By coincidence a number of comments received on last month’s musings (both News and Views and Review) drew attention to hope. Whether a quantitative or qualitative observer of life, people seem to want a hopeful sign that everything is going to be alright. It would be fantastic if that could be. But it is only fantasy. Whether your god is religion or science, the fact of nature is that there is order. And that order even extends into our virtual world of money: that world which interprets participants’ values.
But hope is not a strong foundation for planning for the future. It is teh foundation upon which the sub-prime mortgage market ballooned during the past 5 years. We must be drawn to the concerns of the World of Money because, while players continue to say its all fine, the actual foundation looks shaky. We know that we’ve had a good run of obtaining credit on the promise that we will pay for our consumption in the future. But as we realise that we’ve borrowed more tahn we can hope to repay, we start to take desperate measures. The delusion of asset prices increasing while the economic news is so dire and regulatory authorities are reacting as if there is a problem, suggests that we are desperate to continue the illusion. Unfortunately this can only lead to trouble. First inflation. And if this becomes gross, then the efficiency of financial markets will be compromised, participants will be unwilling to risk what they have on the uncertain future and our ability to operate as a cohesive market will dissipate.
If, however, we allow our feet to resettle on the ground, bring our expectations back in to the realm of nature, and stop confusing consumption with happiness, the adjustment will be easier, even pleasant. But it requires that we appreciate the human values upon which communities thrive, not the belligerent values upon which individuals rise. Do not confuse this with a step backward. It is in fact a step forward, but a big one. It is elevating humanity from bestial constraints of a simple organism to the self-aware delight of a fully conscious being. It is humanity working together as one and interdependent on nature. The stimulation of space age technology will flourish, but we must be relish the stimulation of natural systems too. This means making space for nature; which means moving aside.