Archive for January, 2009

Puckered! But what happened in 2008?

If you owned anything, odds are you’re puckered. The very well off are hoarding gold – the metal and not the paper. Anyone with money anywhere is sitting on it trying to figure out how to keep it from diminishing further in value. The upside is that the personal debt is dropping to 50 year lows but that means consumer demand for stuff is also dropping and commercial volume is dropping.

Fidelity Investor’s Publications took a look at the Top 10 Surprises of 2008, A year of turmoil and volatility by Dirk Hofschire (January 09, 2009). There was nowhere to hide as most valuations reached multi-year lows. The market boiled with a volatility of a violence that created uncertainty. The landscape changed as core Wall Street institutions dropped out or were bought out. Prices were all over the map with a YoY CPI increase at a two decade high in August followed by the monthly biggest drop of the post war era. Oil slumped nearly 70% from the summer highs. The lightning speed of these changes left anyone watching with mouth agape and the wind sucked right out of them.

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Failures, politics, and economic health

Karl Rove describes one in the Wall Street Journal. The failure was an attempt to rein in the government sponsored entities (GSE). The failure of that effort is accompanied by the continuing stench of scandal caused by lobbying and special favors used to defeat it. The result of that failure was the demise of Fanny and Freddie that was one of the major stimulants for the current financial dump.

Another such failure was in attempts to reform Social Security. That has been a long time worry and the president-elect is making promises but it hasn’t hit the fan yet. When (and if) it does, it will make the current financial situation look tame.

These failures are of the ‘cutting off nose to spite face’ type. The opposition to finding solutions to major problems has hurt everyone. That was of no matter to the opposition. Other factors, such as defeating a political opponent, were the first priority. That is perhaps the most tragic failure, one that is shared by many of the terrorists we face who put death of themselves and their fellow citizens above peace and prosperity. It is a failure that leads to self destruction and that makes a failure to implement reform in the political process pale.

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Meshing the God versus Science dissonance illusion

Christianity Today on God’s Other Good Book

Faith for these founders of modern science was a given. But the Subject of their faith was neither generic nor confined. Christianity was not a limited, parochial worldview, or the Old Testament a collection of Bronze Age myths. Convinced that both nature and the Bible were revelations from God, they found ways to harmonize science and their faith. But they did more than harmonize. The eloquent and even devotional prose of Kepler, Pascal, Newton, and others shows that their science was inspired and even informed by their faith.

There is a tendency of some, such as the author of this essay to think that “This contrasts greatly with leading contemporary scientists who, if they care at all about religion, see it as something that interferes with science.” These miss the many scientists who quietly go about their business and find congruence between their Christian beliefs and their pursuit of understanding nature. Consider, for instance, Einstein’s “God does not play dice with the universe” in his struggle with quantum mechanics.

Some struggle with a creation of their own mind, a creation that puts science at odds with religion. Perhaps insight will come in time. Meanwhile we should not forget that there are many who see science as an insight into religion and find that it strengthens and reinforces their religious beliefs, especially the Christian religious beliefs.

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