From Austerity to Zeroes: An Alphabet of Economics (2013)
“Money is a tool that’s got out of hand. Imagine how you’d feel if your washing machine started telling you what to wear, or your hammer regretfully informed you it could only go on working efficiently if it smashed up your house”.
Allen Jacklin: The Lost & Found (1993)
Austerity: In the 1940s and early 1950s, a word used to describe the rationing of scarce resources. Now, the skewing of wealth distribution to place artificial barriers between supply and demand in the economy at enormous expense to all but a very small percentage of Rent-seekers and financiers within the total population.
Banks: Private institutions uniquely licensed to create Money from thin air, who still managed to bankrupt themselves, yet, having been bailed out at everyone else’s expense, persist in their pretense of financial competence while simultaneously hectoring and fleecing the customers on which they depend.
Credit: The primary means by which Banks create wealth from thin air. Money is sold to the public and business with interest, then created electronically by means of the reclassification of repayment agreements as actual Money plus the interest and fees that go straight into the coffers of the institutions licensed to perform this conjuring trick.
Debt: A legally Enforceable agreement on the part of an individual or business to repay the Money created from nothing by Banks, plus the interest and fees that go straight into the coffers of the institutions licensed to perform this conjuring trick. (see: Credit).
Enforcement: The legal structures by which the fictions of Money, Credit and Debt are made real in the lives of everyone outside the Money, Credit and Debt industries. [“Money, like all mythic belief systems, is a metaphor backed by law. It only seems real to us because we see others being sacrificed to it.” Alice Wharton, 1978]
Fractional Reserve Banking: A mechanism licensing Banks to create Credit and Debt. Roughly equivalent to me having £1 in my pocket but still being able to lend you a tenner, for which privilege you will now submit to a legally Enforceable agreement that lumbers you with repaying me £15. Once you have signed this agreement to borrow that £10, the £1 I had is still in my pocket but I now also own a tradeable asset with a paper Value of £15 against which I can create further loans and the fees associated with them.
Gilts: Certificates issued by governments, offering Yields to their owners. The name suggests a relationship with Gold, a metal so prized for its rarity and beauty that it is cast into bricks and hidden in cellars.
Housing: Formerly, the buildings where people lived. Now, the chips on a gigantic international gambling table, subject to Speculation and profiteering and thus rendered mostly unaffordable for their original purpose. Ownership of Housing by a shrinking Rentier class of institutional investors and Buy-To-Let landlords is one of the primary routes by which Money is siphoned from the real to a Speculative economy and rendered unproductive.
Income: The decreasing amounts paid by larger institutions to individuals and smaller businesses for their labour and services, these decreases usually justified by Austerity and not infrequently blamed on ‘the Internet’, though its impact is generally at best marginal, and certainly less significant than Rents and Takeovers in undermining otherwise viable business models.
Jobs: Formerly the labours undertaken to earn money or the time sold to employers in exchange for sufficient funds to cover bills, Housing, food and luxuries. Now considered a privilege to be granted only to those willing to display deference towards those gifted with Liquidity (see also: Kleptocracy) and so in a position to dictate terms of employment. This is an unequivocal reversion to patronage that, on its current course, should return us to an almost entirely feudal system within two or three generations.
Kleptocracy: A term used to describe the systematic extraction of assets and wealth from a wider economy by a small number of groups within that economy. Particularly notable in relation to Rents, Privatisation and the use of existing wealth to buy influence within institutions, ensuring laws and regulatory frameworks – that is, the mechanisms of Enforcement – facilitate Zero risk and maximum opportunities for the transfer of assets from public accountability to private control.
Liquidity: The possession of instantly redeemable financial resources over and above those required to live and maintain a business. As Incomes are shrunk, suppliers and contractors squeezed, Debts increased and Rents driven upwards, the additional entitlements held by Banks and beneficiaries of Kleptocracy during a period of reverse wealth redistribution justified by Austerity also rise, placing ever greater stockpiles of financial resources into ever fewer hands, facilitating asset capture and drainage of wealth from the real economy.
Money: A fictional construct within whose workings actual value is made the gaming chip of increasingly unproductive Speculation. “Money, n.: a dream from which we might one day awake.” [Susan Wilson: Aphorisms, 1974].
Notes: One of the forms taken by Money. Like more conventionally acknowledged species of fiction, such as novels, Notes are fictions circulated among the general population in order to sustain belief in realities whose relationships with the world we inhabit are entirely negotiable, despite being presented as ineluctable facts. The fabricated Value of Notes can exist only as long as users remain immersed in their imaginary realm, as made persuasive by means of Enforcement.
Outgoings: The sum total of costs attached to food, Housing and other essentials of living, deducted from Income (for individuals) and the costs attached to Jobs, Rents and other operating costs (for businesses). The power granted to the beneficiaries of Kleptocracy by their Liquidity is used to reduce their own Outgoings by driving down Incomes to increase profits, raising prices to increase profits, creating Debt to extract interest from these actions, which then allows the acquisition of public assets at below-market prices to extract further Rents.
Privatisation: The primary mechanism by which public assets are acquired at below-market Value in order to extract Rents. Usually justified on the grounds that competition will improve standards and reduce costs, but invariably reduces standards and greatly increases costs.
Quantitative Easing: The use of public Credit to generate Liquidity for Banks and finance private Speculation. Essentially gifts the Money with which public assets are acquired at below-market Value whenever Privatisations can be justified by Austerity as a means to transfer further public assets to the beneficiaries of Kleptocracy.
Rents: Traditionally, the sum paid for hire or use of an asset, but increasingly the escalating percentage of Income and interest extracted from Privatised assets and indebted individuals by Banks and beneficiaries of Kleptocracy. If we imagine a local economy to be a biscuit tin full of Money, then Rent, like the reduction of Incomes, is a gigantic hoover-pipe plunged into each tin, removing most of its contents for Speculation elsewhere.
Speculation: Essentially, the process by which the beneficiaries of Kleptocracy gamble for high returns of Money without significant risk. Think of an online poker or bingo syndicate capable of lobbying host website owners for rules that ensure the only possible outcome is to win, by having its losses retrospectively paid, then multiply this vision across the globe. Stripped of its mystifications and an abstruse language expressly designed to deter comprehension, this is more or less how global financial markets work.
Takeovers: The use of proceeds from Speculation to acquire businesses for the purpose of extracting Rent. The key to Takeovers is that the Credit used to finance them can be loaded onto the business purchased in the form of Debt, which even a viable business struggles to service while new owners cut costs (by reducing Incomes and Jobs and selling off any productive assets) then raise Rents further to extract more Money, until the shell is repackaged and sold off in a significantly weakened condition. Austerity in its present form can be best understood as a hostile Takeover intent on the asset-stripping of a State.
Unemployment: The result of Speculation, often following Takeovers. Its creation resembles musical chairs, Incomes cut, employee numbers reduced and workloads spread among remaining staff, who then compete to secure positions as the cycle repeats. Fifty years ago, projections suggested a ‘leisure society’ emerging from improvements in technological productivity. Instead, the workforce divides into the Unemployed, insecure contract workers and those for whom work never ends. The gains of technological productivity are transferred from the workforce to a Kleptocracy by means of sustained levels of Unemployment, keeping Incomes artificially low relative to Outgoings, the difference becoming the lucrative Debt generated by Banks.
Value: The arbitrary amounts paid for given commodities or services, weighted to the advantage of those individuals and institutions involved in the distribution of Money.“You must realise that a coin, even one of unalloyed Spanish gold, is of no more value than a dog’s excrement or a tea-pot lid without someone making it so and devising a law to support their claim.” [Sir Henry Whitehorn: A Letter To My Son (1869)]
Welfare: In popular imagination, sums paid from taxpayers’ Incomes to support hardship or idleness; in reality, a vast subsidy to the beneficiaries of Kleptocracy designed to ensure payment of Rents, defer the effects of Unemployment and cover the costs of failed Speculation (See also: Privatisation; Takeovers).
X: The unknown factor in any economic equation. X is a dangerous sign and opens transformative potential inside any equation it enters, which may explain why this quality is persistently understated by those intent on spreading the rumour that there are no alternatives to Austerity.
Yield: In economic usage, Yield is the income from a security returned to its owner, usually expressed as a percentage of its market price. In a broader sense, Yield describes the deformation of a material, the residue of a chemical reaction or the quantity of produce generated by an agricultural strategy. Economic Yields are, in essence, Rents paid to the owners of Debt and supplement the ownership of land in maintaining a feudal relationship between the creators of Debt and the legal machinery that Enforces its collection.
Zeroes: In reality, a Zero represents nothing: a void. In finance, the addition of ever more Zeroes to the nothing already owned generates a paper Value bearing no actual relationship to the asset or service Valued. Applied to Money the multiplication of Zeroes on the documents and certificates held by Banks and beneficiaries of Kleptocracy is largely a matter of assertion working in close alliance with Enforcement.