L. Randall Wray, Ph.D. is Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Research Director with the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability and Senior Research Scholar at The Levy Economics Institute. His research expertise is in: financial instability, macroeconomics, and full employment policy.
THE GREAT DEPRESSION AND THE REVOLUTION OF 2017
L. RANDALL WRAY
WASHINGTON, 7 NOVEMBER 2017*. Yesterday Speaker of the House Dennis Kucinich was sworn in as President, replacing President Jeb Bush, who had fled to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, aboard Air Force One seeking asylum in his father’s well guarded compound on the grounds of the Bin Laden family’s palace. Vice President Dick Cheney, who has been in a coma since August after suffering his fifteenth heart attack, was declared incompetent. President Kucinich immediately announced a wide-ranging package of policies designed to bring an end to the Great Depression, which began with the global financial crisis of 2007. He called for calm and pleaded with leaders of the Revolutionary Tea Party Army that has encircled Washington to call off the attack that had been planned for today, the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution. Commandant Dick Armey said he is willing to meet for a discussion of a ceasefire so long as his militia can take their weapons home.
President Kucinich apparently ordered the Marines to invade Goldman Sachs headquarters in Manhattan early this morning. While there were some reports of small arms fire, most of the 6000 employees were reportedly removed without struggle and are on their way to various jails and prisons in the greater New York area. CEO Timothy Geithner was captured at La Guardia, attempting to board a private jet said to be headed for Riyadh. An anonymous source claimed that Geithner complained that President Bush had left him behind after promising protection. President Kucinich announced that Geithner would be charged with fraud, racketeering, and tax evasion. The case dates back to 2012 but had been put on hold when former President Sarah Palin ordered the attorney general’s office to stop its investigation of the Treasury Secretary. President Kucinich said that Goldman, the last remaining bank in America, would be nationalized. He assured depositors that the bank would reopen next Monday under management of a team of presidential appointees led by William Black. All insured deposits will be protected, but it is believed that other claims will not be honored. FBI agents have reportedly moved to seize all assets of current and former Goldman employees. Warrants for the arrest of former Treasury Secretaries Paulson, Rubin, and Summers were also issued.
President Kucinich’s package of policies includes universal and comprehensive debt cancellation. Under the plan, all private debts will be declared null and void. The implications are not immediately clear since delinquency rates have already reached 95% on most categories of debt. Several economists said that the new President was only validating reality, but others argued that it gave legal protection to squatters who have refused to leave their foreclosed homes over the past decade. The global movement for the “Year of Jubilee” had been pushing for such debt relief since the crisis began.
The policy proposals, which have been dubbed “New Deal 2.0”, also include a universal job guarantee that would provide work and wages for the nation’s estimated 75 million unemployed. The plan seems to follow a proposal that then-Representative Kucinich had introduced into the House in 2011. Funding for the program would be provided by Washington, but projects would be created and managed at the local level. At the time, Kucinich had argued that the program would “take workers as they are and where they are”, providing a living wage to participants and useful public services and infrastructure to their communities. When asked how the government would pay for the program, Representative Kucinich had said at the time “by crediting bank accounts, of course—that’s the only way a sovereign government ever spends.” However, his bill had failed to get out of committee; it was revealed that large campaign contributions were subsequently made by hedge fund manager Pete Peterson to all committee members who had opposed the legislation—and although he was never accused of wrong-doing, it was long suspected that there might have been a connection.
President Kucinich also announced a new “Marshall Plan” for war-ravaged Europe, which has descended into near anarchy since the EU collapsed in late 2010. He called on the Italian Red Brigade army to end its siege of Berlin. He promised to begin an airlift of food for Europe’s starving millions, to be followed by industrial products to help European nations to begin to produce for domestic consumption. He called for an end to fiscal austerity and argued that since each nation had adopted its own currency with the collapse of the euro, each now had the ability to “spend by crediting bank accounts.” Hence, “whatever is technologically feasible is financially feasible.”
Wall Street rallied on the news, with Nasdaq reaching a new high of nearly 250 and the Dow hitting 1150—the highest levels seen since the Great Crash of October 2011. The dollar also rose on the news, to $52 per Chinese RMB. Optimism spread to Japanese markets, with the yen remaining close to 132 per dollar.
In his statement, President Kucinich said that the long “nightmare” was coming to an end. He struck a conciliatory tone when he responded to a question about the actions of the administration of President Obama in the early years of the Great Depression, which many believe to have set the stage for the Great Crash. “Look, President Obama as well as his successors followed the advice of economists—who continually called for more fiscal austerity, much like the misguided physicians used to bleed patients to death. They were, and still are, clueless. I promise you that I will ban all economists from my administration. I will not seek, nor will I follow, advice from economists.” After a decade of suffering over the course of the second Great Depression, the nation breathed a collective sigh of relief.
The President pointed to the experiences of China, India and Botswana, the only nations to escape the Great Depression. He recalled that just a decade ago, US GDP and the standard of living of the average American were many times higher than those in any of these nations. Indeed, Botswana was widely derided for its policies, which had generated hyperinflation. Yet, each of these countries had adopted a job guarantee and had developed programs that achieved full employment with wage and price stability. And while unemployment rose dramatically all around the globe, these three nations enjoyed full employment and rising living standards—indeed, all three have surpassed the US median real household income level. President Kucinich said that Botswana has offered to send advisors to help get America’s fiscal and monetary policy back on track. He proclaimed that the days of misguided fiscal austerity are over, and promised to “spend whatever it takes to get our nation’s workers and factories operating at full capacity.”
In related news, a handful of economists have declared their support for President Kucinich’s policies. Among them is former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, who had recanted his belief in free market economics early in the depression. Over the years he has moved ever further to the left as he embraced reforms ranging from socialized medicine to abolition of private ownership of the means of production. While some economists have dismissed Greenspan’s public statements as the rants of “a senile old man” others have noted that the statements have become remarkably cogent in contrast to the testimonies he used to provide as Chairman. An early disciple of Ayn Rand, Greenspan’s recent testimonies now include obscure quotes from Marx, Lenin, and Rosa Luxemburg. He has also been calling for the elimination of the Fed, arguing that monetary policy and fiscal policy should be consolidated in the Treasury Department.
*Disclaimer: Some of the events reported here have not been fact-checked**.
**Disclaimer: Actually, none of the events reported here has yet occurred, although some are quite likely.
Orginially published at NEW ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVES: FROM KANSAS CITY AND BEYOND