Financial analysts & policymakers & frozen-doorknob lickers

Chicken Little epidemic

Our streets appear increasingly aswarm with Chicken Little financial savants.

All around the world, it seems, a hard rain is about to fall. The sky is gravid with precipitate disaster, and quite a few people are reviewing plans to build financial arks, many of these latter-day Noahs figuring they’ll build their boats of gold.

And good luck to them. One advantage of being a starving writer in a state of perennial penury—blessed with a principled resistance to accumulating wherewithal, a Teflon coating of cash-resistant inattention and what my Sara calls flat-out stupidity—is I’m largely indifferent whether the sky falls or whether it stays where it is. Life goes on, and one’s writerly gruel tastes much the same so long as salt and/or fermented fish sauce remain dirt cheap.

Evolutionary conjecture: Homo saps descended from both chickens and lemmings

Be that as it may, for those not so blessed, even a W-shaped economic recovery, according to much current Chicken Little wisdom, is way optimistic, at least for some long time to come.

How can this be? We have left our welfare and prospects for the future in expert hands, haven’t we? Right. You don’t have to have read The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (Michael Lewis) or Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (Chris Hedges), for just two examples, to suspect strongly that our leaders in wealth management—whether on Wall St. or in government—do not learn a lot from experience.

Of course we can’t absolve the public at large of responsibility, as they proceed, lemming-like, into the next get-rich-quick scheme and over the next precipice.

If you’re short of time, take a look at “Amid crisis, Wall Street touted BP stock” (Reuters, 18 June 2010), a microcosmic view of associated issues.

Or, if you’re as financially ignorant as I am, not to mention impecunious, yet remain a keen student of human nature, you might read “Instinct or Genes, or Something,” from Bangkok Knights. A sample:

When you’re a kid in upstate New York, the first winter you grow up to the point your rosy little cheeks reach doorknob level, you are subjected to a rite of passage more gruesome than ritual circumcision, more painful than tribal tattooing.

One cold day an older kid comes along and says, “You should stick your tongue on that doorknob.” Reasonably enough, you ask him “Why?” He tells you because then your tongue will stick to it, and this will be an interesting experience.

Well, so it is. It’s just one of many interesting yet very painful experiences life has in store for you…”


From Bangkok Knights (Collin Piprell). Just ask, and I’ll e-mail you the entire story.

Go here for the haiku version of this post.

Informal survey

How many of you have ever stuck your tongue on a doorknob? I’d be interested to hear. Even more, I’d like to hear how many of you have done it twice. Still more–how many of this sample are bankers and investment specialists? 🙂

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