Thursday, March 12, 2009

Contest Results... and More On CDS

Oh my! What a smart bunch y'all are!

Honestly, I am deeply honored to have such a highly inquisitive and creative readership. Putting it another way, your median IQ is well above the mean. You quickly figured out the main purpose of this "contest": to elicit ideas and engage in productive discussion, i.e. Hell knows Hell's answer, but there are more answers that are "more better". Hats off to all of you.

Therefore, I encourage all to take a look at yesterday's comment section for lots of interesting ideas. Who's the winner? That's a trick question - and always was. ALL OF YOU, OF COURSE!

Now, what's my answer? Many of you got it: gold standard then vs. fiat money now.

The implication is that today's crisis cannot evolve into a deep banking crisis that affects retail depositors - there are no bank runs in our future, unless the authorities really screw things up. And they haven't so far, we must give them that. I strongly believe that what turned the 1929 Crash and the recession that followed into a deep Great Depression was the inability of banks (and thus the entire economy) to operate under the tight constrictions of the gold standard. No wonder that Keynes called it a "barbarous relic" (as early as 1924).

Today the Fed is telling everybody willing to listen that it won't allow any (major) financial institutions to fail - and is doing so at the top of its lungs. A hundred billion? Done. Two hundred? No problem. A...trillion? Whatever it takes. You don't have to like this policy - just understand it

This should not be mistaken as setting the stage for hyperinflation, however. Instead, the Fed is acting as the financial system's Fire Department. It MUST prevent the fire from spreading and it MUST put it out as quickly as possible, using "all means at its disposal". At the same time, it MUST take care that all "flammable" material are properly looked after so that new fires don't break out elsewhere. In the FFD (Fed Fire Dept.) flood damage is considered a secondary danger, at least right now.

Which brings me to CDSs. In my opinion they are a major - very major - factor in this financial conflagration and the principal reason why the Fed and Treasury have had to act the way they did. Credit default swaps didn't cause the crisis (loose lending and asset bubbles did), but they are certainly making it much more difficult to deal with it (the mess at AIG being just one example). CDSs are acting as the virus of a highly contagious disease, cross-infecting parts of the finance community that thought they were dealing in vaccines, instead. Thus, we must quarantine and exterminate them. How?

This is where the Fed and Treasury come in - and the fiat nature of money. The stated policy of the authorities (or un-stated, but clearly understood) should simply be this: we shall operate so as to make 90+% of all CDS contracts (by market value) expire worthless. We shall force all participants to net down to the customer level (thus vastly reducing nominal amounts outstanding), we shall demand that both sides of the CDS (buyer and seller) post collateral based not only on the face amount but also on the market value of the contract, we shall force the rapid migration of the business - future AND existing - to properly regulated exchanges.

Of course, tweaking the technical aspects of the CDS market won't do the trick alone. It will take something much more powerful to send CDS buyers (i.e. those betting on the continuation and deepening of the credit crisis) into reverse mode. Let's use the bully pulpit - more appropriately, the bailout pulpit - but do it in a smart way. Don't use bailout money to pay the CDS buyers (as happened in the AIG case), but to convince them to sell their CDS as quickly as possible, thus setting off a rally in the credit market.

What should be the target? To get credit spreads down to reasonable levels ASAP. Actually, things are going in that direction, anyway, because the really smart money is already figuring out that Ben's Helicopter Brigade is not fooling around and really means business. Spreads for commercial paper are down from "nosebleed" to being merely "high" (see chart below, click to enlarge).

Chart: FRB


This does not mean that debtors and lenders should walk away scot-free, bailed out willy-nilly by the government. Far from it; corporate borrowers that cannot meet obligations should give up equity and lenders should accept painful haircuts. As for those involved in their CDSs they should be "gently" encouraged to settle amongst themselves. A skillful negotiator, armed with the Fed's and government's big sticks, should be able to quickly put the fear of God into all concerned.

We are living in very interesting times. Let's hope there are smart people out there who can appreciate the benefits of "boring", finance-wise.

36 comments:

marin belge™ said...

Fiat money or not, Von Mises argument is still valid:

“ There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.

Getting in touch with Austrian economics at the end of 2006 was certainly as useful as reading Roubinis's and your most enlightening posts of the same time period.

From an historical perspective, some would challenge the following:
"what turned the 1929 Crash and the recession that followed into a deep Great Depression was the inability of banks (and thus the entire economy) to operate under the tight constrictions of the gold standard."

This is economic history from a US fiat money perspective. Not everyone will agree with those premises. I certainly do not and am not alone.

The Fed is acting as the financial system's Fire Department.

You mean the department in charge of firing up the monetary system?

Arnould said...

Hello Hell,

Well, I read your blog for 2 years now, and it is the first time I can (possibly?) give you a lesson!

You write the difference is gold standard (in 1929) vs. fiat money (now).

You should have written gold exchange standard (in 1929) vs. fiat money (now).

According to Jacques Rueff (and others, I am sure) it is the move from gold standard (before WW1) to gold exchange standard (after WW1) that caused the Great Depression.

It is too long to describe here, reread "The monetary sin of the west", but to sum up "gold exchange standard vs gold standard" suddenly allowed "credit = credit x 2", very similar to "gold exchange standard vs fiat money" allowing "credit = credit x 10" (or more).

Does this mean that today's depression will be about 5 times worse than the depression of the 1930s?

Of course I would like your comment about this remark. And please keep on posting here!

Arnould

Hellasious said...

Dear Arnould,

I am always eager to learn.

Terminology aside, I do not agree that the abandonment of the gold standard caused or exacerbated the Great Depression.

No question, the Crash of 1929 was caused by a great expansion in speculative credit and the parallel bubble in asset prices, from worthless stocks to marshlands in FL posing as valuable vacation properties.

But the real reason for the deep and long Depression that followed was a loss of faith in banks and their failure by the hundred. And that's where the gold (exchange or otherwise) standard came in. Under that regime the Fed simply could not provide the money to keep them floating, so they sank.

Regards,
H.

yoski said...

Hello Hell,
You write:
"This should not be mistaken as setting the stage for hyperinflation, however. Instead, the Fed is acting as the financial system's Fire Department. It MUST prevent the fire from spreading and it MUST put it out as quickly as possible, using "all means at its disposal".
The way I see it is that contracting private debt gets replaced with expanding public debt. They (FED & government) are throwing the kitchen sink at it and then some in a futile attempt to maintain the status quo.
In the end the public debt can not be serviced by future taxpayers as they will neither be willing nor able to do so. At that point the US government has only 2 viable options (the way I see it), default or the printing press. Knowing how our politicians operate my guess is that they'll opt for the latter. Wouldn't that destroy the value of the currency and cause (hyper)inflation? I know the day of reckoning will be postponed until the US won't be able to refinance its debt, but as with all Ponzi schemes this day will come. My guess this will happen any time between 4 and 20 years from now.
What's your take on this? Can government continue to bailout everything and everybody with borrowed money and never has to face any consequences? What happens if taxes collected won't pay for the debt service and entitlements and US treasuries are viewed as a risky investment? The US government will eventually run out of its ability to borrow ever increasing amounts. What's next?

Arnould said...

To sum up further what I understood from Rueff's readings, under gold exchange standard, gold had not to be shipped around for international payments anymore as was the case under gold standard. Suddenly dollars and sterlings became as good as gold, but as gold physically remained were it was, credit could be created against gold (in the countries were it was kept) or against dollars or sterlings (in the countries were there were too much of these two currencies). That allowed the credit expansion by a factor of 2 and the bubble of the 1920's.

Of course one can argue that if gold standard had been kept people would have found other ways to start a credit bubble. In fact, 2 years after having begun to look at all this, this is now my opinion (generational dynamics)

About the destiny of banks in the 1930's and the impossibility to bail them out with the rules existing by then as the cause of the Depression, I thank you for your comment.

However about the current bailout of banks with my children's money: while I hate Karl Denninger's style, his proposal to create new banks with public money instead of trowing that money into black holes was interesting. Why he does not advocate this idea any more is a mystery to me. But then of course Central Banks do not exist to create new banks, but to help existing banks to survive. So I understand the difficulty: politically this goes too far, at least by now, too many influent people can not let this happen.

Joe said...

I do not believe they will be able to manage this derivative monster. It is just too big. I saw an article yesterday saying it is up to 1,200 Trillion dollars.

This is 20X world GDP, a number that is off the planet. I am convinced we will have a cascade-failure and some gigantic entities will fail, soon.

Joe M.

Peter said...

With regard to the "whatever it takes", I can appreciate that the US, with the world's reserve currency, might be able to make such a statement and make it work. What about other countries? Others have said the same thing, I believe, such as the UK (where I have a personal interest, living there). Can they also make that statement and mean it? Or do you see some countries failing in this?


Peter.

Anonymous said...

@Joe

I fear that you are right the CDS problem may be too big to resolve through forcing them into an exchange as Hell suggests. I hope we're wrong but in the likelihood that we are not some fiat solution (i.e. a government order) a la Scholes or "force majeure" annulling the contracts would be the only solution with a less than disastrous outcome. Let's hope they get Hell's exchange up and working quickly so we don't have to come to that.

SS

Camabron said...

IF there were so tight constraints to credit expansion during the Gold Standard era, then how is it that the bubble that led to the 1929 crash was able to inflate ?

Anonymous said...

The fed was and still is the arsonist, setting financial fires all over the world with their easy (free) money. Now they switch hats and become the fire dept.

Can the people who got us into this mess using fiat money policies also get us out using fiat money policies?

Joe said...

Founding Father musings:


In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm and three or more is a congress.
–John Adams

Arnould said...

To Camabron: according to Rueff, it was the move from "gold standard" to "gold exchange standard" at the beginning of the 1920s. The problem is that two very similar expressions describe extremely different situations, so that apparently very few specialists could foresee the consequences and try to warn politicians.

Roger said...

musing about differences between then and now is like ruminating about the differences between the Model T and today's Ford Fusion, or about micron gate lenths in the '70s and nanometer gate lengths in today's semiconductor technology. What is the use?

But doesn't fiat money imply fiat debt? Or has today's money technology minimized the debt parameter?

I do not think so: in the '80s, LBO's were the big thing and the big worry. (Remember RJR Nabisco?) Today it is CDS and derivatives.

But there is at least one common parameter, greed.

Why haven't money system technology iterations followed the price/performance iterations of semiconductor technology? Imagine where the computer industry would be today if the electronic iterations were as haphazard and inconsistent as our money system interations?

Marcus said...

I echo Yoski here Hell. What do you see as the risks and probabilities of financial problems from this debt?

After all the Treasury and Fed are not talking about defaulting on the debt but transferring it to the public sector for the most part.

Debra said...

Hell, I know that you think that I don't understand your point, but on the other hand I often feel that you don't understand my point either.
Fiat money has the word faith in it.
Faith in what ?
In previous times that faith was based on the tangible, holdable substance, gold.
Now, it is based on... just exactly what ?
Who are we supposed to have faith in ?
And based on what ?
I nevertheless maintain that the loss of faith is the death of society. It is the absolute cement of the social contract. Without it, things fall apart, the center cannot hold.
And the fact that the sums of the debt have become so INCOMPREHENSIBLE to us, is, in my mind, a sign that, paradoxically, money is no longer worth anything to us.
We are no longer "duped" into believing in it, and its value.
So, what's next ?
I don't know.
Sorry to harp on this...

Hellasious said...

Faith in ourselves, of course.

Roger said...

Debra,

IMO, you hit the nail on the head: the strength and quality of society's glue.

FrontierPsychiatrist said...

The smoke begins to clear.......Do you have faith in your country and countrymen to payback the debt?

Camabron said...

Thanks Arnould, I'll look into it.

Camabron said...

So then the difference is that under a Gold Standard system the monetary authority holds sufficient gold to convert all circulating money, this is known as a 100% reserve gold standard or a full gold standard. On the other hand a Gold Exchange Standard, a currency is convertible into gold at a fixed price, therefore allowing for a larger monetary base. Correct?

Debra said...

YOU hit the nail on the head, Hell.

What COULD lead me to infinite despair is the totally obvious evidence that we have NO faith in ourselves whatsoever.
I think that Jung mentioned something along the lines of "show me what your vision of God is, and I'll show you what your vision of man is".
Truer words were never spoken.
We have NO faith in ourselves and
NO faith in God, or anything else to "replace" him either.

What we have instead is a form of monstrous self hate that is destroying our species.

gael said...

G, I don't hate....

Anonymous said...

How is it that this should "Not set the stage for hyperinflation?" you mean they can simply TALK their way out of this and by letting time heal all?

Thai said...

Debra, I couldn't agree more.

Though I ask, what allows each of us to have faith in ourselves? In each other?

Might I suggest ONE of the main elements of that "faith" is how we all behave in relation to collective resources?

The complete public (though most definitely NOT private) disregard for those who generate the resources of the collective is a kind of cognitive dissonance that runs deep in all societies.

dink said...

Parents: Take your kids out of school and send them to the mines! They'll thank you for it later once they understand that bracelets are the highest accomplishment humankind can reach!
Wretched, wretched gold.

Heck, maybe its true. We obviously can't trust humans so we better rely on something elemental that we can't cheat. To have faith in a human (self or other) would mean that human would have to decide to be honest in situation that they could otherwise benefit from by cheating. And that takes maturity which is difficult to teach. The student would have to want it and its a strange thing to want. We'd need to isolate and proprogate the Buddha gene I suppose.

Interesting comment on Mish's site a few days ago. Someone called Black Swan a Social Darwinist. He replied that, like death and disease, Darwinistic selection naturally takes place. To acknowledge it is not to endorse it or try to actively assist it. But like the Good Samaritan laws, are we obligated to stop it when we see it happening? Its an especially pertinent question if the individual is enthusiastically helping the selection with all the power of their free will (i.e. drinking, smoking). Anyway, it was in interesting perspective shift for me on the definition of Social Darwinism.

Greenie said...

Hell,

You have no knowledge of US monetary history and are not willing to learn. Long time back, I posted some comments in your thread on your proposal of alternate energy-backed currency. Maybe you can review them as a starter, and then we can discuss about why having a gold standard or not is relevant.

I am surprised that it is 2009 and you are still talking about why fiat money can solve problems. Over four years back, I posted an article in Safehaven on why deflation was unavoidable even with fiat money, and then there were only two of us talking about deflation - me and Prechter. I hoped that by 2008, all fiat money inflationists and Ben's helicopter chasers would give up, but sadly some people still continue to believe that sun evolves around earth.

Debra said...

Once is not a habit, but I would like to direct some attention to your (and other people's, obviously, Hell) assumption that we can have faith in ourselves.
A little analysis before I go off into metaphysics.
The statement is a reflexive one i.e. we/ourselves.
A reflexive statement is auto-referential.
It seemingly takes care of the problem of having faith in someone else by sticking a reflexive in lieu and place of an object/person.
The problem is, this is contrary to the facts of life.
We come into this world naked, helpless and totally dependant on others in order to survive. And we never, ever forget this, from first to last breath.
So, from the very first trust in ANOTHER is a critical issue. That is why it is the backbone for our private relations with others, and the cement for our societies.
Since our first relation with parents is NOT a democratic one, we also carry with us from first to last breath the memory of a time when others (whom we assume more powerful and more competent...) decided our future in our stead. This memory makes us do funny things somethimes, particularly when we are afraid, or hurt.
A plunge into the etymology of the word "science" teaches a lot about our current problem, which is indeed, the reflexiveness of your response, Hell.
In French, around the XIV century, the word means practical knowledge in the service of religion, the knowledge of God, INSOMUCH as he imparts knowledge to human beings.( Robert Etymologique, p 3417 for the Frenchies here).
Why do I mention this here ?
Because the convenient postulat of God takes the reflexivity, and autoreference out of the equation, and this is vital.
It posits someone/something behind who guarantees the truth, and the VALUE of human action.
By now, you see where I'm going, I'm sure.
The French word is "garant", and unfortunately it doesn't seem to exist in English, I wonder why...
The "garant" is the pillar on which the whole construction rests. You get rid of it, and the whole thing collapses. See what I mean ?
Two essential readings that are NOT economic : Moliere's Don Juan, and Choderlos de Laclos's Liaisons Dangereuses, to see what exactly libertarianism is (and liberal and libertarian are very very close...)
There is a scene in "Don Juan" where the latter offers money to a beggar if he will curse God.
The beggar refuses to. I think that Don Juan ends up giving it to him anyway (the character is very complex) but I can't find my copy at home to check.
And it is no coincidence whatsoever that the Don Juanesque Valmont in les Liaisons targets the woman who is a devoted Christian for his romantic attentions...
So, just WHERE are we going to find a "garant" to impart value, now that we have got rid of God, and his vital, metaphysical function ?

Anonymous said...

@ Debra

What a beautiful post. Truly enlightening, I wonder if the thought is yours alone or are there others sharing this insight? By another name self-hatred can be called nihilism. Though hard to explain to people who function only through rational constructs and do not tap intuition or the unconscious, it is , nevertheless, everywhere. I will try to explain it but it is easier to pause from our conscious absorption with ideas and feel it.

Our ethic of work, rather than pleasure or leisure is a sign. Why should one deprive oneself of life's joy, the impulsion of life itself is joyous, for a sublimated relegation of pleasure(work) to supposedly greater future benefits which in fact never occurs because one is perpetually sublimating. Carpe diem is simply not something culturally reinforced. The folly of this behavior on a social scale is seen in the current crisis wiping out most postponed future enjoyment.

Our love and praise of war needs little further explanation in its harmfulness to life or "other" affirming instincts for those willing to see.

The praise of blind heroism in service of the state, regardless of the states beneficence or malevolence; very prominent in American culture's worship of military service yet something straight out of Mussolini, if you look at it with wide open eyes.

Indeed outright fascism is more honest in this regard for in addition to the cult of the state they revere death and its associated black garb.

Our need for enemies: first Russia during the cold war, than Russia defanged - China, than Iraq, than Iran and after that?

Obesity or its other extreme, excessive exercise of the painful kind not a leisurely entertaining walk around town with a friend. Our extreme distrust of others married with a religion of trust. The competitive spirit as a microcosm of the drive to destroy. So much nihilism. Yes, I fear you have put your finger on a deep self-hatred.

In another manifestation Italian culture of which I have an ancestral legacy while being quite life affirming in many respects has survived with deep mistrust of others and a strong dose of self-hatred for a millennium. While harmful we may continue to survive carrying our pain and self-destructive behavior with us for some time.

SS

Galen said...

When did Hellasious turn into a free lunch type? Geez, depressing.

Grasshopper said...

I would add another gate: any bank, broker, investment manager, insurance company or other highly regulated entity is prohibited from acting as a derivative counterparty with any non-highly regulated entity. The hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds, private endowments and others may trade with each other without limit. But distance that counterparty risk from any firm that holds deposits or investments for the general public. How would Goldman Sachs do business under this constraint? Why they would continue to serve as intermediaries for their clients; but without the friction, risk and profit involved with serving as principals in mirror-image swaps.

Your suggestion for requiring 100% MTM collateral for every trade is elegant on its own. It would have prevented a lot of the damage the rating agencies facilitated (e.g. AIG). But I certainly would extend it to all derivatives - not just CDS.

Zvi said...

Agree: CDS should be on exchange where variation margin would pass every day as it does with all exchange traded derivatives. Many of them are traded to IMM dates as it is, e.g. the CDX indexes.

The Fed is indeed acting as a fireman. It's taking the place of the commercial banks in providing credit for the time being. The 'great unwind' would be far worse without it.

As for those who wish for a return to the gold standard; you wouldn't want to suffer the consequences of that wish coming true. Countries with inflexible exchange rates like the members of the euro are effectively on the gold standard. Credit contractions have very ugly depression-like effects in fixed exchange rate regimes, especially when the deflationary impulse can't be offset by lower wages or improved productivity, e.g. as in Italy, Spain or Ireland.

Reino Ruusu said...

I'm a bit late to this thread, but the CDS problem is greatly amplified by the fact that CDS, like most other derivatives, have been exempted from the automatic stay provision in the US bankruptcy code.

This means that derivatives counter-parties can grab their money in a bankruptcy situation before the other creditors. This creates a huge potential for deadly runs on financial institutions in situations where the insolvency is caused by the derivatives. Prime examples are LTCM and AIG.

This rule was created to protect the derivatives markets from other causes of insolvency, but apparently no thought was given to situations where the derivatives are the primary cause of insolvency.

See: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=589261

Arnould said...

To Zvi: that is exactly why Jacques Rueff and possibly the "austrian school economists" severely criticized the fixed wages introduced by labor unions in the UK in the 19th century. I remember that in his opinion gold standard + variable wages (+ ?) would assure stability to the system, especially always enough work for everybody. I don't remember if there were other conditions though.

Debra said...

SS, in April 2008 I returned to the U.S after a 12 year absence for my 30th year college reunion.
While there, I stumbled across the 1973 book, "Where the Wasteland Ends" by Theodore Roszak, written at a time when he was STILL waxing poetic. (Words COUNT.)
My little personal cocktail of putting together Roszak's observations with my own background as a lacanien/orthodox Freudian trained psychoanalyst led me to my own PERSONAL conclusions about how and why we got into this mess. (In addition to a great personal interest in the Judeo-Chrisitian religious traditions, including readings from the Midrash. I am certainly not an expert on the Jewish traditions, however...)

To address your comment, I am going to call up Freud. The later day Freud, the one writing after the enormous political and personal tragedy of World War I. You know, THAT war that left NO European family untouched, and that left a generation of women out there to raise their children ALONE. (If you think about this fact, it is mind-boggling. It is EXHAUSTING to raise children. Doing it alone, is absolute HELL.)
The later day Freud wrote "Essais de Psychanalse", "Beyond the Pleasure Principle". (For those of you who were not aware, Freud is taught as a philosopher in France, and I say, why not ?)
In this very important text, Freud commented with great pessimism on the fact that human beings have the capacity to "repeat" destructive, negative experiences although there can be no possible "pleasure" derived from this repetition. (i.e., what is now referred to as post traumatic stress disorder, for example, which was rampant during World War I, but which I will refer to as the after effects of trauma outside of any clinical reference.)
His observations led him to create the hypothesis of a death drive which he opposed to a life drive in human beings, the two being in constant antagonism. (this is very simplified, it is actually much more complicated.)
What Freud missed in all of this, I feel, was the ENORMOUS pressure for human beings to maintain a sense of identity, both as INDIVIDUALS, and as part of a GROUP. Identity is MORE IMPORTANT than pleasure to a human being. MEANING itself is more important than pleasure, too.
And one of the most important ways we have of creating identity, Freud found, was through EXCLUSION. I affirm MY identity by AFFIRMING what I am NOT, and I reassure myself constantly on my identity by comparing myself with others, and by putting them into little "logical" classified boxes, which are NOT ME.
And when I feel "insecure" about my identity, then I attack what (and who...) makes me feel insecure.
While our current society proudly proclaims itself to be individualistic, and we ourselves often crow that we are individuals, we are nevertheless under CONSIDERABLE PRESSURE these days, largely due to globalization to conform to precise ideas about what it means to be...human...American...patriotic...democratic, you get the idea, the list is endless. And who, and what does not conform, is excluded...

For me, the question of work has been largely perverted by our joyless Protestant heritage, but Christianity itself is very very responsible for our joylessness. And the Jewish creation myths have been understood as MODELS, and not as observations. This is a major problem.
And we have artificially divided our monotheistic concept of time (historical time is a monotheistic construct, in my opinion...) into work and leisure, as though the one NECESSARILY excludes the other. Such artificial separation is very unhealthy in my opinion. It has negative effects on work and on leisure, the latter having become synonym of "entertainment", which is a passive, non-participatory phenomenon.
I shall close on a positive note : our civilization is ACTIVELY looking for ways out of this impasse. But one needs much discernment in order to see how phenomena which at first glance appear to be decadent are really in MY view, attempts to leave perversion behind.

One last note : my positions in current French society are as marginal as they are in current American society. But then, those who REALLY REALLY prefer the joys of thinking over the security of a group identity are necessarily marginal, aren't we ?
And, by the way, I think that Hell prefers the joys of thinking to a group identity...
Cheers.

SS said...

Debra,

Thanks so much for responding. My sources for "nihilism" are Nietsche and Freud, having absorbed much of the Lacanian and Freudian at Louvain where I did graduate economics. As you know Nietsche is widely read on the Continent unlike in the Anglo-Saxon countries which marginalized his thought.

I see the death impulse in Freud as a positive force, self-destruction being the dialectic response to life. Nihilism I would suggest is its cult to the detriment of all else. Read George Bataille if you haven't discovered him on this topic, not for the sex but for his philosophy in which sex plays the role of reuniting the life instincts. My other favorite French author is Ferdinand Celine on society, its ills and to a lesser extent belonging.

I too have lived in Europe about 12 years, though that dates now. Few people are really interested in understanding here which is one of many reasons our culture in America is in such decline. Look forward to more posts or comments. I've tried a "Google Post," I hope this is what you've had in mind.

Debra said...

Thanks for coming out of the shadows, SS, with your Google post. lol
Louvain, I'm impressed. Lots of thinkers, from what I remember.
I haven't read Bataille, Nietzsche or CĂ©line.
I will at least get around to Nietzsche.
AFTER Rousseau.
And these days, I enjoy other things than reading OTHER PEOPLE.
Like ME playing the piano, for example.
It's like... more PARTICIPATORY.
But I appreciate the recommendations. Thanks.
Cheers.