Wednesday, 15 October 2008

On the lighter side

The students in my undergraduate psychoanalytic theory seminar have discovered some terrific illustrations for some Kleinian ideas that are too perfect not to share.

These clips (sorry about the ads) are from The Family Guy. No, I haven't seen it (come on! there's only so many hours in the day!), but I will try to catch it when I can now.

First up, a terrific illustration of the Kleinian paranoid-schizoid position. Note the demands, note how the baby deals with the Oedipal threat, note the fear of retaliation from the object... Klein in a one-minute cartoon:

And this one... well. It just made me laugh. Because my sons do this:

More analyses welcome. Another must-watch for fans of Freud, it seems. Many, many thanks to everyone: Katie, Izzy, Tori, Sally, Liz, Emma, Rachel, Fay!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Synchronicity, investor psychology and history in the making.

In a strange synchronicitous event on former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s 83rd birthday, we are seeing her 1983 reforms of the UK money markets dramatically reversed. What would Carl Jung have to say about that? Well as he’s no longer with us, I’d like to have my say first.

The current facts: the ongoing collapse of free market capitalism is today resulting in a move towards nationalisation of many major financial institutions, with governments the world over considering major international reforms of the global banking system. In Britain this has amounted to nothing less than a socialist coup, that is the unelected take over of financial boardroom strategy of 3 major banks by a Labour government, without any need for re-election or opposition from parliament. These are the most far reaching reforms of our economy since Thatcher’s deregulation of financial markets in 1983, and prior to that the nationalisations of the 1940’s. The UK taxpayer now owns large parts of these banks and their elected representatives (treasury staff) now have a say in how these assets are managed.

Some of the reforms made include bank CEO’s bonuses no longer being awarded in cash, but bank shares, thus encouraging a long term view when making decisions on lending and borrowing, as they stand to win or lose on the basis of their own decisions. The banks’ declared ‘loss of confidence’ (returning to this below) will not be able to hold the taxpayer to ransom either ( as I feared it might), because the government shares in these banks are large enough to ensure control of boardroom decision making and thus, the freeing of money for lending to small businesses and homebuyers, at reasonable rates.

However, there have been some objections to what’s happened from the public, such as ‘but they're spending our money, tax payer’s money, to bail out banks’. Hmmm. But the city spivs were running off with huge amounts of our money anyway, money they were earning through risky investments of our savings in volatile markets, causing spiralling debt and a property boom that ensured we spend a greater proportion our income on housing than any other country in the developed world. Effectively we UK mortgage holders were paying rents for our homes to banks (the real homeowners) who were investing the profit in further property development (through, for example, selling high interest ‘buy to let’ mortgages offered to increasingly greedy landlords) which fuelled a house price boom that excluded many working people in Britain from the stability of having their own home. Instead many have been forced to pay high rents to ‘buy to let’ property tycoons for substandard housing. Meanwhile, bank CEOs, mortgage brokers, bank share holders, property developers and such like, coined in huge profits generated by their risky investments of our money… leading to the crisis we have seen in the past few weeks. The ‘loss of confidence’ that led to the drying up of funds and frozen liquidity was caused by fear amongst financiers of each others greed. In psychoanalytic terms, this economic collapse has been driven at bottom by paranoid schizoid greed and envy.

The ultimate fear was that continued lending might fail to bring in the big bucks that had been previously lining the pockets of city spivs at the ordinary working person’s great expense. So they stopped lending. Today we are seeing the return of managed markets, restored confidence, as the government intervenes to contain the paranoid schizoid confidence crisis. This demonstrates how ethereal high finance really is, and how driven our economies are human emotions such as paranoia, fear, enthusiasm, greed and envy. As our financial institutions have increased in size to embrace a deregulated global free market, their default position during uncertain times has been driven by increasingly primitive processes, which is how large groups tend to operate in a crisis. Today we see the resuscitation of nationalisation as the only workable strategy of containment.

Happy birthday Maggie.