Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"It's especially ironic that given our preoccupation with numbers, we have arrived at the point where numbers just can't be comprehended anymore."

Kunstler: One of main reasons behind the vast confusion now reigning in the USA, our failure to construct a coherent consensus about what is happening to us (or what to do about it), is our foolish obsession with econometrics -- viewing the world solely through the "lens" of mathematical models. We think that just because we can measure things in numbers, we can make sense of them.
We're entertaining ourselves with shell games, musical chairs, Chinese fire drills, Ponzi schemes, and Polish blanket tricks (where, to make your blanket longer, you cut twelve inches off the top and sew it onto the bottom).
Now that Newsweek Magazine -- along with the mendacious cretins at CNBC -- have declared the "recession" officially over, it's a sure thing that we are entering the zone of greatest danger.

SHOOT: Problem is we tend to focus on some numbers and purposefully ignore/avoid others. Off balance sheet accounts and massaging statistics. Graphs that emphasise greater or lesser changes than actually happen. Yup, with things as horrible as they are, and no fundamental response or change in our course of activites - other than bailouts [for banks] - inexplicably we're told, 'They're about to improve.' http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090810/us_nm/us_usa_economy_survey
Yes, we may see a recovery, based on sentiment and spin. And it might last 1-6 months. But when reality sets in, and it will, our circumstances will change color, this time, noticably. Noticable changes in the living standards of the middle class and their [our] prospects.

clipped from kunstler.com
This week, outstanding world derivatives were declared to have reached the 1 quadrillion mark.  Commentators lately -- e.g. NPR's "Planet Money" broadcast -- have struggled to explain to listeners exactly what a trillion is in images such as the number of dollar bills stacked up to the planet Venus or the number of seconds that add up to three ice ages plus two warmings.  A quadrillion is just off the charts, out of this world, not really subject to reality-based interpretation. You might as well say "infinity."  We have flown up our own collective numeric bung-hole.
The number problems we face are now hopeless.  America will never be able to cover its current outstanding debt.  We're effectively finished at all three levels: household, corporate, and government. 
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