This blog is still alive, just in semi-hibernation. When I want to write something longer than a tweet about something other than math or sci-fi, here is where I'll write it.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Not even the angels in heaven.
If you read The Other Blog, you may already be aware that the End of the World is less than four weeks away now. This is the date set by Dr. Harold Camping, who can be heard on the innocuously titled Family Radio Stations, including the flagship station KEAR, based right here in Oakland. Dr. Camping has fleeced enough sheep to put up billboards around the United States, which have been noticed by the Huffington Thing, and even by reliable sources like sfmike's Civic Center.
Color me unimpressed. As this demotivational poster designed by Broken Eye 3 points out, This is Dr. Camping's third attempt at predicting the End of the World (technically, Jesus returns on the 21st, the actual end is later in the year), and both his previous predictions in the 1990s came up craps and even he admits it.
You might think I doubt the good Doctor's math and prophetic abilities because I am a godless heathen Commie bastid, but when it comes to the End of the World, I rely strongly on my close personal bud for nigh onto thirty years, the Jebus lubbin' Commie bastid Padre Mickey. He knows all about the eschatology (end of the world stuff) and the Adventist cults (folks who predict an exact day for the End of the World), and he says yes, I am going to have to wake up on May 22 and prepare notes for the class I give the next day.
Because Padre Mickey really lubs the Jebus and Dr. Camping kinda fell in love with the sound of his own voice instead, the Padre believes the words of Jebus found both in Matthew and Luke that only God the father knows the day and time and he has shared this info with absolutely zero other souls, not His son and not even the angels in heaven.
So while I am blithely unconvinced of any upcoming end of the world, I do still worry about another big financial crash. I know the real problem if it happens in the future will probably resemble the last big crash, which was not the crash of the stock market, but the crash of the derivatives market, which brought down a whole bunch of other markets in its wake. I don't follow the derivatives market and don't even know how, but I'm seeing several of the markets I do follow - prices of gold, silver, crude oil and currency markets - following the strange patterns they followed in early 2008 before everything went to crap.
It isn't exactly the same. Crude oil is "only" at about $110 a barrel instead of $140, but that still is a horrible redistribution of wealth. Of course, the modern world is addicted to oil and that may not change any time soon, so basic macroeconomics says the oil producers would be idiots not to soak the pathetic crackheads who knock on their doors. Also, gold and silver are way higher than they were before the last crash, though people who shill for the precious metals like to remind us that they are only nominally at all time highs and they were actually higher when adjusted for inflation in the 1980s.
Before they crashed and burned.
The U.S. dollar is also taking a beating right now, though not quite the beating it took during the darkest days of the George W. Bush administration. The main reason the present beating seems tame in comparison to the last is the relative weakness of the pound (much weaker) and the euro (slightly weaker). There are actually several other currencies (the Aussie dollar, the Canadian dollar, the Swiss Franc, the yen) that are doing much better than they did during the Dark Days Of Which No One Will Speak.
Again, I am not following The Big Game, which is the derivatives market. People in Washington, both Republicans and Democrats, have no interest and not much idea on how to regulate the market. (Here's a modest proposal: set a leverage limit for all investment banks. For every dollar of real assets they have now, they may have $30 of credit of more in the Insane Casino where they killed the world economy not three years ago. Make a law that says they only get $10 credit maximum for every real dollar they own. That may still seem high, but it makes a complete collapse considerably less likely.)
As for another collapse, there may be someone beside the Father who knows when it's coming. The problem is there are a lot of people yapping, and you can't always tell in advance if a yapper is Cassandra or Dr. Harold Camping before it's too late.