Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Over the next hill

Bank stress tests are a joke, but skillfully parceling out the true extent of our economic disintegration is the name of the game. It is the difference between losing 400 Dow points and, oops, systemic collapse. In the endgame the suits must successfully packetize the mess their failed policies built.

Google timeline

The way the still-experimental Google News Timeline presents an information-rich spatial configuration of events over time will have the public zooming in, out, and searching by the millions. Beyond all the features, though, you have to appreciate any mechanism that addresses our very human obsession with the latest data point.

Who needs a reason

When a government becomes intervention-minded, any excuse or no excuse is needed for bold leadership (read: unaffordable reaction). Success or failure is gauged in immediate political advantage. Unless unintended consequences manifest immediately, exploding cigar fashion, they can still be plausibly blamed on that evil Wall Street or on George Bush.

Back to normal

Every latest piece of economic data is inspected for insight. Is it the one, the real turning point? Or is it just another fake out? Consider instead that we are simply tired of economic crisis and want to will into existence a base from which to resume optimistic linear extrapolation.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Oh happy day

While the world scrambles to find (or create) a new reserve currency, some find comfort in the fact that there’s no alternative to the greenback today, tomorrow, or next year. Hooray! Economic banishment and price inflation are the price of our reckless monetary policy, but the bill isn’t due tomorrow!

What part of banishment don’t we get?

Calls to replace the dollar as global reserve currency persist. Don’t kid yourself: it’s not just Russia and China, and it isn’t just posturing. The world wants a predictable store of value, and after watching Uncle Sam accelerate borrowing and crash their competitive devaluation derby, even our allies want out.

The Obama Book Club

Hugo Chavez knows if you can’t promote Open Veins of Latin America on Oprah’s show, promote it on Obama’s person. Predictably, sales of this page-turner are through the tin roof all over the world, though in the States, I don’t know where you’d find many copies outside of campus bookstores.