Sunday, December 07, 2008

Apocalypse Clarkson - now with even more Apocalypse

The Vauxhall Insignia

From The Sunday Times December 7, 2008

Vauxhall Insignia 2.8 V6
An adequate way to drive to hell, Jeremy Clarkson

I was in Dublin last weekend, and had a very real sense I’d been invited to the last days of the Roman empire. As far as I could work out, everyone had a Rolls-Royce Phantom and a coat made from something that’s now extinct. And then there were the women. Wow. Not that long ago every girl on the Emerald Isle had a face the colour of straw and orange hair. Now it’s the other way around.

Everyone appeared to be drunk on naked hedonism. I’ve never seen so much jus being drizzled onto so many improbable things, none of which was potted herring. It was like Barcelona but with beer. And as I careered from bar to bar all I could think was: “Jesus. Can’t they see what’s coming?”

Ireland is tiny. Its population is smaller than New Zealand’s, so how could the Irish ever have generated the cash for so many trips to the hairdressers, so many lobsters and so many Rollers? And how, now, as they become the first country in Europe to go officially into recession, can they not see the financial meteorite coming? Why are they not all at home, singing mournful songs?

It’s the same story on this side of the Irish Sea, of course. We’re all still plunging hither and thither, guzzling wine and wondering what preposterously expensive electronic toys the children will want to smash on Christmas morning this year. We can’t see the meteorite coming either.

I think mainly this is because the government is not telling us the truth. It’s painting Gordon Brown as a global economic messiah and fiddling about with Vat, pretending that the coming recession will be bad. But that it can deal with it.

I don’t think it can. I have spoken to a couple of pretty senior bankers in the past couple of weeks and their story is rather different. They don’t refer to the looming problems as being like 1992 or even 1929. They talk about a total financial meltdown. They talk about the End of Days.

Already we are seeing household names disappearing from the high street and with them will go the suppliers whose names have only ever been visible behind the grime on motorway vans. The job losses will mount. And mount. And mount. And as they climb, the bad debt will put even more pressure on the banks until every single one of them stutters and fails.

The European banks took one hell of a battering when things went wrong in America. Imagine, then, how life will be when the crisis arrives on this side of the Atlantic. Small wonder one City figure of my acquaintance ordered three safes for his London house just last week.

Of course, you may imagine the government will simply step in and nationalise everything, but to do that, it will have to borrow. And when every government is doing the same thing, there simply won’t be enough cash in the global pot. You can forget Iceland. From what I gather, Spain has had it. Along with Italy, Ireland and very possibly the UK.

It is impossible for someone who scored a U in his economics A-level to grapple with the consequences of all this but I’m told that in simple terms money will cease to function as a meaningful commodity. The binary dots and dashes that fuel the entire system will flicker and die. And without money there will be no business. No means of selling goods. No means of transporting them. No means of making them in the first place even. That’s why another friend of mine has recently sold his London house and bought somewhere in the country . . . with a kitchen garden.

These, as I see them, are the facts. Planet Earth thought it had £10. But it turns out we had only £2. Which means everyone must lose 80% of their wealth. And that’s going to be a problem if you were living on the breadline beforehand.

Eventually, of course, the system will reboot itself, but for a while there will be absolute chaos: riots, lynchings, starvation. It’ll be a world without power or fuel, and with no fuel there’s no way the modern agricultural system can be maintained. Which means there will be no food either. You might like to stop and think about that for a while.

I have, and as a result I can see the day when I will have to shoot some of my neighbours - maybe even David Cameron - as we fight for the last bar of Fry’s Turkish Delight in the smoking ruin that was Chipping Norton’s post office.

I believe the government knows this is a distinct possibility and that it might happen next year, and there is absolutely nothing it can do to stop Cameron getting both barrels from my Beretta. But instead of telling us straight, it calls the crisis the “credit crunch” to make it sound like a breakfast cereal and asks Alistair Darling to smile and big up Gordon when he’s being interviewed.

I can’t say I blame it, really. If an enormous meteorite was heading our way and the authorities knew it couldn’t be stopped or diverted, why bother telling anyone? Best to let us soldier on in the dark until it all goes dark for real.

On a more cheery note, Vauxhall has stopped making the Vectra...


edit: for some reason I feel the need to include a clip of the car race scene from On the Beach...



Anonymous said...

The great thing about this is, every paragraph you expect him to pull out of the nosedive, but every paragraph it gets worse (better)

oblivious irish hedonism
oblivious british hedonism
government lies
worse than great depression
bad debt, every bank shutters!
three safes!!
end of fucking money, kitchen gardens!!!
...valuation adjustment...
absolute chaos!!1! riots, starvation, anarchy in the UK!!
think it over...
it is a government conspiracy!

Mainstream loonery doesn't get much more loon than this

Stef said...

yup, it should cheer up quite a few people over their Sunday morning cornflakes

Stef said...

Behold! Before your very eyes see what was once Loonacy become conventional wisdom and what was once conventional wisdom become Loonacy

Anonymous said...

You know, I've really been able to think long and hard about our current economic problems, and I've decided that there is a silver lining.

An economic meltdown really puts the kibosh on the whole Bush/Bair/Illuminati thing.

I mean, when times are flush, it's just too easy to imagine that each and every political action is the product of some overarching conspiracy by the arch-evil leaders of the all-encompassing plan to do... something.

Everything fits into this global conspiracy. Building-disabling planes morph into Israeli bullets, and bad intel morphs into Haliburton share bolstering.

But when the economy goes south...

Well, manifest incompetence becomes the only reasonable explanation.

Now nevermind that manifest incompetence is also an excellent explanation of planes flying into buildings and really, really bad intel on Saddam's nukes. That does not fit the conspiratorialist norm.

Because if conspiratorialists were to conspiratorially interpret the current economic mess, they would have to use their usual imaginary test ("Who benefits?") and determine that Osama bin Liden and the various echelons of Jihad benefit.

And -- since conspiratorialist dogma absolutely depends upon imagining that the whole al Qaeda/jihad/Muslim acquiescence thing is merely an imaginary, arch-evil construct of Bush/Blair -- well, we can't go there.

Even though it's the most logical conspiratorialist theory of all.

So... the conspiratorialists are instead stuck with stating that the economic problems are the result of incompetence, which -- of course -- is the real reason behind 9/11, flawed Iraq intel, and just about every government mistake any conspiratorialist has ever imagined is the "real" reason behind some governmental action they disagree with.

Gosh, I do so love the economic slowdown.

Stef said...

1. I am an unrepentant Conspiraloon

2. With the aid of my Conspiraloon powers I have been predicting, in specific terms, the crash well in advance of non Loons

3. The result of this crash will be the effective transfer of even more real wealth and power into the hands of the few. This has happened on numerous occasions in the past, though not quite on the scale of what we are about to witness

And, to put it bluntly, I'm buggered if I can see how my preferred model of how the world works holding up in the face of events when, without exception, mainstream models have fallen flat on their arse proves that those mainstream models are somehow correct

This 'slowdown' has certainly proved quite a few fuckers wrong but you'd have to engage in some serious mental gymnastics to put Conspiraloons at the top of the list, or even on the list at all

And you couldn't even start to appreciate just how much I hope, because there are people I care for in this world, that my fears for the future are actually proven totally wrong

Anonymous said...

Jeremy is entering Davy Icke territory.
I expect in 2009 Icke and Clarkson to do a tour together.

Anyways I´ve got my big fuckin flat screen tv ordered for Christmas,,at the moment don´t have a telly but feel the time is right to indulge in the Hedonist telly way before the "fall"starts in earnest.

Stef said...

Being a sad old film buff I think Jezzer should go out in a blaze of glory and take part in a suicidal car race mounted on his favourite steed

Meanwhile, in Athens...

ziz said...

Never really seen Jermy as one of the four Horsemen - or the midget and his long haired friend.

What is curious is that the market cap of the Allied Irish Bank is roughly half that of it's cash deposits.(In theory they pay a 9% + Divvy)

The Irish Government guaranteed deposits of up to €100,000 on Sept 30th they extended their guarantee to cover all major deposits by financial institutions with Irish banks and building societies.

No wonder there is dosh sploshing around ... not forgetting the odd £34 Mn from the Bank of NI heist ...

Stef said...

The Irish Government guaranteed deposits of up to €100,000 on Sept 30th they extended their guarantee to cover all major deposits by financial institutions with Irish banks and building societies...

No Moral Hazard there then

and a fantastic mix of all the very worst bits of capitalistic and socialistic thinking



ziz said...

Can you compare the UK's current economic problems with Iceland's ?

1. Iceland de-regulated much of its banking sector in the '90s - as did the UK

2. Iceland proceeded to target low interest rates as did the UK .

3. This resulted in a large amount of borrowing and spending, which resulted in a massive and deep credit-based boom. (Exacerbated by massive growth in Government spending and off balance sheet PFI in the UK)

4. De-regulation allowed for greater securitization -- meaning the loans that enabled this credit-based boom were re-packaged and sold to debt buyers all over the world. As a consequence much of Iceland's (UK's) wealth was / is owned by and owed to foreigners.

5. Iceland experienced a dramatic contraction - leading to a deflationary spiral: significant declines in equities markets, bank failures, and contracting GDP.

Iceland's central bank became insolvent ( NB the BOE is preparing to print money and helicopter it in).

Consequence - a complete lack of confidence in Iceland's ability to repay; essentially, Iceland had defaulted. The result was a run on the Icelandic krona, which has lost half its value in just a few months time.

This is roughly where the UK is today

How did Iceland stop the run on the Krona ? Apart from queuing up at the IMF oans window their wonderful government put currency controls in place, after raising interest rates.

Icelanders have united in protest against the government, in much the same way Argentinians did after their currency crisis in 2001/2and there have been some street protests.

So far in the UK, criticism and dissatisfaction with the government's handling of this crisis have risen significantly, though street protests haven't started. Yet . Stef notes the overnight problems in Greece.

A key difference between the Icelandic krona and the pound sterling is that the £ has been a world reserve currency.

Optimists say plucky old UK will pull through whilst Iceland capitulates and joins the Eurozone.

Lucky old optimists.

PS : Want to get your £'s into something a little more converibel ahead of exchange controls ... as the ad says.

Just do it.

Desperate times, desperate measures.

ziz said...

converibel - convertible

Fing keyboard must change it for one that spells rite.

not anonymous said...

Jeremy is suffering from Internet Paranoia syndrome.

AP) One man showed up at a federal building, asking for release from the reality show he was sure was being made of his life.

Another was convinced his every move was secretly being filmed for a TV contest. A third believed everything — the news, his psychiatrists, the drugs they prescribed — was part of a phony, stage-set world with him as the involuntary star, like the 1998 movie "The Truman Show."

Researchers have begun documenting what they dub the "Truman syndrome," a delusion afflicting people who are convinced that their lives are secretly playing out on a reality TV show. Scientists say the disorder underscores the influence pop culture can have on mental conditions.

read more,

n said...

A New Trend In Paranoid Delusions

A New Trend In Paranoid Delusions

Stef said...

Want to get your £'s into something a little more converibel ahead of exchange controls ... as the ad says.

Just do it

perusing this article and the readers' comments you'd get the distinct impression quite a few people have already reached that conclusion

not anonymous said...


you need Firefox "spell check"it never fails.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Clarkson lose a lot of money in AIG?

I fully expect him to announce that he is Jesus on tonight's Top Gear.

Stef said...

A New Trend In Paranoid Delusions

nah, I've been suffering from that for years

Stef said...

Didn't Clarkson lose a lot of money in AIG?

UBS then AIG

there's nothing like having the system bite your own arse to encourage a little empathy with the plebs

paul said...

on the one...who could forget the clinking bottle.

anon 22:41 said...

WEEEEEEEEEEEEE ... When you hear the attack warning, you and your familiy must take cover at once

Stef said...

who could forget the clinking bottle

a worthy inclusion in any discerning film fan's list of most bleak, most depressing films ever

that and Bad Boys II

Stef said...

and to complete an impressive few days for The Times in scaring the crap out of the financially literate - a couplet of stories on the subject of serious fraud and balance sheet stuffing over at RBS...

Couple stung by £100,000 ‘secret’ loan

RBS secretly charged 80% interest on loan

in the words of the immortal Ponz 'heeeeeeeeeey!!'

Anonymous said...

Stef, imagining that your general prognostication of an impending economic problem is more prescient than someone not specifically identifying the same economic problem in advance is a generalized conspiratorialist problem.

Calling it "conspiraloon" only serves to denigrate a genuine psychological problem.

You should have more respect for the mentally ill.

Anonymous said...


Stef said...

Fucked if I know

Stef said...

or care

Stef said...

There is a fair slab of irony at play here as the term Conspiraloon was coined, popularised and used in a half-arsed attempt to wind up some chums of mine by another self-styled Loonbuster

Being criticized for using it is consequently something like watching a dog eat its own vomit

Tom said...

So... the conspiratorialists are instead stuck with stating that the economic problems are the result of incompetence...

This is where you're going wrong, anon. No self-respecting Conspiraloon would use such a Stochastic term as "incompetence".

Stef said...

/ really really stuck

Stef said...

/ waves impotent fist at the thought of all that incompetence

Stef said...

Hmmmm, Competence Theorist

Has a nice ring to it

paul said...

Obviously every bad event in history is the product of good intentions and flawed execution. Noone would ever do something bad on purpose!

not anonymous said...

these guys have obviously been watching the FKNews.

Al-Qaeda is a front organization of CIA and MOSSAD : Mumbai based group of intellectuals and human rights activists

The Mumbai based group alleged that Al-Qaeda is a front organization of CIA and MOSSAD. "There is enough evidence that the Al-Qaeda is a front organization of the CIA and MOSSAD. The Bush junta has used the bogey of terror and of Al Qaeda to justify his unending and ever expanding Global War on Terror, which is only a means of capturing the resources of the world and of establishing the sole hegemony of Israel in West Asia," said the group of activists and intellectuals. The group is holding a press conference in Mumbai on Wednesday to "expose the links between Al-Qaeda and the CIA-MOSSAD".

Stef said...

Obviously every bad event in history is the product of good intentions and flawed execution. Noone would ever do something bad on purpose!

I detect the faintest whiff of cynicism and implied criticism of what is a logically flawless position...

1. Only bad people conspire

2. Bad people do not achieve positions of power and influence

Therefore no-one in a position of power or influence ever conspires

Fact #1 Must be True otherwise Conspiracy wouldn't be a criminal offence

Fact #2. Must be True as our free press and democratic institutions guarantee that bad people would be identified and filtered out long before attaining any significant power or influence

Anyone who fails to comprehend something so palpably obvious is undoubtedly mentally unwell and should be incarcerated in a state run psychiatric institution for their own good

The fact that I personally find the labeling of anyone who disagrees with you as being mentally unwell just a teensy wee bit creepy and Stalinist is no doubt merely the result of my own mental illness

Stef said...

That famous mental defective Michael Parenti explains all about how it is that only poor people and wogs, especially poor wogs, engage in conspiracy here...

Conspiracy and Class Power 1/2

Conspiracy and Class Power 2/2

Stef said...

these guys have obviously been watching the FKNews.

obviously not closely enough as I distinctly remember FKNews reporting that the Mumbai slaughter was NOT A MOSSAD CIA JOB!!

remember, the Mumbai attack bore all the distinctive hallmarks of Al-Qaeda including suicide bombings, hostage taking and deft use of the Internet to publicise the motivation for the attacks

er, OK, on second thoughts maybe the Mumbai attacks didn't feature those particular distinctive hallmarks of Al Qaeda but all the attackers did start killing people all at the same time which is definitely a distinctive hallmark of Al Qaeda

because, as we all know, prior to the inception of Al Qaeda, terrorism was characterised by its shocking lack of punctuality

Stef said...

sorry, that would be its chilling lack of punctuality

anon 22:41 said...

Al-Qaeda is a front organization of CIA and Mossad...

This is actually a mainstream opinion in the middle east and most countries outside Europe and the US.
That helps put in perspective Max Fleisher's utterances on AJ, btw.

Another hallmark of Al Qaeda is the manifest incompetence of the authorities.

Stef said...

^ Competence Theorist ^

Tom said...

^^^^^ Tragic-Schoolboy-Error-ists

anon 22:41 said...

Competence Theorist is an interesting concept, actually.

Fanatic muslamiacs are indeed competent enough to do acrobatics with airliners, put together complex liquid explosives in the loo, and make anthrax from scratch in their bedsits...

Parabellum said...

Stef, I would really like to see an exchange of thoughts and ideas between you and Karl Marx. To bad that the old bugger is dead for a long time now...

Stef said...


I'm currently thinking about whether Georgism is the way forward

Partly because I think it might be, in practice, a more libertarian system than Marxism

But mostly because virtually no-one knows what the f**k it is and so they wouldn't know if I was being serious or not

Wolfie said...


That's brilliant, can I use it?

Stef said...

by all means

as long as you don't try and profit from it

Parabellum said...

If anything is certain, it is that I myself am not a Marxist.

Stef, I am thinking more about a real exchange with Marx, the man himself. Marx - as I understand it - was not too happy about the ways of the world, tried to understand and explain them, bring enlightenment to the word and help to change it for the better. Which reminds me what you do here. So a exchange between the two of you would have been really insightful.

But as I said, the bugger is dead. But you could comment on the work of Marx, as you did with Klein and Taleb. Like where you agree and were not.

Stef said...

/ flattered

Stef said...

Some people (not on this blog but in the 'real' world) have recently accused me of being a Marxist because of what they saw as my anti-capitalist prejudice

Marxism has always been presented as the logical alternative to capitalism

and Marxism (reportedly) failed

Which meant that Capitalism was the only game in town

The problem, of course, it that Capitalism has now failed

So, if the two competing fundamental economic philosophies have failed that must mean that our only choice is to embrace the least awful of the two, correct?


There are plenty of interesting, competing economic philosophies out there. We are not reminded of their existence by the mainstream media, because the controllers of the mainstream media prefer races with only two horses

And even if there really were only two horses, Marxism and Capitalism, I do not believe for a second that the versions of Capitalism or Marxism which failed, failed because of their theoretical flaws.

They failed because they were corrupted by criminals

First and foremost, I am more concerned that the people who manage our world are decent, honest, capable and accountable people. The system they manage is of secondary interest to me

I am certain that our world is currently run for the benefit of a small ruling class of people. However, just because I agree with that class analysis does not make me a Marxist

My single biggest issue with Marx is that, like Darwin and other 'illuminated' 19th century beardies, he thought in terms of natural forces and denied the significant impact of individuals and their conscious decisions on the flow of human history

In the context of the current crash Marx would argue that the crash was an inevitable consequence of Capitalism

I would argue that the crash is the result of consciousness decisions made by some right evil bastards. 'Casino' Capitalism is merely the tool they employed on this occasion

Parabellum said...

Well, Marx has written a thorough scientific analysis of the national economy in a capitalistic system - besides being probably THE most important German philosopher. I would not go so far and compare that part with you (unless you are secretly writing away on some new chapters of "Das Kapital"). But then again Marx was a complete maniacal Nerd, rather indulging himself in the flame wars of that age, writing sharp critical letters to both fans and enemies of his instead of finishing his own works, he couldn't handle money, spend all of it for his work (and it was quite a sum for that time) only to see his wife and five of his children die in poverty while fleeing from one country to another. I really hope that your personal life is a bit more, well, in order and settled - and less in conflict with the authorities.

No need to hide your light under a bushel, I think you have a very good understanding how the world works for someone without a Marxist education - at least from the people I had somehow contact with :-) And as far a I know, Marxism is not about following a dogma, but instead of deciphering the world...

Stef said...

I really hope that your personal life is a bit more, well, in order and settled - and less in conflict with the authorities

Is one out of two a decent score?

Parabellum said...

Two posts crossed :-)

Well, Marx didn't think that Marxism is an alternative to Capitalism, he thought that like Capitalism grew out of Feudalism, that Socialism will grow out of Capitalism. For him, this was a natural consequence. I guess he was wrong about that (at least for now). But for him Socialism wasn't an alternative, but something which would come when its time would be right.

And in a sense, yes, he wasn't interested in what a single person does. What interested him is was that the individual actions of everybody, taken together, had consequences for each individual that would be perceived as unchangeable (while at the same time generated by one own actions).

I guess Marx wouldn't have disputed that individuals (and group of individuals) can and will screw the system in once favorable direction - but he wasn't interested in, because he wanted to lay bare the underlying principals of capitalism. The capitalist company owner, who has to lower the wages of his employees, while at the same time having to hope that the other company owners don't act like that, because then no one would have enough money to buy the products. Or the company owner who has to expand his market, no matter what. Stuff like that. And viewed like that, a capitalist has to act like he does. It is a natural consequence. Both the worker and the owner create the system, that forces them to do what they do. And if the logic dictates to manufacture a crisis, in order to bankrupt competitors and take a even larger share of the wealth generated by everybody - well then that has to be done and will be done. Because if you are in position to do it - and don't do it - well, then someone else will strive to be in that position and do it.

Simple Marxist analysis. (But then Marx might come and say: That's not what I meant. I don't know. The bugger just couldn't keep it short and simple when he has written his works - guess blogs weren't invested back then).

Stef said...

If Marx had been confined to the discipline of modern text messaging things would definitely be a lot clearer

Parabellum said...

invested == invented...

Parabellum said...

capitalsm bad. socialsm bttr. revolution now. kthxbye

Stef said...


Stef said...

Well, Marx didn't think that Marxism is an alternative to Capitalism...

I've picked up this bad habit of using the terms Marxism and Communism interchangeably


Parabellum said...

Marxism, Communism, Socialism - I find it hard to distinguish and draw lines. And quite frankly, I never cared and I still don't care what label it has.

Besides what many people have done based on his work (both good and bad, both right and wrong), there are so many things that Marx has written - and what areas: both economic science and philosophy! There is Marx the historian, the sociologist, the humanist, the newspaper editor, the political theorist and of course the revolutionary. Simply slap Marxism on it and call it a day? I think that is the biggest disservice one can do to Marx. At the moment, I fascinated with Marxist Analysis - to lay bare the principles that govern the world. And I try to have the same hope that Marx had, the world today is not "as good as it gets" and a that a better world is possible. Yet, I have a hard time at the moment to see such a future...