We learned about finance from a world that no longer exists.
Roses, I Tell You, Roses: Greece is cured. The stimulus worked, jobs are growing, Geithner is brilliant, saved the banks, saved us all. Rham Emanuel is a true Svengalli. There really is a recovery and it's not too late to buy stocks, any stocks! Obama is triumphant and there's way too much propaganda in the wind. The housing crash is over and it's up, up, up! Jobs are everywhere - “a lot of jobs!” Rubbish, pure unadulterated rubbish.
Fool's Errand: All but 4% of Americans favor health care reform, but most of them want it to be supported by the Republicans, too. Yet Sen. McConnell (R-Moon) claims “Americans have issued their verdict on this bill. They don’t want it. It’s that simple.” I t may be a lot of things, but simple isn't one of them.
Yogi Berra Moment: The euro is sound, Greece is saved, investors are rushing into junk bonds and high-risk instruments in a mad drive to get back all they've lost. In a week, if possible. Echo? I don't hear no stinking echo.
Synopsis: 1. Empires are complex systems. 2. Complex systems often fail catastrophically. 3. The weakest link is best identified in hindsight. There, now you don't have to read Niall Ferguson's latest bit of derivative discovery. Oh, in case you are as slow as Ferguson's admirers: 4. The US is a complex empire that may collapse suddenly for reasons we cannot now anticipate. Applause, applause.
Savings Glut: Americans reduced their credit card balances by $93 billion last year, mainly by not paying and having the banks write off the debt. Does that qualify as 'savings' to an economist?
Table Stakes: China says that having a bit of gold is a nice idea, but it doesn't plan on buying the tons and tons the IMF wants to get rid of. It is going to “proceed cautiously” - so don't go driving the price up on them.
Second Thoughts: Samsung has a refrigerator with a computer built into the door that can show pictures of the kids when it's not searching the net for just the right recipe – and displaying it while you cook. I wouldn't pay a lot for it, but some will.
Line in the Sand: Kuwaiti scientists see world conventional crude oil production peaking in 2014. What do a bunch of Arabs know about petroleum?
The Lady or the Tiger: Door #1: Our entire consumer economy is predicated on debt, and ends in either drastic government spending cuts, or hyperinflation. Door #2: Peak Oil is just around the corner and will result in a dramatic reduction in the standard of living currently propped up by cheap oil. Door #3: Water... Door #4: Global Climate...
Euro Doom: The best thing that can be said about the European Monetary Union is that it is European, it shares a common currency, and the members are united in trying to get the better of each other. Where's Dumas when you need him?
Movin' On Up: The number of US households with a net worth over $1 million – not counting the mansion – was up 16% last year, to 7.8 million, up... well, a million, from 6.7 million in 2008.
Poor & Dirt Poor: SWF, 36 – 49, worth $42,600 on average. SBF, same age, has a net worth of $5. Multiply that by the fact that 70% of African-American families are headed by single women. American may be the beautiful, but it is nowhere near equal.
Porn O'Graph: How long is long? More than 27 weeks.