Wednesday, October 15, 2008

While I was looking the other way

So, in the last few days I've really done little more than put things in boxes and put the boxes in stacks. And worry. Lots of that. In fact, it was the worrying that finally motivated me to start putting things in boxes. Better make myself so completely exhausted that not even the gut-wrenching anxiety I'm experiencing can keep me awake. It's working, sort of. At least, I'm staying up till 4 am usefully putting things in boxes rather than just lying in bed worrying.


Like Ernie the cabbie, I'm no expert, but what's been going on in the last week or so has all the earmarks of a massive government take-over.

Since I've been otherwise occupied, I see that the British government has bought all the banks.

Good for Gordon.

I read the headlines on the papers before I wrapped the china with them.

It's 1929 and Jimmy Stewart saves his father's business, the Bailey Building and Loan, with his own money. And Mr. Potter saves the bank with his money. So, which do you think Gordon is? George Bailey or Mr. Potter?

At least Old Man Potter used his own money.

Uncle Mike and I were having a cuppa the other day and looking over the Mail and he said that years ago, a friend of his predicted that some day in this country there would just be "The Bank", in the way now that there is the NHS. That day seems to have come.

And it looks like I'm not the only one to notice.

This is from the Letters page of the Times:
Unconstitutional government action over banking leaves citizens powerless
Sir – The Government elected in 2005 had no manifesto commitment to nationalise insolvent banks, or socialise the capital markets' losses.

Yet this was done without a vote in Parliament. How can this be constitutional or democratic? What recourse has the British citizen to protect his historic liberties?
Nirj Deva MEP (Con) Brussels

Sir – Are David Cameron and the Tory party all on holiday?
Michael Hinchliffe Smeeth, Kent

Sir – Surely it is time to appoint a truth and reconciliation commission to hear the confessions and apologies of Britain's top bankers. Keith Flett London N17

Sir – £37 billion, £500 billion – these sums are presented as the way to rescue banks that failed by their own mismanagement. If such vast sums are suddenly available, why were we constantly told there was no money for state pensioners, medicines or the arts?

George Jonas, who I have learned is always right about everything, says not to blame capitalism.

Election results matter a great deal, but in one sense they don't, because all political parties in Canada are in the grip of the same panic. Make this the hemisphere, make it the Western world -- the whole world, come to think of it. "When in doubt, panic," is an old rule of thumb for all living beings, from stampeding buffalo to stampeding humans. Having been pitched headlong into doubt, panic we did.

What happened? We were merrily sauntering along our paths of confident prosperity, when suddenly the Earth opened and swallowed us -- or at least made 20%-25% of our "value" vanish into what might be a bottomless pit. Modern capitalism, which was supposed to be "not like your father's capitalism," turned out to be very much like your father's capitalism, after all. When it was out of kilter, it adjusted itself with a huge jolt.

When markets adjust, they behave like tectonic plates. They shift suddenly as they react to pressure, trading their glacial speed for tsunamis or volcanic outbursts. At times markets act like jet stream cores running through air masses, conjuring up moments of clear air turbulence (CAT) that can cause an aircraft cruising serenely at altitude to drop a thousand feet in a matter of seconds. When CAT hits the jolt can be awesome, but it doesn't signify that the sky isn't the ideal place for flight, just as the devastation of fissures or eruptions doesn't suggest that the Earth isn't the best place on which to build.

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