And what does all this have to do with debt, credit and markets? Nothing, except for this: the summer has officially started and I am off to the beach, where I plan to read a few research reports. Printed on paper, of course!
Have a nice weekend.
At the end of the Age of Complacency, we find ourselves at a crossroads.
We can choose to live in denial for a short while longer. But soon thereafter we will have to pay dearly. Socio-economic triage will become a necessity, involving famine, pestilence, riot and war. The other five billion souls inhabiting this planet are simply no longer content to subsist on two bowls of rice per day, so that we can drive to the mall and fly to Monte Carlo for the races. The information revolution has seen to that, blogs included.
There is another choice: Change, starting right now. Reduce our consumption of everything, establish an alternative economic model based on sustainability, view growth as an opportunity instead of a purpose. Radical? Of course not: it's simply necessary.
How can we accomplish change? Necessity being the mother of all invention, there are many suggestions running the gamut from disguised denialism (corn ethanol), to hopeless futurism (power stations in space). Some are even downright macabre (dieoff). My own is the Greenback, a straightforward suggestion that involves familiar instruments and institutions in a novel application. There are no perfect solutions, of course; but doing nothing is much worse.
How are we currently doing at the crossroads, then? Not very well, I'm afraid. Denial is still the order of the day: we are told that the American way of life is non-negotiable, that tax cuts and shopping will boost the economy, that more drilling in the most hostile environments will (briefly) quench our thirst for fuel. In finance, we opt for bailouts instead of practical workouts, hoping the rest of the debt won't come crashing down from its rickety pile. Our political and economic leadership is, sadly, behind the times.
So, it is really up to the rest of us to quit being complacent and change our ways. There is no need to list what each of us could and should do - we already know. There are no excuses. Let's get involved in our future.