"So there are Oliphaunts. But no one at home will ever believe me."
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Hang together, or just hang

There is so much news to process as things fall apart. I feel like I could spend the whole day reading and by the end of the day events will have rendered half the facts obsolete. Here in Iraq, I spend an hour and a half to two hours teaching math on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and I feel exhausted by the end of those days. I have no idea, none, how I managed to hang on through the same class for six weeks, teaching six days a week, not three last November and December. That whole time seems like a blur to me, and it was some of my busiest time during my “day job” as well.

Well, at least John Ellis has time to read and ask the right questions. He is consistently very good on the financialization crisis. My news reader’s gutter of “to read” articles is consistently of links from his blog.

Looming over the financial crisis of the developed world is the larger question of social cohesion. Given what is coming (higher taxes, sharply reduced services and a much diminished sense of financial security), do countries hold together or do they come apart. Clearly, “social cohesion” is being tested in Greece. The Irish, on the other hand, are holding together well, at least so far.

The social cohesion of the United States will soon be tested. Higher taxes and sharply reduced services are coming soon. Expectations of a brighter future are evaporating. The question that hangs out there is whether we are Greece or Ireland.

(From “Social Cohesion“, via Ellisblog!.)

May 12, 2010   Comments Off


This reminds me of a short story by Italo Calvino, in which an aged accountant awaits the utter collapse of the bank where he has worked his entire life, waiting the entire time for the error of pennies he had made as a young man to multiply and compound until its magnitude dwarfed the holdings of the bank.

A bad day in the financial markets was made worse by an apparent trading glitch, leaving traders and investors nervous and scratching their heads over how a mistake could send the Dow Jones Industrial Average into a 1,000-point tailspin.

I strongly suspect that the true state of the market is more like something out of a Borges short story.

Hard to put my pessimism into words without sounding ridiculously melodramatic.

(From “Dow Takes a Harrowing 1,010.14-Point Trip – WSJ.com“)

May 7, 2010   Comments Off