Wednesday, December 10, 2008

News of the last 40 days

If one had forgone news for the past 40 days, would they have really missed much?

Not only did the flood last for 40 days and not only did Moshe Rabbeinu spend 40 days on Mt. Sinai, we fast on the 40th day of Omer for the sin of the 'miraglim'" (spies who were sent by Moshe to scout the land of Canaan and determine whether it could be cultivated and if the people who dwelled on it could be overcome and who returned and recounted that the Land was inhabited by "Giants", and that it was uncultivated).

The Rabbi goes on to talk about the number "40" and the Hebrew letter "mem", it's Gematric (every Hebrew letter has a numerical equivalent) equal. He says that the Flood gave hope to the continuation of life on the planet, that Moshe Rabbeinu's sojourn on Mt. Sinai gave hope to the People of Israel and the Nations of the world, that we fast on the 40th day of the count of the Omer but hope that the miraglim wanted to make tshuva (repentance)

Let's start with the oil price. Forty days ago, only a few brave economists would have predicted $25 per barrel oil. Now plenty are.

Terrorists struck a major blow in Mumbai somewhere through that time. That may affect our cricket for some time to come.

Jaipur, Dec. 12: At least 22 people have died and 37 others are undergoing treatment at the Sawai Man Singh (SMS) Hospital after consuming spurious country liquor in two villages near Shahpura in Jaipur district.

The (Aus) government has begun to implement its stimulus package of pumping money directly to families and pensioners. For some reason, they have encouraged us to spend it rather than save it. For me personally it repairs our balance sheet a bit, but won't really encourage immediate spending.

Nothing interesting has happened in the US.

Schicksalstag 9/11 19th anniversary passed by without a single mention in the media :(

I have discovered that blame in general and scapegoating in particular, are the most damaging human instincts which I am continuing a personal crusade against.

Marconomic take on the credit crunch

I like to separate what I see as the proximal cause of the Worlds economy's "phase shift", and what I believe to be the root causes. The proximal causes can be traced to the US financial system, and a virtuous cycle of money suddenly turning into a vicious one.

The root cause, in my opinion, is what I believe all long term cycles root causes are - demographic shift. Net world aged dependency ratios have been rising, and especially due to Chinese history, one child policy and uneven population pyramid - there has been a long, seemingly reliable accelerating increase in young workers compared to potential retirees. This rate of increase is rapidly unwinding, causing a rapid shift in herd financial priorities, from consumption to investment to retirement savings - right around the world.

In this implosion case there was also a detonator. The financial setup for the trigger was in fact the Olympic Games. For me, it was no coincidence that the commodities boom peaked just before the olympics. The opaqueness of Chinese stores and orders for the pre-Olympic stock-up meant that both for the volume and price they were willing to pay for these commodities, speculation couldn't tell the difference between short term demand and long term demand.


Dr. Clam said...

miraglim = bloggers (?)

I don't suppose there are many people still saying that China is big enough to sail along merrily on its own whatever happens to the West, anymore? You are of course spot on with the demography. Japan was there as a canary in the coalmine, but few paid attention. I also agree the Olympics was the trigger.

I have been thinking a lot about India- nothing more recent than Wellesley's time, though- there are one or two more long posts in me there, should get on to them in a couple of days.

Terrible news about lack of Schicksalstag commemorations. Makes me feel like a dinosaur.

Any political shockwaves in Russia from the falling oil price? I am worried both about a suddenly re-impoverished new middle class (classic trigger for revolution) and an authoritarian state suddenly deprived of its economic power seeking to compensate with less metaphorical force x displacement power.

I intend to post something from an essay about Simone Weil about how payment of debts and non-payment of debts are both essential for the continuation of capitalism. Clearly usury is incompatible with sustainable development because it assumes an infinite expansion of wealth...

I can't face the world in all its raw vastness, quite yet, so I intend to rely on you for a while as my sole link to the world. :)

Marco said...

Sure - Lump it on me :)

I must say, I have been missing the dialogue immensely.

Any political shockwaves in Russia from the falling oil price?

Nothing concrete as yet. Indeed, news is useless in predicting Russia. Your guess is probably even better than mine.

I am foreseeing worse things for the world than revolution in Russia. more on that later