On the radio this morning, I heard an analyst declare that the financial markets were ‘not logical; they behave as though they have a herd mentality.’
A ‘herd’ mentality? So, this expert says that financial markets act like the proverbial wildebeeste sweeping majestically across the plain? There’s nothing very majestic about them when an earthquake hits and they plunge into the crevasse.
Which idiots designed this system? Who thought that it would be a good idea to allow the world’s finances to be decided in such a random fashion? I’d like to have a few words with them, words wrapped into phrases such as ‘unwise basis,’ ‘sound economic policy,’ ‘inevitable outcome,’ and perhaps even ‘you morons.’ Sadly, such words would fall on deaf ears; as with so many things, the ones who could actually make a change are those who will, I’ve no doubt, still be making a profit in the current financial climate (and at the expense of those who are losing their shirts).
Money is a belief system (to some, it’s far more than that: it’s a full-blown religion). I give you a piece of green paper marked ‘I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of five pounds’ (it used to say ‘one pound’ but something called ‘inflation’ pushed the number up) and… you give me something in exchange for this, a something I can… eat? How does that work, then? What is ‘the sum of five pounds’? Oh, yeah, it’s another piece of paper. Or some metal discs with numbers and symbols on. And some people seem to delight in collecting more and more of these ‘promise tokens.’ Some gather so many that they can’t store them all, so they hand them in to things called ‘banks’ that tell them how many of these tokens they’ve accumulated. Until the bank goes belly-up, that is.
If I were to write that up as a science fiction story, nobody would believe it: too far-fetched.
Even before this current crisis, I was wondering where the media were getting their ‘imminent recession’ breaking news stories from, and thinking how reminiscent the whole thing was to those days some years ago when we had bread and sugar shortages. Back then it seemed pretty obvious to me that if you bribe the town crier to stand on a street corner shouting "there’s going to be a bread shortage!" then everyone would drop by the bakers to buy an extra loaf just in case… and then when others see the queue at the bakery the panic begins, and – oh, what a surprise – there’s a bread shortage. Can anyone say ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’?
The price of gold, I’m told, has doubled recently. That seems even more strange. Gold’s even less edible than bits of green paper.
The closet conspiracy theorist inside of me wonders who’s been stirring the pot the last few weeks, knowing in advance that this ‘financial meltdown’ was a foregone conclusion, and all set to sell, sell, sell! … and with that vast fortune they’ll be ready to buy, buy, buy! when the market hits rock-bottom.
Herd mentality? Even a flock of sheep has a shepherd, and yet it seems that the world’s economy isn’t important enough to merit even one. Humans, baaaaa! So short-sighted. We get the future we deserve.