by Charles Hugh Smith
Of Two Minds
Masking the rot and fragility is not the same thing as strength or permanence.
The great irony of the past 75 years of expanding consumption is the belief that all these decades of success prove the system is rock-solid and future success is thus guaranteed. The irony lies in the systemic fragility that’s built into the large-scale industrial production that generates endless surpluses of energy, food, fresh water, etc. and the global financial system that delivers endless surpluses of capital and credit to be distributed by public authorities and private owners of capital.
The key driver of increasing efficiencies has been scaling up production by concentrating ownership and capacity into a few quasi-monopolies/cartels. In industry after industry, where there were once dozens of companies, there are now only a handful of behemoths with outsized market and political power which they wield to retain their dominance.
For example, where there were dozens of large regional banks in the U.S. not that long ago, relentless consolidation has led to a handful of supergiant too big to fail banks which can take extraordinary risks (and undertake criminal skims) knowing that the federal government will always bail them out and leave the banks’ corporate criminals untouched.