econintersect.com
       
  

FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.



posted on 29 June 2016

Brexit Is What Happens When The Pie Is Shrinking

by Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds

This process of withdrawal into the relative safety of internally cohesive groups and group identities is intrinsically messy in globalized, multicultural societies.

A great many narratives are drifting around the Brexit pool: a return to sovereignty, class war, "controlled demolition," nothing-but-another-political-Kabuki- spectacle, end of the European Union, etc.

I think it boils down to something much simpler: the pie is shrinking, and the illusion that it's about to start growing has been shattered. For many communities in the developed world, the pie started shrinking in the 1970s, and has been shrinking (despite the narrative of "45 years of strong growth") since then.

Labor's share of the GDP has been declining for 45 years. Occasional blips higher during debt-fueled bubbles quickly fade when the bubble du jour pops, and the decline of labor's share of the economy resumes its trendline decline.

Since 2008, the only group who feels the pie is growing is the class that has benefited from the unparalleled expansion of debt and leverage, financialization, globalization and central planning--roughly 20% of the work force, with the top 5% gathering most of the gains in income and wealth, and the top .1% gathering most of the increase in wealth. (See chart below)

For seven long years, the citizenry has been told the economy is expanding and therefore they're "doing better." But this narrative is not supported by their actual lived experience. Inflation is woefully under-reported by official statistics, and the rosy "rising employment" narrative is based largely on part-time jobs in hospitality and food services (bartenders, waiters, etc.) that are highly contingent on the spending of the top 10%.

While supporters of the status quo are quick to deride supporters of Brexit, the cold reality is the economic pie is shrinking, and Brexit is a direct result of that reality.

A shrinking economic pie generates widespread insecurity that pressures every status quo arrangement as people circle the wagons in an attempt to protect their remaining slice of the pie from others' claims for a larger piece of the dwindling pie.

The general media line is that the Brexit vote arose out of anger with the status quo's inequalities and asymmetries of wealth and power. While this is largely self-evident, it isn't the most fundamental dynamic at work. I see Brexit as a reflection of our naturally-selected defensive response to insecurity and instability: circle the wagons.

By circle the wagons, I mean our tendency to withdraw into an internally cohesive group with defined membership and boundaries.

The largest such political group is the nation-state, and so it is natural for people with strong national identities to circle the wagons around their national identity.

We can also expect people to circle the wagons around ethnic, religious, localized and economic-social class identities. (Some people might feel more kinship with other fans of Manchester United than they do with any religion, ethnicity or state.)

As people identify themselves as members of the class that has not benefited from neoliberal/globalized crony capitalism, the ruling Elites become the "other," i.e. "foreigners" with whom we have little contact, people who "aren't like us"-- in effect, an "enemy class" that is inherently opposed to our self-interests.

This process of withdrawal into the relative safety of internally cohesive groups and group identities is intrinsically messy in globalized, multicultural societies. No wonder populations are dividing into camps of increasingly angry people with little interest in compromise. Our instinct is to seek clear delineations of "us" and "them" and to seek the relative comfort of "us," which in a multicultural nation, can contain quite a mixed bag of people who nonetheless feel a shared identity.

Much to the chagrin of political parties whose success is based solely on "identity politics," the emerging group identities are not conforming to the political classes' conventional fault lines. "Us" for many people includes everyone who isn't a protected insider of the status quo, and "the enemy" is any protected insider of the status quo.

That includes virtually the entire political class, the entire class of state nomenklatura/technocrats, the entire banking sector and the wealthy class that's benefited so handsomely from the globalized, debt-leverage bubbles and state / central bank support that characterize this era of neoliberal/globalized crony capitalism.

Nothing to see here--move along, folks--you're better off than ever before.


A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology and Creating Jobs for All is now available as an Audible audio book.

My new book is #14 on Kindle short reads -> politics and social science: Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform ($3.95 Kindle ebook, $8.95 print edition) For more, please visit the book's website.


>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical Opinion Post Listing










Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.



You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.





Econintersect Opinion


search_box

Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF


The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.


Take a look at what is going on inside of Econintersect.com
Main Home
Analysis Blog
The Expected Effects of Petitions to Improve the Monetary System
Energy and Falling Productivity
News Blog
TV Matches Aren't All That Important And Trump's Less Trusted
What We Read Today 26 September 2016
Why Mosquitoes Bite Some People
September 2016 Texas Manufacturing Survey Improves Further Into Expansion.
August 2016 New Home Sales Decline On Lower Median Sales Prices.
U.S. Real Wage Growth: Fast Out Of The Starting Blocks - Part 1 Of 2
Who Works More Hours Per Week: Rich Or Poor Countries?
Infographic Of The Day: How The World's Most Iconic Logos Evolve Over Time
Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Down, Fed Wants Banks' Commodity Limits, Treasuries Being Sold, EZ Business Output Softens, France Contraction, Saudi's Boost Banks, Canada Tightens Borders For Chinese And More
Most Read Articles Last Week Ending 24 September
How Britain Owes Its Immigrants A Debt Of Gratitude
Super Mario, The Timeless Bestseller
Explainer: The Nine Swing States That Will Decide The Next US President
Investing Blog
Monday Morning Call 26 September
We're Back Here We Started
Opinion Blog
Heading For A Fall? With Summer Over, Europe Must Face Up To Its Mounting Crises
What If We're In A Depression But Don't Know It?
Precious Metals Blog
War On Cash Turns To $20, $50, And $100 Bills
Live Markets
26Sep2016 Market Close: Wall Street Remained Down Ahead Of Tonight's Presidential Debate And OPEC's Meeting Later This Week, WTI Crude Falls Back To The 45 Handle, Gold Also Falls Off Session Highs
Amazon Books & More






.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government



Crowdfunding ....






























 navigate econintersect.com

Blogs

Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day
Weather

Newspapers

Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government
     

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed
Google+
Facebook
Twitter
Digg

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution

Contact

About

  Top Economics Site

Investing.com Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2016 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved