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Saturday, May 08, 2010

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Dan

For the record, a friend who is much smarter on these subjects than I will ever be opened an email dialog with me after this post, and has been politely educating me ever since.

The first result of this education has been to remove whatever calm smugness I felt about things "working out" in the financial sector. Market believers can be overly smug about their "invisible hand," and while I'm not vulnerable to that particular error, I've clearly become overly smug in my belief that democratic capitalism would eventually provide its own magical correction.

Part of my error was in reading the comments of traders quoted in the NYT and elsewhere as indicative of systemic befuddlement. I assumed that if the people within the established systems were befuddled, then the cause of the confusion must come from outside. Bad assumption. It precludes the possibility that the swing was not inflicted on those institutions by outsiders and disruptive technological change, but created by those institutions deliberately.

The analogy of a global economic system akin to a stable food supply is a seductive one for me. It reveals my optimism, my theory of history that suggests that no matter how hopeless things look, the outcome is always a little better. Whether we deserve it or not.

There's nothing wrong with that as a personal attitude. It helps me get through the day and makes me a bit more enjoyable as social company. But it's sloppy, bullshit thinking, and I can do better.

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