(Consider this: In 2016, the richest top 10 percent of U.S. households owned 84 percent of all stocks.)
The problem with the breathless media analysis of the recent volatility in the stock market is that it’s framed under a rubric of capitalism that essentially argues the wealth of a relatively few rich investors is more important than the daily survival and overall fortunes of the world’s workers.
Thus, it’s all normal, according to the media, that a tiny increase in overall wages, lower unemployment and lower worker productivity—or, to put it this way, better pay, a few more jobs to choose from, more time off—is actually not good for the country because it means rich people might not remain as rich under those terrible conditions. This bad news of full employment, the media pundits point out, means businesses as they always do because of their own rising wage costs will raise prices on basic commodities—think food and utilities—and essentially wipe out the extra income from workers because this “natural occurrence” causes inflation and leads to higher interest rates. Higher interest rates supposedly dampen business expansion, meaning fewer jobs and lower salaries, which is needed to correct the stock market in order for rich people to become richer, as it should be now and forever, the analysis goes.
In other words, the vast majority of ordinary workers and professionals—from truck drivers to teachers to computer programmers—can never really better their lives financially under this paradoxical narrative that must be reinforced by the capitalist media for it even to exist. The stock market has devolved completely to benefit oligarchs and their surrogates, and even those financial analysts considered liberal on the political spectrum, such as Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman of The New York Times, present this corrupt system in mathematical and statistical terms as some independent force that is completely normal and sane if not as natural as sunshine. In a recent commentary, Krugman argues the stock market isn’t the economy, which is true, but then he spends an immense amount of rhetorical energy proving how it impacts our daily lives whether we’re invested or not. This only defends the paradox.
The trickle-down argument of capitalism is embodied right now by the corrupt Donald Trump, who has taken credit for the country’s stock market’s new highs but has remained fairly silent on Monday’s record decline. Instead of focusing on the numbers that will change in the next minute, let’s focus on the foundational lie upon which they’re interpreted: When the rich people get richer, then all is well for everyone. Analysis of stock markets swings by mainstream pundits ALWAYS approach their interpretations with that lie embedded in their consciousness in one way or another. This seems especially dishonest and unfair today to me when you consider that 44 million people in this country have student loan debt totaling $1.5 trillion and 33 million people don’t have decent access to health care even as Trump and the GOP actually work to sustain or increase those appalling numbers. But actually there’s nothing new about the lie of trickle-down economics.
I don’t believe in the trickle-down lie, nor do the vast majority of people throughout the world. So here are short-term and long-term outlooks outside the capitalistic framework about what the stock market’s recent volatility means.
Short-term outlook. The recent volatility of stock markets around the world and on Wall Street represents and mirrors to some degree the volatility of the U.S. political dilemma at its present moment. The U.S., the global leader in world affairs, has emerged as a capitalistic borderline fascist state under the corrupt and lying Trump and the Republican Party. The country is not a functioning democracy. Under Trump’s autocratic regime, no asset, whether “fictitious capital,” as Karl Marx would put it, or actual physical capital—is safe from some type of corrupting influence, irrational downgrades and false over-valuations. A cadre of new-age, stock-market hackers—who now scam the system automatically in seconds through computer program algorithms—will become increasingly influential at the transactional level in this new unregulated environment embraced by the erratic regime. Trump won’t even investigate hackers in U.S. elections so why would he be concerned with investigating what should be deemed crooked behavior of market manipulators? The media pundits and financial analysts in their self interest will caution everyone to remain invested in the morass, of course, but what will happen under the Trump regime and the GOP’s submission to the president’s racist radicalism and indifference to ordinary middle class people and the impoverished remains wildly unpredictable, and there are no signs the chaos and instability in the country’s political dynamic will relent anytime soon. There is no return to political or market normalcy during and after Trump. Stock market volatility therefore will likely continue, based on both basic economic factors under the capitalistic rubric and the growing wealth, power and immorality of Trump and American oligarchs, who use the stock market as their playground while the masses of people in the world struggle to survive.
Long-term outlook. Under socialism, workers collectively own the means of their production. But socialism is also more clearly defined as full equality for everyone regardless of one’s skin color, nationality, gender and sexual orientation and based on communal ideas such as income equality, equal access to health care and equal access to education. The stock market, however, has been used throughout history as an oppressive tool for rich capitalists to manipulate financial value to promote inequality, make money based on nothing more than high-stakes gambling and to exploit working class people. In 2016, the richest top 10 percent of U.S. households owned 84 percent of all stocks. Most working class people, for example, currently don’t even have the financial means to access the stock market, but if they work for a for-profit company with downward-trending stocks the threat of losing their jobs increases through no fault of their own. The employee not the employer suffers the most under the swings of the stock market and, in general, under capitalism, an inherently racist system the very existence of which is based on inequality. Most of the ordinary people that supposedly own stocks are invested through mandated or virtually mandated retirement programs that with the exception of some fully funded pension programs do not offer workers a reasonable or even attainable retirement. As late-stage capitalism implodes through its destruction of the planet and the greed of its oligarchs, we can hope the rise of people against tyrants like Trump, who embody capitalism, will ensure the prevailing concepts of the stock market become a relic of the past.
Stock market swings and the accompanying breathless media coverage become yet another deflection that shuts down before it even gets going a widespread discussion about the failures of capitalism, which exploits workers, embraces inequality and most often rewards the most immoral, racist, corrupt and hateful people among us, such as Trump and his family. Capitalism is the opposite of freedom and equal opportunity. The ideas of socialism once again deserve robust debate at this crucial juncture in our country’s history.