Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Individuals Swimming in the Mass Mood

Here at FutureJacked, we burn many a byte discussing the nature of "mass mood" or "social mood" and the huge waves that, according to the socionomics model, propel humanity along the herky-jerky path of excess and retrenchment that can be mapped out using the Wave Principle.

Theory and the many useful action items that can be derived from that theory aside, always remember that the individual matters most. The individual can wake up a bit and recognize his or her situation, he or she can estimate what the Crowd is doing and which particular cliff that Crowd is rushing towards.

And the individual can act.

Whether it is a Jewish family exiting Germany in the mid-1930's with diamonds sewn in the cuffs of their clothing or individuals making the decision to act in the face of rampant violence and establish some sort of civic peace or whether it is a man who sees financial madness about him and chooses to exit before the inevitable crash - individuals can make choices and act in the face of this creepy fog known as mass mood and they can pave the way for a brighter future.

Well, as the very bright mind that calls himself the Epicurean Dealmaker reminds us, individuals can also look out over the terrain and see the world they have helped create, the world in which they have thrived, being torn down by those they regard as mob-driven fools - and they can make a different type of decision. These individuals can decide that if regulators and demagogues want to burn down their world - finance, in this case - then why not pour gasoline over the most explosive parts of the system and drop a match on that son of a bitch.

Character Study
by The Epicurean Dealmaker

I have argued elsewhere at length that the bulk of commentators and regulators confronting the Panic of 2008 and its aftermath put far too much emphasis on the supposed causal effect misaligned compensation incentives had on these events. While these no doubt added to the problem in some instances, for the most part the focus on banker pay is poorly judged. Some of this error can be laid at the foot of natural envy, but some of it can be attributed to a fundamental misreading and simplification of the investment banker's character...

...These people are dangerous because they are smarter than you, because they are smarter than any regulator likely to be sent to control them, and because they hold in their hands the map and the controls to the vast and intricate system of pipes and valves which undergirds the global economy. Give them any reasonable set of legal and regulatory constraints—more stringent than the recent past, by all means, I implore you—and they will happily adapt and innovate around them in the future. Push them, and box them in, and reinstate Glass-Steagall if you must: they will grumble, but they will get over it.

But can you imagine what would happen if you pressed them too far? If you tried to turn the entire financial industry into a bunch of unionized, rule-bound clerks? These are personalities who do not go gentle into that good night. All you would need would be for one or two of them to decide they would rather watch the world burn than crawl into a hole.

And believe you me, you do not have enough water to put out that fire...

I might take issue at how much smarter some of these Wall Street playerz are than me, especially if you were to recall the atrocious state of underwriting that they helped foster in their psychopathic focus on obtaining riches and outscrewing the competition - but I will totally concede that there are many genius SOB Wall Street playerz who are feeling the pinch and all it would take would be a few to decide they wanted to pull the temple down with them, crushing their "enemies" to death along with themselves.

Mass mood is darkening. Very intelligent men and women who lord over the nexus of finance that allows the division of labor that keeps 300 million Americans alive and kicking to function are being pursued as criminals for behavior many of them regard as totally legal. All it would take is one or two to succumb to the anger and divisiveness that negative mass mood encourages to have ourselves a good old-fashioned market shitstorm.

Just a thought. Take the Epicurean Dealmaker seriously. He is in tune with the mood of the Wall Street playerz.

It also makes you wonder how in the hell we allowed ourselves to be boxed into a system in which all it takes is some incompetent underwriting and a few years of massive liquidity injections to put the whole system of finance, production and distribution at risk and at the mercy of maybe less than 100 individuals on Wall Street. Shit people, when we design nuclear reactors we always make sure the system is self-correcting, easy to shut down and does not allow for individual error to lead to catastrophic meltdown or a major reactivity event. You'd think that we would regard our system of finance with at least as much respect.


polizeros said...

And here I thought Jim Kunstler was apocalyptic...

Good points. Yes, The Joker may well lurk inside the financial sector too.

David said...

Michael, aren't we already at the threatened murder-suicide point?

The Elite individuals who largely own the major central banks and largely manage most Western nations' political structures have for centuries extracted a heavy tribute from the entrepreneurial few and industrious many. Now that social mood has declined enough to let more people recognize this parasitism, and angry people increasingly clamor for decapitation of the parasite, those kings and queens of wealth in essence say, "Go ahead. Stop us. Make us 'mark-to-market,' revealing our methods and subterfuge. But if you do, you'll collapse the entire financial structure of the modern world on which WE MADE YOU DEPENDENT.

"Go ahead. Go 'cold turkey.' We can survive without the banks temporarily because we own almost everything, but you surely won't."

David said...

By the way, if social mood gets negative enough, cutting off one's nose to spite one's face may take on a whole new meaning.

Flagg707 said...

@By the way, if social mood gets negative enough, cutting off one's nose to spite one's face may take on a whole new meaning.

Yeah, I am worrying along these lines.

If we sink into a Medieval level of anger and negativity, much of that could be focused internally - think the flaggelants, think the potential for dark new religious movements, think the "chastity" movement of the late Roman Empire that helped create a population crash - lot's that can go wrong when the Great Bear comes calling...

Mark Moore said...

Other side of the coin--if they push the populus too far, would a superempowered individual arise that burns them down?

Flagg707 said...

@Mark Moore: While I think the infrastructure to support a superempowered individual is still a stretch, the U.S. could see an explosion of 4GW "tribes" or virtual teams (as we see in spam and bot operations) dedicated to weakening Big Finance playerz and the state itself if the economic situation were to implode - lot's of reasons to hollow out the state and lot's of (relative) profits to 4GW tribes, 5th Gen Gangs or whatever you want to call them. The talent is there, the exposed infrastructure is ripe for exploitation.

The Scylla of a "rogue" finance "Master of the Universe" or that possible superempowered insider from below to the left of us and the Charybdis of huge numbers of 4GW type militias/gangs to the right of us.

May we live in interesting times...