New Orleans The economy is whack without a doubt. Gas prices are over $4 here in oil country, in fact, way over $4 per gallon, and topping $6 in California. Inflation’s gallop may be lessening, but it’s still hitting pocketbooks everywhere whether due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, supply chain issues, the pandemic, or my favorite culprit: greedflation. This moniker is being attached to the fact that some rent-seeking corporations are reporting huge profits right now under the cover of the other crises and using the general confusion to jack prices sky high.
I know it’s bad, especially for hourly wage workers, fixed income seniors, and many others, but from time to time it’s hard not to savor, even if we can’t fully enjoy the comeuppance being experienced by some of the high flyers who assumed the merry-go-round would keep running forever and that it was all about them and the latest itch they wanted to scratch.
A case in point is the teetering stock market, wiping out billions from many of the techies. Facebook or Meta or whatever they are calling themselves these days has found that the bloom is off of their rose. When their stock goes down, billions drain from Zuckerberg and his buddies. Sheryl Sandberg leaned out, having seen her reputation tank in recent years during Facebook’s continual controversies, many under her charge, and with a billion-and-a-half personal worth likely figured enough was enough with the sky falling around her. In general, tech startups are now having to prove to investors that they can make money. What a concept! Crocodile tears all around.
Oh, and Elon Musk, maybe for a minute the world’s richest man, but keep watching your clock. Stock in Tesla, his major moneymaker, has lost 40% of its value, partially because of his Twitter escapade, which now seems as off, as it was once on. This is one of those where I told you so, but that doesn’t make it any less sweet. He’s claiming “bots” creating fake users are the problem, but it’s likely more a-bot his commitment to such a crazy $44 billion price for this ego-trip platform now that his pockets are lighter.
Cryptocurrency is in crisis and prices are falling like a rock. Some economists and others are finally being heard as they note that the platform is unsustainable for financial markets. The Winklevoss twins are being investigated for fraud by the SEC. Who is really surprised about any of this?
And then I must mention that even in the horror of the Ukrainian war, we can get some occasional relief reading the sidebars on yacht seizures, sports’ team sales, and other problems of Russian oligarchs stuck in Turkey, losing property in England, and finally having to shed some ill-gotten gains.
The French economic data wizard Thomas Piketty says we could get greater equality with “a universal minimum inheritance of around $150,000 per person, worker control over the boards of corporations and “confiscatory” levels of wealth and income taxation — that he calls ‘participatory socialism.’” Is anybody listening out there?
Unfortunately, the circus of late stage capitalism can’t bring us bread, but it’s hard not to have a bit of a laugh over the fact that for a change the ass-whipping is not only hitting all of us hard, but bringing the high low as well.