they want people to believe that “the markets” are also designed for “small investors” and that anyone can become a miilionaire, totally distracting people from the reality of the capitalist global political economy.


Class Warfare. The working class and poor are dispensable.
Wage slavery is slavery. The filthy rich have their reclusive estates
prepared for survival while the rest of us perish and the dogs of war
are set loose upon the world. The valuation of WMD stock is rising.
Buy now and save. Cars cost less at Friendly Fred’s auto emporium.
Boeing will take you away from it all, somewhere else temporarily.
A golf course luxury resort getaway, far from the stagnant sea of disparity.


From $48.8 trillion to $96.2 trillion – a doubling – that’s the growth of “household net worth” from the Federal Reserve Flow of Funds, (Table 101.B) beginning Jan. 2009, ending Sept. 2017. Obviously Trump has done well in 10 months, but can he double “net worth” in 8 years? It’s a ridiculous question, but it’s not ridiculous to take a close look and wonder why do financial assets increase in value so rapidly, especially during a recession and its slow recovery when the economy is under-performing. Why is recession-recovery a golden age for financial assets? The household savings rate and accumulated total over 8 years was no where near $48 trillion, more like $5 trillion in 8 years (I’m guessing). First, put some perspective in it: the annual GDP is now about $20 trillion, the national federal debt is $20 trillion, the annual federal budget is over $4 trillion, the deficit $453 trillion or 0.5% of the total private “net worth”. Maybe we should tax financial assets and pay off the deficit? Pay off the debt? Maybe create a jobs program to employ the not-working? And why do the assets increase in value so rapidly? It has to do with corporate profits, and the fact that the economic surplus has no practical outlet in a stagnant economy where consumer demand is stalled. This is a major problem that deserves the widest public debate. I write a blog, Economics Without Greed, http://benL8.blogspot.com. I try to deal with these questions. Under Obama the private net worth of U.S. households nearly doubled in nominal terms, or grew by 70% adjusting for inflation. Even less if adjusting for per capita. But it exploded, and almost no one benefitted – why? What to do? Does it matter? It does.


They are becoming less-and-less safe. Controlled environments have their limits. But your points are well-taken and class warfare is a permanent feature of human life.