Highly recommended: David Graeber’s 'Debt: The First 1000 Years'
"Neofeudalists" is my second favorite new term of 2013. Following very closely on the heels of "analog fetishism."
Gotta buy those dips. Look how well it’s worked out. Hopefully nothing breaks while I’m sleeping. Try not to ban selling stocks tonight, Europe.
(Honestly, it breaks my heart. I’m sitting in my megabank on a conference call today unable to shake this thought that all of this could fall apart if you so much as breathed on it. And we were talking about some inconsequential thing or other in great detail and I felt like laughing, because the market’s shitting itself in the corner of my eye on my monitor but this one little vagary was all so silly and important to everyone. All of this negativity and sense of unavoidable disaster has dissociated me completely - just wiped me out.
In 2008 on the Lehman weekend everyone was hysterical and drunk. This time around, there won’t even be that lurch like “this is it.” It’s like finishing a roller coaster and getting back in line - the second time up the ramp and down the ladder feels so empty. The thrill is gone, and all that remains is that empty sensation of falling in your stomach. That’s kind of the workday. I can wave my little sign and make my little arguments and absolutely no one will listen to me beyond my immediate colleagues. I’m almost praying, practically begging for my predicted disaster to come swallow me up. Being right would be some small consolation on my way to hell.
I have a comfortable life, a house in the suburbs, a loving wife that I respect like hell. But it’s all built on the back of this horrible creature of an economy, carved out of the regulation and rot. The only thing arguably worse than having a bad life is having a good life that you don’t feel entitled to or worthy of. It feels stolen and on the verge of slipping through my fingers, and if it does disappear I wouldn’t even feel justified in mourning. Not because I lack knowledge or skill, not because I don’t work immensely hard, but because what I know and do is worse than worthless. It is deleterious.
White people problems, I guess. I probably had alternatives, and I certainly have advantages. If only such things were tangible so that I could clutch them to my chest.)
Bolded emphasis mine. The financier, he knows.
Alan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind:
"Wealth, as opposed to science of wealth, is not the noblest of motivations. There is nothing quite like this coincidence of science and cupidity elsewhere in the university. The only parallel would be if there was a science of sexology, with earnest and truly scholarly professors, which would ensure its student lavish sexual satisfactions.”
But why is that a problem? Presumably the student of sex would be better at sex. The aim, as in science, is both knowledge and utility. How does a pursuit of utility detract from learning? Why is self-interest necessarily a barrier to knowledge? Self-interest can be a powerful ally. A quest to turn lead into gold caused caused a greater understanding of ceramics, glass, iron, inks, gunpowder, etc. The practical aspects of alchemy led to to the basics of today’s inorganic chemistry.
Is it because you’ll be banging away at the lead, long after the data has told you it’ll never turn to gold? Also, what’s up Bloom’s value judgement here? Why is money for money’s sake a disqualifying motivation, as opposed to art for art’s sake? Wasn’t any obstacle for Oscar Wilde and he pumped out some pretty good copy. We learn science, not for it’s own sake, but for it’s pragmatic use, and so it is with wealth.
Why should we only listen to Keynes & Hayek, yet discount Soros and Buffett? Surely both are worth our time.