Monday, December 19, 2011

Sci Fi and the Kraken

Here's what's on my mind for Tuesday...

 Economist Paul Krugman, in his New York Times column on Sunday, said this: "All economic statistics are best seen as a peculiarly boring form of science fiction..."

Well, OK! Let's see what's on the Sci Fi shelf.

The government releases its housing starts statistics at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. Fiction or not, the report takes its significance from housing's ripple effect through the economy -- if housing construction picks up, then it will motivate other sectors to pick up as well.

At least that has been the impact historically. From from where we are now, I would argue, our economic pond has become so becalmed that any ripples will soon be swallowed up by the giant kraken floating beneath the surface, waiting to pounce at an unexpected moment and drag us all into the watery depths of recession once again.

The kraken's name is Euro. Or perhaps Un. Depending upon whether it is the Eurozone's  politicians and financial bureaucrats or North Korea's Great Successor Kim Jong Un who first screws it up for the rest of us.

Speaking of economics, I dropped by my favorite Portland, Oregon coffee house, Aliviar, Sunday afternoon, a time when there is certain to be a small group quietly discussing Marxist theory, flaws in Occupy's tactics of revolution, or the collapse of capitalist finance in 2008.

This Sunday's topic was a fascinating online documentary that has been posted on YouTube, called "Quants: The Alchemists of Wall Street", about the really smart math dudes who, some argue, brought down the markets, the financial system and then the economy through their complex maneuvers.

Math was the only subject where I "earned" a D in high school, proving even then what a dangerous subject it is.

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