Friday, October 31, 2008
According to data released yesterday, consumer spending began declining before the current economic crisis truly began. It's reasonable to assume that the decline continued or even accelerated through October. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman writes about it this morning.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
"Somehow Ronald Reagan’s party of western individualism and limited government has ended up not just increasing the size of the state but turning it into a tool of southern-fried moralism."
"There is no getting around the fact that Mr Obama’s résumé is thin for the world’s biggest job. But the exceptionally assured way in which he has run his campaign is a considerable comfort. It is not just that he has more than held his own against Mr McCain in the debates. A man who started with no money and few supporters has out-thought, out-organised and outfought the two mightiest machines in American politics—the Clintons and the conservative right."
--The Economist, endorsing Barack Obama for President.
"Voted early on Monday evening in Georgia. Took 2 hours but waiting in line with my fellow Georgians reminded me that no matter what happens, there are a lot of really wonderful people out there. Even though this country seems to be ripping itself apart via party lines, it's obvious to me that at some point, we'll remember that we're all in this boat together.
"To Jackie in West Palm, who posted that she couldn't check her status, she should see if she can do that online. The Georgia Secretary of State website allows you to check your status online - very efficient to do before heading to the polls!"
— runrachelrun, Atlanta, GA (from Droves Vote Early)
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
"But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown."
I love this quote, because it highlights a fallacy under which so many of us live. Sorry I can't remember the name of the fallacy. I know it has a name, but we're going to have to use a pseudonym. Let's call it Fred.
I've told the story before of the radio producer I used to work with. He had a sign over his desk which said "A Clean Desk is the Sign of a Sick Mind." Clever, yes. Contains an element of truth, yes.
But because he prided himself on archeological layers of paper and debris on his desk, I often assumed that his interpretation of the sign was the implied reverse. That is, he saw himself as the picture of perfect mental health.
Which, I'm here to tell you, was not the case.
Labels: Contemporary Life
What should pop up on Google News this morning but this headline from boston.com: "Obama Poised for Landslide?." This incites thrills in fervent Obama supporters and dread in fervent McCain supporters. Among everyone else, there is much more interest than usual.
Tuesday night's election coverage will have the biggest TV audience of any news programming this year. Indeed, since 9/11.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Quote of the day:
“I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms.”
--Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve
This is a more-revealing statement than first appears. Greenspan has an eminently reasonable and thoughtful response to the financial crisis and what caused it. There are those who say it's all his fault, because, as always, we need to have someone or something to blame for our problems, especially the serious ones. And he certainly bears significant responsibility.
But there is something much bigger at work, and David Brooks describes it here.
Economic matters are always talked about as a set of rational processes with clear explanations. We attempt to make judgments based on our understanding of these processes. But not really, as it turns out.
We actually make decisions based on our perceptions, which are quite tricky. It is this way in religion, too. We think we are religious or not religious based on rational, thoughtful analysis of some kind. We don't realize that we begin with perceptions involving complex, underlying, unconscious assumptions. What we see we see through these filters.
From a theological standpoint, a key underlying assumption is either "I can trust people" or "I can't trust people." None of us are aware of how our perceptions are shaped unless we examine ourselves honestly.
Alan Greenspan's assumption was "I can trust people"--that is, people and institutions would work efficiently in attempting to make money for themselves and their shareholders.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Proposition 8 is essentially a civil rights matter. If you believe the California constitution should be amended to restrict the legal rights of committed gay and lesbian couples, vote yes. This would not be on the ballot, and the California Supreme Court would not have acted if it were possible for committed gay and lesbian couples to receive equal legal rights as married heterosexual couples. But years of experience has proven it is not possible.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
"We may be fascinated by Wall Street, and bogus yarns like Joe the Plumber’s. But the real story in this country right now is the increasingly dire plight of those heading toward the bottom of that ladder...."
--Bob Herbert, in yesterday's New York Times
Friday, October 17, 2008
In the many years I've been reading about Warren Buffett, and reading his Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letter (always very entertaining), I've never heard him say what he says in today's New York Times.
Labels: Investments and Finance
Thursday, October 16, 2008
"Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it."
--Ellen Goodman (1941 - )
Labels: Working and Resting
Today is his birthday. A great quote: "The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself."
Monday, October 13, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
They may not do well in the next several months, but looking ahead two or three years, investors may see some of the best opportunities of their lives
The title is a quote from an interesting article in Barron's. Number one rule of investing: If you're losing sleep over your investments, something's not right. This is quite literally an excellent rule. The idea is to take just enough risk to make you a teeny bit uneasy from time to time. But you shouldn't be losing sleep, even at times like this.
Labels: Investments and Finance
Thursday, October 9, 2008
When I hear the words "Disaster Preparedness," my eyes glaze over. What inevitably follows the enunciation of these words is the recitation of an impossibly long list of commandments assembled by someone with OCD and too much time on his hands. To do these things requires a full day's work once a week!
Excellent piece yesterday in the NY Times considering the temptation that all of us feel to simply sell all investments and put the money in a mattress or something. It might feel good, but it's probably a bad idea. Read it here.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
"Is it going to be enough?" Referring to the "700 billion dollar bailout." I have heard this approximately 438 times in the last 48 hours, and I haven't even had the news on that much.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
What a fine headline that is. Back, indeed. My problem is that I set impossibly high standards for myself that I can't keep up with.