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The Great Crash of the 21st Century?

I almost did not make it through my Economics 11 class under Ms. Solita Monsod. I’d like to think it was my singing that saved the day for me. Just before the Christmas break, she walked up the stage of the old auditorium at the UP School of Economics and started calling on students to sing her a Christmas song. I was sitting just a few rows from the dais, and Ms. Monsod, her signature coffee mug in one hand, zeroed in on who else but me. My 1-E blockmates from the College of Mass Communication ( I was the only mathematically-challenged bloke in a block of about 20 students in those days when students entered UP through the block system) erupted in wild applause as the star economics professor commanded me to make the last day of class before the Christmas break happy. I tried my best to do justice to the first Christmas song that came to mind -it must have been the old ditty Joy to the World -I can’t remember for sure. But my crush was in that same lecture class, after all, and I wanted to make a good impression on her, who is now very much married, I gather, and living in a foreign city that used to be the foreign city of my dreams. When it was all over, wilder cheers erupted as Ms. Monsod announced she was not going to ruin any further our Christmas anticipations by keeping us in class any longer.

There’s very little that I retained of that class (to begin with, there was very little that I understood of it, supply and demand dynamics and all of that). If there’s anything that made a deep impression on me on how volatile markets could make life terrible for everyone, it’s John Kenneth Galbraith’s book on the Great Crash of 1929 that brought the first big era of Depression in modern times as well as stirred the great dust bowls of North America, not to mention paved the way for Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. In fact, it’s a book I first read when I was in high school. (A good companion read would be James Agee and Walker Evans’ Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, ironically originally made for that great symbol of crass capitalism, Fortune magazine).

And now it seems the world is headed for another recession. Or may be the world is finally coming to Hegel’s End of History. And do you know who’s laughing his way to the bank in the middle of it all? It’s George Soros, the prophet of doom whose prognostications on the coming collapse of the US market because of a bad real estate mortgage policy very few people believed. He just made US$ 4 billion by hedging on the miseries of others. Of course, not many people remember fondly how he made his fortune, for instance, by betting on a weak British Pound in 1992, and yes, an even weaker Thai Baht in the throes of the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s. I’m sure he’s made others happy too, through his multi-billion dollar charities and advocacies, built on the libertarian Open Society philosophy of Karl Popper, who was his professor at the London School of Economics. Read here on why the Hungarian Jew still commands little respect from economists, despite his multi-billion dollar successes.


Written by Romel

April 11, 2008 at 8:14 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. the housing and credit bubble, as well as the lack of oversight in the Iraq war, has caused the US economy to fall off balance…overspending and overextension is an unfortunate malady of a hegemonic world power i guess…still, i’m optimistic; the US economy has net assets of around $50 trillion – more than the rest of the world combined…taking that into account, we’re still far from armageddon 😉

    LA Gitana

    April 11, 2008 at 4:14 pm

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