The Year of the Pig

The Chinese New Year is coming up next month. So shall we scoff more than ever, or be led off to slaughter or both as usual? But, in that case, why bother to change the calendar? I’m joking of course, because I’m old enough to have survived change. But it’s a spiral two steps up one step down sort of movement.

Back in 1939 Joseph Schumpeter (Business Cycles, p.213) suggested a 57 year sinusoidal growth cycle. If these long economic cycles exist, they must necessarily influence the whole of society. If 57 is the right figure, we are now at the same point of the curve as in 1950. And I’ve heard say that Harry Truman is the president’s favorite president.

It’s never the same. But the same causes produce the same effects. It’s just that no one wants to say what the fundamental causes are. Logically, business cycles, (see Kitchin, Juglar, Kuznets and Kondratieff), are caused by debt cycles. And, as debt and credit are the property of banks, it’s just as logical that global mayhem, at regular intervals, is preferred to the ending of this privilege.

KEN COUESBOUC can be reached at

Editorial footnote from Alexander Cockburn: Since we’re talking about the Year of the Pig, we offer this, from the website: “Because of cyclical lunar dating, the first day of the year can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February. On the Chinese calendar, 2007 is Lunar Year 4704-4705. On the Western calendar, the start of the New Year falls on February 18, 2007 — The Year of the Pig. “If you were born in 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983 or 1995 – you were born under the sign of the pig. Like the pig you are highly regarded for your chivalry and pureness of heart, and you often make friends for life. For pigs in 2007, any recent setbacks or obstacles can be overcome so look forward to a year in which to really shine, either personally or professionally.” Setbacks overcome? I’m feeding two pigs right now, while my neighbor is on holiday. They were wild piglets, taken into captivity when their mother fell to a hunter’s musket 15 miles upriver. I wouldn’t say their long-term prospects look too good.