coromandal


where history counts for nothing and money = intelligence

goldman-sachsThe great economist James K. Galbraith describes two factors that contribute to financial euphoria – the special fiscal  insanity that has led to more than one collapse of markets, the most spectacular being the great collapse of 2008.

The first contributing factor, in paragraph no. 1 below, is a systemic aversion to history; and the second factor, in paragraph no. 2, is the mistaken belief that financial success can be connected to intelligence.

There is a brilliant description of the Peter principle in paragraph 2:  CEOs are mentally predictable, intellectually unchallenging, cavers.  The system that supports them is soft, uncritical and in the end error prone.

Our market fundamentalists are just as inbred and parochial as our religious fundamentalists.

Here is Galbraith:

Contributing to….euphoria are two further factors little noted in our time or in past times. The first is the extreme brevity of the financial memory. In consequence, financial disaster is quickly forgotten. In further consequence, when the same or closely similar circumstances occur again…they are hailed by a new, often youthful, and always supremely self-confident generation as a brilliantly innovative discovery…There can be few fields of human endeavor in which history counts for so little as in the world of finance.  Past experience, to the extent that it is part of memory at all, is dismissed as the primitive refuge of the those who do not have insight to appreciate the incredible wonders of the present. Continue reading



zest! enthusiasm! poison!

In the Latin world intelligence is equated with malice; in America with cheerleading; in Mexico they would give out prizes laced with poison.

“The French equate intelligence with rational discourse, the Russians with intense soul-searching.  For a Mexican, intelligence is inseparable from maliciousness – in this, as in many other things, we are quite Italian: furberia, roguish slyness, and the cult of appearances, la bella figura, are Italianate traits present everywhere in Latin America:  Rome, more than Madrid, is our spiritual capital in this sense. For me, as a child, the United States seemed a world where intelligence was equated with energy, zest, enthusiasm.  The North American world blinds us with its energy; we cannot see ourselves, we must see you.  The United States is a world full of cheerleaders, prize giving, singin’ in the rain:  the baton twirler, the Oscar awards, the musical comedies cannot be repeated elsewhere; in Mexico, the Hollywood statuette would come dipped in poisoned paint; in France, Gene Kelly would constantly stop in his steps to reflect: Je danse, donc je suis.

~Carlos Fuentes from How I Started to Write