Deterministic society & economy

Hegel posited that history and anti-history annihilate to create a new history (the thesis, antithesis, synthesis triad was originated by Johann Fichte, but adopted by Marx and Hegel in their philosophies); so far, we’re still waiting for the next iteration. Earlier ‘annihilations’ include the 2008 financial crisis, 911, WW2, etc. Unless ‘stuff’ happens, and in a dramatic way, things will get kinda boring.

The news cycle is like a carousal or treadmill, with the same stories over and over again: Hillary, Russia & emails, terrorist attack in {UK,Germany,France} with {truck,knife,gun,bomb} (but Brexit was supposed to fix everything tho..), Trump appointees, North Korea, some random campus protest, alt-right/right-wing rally disturbed by Antifa, random culture war issue (transgender bathrooms, etc.), etc.

Since 2009, the economy has been in autopilot mode, with the longest bull market and economic expansion ever (surpassing even the 90′s), and in agreement with this deterministic-autopilot thesis, the bull market and economic expansion has much further to go. As the economy grows and becomes increasingly efficient, technological, and competitive, recessions and bear markets will become a thing of the past (as is already the case now), so instead of economic cycles, there will be just a single continuous ‘boom’ (even if for many people the economy still feels sluggish) culminating with the Singularity, AI/robot-takeover, or something like that.

In keeping with this deterministic theme, since early 2014 when I launched the blog, I recommended going long stocks, including the ‘big three’ Amazon, Google ,and Facebook, all of which made made substantial gains since then. The S&P 500 excluding dividends is up a massive 35% since then (this is after the fed ended its QE programs, so the excuse that the fed is propping up the market cannot be invoked). Including the 2013 rally (which was 32%) and the dividends, the gain is something like 80% in just 4.5 years for the S&P 500 (which in terms of percentages eclipses that of the 90′s and 80′s bull markets, but valuations are much lower and so too are interest rates, and for these reasons stocks have much higher to go). The Nasdaq has posted much larger gains. Every stock and investment (including Tesla and Bitcoin) mentioned on this blog has done well, with the sole exception of Snapchat.

Second, economic and social determinism not only means less civil unrest and fewer recession, but such determinism is also applicable at the individual level, too, which means individuals will become increasingly subjected and powerless to these social and economic forces that are outside of their control. Instead of individuals participating in the economy by creating businesses or through upward mobility, a sort of ‘caste’ system will emerge (if it hasn’t already) whereby one’s placement in society is largely determined by factors outside of one’s control, such as IQ. That’s not to say the meritocracy is doomed, but for those without above-average IQs, opportunities for advancement will be very scarce (even more so than they are now). A productive elite will continue to be the driver of the economy, even if there is more social decay. [1]

[1] IMHO, these arguments that modernity (if we define modernity to mean social liberalism)=civilization collapse are not very convincing. The evidence shows that civilization, as measured by economic data and technological innovation–especially in America–is not dying though. I think it’s more likely that social decay and civ can coexist, due to the contributions of a small productive elite. Also, technology gives the cognitive elite tools to be increasingly productive, so much so that the growth of productivity outpaces the rate of decay. What does this mean for the welfare state? Similar to the vision outlined in Tyler Cowen’s book Average is Over, the permanently unemployed, who are lack the skills to adapt to an increasingly competitive economic environment, will choose to move to areas with cheaper living (such as Texas). But also more welfare spending, but no UBI or any other major form of redistribution beyond what already exists.