The discussion that follows attempts to fuse together two seemingly parallel modes of thought that are nevertheless often left unintegrated with one another.
On the one hand, we have Austrian economic theory which successfully explains and predicts our presently and persistently depressed economic environs. On the other hand, we have libertarian political theory, which might best be summarized by the words attributed to Lord Acton, 'power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.'
The credit for what I will argue can follow and is currently following from these two basic theoretical frameworks has long been championed and popularized by Alex Jones. So, I think it is rightfully called the Jonesian hypothesis or Jonesian synthesis.
In 2008, with the collapse of Lehman brothers, the passing of the TARP bail out and crash of the stock market, the errors of over expenditure in the proceeding years, which we now know as the 'housing bubble,' became wholly and externally evident. Since that time economic recovery has been dismal at best, and the amount of bad debt on the books of one sector of the American economy or another has continued to compound.
Four years into the crisis, and no one is more confident of economic recovery than they were when the stock market began to level off in 2009. Unemployment remains unnaturally elevated for many reasons. Americans with jobs continue to save, yet will not have their balance sheets repaired in any self-sustaining way for the foreseeable future, especially as the government continues to make economic transactions increasingly costly through so called "healthcare" regulations, increasing national debt burdens and otherwise.
While the banking sector has stabilized enough for the stock market to move perhaps permanently away from its 2009 lows, the twin specters of inflation and deflation haunt the American economy. In the first case and in an attempt to buoy the balance sheets of the largest banks the Federal Reserve has undertaken a massive money printing operation, which so far cushions only the balance sheets of said banks. Huge amounts of liquidity are ready to flood into the economy at the first glimpse of sustained economic growth, and the built up steam of these excess reserves is even let off through spikes in commodity prices each time a new QE x is announced. Simultaneously sustained economic growth remains aloof as enough insolvent or near-insolvent financial institutions are allowed to operate sufficient to spook the market into periodic bouts of deflationary scare. These deflationary bouts are in turn met with the next numerical integer of QE, sufficient to once again buoy markets. Yet remains the bad debt, serviced by debtors, who in many cases like the United States government are so far in debt and have so poorly invested their borrowed funds, it has been rendered impossible to ever effectively pay back the amount owed. Concurrently, because of the depressed nature of the economy and the constant increase in the cost doing business through commodity price spikes and massive regulation, many more than marginal business concerns are in turn made increasingly marginal - that is, inched towards bankruptcy - such that as the originally insolvent entities are pushed into bankruptcy and liquidated, a new round of near-insolvent businesses are led to the brink, allowing for another round of deflationary scare justifying the next round of QE.
The effect of this tight-rope walking between the perceived threats of inflation and deflation - neither one ever fully allowed to come to fruition - by policymakers is that the balance sheets of the largest, most corrupt institutions in the US continue to grow, while the more honest businesses of this country, unshielded from increasing economic burdens, are slowly moved, round by round, into bankruptcy, forced to sell their assets at fire-sale prices to the few remaining aforementioned entities that just happen to have all of the cash.
If enough iterations of this process are allowed, eventually the entire economy will be owned by a few mega-banks controlled by the Federal Reserve and there will be no economic recourse, i.e., no source of substantial income, outside of working with, in or for these few entities.
'Extend and pretend' is then really 'keep the bad debt on the books, so that
people perceive they cannot and have less incentive to seek out alternatives to their
current debt-laden indentured life and use the specter of all this bad
debt, along with increasing regulation and inflation to drive out the
few remaining vibrant competitors from business, slowly consolidating
all the wealth in the hands of the mega-banks.'
This process is accelerated and made more easily enforceable through the harassment of those few remaining small-scale, self-sufficient operations such as Amish farmers, raw milk producers, lemonade stands, etc., and the movement towards cash-less transactions.
The only solutions I see, if the Jonesian synthesis is a correct reflection of our current predicament, is to build as many and as small of self-sustaining, independent business operations as possible: farms, bartering systems, co-ops, etc. and to defend these from harassment to the best of our ability. Without the recourse to these, there may with enough time be no economic future outside of Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America, JP Morgan et al.