Cable Magic

Bubbles are notorious for only being clear after they’ve burst.

There’s never a shortage of people willing to predict bubbles, which makes me think that might be the the biggest bubble, in bubble-sighters. Current thinking seems to be that bonds are in a bubble, that we’re buying new highs in the price of US govvie debt based on nothing but the idea that they’re going higher still.

If true, this bubble has been a long time coming. When President Reagan charged Paul Volcker with the job of killing inflation, it set in train the virtuous circumstances we have today, namely, low interest rates and relatively acceptable liquidity. That was 35 years ago now. Seems to me that we’re just about where we should be given the initial aim.

The difficulty lies with the fact that we might have gone a little too far. Negative interest rates are such an odd phenomenon, and are now so common, that talk of bubbles and such is almost the easy way out. The reasons we got to this extreme place are well known; thank you JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, AIG, Morgan Stanley et al, but that doesn’t help with the fact of it.

Markets often overshoot what appear to be reasonable stopping points or rest areas. They’re more like trampolines than much else, absorbing energy and sending it back in the other direction. Witness the cable. With stocks dipping for only a week after Brexit, it was up to the currency to absorb the damage, and it did so pretty well.

That’s the wonder of open, market economies. When stuff happens, the pressure can be relieved in many ways, with the effect that the energy from shocks doesn’t wreck too much. In this case, almost all of the damage was done to the currency, the beauty of which is that people’s daily lives aren’t horribly dislocated. That’s a very good thing.

Visceral Ice-Cream

Selling can work its way into a place of cold-blooded logic pretty quickly. If you have a demonstrably superior product or service backed up with testimonials and data, why not use these facts to create space in someone’s – a potential customer’s – head?

Because we humans don’t work on data and facts, that’s why. We work on visceral reactions and perceived realities, our gut and emotions in other words. We also think about what other people will make of our choices and decisions, possibly a lot more that we’d imagine, and we want to be sure that any change we make won’t upset our routines too much.

I can say this because this is how I observe myself and those close to me behave, so I’m sticking with my gut and extrapolating that to everyone.

Right?

Whither Work?

The model for lazy entrepreneurs is Tim Ferriss’s book. I haven’t read it beacause…well, because although the idea of a four-hour workweek appeals to my inner sloth, having it as a goal seems altogether too pat.

I am wrong, of course. If I thought I could manage making hour a day count as much as eight or ten (or twelve, as I used to) then I’m all in. Who actually wants to work four hours in the morning and four hours in the afternoon to make money to pay the bills? More important, who doesn’t want to do that?

A few questions arise. The first one is, what if you enjoy that eight hours? Complementarily, what if you find the idea of having most of your days vacant a horror? It might seem counter-intuitive, but some folks much prefer the idea of a structured work life, because it then gives structure to their private and leisure life. Whether this results from conditioning is the big point.

Another way to look at this is: What would I do with the time I have not working? The answer to that will very greatly from individual to individual, of course, but it’s not as simple as all that. I am particularly bad at figuring out how to play. Swimming, walking, reading, drinking coffee, writing and being with friends pretty much covers it, but these are easily accommodated with the space left from a regular job.

So why do I want to work at getting my hourly value of work sky-high? Well, for one thing, actually having spare time will likely open paths unseen when our heads are down. The other is that we might be able to express our pleasures as income producing, which gets neatly to a point I aspire to: To work but have it not feel like work.

Perhaps that’s a better book.

Pommy Surprise

The shifting we feel is pieces of the crust of the earth grinding against each other a little. Not the real earth – it does this kind of thing all the time – but the earth of our minds, the abstract earth.

Again, we, the people out-witted the elites and the punditocracy. The UK wants out of the EU for the simplicity of freedom. The EU is about conformity and alignment, both of which are fine in their place, but not the way most of us want to describe them. We like our own ideas of doing what’s right and imposing our own personal alignments without imposition from above.

Freedom is a code-word for the ability to impose rules best suited to specific groups or regions. It’s one of the brilliant ideas behind the US constitution, that the states are paramount in recognition of the differences between them. It’s the single greatest failure of the EU that it seeks to force Greece to be like Germany, or Italy like Poland. Let’s examine for a moment just how that’s working.

I think what most of the left misses in this is that chaos is a good thing. A little of it that is, not because it is inherently good of itself, but because of the way imagination and spirit are by-products.

States should be reflections of their people. People expressing themselves en masse works up to a point, and that point should determine the maximum extent of both state power and the size of that state. Somewhere between one world order and each individual lies a sweet-spot of community, and it seems that the British want to express an idea of a smaller community than their political class fetishizes.

In the end it becomes a tribal decision. Tribes can be big, and they can be small; they can be inclusive or warlike; they can disband or rise in strength. What all tribes need is agreement on who is in and who is out of the tribe for now and the foreseeable future. Failing to act on breaches of tribal boundaries will irrevocably change that tribe, the outcome of which is sometimes clear, and sometimes not. We shall see.