The fiscal chaos mounts and the usual suspects over at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce seem unable to work their will on a Congress driving toward the cliff with its foot on the gas.
Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, wonders why business leaders are silent about what he sees as a catastrophic situation that threatens America's pre-eminence in the world.
He wrings his hands over shattering the debt ceiling.
At some point in mid-October -- on the 17, according to the latest estimates -- the Treasury will reach the legal limit on its ability to borrow. If Congress refuses to increase the legal limit on the amount of debt outstanding, the Treasury will be unable to pay its bills.
Precisely how this would play out is subject to some debate, but there is no question that it would involve a great deal of uncertainty, in the best case, or a catastrophic default that can safely be regarded as the worst case.
Johnson is flummoxed why Wall Street and the captains of the Fortune 100 are not screaming about impending catastrophe at the top of their lungs.
The silence of much of the business and financial elite on the debt ceiling -- as well as on the sequester and the government shutdown -- is somewhat shocking. This is a group that is usually quite vocal in promoting its self-interest. It benefited greatly from the expansion of the global economy after 1945, and that shifting perception of what business needs was part of the pressure that encouraged the Republican Party to become much more international in its orientation.
But Johnson misses the key question: does the globalist corporate elite really need the United States of America anymore?
The answer seems to be "no" - or more accurately, "Hell no!"
The corporatists at the misleadlingly named U.S. Chamber of Commerce (it's really the Multinational Chamber of Commerce), the Business Roundtable, Goldman Sachs and the rest of the Wall Street and boardroom cronies have been leading the charge to render the United States moot through the TransPacific Partnership and the TransAtlantic Partnership.
These deals, which they are assiduously crafting behind closed doors, would replace elected governments, including our own, with an international authority of the elites, by the elites and for the elites with the power to enforce rules protecting corporatist interests the world over, national laws be damned.
Ralph Gomory has long said the interests of American-in-name-only multinational corporations have diverged from the interests of the United States. While discussing the current government dysfunction, the Washington Post's Wonkblog spelled out the terms of the divorce [emphasis added]:
Few of America's biggest businesses are purely American anymore, having taken full advantage of free trade and lower labor costs around the world. That has two effects. First, since they've off-shored or automated much of their workforces, it's harder to tell a legislator that Washington dysfunction is hurting jobs in their district. And second, their stake in America isn't as large as it used to be: If business conditions deteriorate at home, they can invest more heavily in Brazil or China instead.
Fiscal chaos that undermines the United States actually serves the interests of corporatists who care little for our representative government (or anyone else's). This crowd is happy to clip the wings of an American eagle that stands in the way of their global hegemony.
Washington burns and the silence of business leaders is the dog that didn't bark.