Monday, May 4, 2009

One Chart, Plus One Word

Nominal GDP growth (i.e. not adjusted for inflation) has turned negative y-o-y for the first time in 50 years . That's no good at all.
  • One chart:

DATA: FRB St. Louis


Saturday marked the annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway, which has lately become a sort of tent-revival affair, an apotheosis of investment guru-dom. This one went way over the top as 35,000 people crammed into an arena, its overflow rooms and a ballroom at a nearby hotel to hear the presumed wisdom of Messrs. Buffett and Munger.
  • One word: hubris.


  1. One word: hubris

    Maybe it was more a case of: desperately seeking salvation (from the deluge)

    According to Shadowstats, real GDP has been negative for most of the past decade. If you subtract debt borrowed from foreigners to buy imports then nominal GDP would have been negative as well.

  2. Part of the wisdom of Buffet was stating the ridiculousness of his secretary being taxed more than he. We should take his advice and rectify the situation.

    $8 billion of GE and GS preferred stock at 10% yields--nice.

    Loose association: When did the middle class fair best in this country? The 60s and 70s? Let's put the tax rate back to those levels and see if that works.

  3. Wow thats terrible to hear about the Nominal GDP. I remember in college talking a lot about that.

  4. Dink,Since you linked to Matt Taibbi's article in Rolling Stone (the one with the helpfully descriptive profanity) I was wondering if you've seen this:

    It's amazing what you can learn from an urban hipster; I didn't know young people had become so, so...I don't know how to put this delicately? Just read the 2nd paragraph that starts "What's next?" and look up the definitions in the urban dictionary (I had to).

    My confidence in the future of the country was so enhanced; I no longer have to worry about food shortages, it seems there will be plenty to eat.

  5. Hmmm...
    I will refer those interested back to my comment on Freud's article on negation.
    Just WHAT exactly is negative GDP an euphemism for ?
    Maybe if we manage to pull ourselves out of our collective DENIAL, we might start doing better, and get to work on our world ?
    I invite you all to find another expression for this "concept" and start using it.
    What could we say ?
    Hell ?
    Translation of negative GDP, please ?
    I see NO reason whatsoever to use other people's WORDS when I find them so woefully inadequate.
    Let's be REALLY creative here.

  6. Dear Debra,
    Re: Negative GDP

    Wait until you a hold of entropy. That's when the REAL fun starts with semantics.


  7. "Translation of negative GDP, please ?"

    How about our eCONoME is dead meat on a stick and has been since the bust.

    Joe M.

  8. Yoyomo,

    That author has a sharp wit, no? Perhaps the next Hunter S. Thompson or P.J. O'Rourke (past Rolling Stone authors).

    BTW, regarding HTML links. Its kind of hard to show someone without inadverting creating a link instead. Lets see if this displays correctly:

    Link text

    Instead of url, copy and paste your link's address between " and ". Instead of Link text, just make up some title such as "This is freakin' awesome!". Promise not to laugh if your first few attempts don't work :)

    BTW, This is freakin' awesome!

  9. I used to respect Buffet, but over time he has revealed himself to be a slippery character. Probably he always was, and I didn't see it. In any event, the tide went out recently and Warren wasn't wearing any shorts. Not a pretty sight.

  10. Thai, I wasn't criticizing of your discussions about fractals. I tend to agree, generally speaking, with a significant amount of what you say, particularly with respect to fractals and cooperation.

    I was wondering about Debra's position on fractals as a concept, since she certainly has thoughts about negative numbers, particuarly negative GDP.

  11. Buffet is one of the last remaining High Priests of the Cult of Equity.

    I tend agree with yomomo. The Thirty-Five Thousand just wanted to know that the Return to Normalcy was Just Around the Corner.

    Problem is that the Cult of Equity actually died in 2000. Negative returns over all timeframes are only now illustrating this fact.

    Negative nominal GDP doesn't really help nominal corporate earnings.

  12. Aw, shucks, Hell, you really don't take me seriously on this blog.
    You know how limited my sense of humor is...
    I was NOT kidding about inventing new words/expressions.
    Guess what ?
    Words are POWER. You MUST know this.
    And inventing new words means grabbing some of that power which has been so masterfully taken out of our collective hands.
    So... let's get to work you guys...
    All it takes is to start circulating those new words.
    I guarantee that they find their way into circulation almost as easily as all that virtual filthy lucre with the - signs in front of it. Promise.

  13. JP- Oh, thanks for explaining!

    As long as you aren't being mean, go ahead and make fun. I make fun of myself all the time. ;-)

    @Dink- that is WAY cool! Did I ever show you this one?

    @Yoyomo- Perhaps the following exercise will help you learn to make hyperlinks (Okie taught me- speaking of which, where is Okie? Are you out there?).

    Type what I type EXCEPT DO NOT TYPE ANY "*" (I put the * in place to prevent a hyperlink from being created which would prevent me from teaching you how to make one as Dink points out)


    *<*a href*=*"">This is a link for e bay*<*/*a*>.

    where I put you can put ANY address you want.

    The typing between the characters greater and less than symbols is what everyone will see that you personally type in.

    So if you put in a link for ebay but write "this is a link for ebay"

    they will not see

    instead they will see this is a link for ebayGive it a try :-)

    PS- I watched the Aaron Russo video.

    #1- that WAS NOT the video I saw before. The one I watched had all these weird pop ups, etc...

    In fact, to be honest, when I opened it, I really was a little worried I was talking with one of my schizo affective patients (I think I even chidded you about it with a comment re: conspiracy theory- the movie) ;-)

    #2- Except for the point where he alleges 911 was a deliberate act by the "authorities" (which I simply don't believe, I don't have any BIG issues with this interpretation of history other than to say there are others that seem to me every bit as valid.

    Perhaps I am blinded from pulling body pieces out of the Pentagon for 5 days as medical director of my state's FEMA USAR team has made me blind to this issue, but I don't buy it.

    From my perspective, I really do think you should think a little more about Hell's comments re:thermodynamics or mine about "frame of reference" or "point of view".

    If someone wants to look at feminism as a capitalist plot, I can't really disagree with this view (in fact, in some interpretations I think it is quite valid).

    But I reject it personally- kind of reminds me a little of Greenie's cognitive dissonance re: Hell's Malthusian views if you get my drift.

    Again, the problem (as I see it) is our inability to recognize that evolution is happening to all of us as we type into our computers right now.

    The majority of us never seem to realize we are about to become someone else's dinner and that we just couldn't see who it was that was about to (figuratively) eat us.

    And, in this world where an amazing number of people seem absolutely blind to the current power of cooperation, I personally think you might have a temporary ability to "buy low" and "sell high" in mother nature's great zero sum market (and who knows, I could be wrong) if you take a cooperative route, just my two cents.

    Of course, you I don't want to kid you that there won't be just as great a cost.

    ...And, as Hell has (imo correctly) reminded us on many occasions, reality is what we make it.

    re: zionism. I look at the whole middle east thing as The Butter Battle Book.

    I never responded to your comment because I was still waiting for your response to mine and when I saw the bizarre video, you lost me.


  14. Sorry Thai but your response strongly implies to me that you aren't willing/able to confront the specifics that I presented. Moreover, zionism is NOT confined to the ME. Most of the lobbying that goes on in this country and negatively affects it is done on behalf of zionism and overcoming the hostility that it generates.

    Did you enjoy the war in Iraq and will you enjoy a possible war with Iran for the greater glory of zionism. Those 2 links are on the 3/23 thread along with my comments, read them or just admit that you prefer not to know what teachings a large segment (the conservative and orthodox congregations and the secular zionists) of Jews subscribe to and try, if you can, to explain (to yourself if not to me) how it differs from white supremacist ideology or the Aryan master race theory.

    This is not a theoretical issue; as America's primacy (economic & military) begins to erode, the burden of supporting zionism going forward will weigh heavier and heavier on your sons for they will be the ones who have to carry it.

    Europe is 10-15 yrs, 20 at most, from breaking with the US on this; the fading memory of WW2 can be milked for only so much longer before it starts to backfire and as for Russia, China and India, they have their own huge Muslim minorities to placate plus historic commercial and political ties to the ME.

    Once the US is no longer the global hegemon, Israel (as presently constituted) will be a mill stone around America's neck and the water will only get progressively deeper.

  15. Anon @10:10PM,

    Are you an out-of-work plumber? Perhaps a plumbing supply salesman? Maybe even Joe the Plumber?

  16. Yoyomo,

    If you want acknowledgment/agreement from me that Israel has its nuts- I agree!

    I really am not really sure what you are looking for so please help me out.

    Re: "the burden of supporting Zionism going forward will weigh heavier and heavier on your sons for they will be the ones who have to carry it."

    And don't I know it.

    But while I certainly agree with you that my sons will carry the burden of defending this country one day, I think the Zionism statement is a little selective. I can't argue with your choice of looking at it that way but I think there are others just as valid.

    They may also have the burden of defending Taiwan, South Korean, etc...

    AND statements like "Russia, China and India, they have their own huge Muslim minorities to placate" is one view of people. I don't disagree with this either but it is only one future. There are definitely others.

    I am not quite sure what you propose.

    Are you asking me to ask my congressmen to tell the Israeli's to go back to Germany, etc... ?

    I am not going to do that.

    You know I have absolutely no control over this and besides the fact, this argument of "go home" is really a very slippery slope for MANY (most) countries on this planet.

    American Indians use it on non-native Americans all the time. Aborigines use it in Australia, etc...

    I understand Israel is a "hot button issue" for Muslims around the world (perhaps one of the biggest)


    I also understand there are a lot of other hot button issues in the world.

    India seems to have its own issues last I checked, as does South Korea, etc...

    Are you suggesting that people like me are being manipulated by secret powers in America?


    But citizens of Iran are somehow not manipulated? I don't think you think this.

    I really am unsure what you are saying here.

    Do I think Iranians want to go to war with the US over this one day.

    Truthfully no.

    Do I think Iranian leaders want to go to war with the US over this (on this I am less sure but even then I think not).

    Do I see some who are willing to go to war and die over this issue- sure.

    Do these "committed" have control over a major army right now- no.

    Do I think they will ever get control- actually "no", I don't.

    I think Muslim do not want massive deaths at all, I really don't.

    You know as well as I that Israel has its own A-bombs which I serious doubt America has much (any?) control over. Do you have a solution for these?

    I don't buy these extremist arguments that Muslims are all that different than us.

    I really am confused what you want from me on this.

    To see that life is messy?


    Do you want an acknowledgment from me that there is/are an Israeli lobby desperately (and secretly... or even in the open) trying to maintain influence in the US government for its own survival?


    Do I think they control everything-
    "no way".

    (And if ever anything EVER seemed like a curse to me, that has got to be it)

    Are there any other scenarios I missed?

    There are nuts everywhere.

    There were nuts before I was born

    There are nuts now

    There will be nuts when I am dead

    And to many, I am a nut

    Regards ;-)

  17. @That author has a sharp wit, no?

    Yes but (you didn't look at the link, did you?) I was more impressed with his inventory of urban slang for some rather imaginative procedures that seem to have surreptitiously (at least to me) become common among some segments of swinging singles society.

    It is so reassuring to know that the future of the Earth will be passed on to such enterprising young folks. I'm sure all the microbes of the planet will be ever so grateful for all these newfangled hygienic rituals when the die-off prepares to make its debut.

    Thanks for the tutorial, I'll work on it.

    Saturn V,

    Very impressive from a technical point of view (the precision is amazing) but I don't share Michio Kaku's and your optimism for space travel, I think its nothing more than an exciting fantasy with no realistic prospects.

    Thai, I'm still reading, promise I'll get back but don't wait up.

  18. My last word to your myriad queries, we can hope-

    "...the burden of defending this country..."

    They won't be defending this country, they will be defending a foreign one, if not physically then with their taxes and their diminished standard of living.

    "They may also have the burden of defending Taiwan, South Korean, etc..."

    There is no effective ethnic domestic lobby that could push the US into a war for either Taiwan or SK, if the US ever goes to war there it will be for the perceived interests of TPTB.

    "Are you asking me to ask my congressmen..."

    A lot of good that would do but no that isn't what I'm getting at. Simply I'm sick of people dancing around politically unpleasant realities. No one bats an eye lash if you call Hitler, Saddam, Idi Amin a butcher and murderer but no matter how many crimes a zionist commits he has to be called "A Man of Peace" because otherwise you will offend the memory of the holocaust.

    All my life growing up I heard and was told of the 6M Jews killed by Hitler; 4M in Auschwitz and 2M elsewhere (4+2=6), well guess-effing-what:

    1.1~1.5 + 2 still = 6 pretty neat trick, right up there with "a land w/o people for a people w/o a land" only guess what:

    Twice the size of Palestine and they didn't have to kill anyone to get it.

    "Do these "committed" have control over a major army right now- no"

    I don't know if Obama would start a war with Iran for Israel but that Biden and Clinton would I have no doubt.

    "I think Muslim do not want massive deaths at all, I really don't."

    Neither do I, they just want Americans to be more like Pat Buchanan and mind their own fukken business.

    "Do I think they control everything-
    "no way".

    I know not all banks are controlled by Jews but enough are and the same goes for Hollywood and the media. Not total control but effective control else how do you get all those 98-0 senate resolutions and anyway Sharon bragged about it to Peres: "stop telling me to worry about how the Americans will react; we the Jews control America and the Americans know it"

    "I really am confused what you want from me on this."

    Nothing really except maybe not to play so dumb sometimes; you can't just choose which perception of reality tickles your fancy, objective conditions exist on the ground no matter how much they might make you squirm to see them.

    As for the burden of zionism on the US, when it becomes too heavy for a weakened country to bear, it will be jettisoned by the majority of Americans so vehemently that you won't need to call your congressman on my behalf and nukes or not zionism in the ME will collapse because it is not self sustaining, it needs a host (even a distant one) to parasitize.

  19. Where's SS ? Where's Cotton ?
    Geez Thai, Yoyo, sometimes I feel like the only GIRL on this blog, morosely playing with my BARBIES while you all are at it with your construction sets...
    It can be depressing...
    For the Middle Eastern conflict, the fate of Israel is inextricably tied up with the fate of monotheistic religion in the world at this time.
    This is why the conflict is so explosive, and this is why Israel is such a point of focus for the world.
    The COUNTRY Israel is just one teeny tiny aspect of what's at stake, which is ENORMOUS, in my book...

  20. The fate of Israel is tied to the Jewish lobby's ability to convince the rest of America that a zionist outpost in the ME is advantageous to the US. Once that perception changes, Israel will change form or cease to exist.

  21. Debra- Please understand it isn't easy for me to play Metro but I am a cooperative guy so will try!

    Let me see if I can dig up my old Ken dolls in the closet (will that count?). ;-)

    And in the mean time, will this work as a compromise so Dink can also enjoy the fun?


  22. Well Thai, I will SPARE you my "psychanalyse sauvage" of the little clip which was OBVIOUSLY made by a man, or a woman masquerading as one... :- )
    I never said that the MEN on this blog SHOULD be playing with Barbies...
    Actually this clip's scenario is just about on parr with the intellectual level of many in our current government in "their" war on terrorism, crime, drugs, you name it...
    But it was an heroic try, Thai.
    Just WHERE and HOW did you manage to pull that out of your hat ?
    I suppose I'm just like everyone else on this blog.
    I like attention...

  23. @ Yoyomo,

    "Yes but (you didn't look at the link, did you?)"

    There's a high probability that I did. You see, I pasted the link into google and it spit out various links; I think I picked out the right one. It was the right author, it was recent, and it was amusing. The second paragraph used phrases that I've heard on The Daily Show, but have never looked up on the net for fear rude images would be seared into my head. Perhaps you could experiment your new HTML skills by posting links to the smirkingchimp article and text-only definitions of those phrases!

    @ Thai & Debra,

    "And in the mean time, will this work as a compromise so Dink can also enjoy the fun?"

    I could only watch without sound the first time, but I can tell I'm going to laugh :)

    Perhaps I can bring Hot Wheels and we can pretend that they're Barbie's robo-minions.

    Regarding that scaled-down Saturn V, at point does the hobby pass a critical junction and become a viable weapon? The parachutes looked like flames at first....soooo cool.

  24. Dink,
    Here goes:

    Matt TaibbilinkWOW, it worked. Thanks Dink, I'll get to the definitions later but the text is mind searing enough,gotta run. Thai I'll repost the links in my above comment for your convenience.

  25. Dink,

    On second thought, if your concerned about offensive material, those Taibbi terms would most likely offend you so we should forget that I mentioned it, they are gross.


    Here are the:

    BBC LinkWiki Memorial LinkWiki Oblast LinkWiki Shahak LinkJewish Law LinkMar 23 comments that you never addressed, esp. Tel Aviv air port and how the Jewish Law link relates to it.

    And thank you also for the hyperlink tips.