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    Daily Digest – May 4

    by Davos

    Monday, May 4, 2009, 2:50 PM

  • Audio, Fool’s Gold: How Unrestrained Greed Corrupted a DREAM, Shattered Global Markets and Unleashed a Catastrophe (Audio, LSE (London School of Economics))
  • Define Rich, part II: Rat Race and the American DREAM
  • More Fantastic Reporting with Jon Stewart (Video, Comedy also)
  • Tracking the Global Recession
  • Where to move if the Great Depression Comes?
  • Funnies
  • Shiller on Depression Scares
  • Financial Sense News Hour May 2, 2009 (Audio) 
  • Chan hits back at WHO critics


Audio, Fool’s Gold: How Unrestrained Greed Corrupted a DREAM, Shattered Global Markets and Unleashed a Catastrophe (Auidio, LSE (London School of Economics)****Don’t miss the 25:50 minute point on)

Define Rich, part II: Rat Race and the American DREAM

There were some good responses to the first posting that I agreed with. They were, could we say, jumping the gun as to how I want to proceed, however. So, with this post I want to continue with looking at phrases/concepts/thoughts that are a part of, or were a part of any discussion regarding “rich”.

Have you missed the phrase: Rat Race?

Wonder why we ask: Is the American Dream dead?

Could it be that in an economy where “rich” is not or will not be defined, the race is won and the dream obtained? After all, we’re all rich now! Sodahead specifically asked the question.

We have polls regarding the Dream. From the group: Change to Win, the 2006 American Dream Survey:

A majority of American workers feel both the country (63%) and the national economy (63%) have gotten off on the wrong track. Just 26% of workers say the country is headed in the right direction, while 28% say the national economy is headed in the right direction.

The most widespread serious worries of American workers today include the prospect of not being able to afford health care when they need it (a serious concern for 77%), not having enough money for retirement (77%), losing their health care benefits (72%), not being able to keep up with bills (69%), and having their standard of living slip further and further (68%).

When asked the open-ended question of what the American Dream means to the them, respondents said it means having a good job and being able to make a comfortable living (37%) while notably, almost no one mentions being wealthy or affluent (1%).

From New American Dream.org 2004 survey report:

  • More than 4 in 5 Americans (85%) say that our society’s priorities are out of whack.
  • Nearly all Americans (93%) agree — more than half agree strongly (52%) — that Americans are too focused on working and making money and not enough on family and community.
  • More than 4 in 5 Americans (83%) agree that they wish they had more of what really matters in life.
  • Less than 3 in 10 say that having a bigger house or apartment (29%) or nicer things (16%) would make them much more satisfied.

In this survey is a chart of phrases asked to be rated in how well it describes the American Dream and importance for society on a 10 point scale. They report the percentage that rated each phrase at 8 or higher. The following are significant for this discussion:

“To consume or buy what we want”. Only 55% said it described the Dream and 49% said it was important.

“Achieving an affluent or wealthy life style”. Only 49% said it described the Dream and 44 % said it was important.

These are low numbers compared to the other phrases.

Thus, between these two surveys, the idea of getting rich so that you can consume as you please is not a big part of the Dream. In fact this survey found:

More Fantastic Reporting with Jon Stewart (Video, Commedy also)

Tracking the Global Recession (Charts)

Where to move if the Great Depression Comes?

[Legendary speculator] Doug Casey is greatly underappreciated. He’s been expecting the debacle we see unfolding today – a collapsing financial sector, government spending growing out of control, and a public backlash against capitalism – for as long as I’ve known him, almost 15 years. He calls the scenario "The Greater Depression." And now, he thinks it’s going to be even worse than he expected…

At his conference last weekend in Las Vegas, he told the audience what he’s doing to protect himself from what he sees coming next: soaring inflation, capital controls around the world, and vast increases to America’s already confiscatory tax regime. What is Doug doing? First, he built a very private community in a very safe place about as far away from the centers of government power as you can get. His development is called Estancia Cafayate. Check it out Here It’s located in the southern part of Salta province in northwest Argentina. Why in the world would you want to live in a valley of the Andes Mountains in rural Argentina? Well, Uruguay is nearby, a place where you can still bank privately and where you can still arrange for citizenship.



Shiller on Depression Scares

Professor Shiller writes in the New York Times: Depression Scares Are Hardly New

WHAT is the chance that the current downturn will morph into another Great Depression? That question has been preoccupying people for months.

The popular mood has a huge impact on the economy, so it’s worth noting what many people seem to forget: Depression scares come and go. And by one authoritative measure, the current outbreak of concern has been surprisingly mild.

The University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers have included in their regular measurements this specific question about fear of a prolonged depression:

“Looking ahead, which would you say is more likely — that in the country as a whole we’ll have continuous good times during the next five years or so, or that we will have periods of widespread unemployment or depression, or what?”

… A high score on the question means that the answers tilted toward continuous good times, with a low score tilting toward unemployment or depression. Since 1960, the average score has been 94.

If we define a depression scare as any time the score is below 65, there have been four such scares since 1951. They were in the periods from 1974 to 1975, during which 47 was the lowest score; from 1978 to 1982, with a low of 41; from 1990 to 1992, with a low of 54; and from 2008 to 2009, with a low (to date) of 59. Note that so far, at least, the worst reading in the current scare has not been as bad as those of the previous episodes.

In each case, the scare’s significance is further confirmed by electronically counting in news databases the number of articles containing the word pair “great depression.” There were huge peaks in the count during these periods.
Here is a graph comparing the decline in real GDP for the current recession with other recessions since 1947. Depression is marked on the graph as -10%.

Financial Sense News Hour May 2, 2009 (Audio)

Chan hits back at WHO critics 

The head of the World Health Organisation hit back at critics who have accused it of over-reaction to the swine flu crisis, warning it may return “with a vengeance” in the months ahead. 

In her first extensive media interview since alerting the world to a potential flu pandemic nine days ago, Margaret Chan, the agency’s director-general, told the Financial Times that the end of the flu season in the northern hemisphere meant an initial outbreak could be milder but then a second wave more lethal, as happened in 1918.

Fresh data from Mexico suggested the impact of the flu could be less than initially thought. José Angel Cordova, health minister said the flu virus epidemic had passed its peak and was declining. “The evolution of the epidemic is now in its phase of descent,” he said.

The Mexican government, which had already scaled back its original estimate of 176 deaths, said 19 of the suspected 100 deaths from the H1N1 virus had been confirmed.

But Ms Chan warned that an apparent decline in mortality rates outside and within Mexico did not mean the pandemic was ending.

“We hope the virus fizzles out, because if it doesn’t we are heading for a big outbreak.” But she said: “I’m not predicting the pandemic will blow up, but if I miss it and we don’t prepare, I fail. I’d rather over-prepare than not prepare.”

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