It is Obvious

Chris Rick has got altogether too much to say

Archive for January, 2012

Money, money, money

Posted by chrisrick13 on January 31, 2012

It is obvious: money is tricky stuff

Yesterday I handed over all the financial decisions in our family to my wife.  It follows a long story of many attempts to find a way to manage our money that my wife would work with and understand.  The details are irrelevant…now.  It was complicated by running my company.  Often with long delays on paying invoices and paying corporation tax at year-end, it was always difficult to say where the company stood at a moment in time.  Similarly with paying dividends there was always the thought that tax was owed on dividends, again paid some long time after earnt.

No matter.  I tried assigning an amount of money to my wife at the beginning of the month for her to run things with.  This was based on about a twelfth of the previous year’s spending plus some.  This was quickly abandoned when she ran out after just a week.  I tried the bath-water approach where it was difficult to say what were worth at any time, but it was possible to say that we had more or less money than the previous month reasonably accurately.  Trouble was that big one-off bills distorted it.  I tried running a totally cash system so that we both handed over notes rather than tossing plastic at the cashier.

In short none of it worked for many reasons.  So I have switched to letting her run it.  I will advise on request but not make any decisions.

I have been cutting and pasting the main current account into a spreadsheet for some time.  It takes a few seconds each month.  Not done anything with it though.  At the weekend I did broad categorisations on what we had spent.  That was interesting.  Nearly 40% is cash or I was not able to usefully categorise it.  Then there are things like my gym subscription which I maintain is not entertainment.  Where do the dentist bills and hair dressing fees go?  I would maintain not in the same category…  So there is some way to go there.  Interesting is that the clothes bill is 10% of our outgoings.  That has not been mentioned.  We keep a close watch on our energy consumption, but that and water and council tax are about 10%.  A difficult number to cut.  Our tv, telephone, internet, and mobile phone is 3.5%.  The food we buy is 12% but that does not include meals eaten out or the little bits that we buy from the local store.  We don’t buy any ready-meals or convenience food and cook nearly everything from scratch mainly to reduce food consumption and weight.

So the first tense meeting took place as I went through where all the bits of money and shares and other stuff was located.  There was little interest.  I enquired why and the answer was that we were going to live on less than we earn.  I suppose that as we have savings then we have done that for a while.  I might note that it is not enough though.  There was a demand that I spend less cash.  So it looked like any austerity measures were being visited on me.  However spending on a card makes it readily more accountable and it seems that is OK.  We had agreed that unless any accounting was very easy it would not be done past the initial enthusiasm so I am happy with that.  Then I was told that my gym subscription to the local gym was to be stopped…and we would take out a subscription to the David Lloyd gym…at about 4 times the cost.  I was instructed to ring up Virgin today and negotiate a reduction in our broadband/tv/phone fees.  I will update any more budget measures…maybe from the debtors prison.

I have not yet dumped the tv as  the 6 nations is coming up and the Superbowl is this weekend.  I watched Supercrimpers last night.  Not much in it, but the odd thing of interest.  They talked about getting your credit rating for £2…it costs £6 and I have resisted every time I have been on their site.  I do subscribe for the warnings of anyone trying to use my name but never bothered with my score.  I have no mortgage, no loans, and only use the credit card to buy big items and take advantage of the insurance.  So I have a perfect borrowing and payback record and no debts.  Sure enough my score was 999 – the maximum.  Interesting was that 29% of people have that score they told me.

I am not working at the moment and was given a long improving talk on the importance of working.  I hope to start soon…if only to avoid being told off.  I was told that we could not live on my wife’s earnings alone and that I needed to bring money into the house.  Now that is worrying – not for me though!

It is obvious: money is tricky stuff and is only a problem when you have too much or too little

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Put your money…

Posted by chrisrick13 on January 30, 2012

It is obvious: nothing has changed

With a broad brush…very broad.  Greece has a problem.  It owes the rest of the world £300bn and is spending more than it earns.  There are three ways out of this problem.  The first is to suddenly earn a lot more and spend a lot less.  Then it can pay its debts off and march over the horizon to a sunny future.  The second is to say to the people who lent the money that it is not going to pay but use any income it does have to continue to be a country.

The third way is to persuade the world that with a little help it can work hard to improve itself (and I a am deliberately vague about what that might mean) provided the people who were foolish enough to lend it money take a bit of pain on the promise that they will at least get some of it back.

Here I have to take a moment out.  The prospects of a Greek default on its loans over the last few years has caused many of the lenders to sell £100 of debt to a gambler at £80 and then they sold to another gambler at £60 who later sold to another gambler at £40 and so on.  Such that many of the gamblers holding Greek debt at the moment only paid £10 for £100 of debt and the losses have been spread and taken .  By one mechanism or another a lot of these gamblers are better known as your pension fund.  This is further muddied by gamblers buying £100 of debt at £10.  If they can force a default on that the debt then they have won because they also hold CDS on that debt and will get £100 by the insurer…your pension fund.

Back to Greece and the situation about a year ago.  The holders of Greek debt agreed to take about a 30% reduction in what they got back and the EU/IMF/EFSF would lend Greece £100bn to keep it going.  Today we have the situation where the £100bn was lent but nobody has yet agreed to reducing their debt by 30%.  Indeed there is now a huge negotiation where holders of Greek debt are being asked to agree to cut the amount they will get back by 70% and Greece will be lent another £100bn to keep it going.

So a little over a year ago Greece owed £300bn and today that debt is under negotiation to be written down to £100bn while it has been lent a further £200bn (by you and me).  The Greek economy is shrinking and as fast as the (unelected) Greek government is reducing spending its income reduces also.  In a year’s time will there be a move to write off all £300bn of Greek debt so that it can get another £100bn loan bringing its debt up to…£300bn?

I really don’t see how anything has improved over the last year or will over the next.

I have three observations.  In Greece there are increasing numbers of riots and strikes.  We no longer see them on our tv as the story is way past its sell-by date for news.  So it might not matter what the (unelected) Greek government agrees to with the rest of the world, the people might not go along with it.  Second there are the usual suspects lined up in exactly the same position (Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Spain) just waiting their turn.  Third there are a lot of people who stand to gain a lot by getting Greece to default on its debts and cashing in their CDS’s.

It is obvious: nothing has changed but it has to at some point.

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Cassandra had it easy

Posted by chrisrick13 on January 27, 2012

It is obvious: Armageddon is coming

I tried speaking to some of my neighbours and friends about the economic situation recently.  Not in any detailed sense but just a general ask about where they thought things were.  The responses were interesting and fell into two groups.  One group had no idea what I was talking about.  They reminded me of Arthur Dent in the pub just before Earth was demolished to make way for a bypass (by the Vogons): how do you think United will do this afternoon, but the earth will be destroyed in 15 minutes, yes but do you think united will win?  The other group know there is something going on but have no idea what the problem might be.  I am depressed by that.

I have had a brief look at world population projections.  They certainly have a consensus that it will peak and then decline.  Finding out what it is in the models that predicts a decline is not something that I care to do.  I am interested as it seems to me that increases in GDP are strongly correlated to increases in population.  That interests me further as our whole economic system is predicated on steady growth…exponential growth.

I often point at the impossibility of 2% growth and thereby predict a severe economic event of some sort as we fail as a nation to service our debts.  I cannot predict when but I have certainly put a 35 year limit on it.  But what of our population growth?  There are a bunch of baby-boomers who are coming up for extinction of which I am one.  We will need serious procreational effort on the part of our children to increase the population let alone keep it constant.  Immigration might help but I think there is enough racism in this country to vote in people who will stop that.

Are our children having children?  Are they having enough children?  I suspect not.  The average age of a first-time buyer is going up and for a lot of people that is the point at which they start having children.  How silly to take on a mortgage then increase your costs and take one of the two of you out of the job market…I did it.  It was a struggle but it was manageable.  Is it now?  Not nearly so.  Therefore I think that our population will stabilise and even shrink over the next few years.  This inevitably means GDP will shrink.

Less of us in this country has a lot of benefits but it also carries some problems.  Our pension system relies on us paying our forebears pension payments and our children paying ours.  That clearly does not work.  We need to die off quickly…just at a time when we are living longer.

Returning to GDP growth, over the time of the Labour government about 1% of our growth was created from borrowing and spending.  We no longer have that.  We are trying to dodge the repayments.  But assume that we do repay in one way or another that gives us a net 2% reduction in growth.  Suppose that the population reduces by 2 million over the next few years.  Then that gives us another 1% reduction in growth.  Working from a starting point of -3% growth gives us little chance of getting positive growth.

If I can come up with this sort of analysis there are many much cleverer people in the civil service and academia who must be telling the government this.  So why are they coming up with positive growth estimates?

I haven’t given my prediction for GDP growth this year, though I have talked around the subject.  My most optimistic is -0.1%.  If we have the kind of economic dislocation that is more and more probable as time goes by then GDP will be a long way from everyone’s mind.  Though I will emphasise that I think there are more positives to that happening than negatives.

It is obvious: Armageddon is coming but it will be selective

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I’ve got it nailed

Posted by chrisrick13 on January 27, 2012

It is obvious: I should get a job

I knew of the process but a while ago a friend told me that I ‘ate up’.  This simply says that faced with a plate of food I ate the things I most liked last.  So with a roast dinner I would shove down the broccoli/cabbage/cauliflower/carrots while at my most hungry and enjoy at a more leisurely pace the roast potatoes and meat.  I noticed that I eat a bag of chips down.  I think this is out of a sense of guilt.

I was, I suppose I still am, an only child.  Any food on the plate in front of me was indisputably mine.  Indeed all the disputes about my food were born of a desire not to own the food in front of me.  My wife is one of 5 where a different regime existed in her childhood.  I remember at the first meal with her family I stopped eating to say something and when I looked down forks from all around the table were clearing my plate on the assumption that having stopped I not longer had an interest in what was on the plate.  Eating up was a poor strategy in that house.  This continued into my house with my wife.  I would slice some cheese for a sandwich and when I turned back to my plate from getting the toast from the toaster there would only be about half the cheese remaining.  I adopted many strategies to combat this.  First I would make the toast and cook it to a crispness I knew I only liked.  I would not even consider a decision on the filling until the toast was on the plate – keep them guessing.  Then slice the cheese and put it into the toast and one-handedly be taking a bite as I put the cheese back in the fridge.

That was not the end of the attack.  At some point during consumption there would be a request: can I have a corner.  As an eater-upper this is a devastating request.  The best bit being demanded off me just as I am about to eat it.  A ‘no’ puts me at the level of a war criminal.  I instituted a rule.  Before I am half-way through some meal you can demand food off me and it will be grudgingly handed over.  After that there is no chance.  Of course the rule was severely tested, but after a long while was accepted.

It did not end there though.  When I was a child what was mine was clearly mine.  Nothing I possessed was of interest to my mum or dad and v-v.  In my own house everything I owned was lusted after by the other 4 members of my family.  Even the cats used to fight me for possession of my scarf and the chair I liked to sit in.  Again I came up with a set of rules: you can use anything of mine without referring to me.  Return it to where you found it with fair wear and tear or replace if broken (with money I gave you in the first place).  If I was after an item and it was not where it should be I would check family members.  If nobody was actively using it I would start a witch-hunt.  There had to be several public floggings before my family understood that I really meant it.  I had to make the pain of non-compliance higher than that of compliance.  The good thing was that it worked and harmony persisted through my family.

One of my biggest successes was my nail clippers.  Each year we would have a couple of quite small ones in Christmas crackers.  I reckon I could probably search boxes or the backs of draws and find a dozen if I put my mind to it.  However, some 20 years ago, I invested in a big pair.  Long levers and a protective plastic wallet such that you could cut your nails and keep the clippings for consignment to the bin.  I still have them and they still work well.  It was a hard battle though.  In the winter I suffer though as my preferred mode of operation is to go into the garden and cut my nails.  No need to carefully chase the clippings: bio-degradable.  But in winter it is not easy.

About four years ago my son contracted the nail fungus that lives under nails.  It gradually expands – inexorably.  No pain and it really has no effect on your functioning as a human being.  The only way to remove it is by taking drugs that destroy your liver…an easy choice.  It is also not very infectious, but sure enough everyone in the family now has nail fungus as I succumbed, at last, about six months ago.  I sat and watched as it spread down and across my right big toe.  A potent argument for banning sharing of any kind in a family.  Then a month ago I stumbled across an article on the internet that said applying Vick’s Vapour Rub on the nail kills the fungus.  The nail drops off and regrows with no sign of the fungus.  Works about 85% of the time.  I can report that after 4 weeks the fungus had retreated and has nearly been removed from my toe by the normal growth and cutting.  It looks like I’m not even going to lose the nail.

It is obvious: I should get a job…still

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Loose ends

Posted by chrisrick13 on January 26, 2012

It is obvious: I need a job

My communication with Nationwide over my mortgage on my second home has run to an interesting point.  I wrote before that they had spotted that all their communication had gone to a different address and they had concluded that I had a mortgage on a second home and saw an opportunity to take more money off me.

I paid the mortgage down to £1 outstanding – needing a payment of £137 which was an adventure in itself.  This is a neat arrangement where they keep all the paperwork and I can get access to the overpayments as a loan easily at any time in the future.

I also replied to their demands for information and told them what I was using the house for.

They have written back and said that as I am letting it for more than 18 weeks a year they cannot supply what is a commercial loan and I have to go somewhere else.  “Sorry for any inconvenience.”  This is another giggle as I consider who might loan me the £1.  Were I not overpaid it might be less of a giggle as I would be faced with trying to get a £70,000 loan.

So I am not finally decided on what to do.  They did say that if I let it for more than 18 weeks then I have to move the loan.  I know in the past I have let if for more like 30 weeks…but this year?

I think I will simply do nothing.  If they come back at me I might have the conversation about intent and reality.  Perhaps I might offer to contact them should I get to 18 weeks.  I have a poor memory though.  The dead hand seems appropriate considering their past operating method.

It is obvious: I need a job, really.

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Fasten your seatbelts

Posted by chrisrick13 on January 26, 2012

It is obvious: and has been for a while

Being a member of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is a tough job at the best of times.  There are a lot more people sitting opposite you who direct things and can all shout louder.  Then you have to oppose no matter what the other party are doing.  A lot of the time there is so little difference between you that it is mighty difficult to find an opposite stand to take as the other party are doing something damn close to what you would have done anyway.

In the area of the economy things are particularly tough for Labour.  Gordon Brown is now well accepted as the architect of a lot of our problems.  Not the cause of them, but borrowing so much that when the crunch came we were in a very poor place.  I have maintained through the life of this blog that Labour were determined to lose the last election and came close to failing.  Had I been in charge of the Conservative party I would have pushed Labour and Liberal together and sat back and watched.  Just a few short years and then 30 years of uninterrupted rule.  Such is the lure of power to politicians though.

So to oppose the Conservative policy is very tricky for Labour.  In any argument there is the simple: you got us here, we are only trying to clear up the mess.  There is also the: we are just a leaf blown in the wind doing our best.

There is another line of logic though.  Labour might say that government policies got us to where we are.  Indeed they did (though I would question that and will later) but I would argue that we would be in much worse shape had we not done what we did.  This argument is difficult to counter as we can’t re-set the universe and run a parallel test to see which turned out best.

However the arguments put forward by Labour, in the corner that they have been firmly pushed into, are: we can get growth by ‘X’.  The problem I have is that all the X’s that they come up with have no particular correlation with getting growth.  I feel that the Conservatives have missed a beat here.  They should ask how, for example, putting 100,000 young people onto apprenticeships will do anything useful for the economy.  Whatever arguments are put forward can be easily picked apart.  In any even they have all missed the point.  Getting growth is not what we should be attempting.  I would accept it were done with the aim of clearing debt and then running to a different model, but that will never be the case.

So what of the disaster that is the Conservative economic policy?  ‘Tory cuts’?  As I can see from the numbers not much in the way of cutting has so far taken place.  Such cuts in jobs in the public sector as have taken place come with redundancy money (my wife is an example).  So there is a buffer period where the government spends to cut and the benefits (sic) do not come for some while.  Also the jobless person does have, with their own austerity in place, money to keep them going and spending for some shorter or longer time.  The cuts are starting to have an effect, but not yet.  Indeed it looks as though GO is about to lose his nerve and take the Labour route of borrowing to cut the debt.  Bah!

So this morning I sat at 06:00 and watched the BBC morning news.  First giggle was that Sian was on her own as they had messed up the rota and did not have someone to sit with her.  Took half an hour to drag the guy in who does the next slot for a bit of overtime.  Then the news they gave and the paper’s review was quite daunting.  There was talk of the Drachma, the UK double dip, Japan becoming a net importer, and many more indicators that things are not well.  Every bit of good news that I have seen in recent weeks was picked apart by Shaun Richards.

There was an inane comment from Mr Balls, but he had to find something to say and I have sympathy.  Not nearly as much as if he had kept our debt down when he was in charge and not run around in the last months of power spending everything he could lay his hands on.  However the most worrying comment was that the BoE was about to engage in more QE.  I have to mention this again.  With inflation at over double the BoE’s target and that being their sole arbiter of performance, they are engaging in a policy that at least has consensus among economists that it increases inflation.  I am, to say the least, uneasy that unelected people are making decisions about their actions that are outside their remit and have no checks and balance in place and no oversight by anyone.  I have before noted my distaste for Tony Benn but I am coming to admire him for his 5 questions:

What power have you got?
Where did you get it from?
In whose interests do you use it?
To whom are you accountable?
How do we get rid of you?

Pose them to the MPC and the last three are mighty difficult to answer.

As I drove back from the station this morning I forbore to turn Radio 4 on.  I think that the events leading to an economic dislocation are on an exponential curve and we have turned the corner.  I reiterate that things will be different afterwards and could well be better from many perspectives.  However I feel that the trigger event is close.

It is obvious: and has been for a while to more and more people

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Posted by chrisrick13 on January 25, 2012

It is obvious: I am dreaming

I spent an hour listening to the radio and came up with enough material to last me a month.  Most of it was of an economic nature.

The IMF has reduced its prediction for UK GDP growth in 2012 from 1.6% to 0.6%.  This the IMF with a big hand on the rudder of global economics.  Perhaps an organisation that might have a good idea of what is going on in the world.  Yet they have just admitted that they were 266% out in their previous forecast of the UK GDP growth.  I would suggest that the numbers are not forecasts at all given that we are a month into 2012.  On this basis do you think that any action that the IMF might take is based on anything solid like an understanding of what is going on and what needs doing?  I don’t.  If I apply Ricks’ law then the GDP growth will be more like 0.3%.  This is still a long way above my forecast for 2012.  While I’m at it I think I’ll forecast the winner of the 1966 world cup…

Dr Bartlett is never far from me.  I heard a finance person with no axe to grind talking about the UK debt and how vulnerable our economic position is.  She pointed out that all is well now but our debt is such that small changes in our economy could put us into the debt/default spiral in short order.  She pointed out (several times) that we are in a position where only growth will enable us to eliminate the deficit and cut the debt.  I will add to her comments that we cannot get the required growth and will therefore, sooner or later, do an ‘Argentina’ or what will soon be known as a ‘Greece’.  Indeed a ‘Greece’ will more or less doom us to follow and do our own ‘Greece’.  I come to this conclusion via the rule of 70.  2% GDP growth rescues this economy.  That means we will double our GDP in 35 years.  Will be doing twice what we do now in 35 years?  No we will not.  How about 1% and doubling what we do in 70 years?  No we will not.  So at some point the economy will not grow at the required rate.  This is not a debate about avoiding  a default it is a debate about predicting when it will happen.

It is obvious: I am dreaming – it is too bizarre to be reality

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Taxing matters

Posted by chrisrick13 on January 25, 2012

It is obvious: is it a bird, is it a plane

I know why we have NIC (National Insurance Contributions).  I do not know why we still have NIC.

I have a lot of trouble with the word ‘fair’.  It is one that is often applied to the amount of tax that one pays.  There is never a good definition of that word.  It is just an emotion that catches the unwary when they hear it.

I think that fair taxation ensures that every one in the nation has enough resources to live without wanting for basic needs.  That means they have enough money to feed themselves, put clothes on their backs, shoes on their feet and keep warm and dry when it is cold and raining.  Beyond that it should be down to them to improve their lot by their own hands…or not.

On that basis the direct tax system ought to extract no tax from an individual until their earnings meet that minimum level.  The indirect tax system should not tax those basic needs: food, energy used to keep you warm, clothing and housing.  A very simplified view where there are lots of problems that I will cover in another blog.

Our tax system goes a long way in that direction.  There is amount that you can earn that will not be taxed.  There is no VAT on food (mostly), children’s clothes, domestic electricity (but one government could not avoid sticking a small tax on it).  We have gone further in this country by supplying healthcare and education for free.

So why do we have NIC?  Surely the very first act of any socialist government should be to take on all the problems and abolish it.  This is because NIC is specifically a tax limited to the first pounds of money that you earn.  It is specifically a tax for low-earners or poor people.  The other half of NIC is a tax on employment.  It is specifically a tax  encouraging companies to employ as few people as possible and work them harder.

The tentacles of our tax system are fiendishly interwoven such that extracting NIC from it would be very difficult.  The money would have to come from somewhere else and in that different extraction there would be winners and losers, the latter group bleating loudly.  However from any perspective removing NIC would be a ‘good’ thing.  Not least it would simplify and thereby reduce the costs of tax collection enormously.

I’ll put my cynical hat on (do I ever take it off).  A certain, recent chancellor used NIC extensively as a stealth tax.  I think because it meant he could keep his promise of not increasing tax and tax the majority without them realising it.  If NIC were not around then taxation would be more understandable by more people and that extra visibility would reduce politicians ability to fool people.

It is obvious: is it a bird, is it a plane – no it’s a tax (stupid)

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Look out

Posted by chrisrick13 on January 24, 2012

It is obvious: it’s not personal

I remember writing a cheque to the revenue and luckily it was a cheque.  It was for £1000.  The bank took £10,000 out of my account.  An easy mistake (sic).  I rang them and they played a dead hand.  I had to go to the revenue and get the money back.  It was nothing to do with them.  When you are £9,000 down and stuck at the end of a phone it is very frustrating and worrying.  It is also a big driver.  I got through to the revenue and over about an hour chased down my payment.  They were surprisingly helpful if a little slow.  They confirmed that they had received £1,000 from me and thankyou very much.

I got back to the bank and still they were not interested.  I asked for my cheque back.  The next day I got an apologetic call from the manager.  They tidied my account up and you know what…they didn’t charge me anything for doing it.

A while ago I saw an advert for a free Experian credit check.  I signed up and discovered someone was in the process of using my identity to get money in south London.  How lucky was that?  I got on the phone to the bank concerned and told them of fraud in the making.  They could not understand.  They wanted to know how much I had lost and where were the transactions.  How could I have possibly have fraud when I didn’t have an account with them.  The concept of catching someone in the act was alien to them.  It took a lot of persistence to get through to someone who understood my problem.  I was up for going round and kicking their door down.  At least I wanted to be there when the police went round.  The guy on the other end spent some time getting assurances from me that I would leave it to them.

While in Amsterdam for a long weekend and wedding anniversary my credit card was cloned.  When I got back I had bought a couple of plane tickets and a holiday.  When I spoke to the credit card company they wanted me to prove that I hadn’t booked the flights and holiday.  They were only persuaded that it was not me when the location of the purchase was identified as Bradford when I was in Amsterdam in a hotel paid for on their card.  Then they accused me of losing the card.  I pointed out that I had used it to pay the hotel after the other purchases had happened in Bradford.  Then things started to go a little better.  I asked if I could be there at the airport to nail these people when they tried to board the flight.  Again I was discouraged from action.

So it goes.  These are just a selection of incidents burned in my mind.  I have many others even more mind-boggling.  I am constantly shouting, like The Prisoner, at the sky.  Why me?  The whole world is against me.  But, yesterday my council tax bill was paid without my stirring or even noticing.  The day before my electricity bill was paid.  I have just booked a lot of international flights and got on and off the planes without problem.  A lot of my life runs reliably like clockwork with no input from me.

It is obvious: it’s not personal and neither is a shark attack – it still hurts though

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I wonder….

Posted by chrisrick13 on January 16, 2012

It is obvious: I am in control

Economics is complex stuff.  The proof is in the mess we are in now and have been at regular intervals in the past.  But what if all the attempts to model and control economic stuff are merely trying to put order on something that is simply chaotic and not amenable to any order or control?  This means that politicians and central bankers can do just about anything they want to with little chance of getting any desired result in an orderly fashion.

What can those clutching desperately to the levers do?  Nothing is a good option.  It is just as good as something.  This means that the ‘how to get to London’ joke of ‘do not start from here’ applies.  The economies of the world must move in disorderly fashion to another state, any state, from where there might be a chance of moving a desired or sought after state.

These chaotic stabilisation movements are usually abrupt, violent, rapid and, alas, unpleasant.  Heat a sealed container of water and it sits quiescent until the pressure inside explodes it.  Then it will return to quietude for a long period.  Thus we just have to sit and wait for the exploding container and can view all the antics of politicians, central bankers and econimists as entertainment, nothing more.

I am not sure that such a fatalistic view is something I want to accept.  I want to move odds in my direction.  I want as much control as I can get.  This must be what moves those in charge to keep pulling on the levers.

Perhaps the best I can do is to make sure there is a couple of months food in the house, keep my barbecue gas bottle well filled, pull up a chair and turn the 24hr tv news on.

It is obvious: I am in control…for a very small amount of the time

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