What about all this talk of the stock market? There’s no escaping it, is there?
Turn on your radio, and there will be somebody explaining that the trend in share values is downwards. There’s a surge in the Japanese Yen. Interest rates are going up. America is heading for a recession.
Listen to the way they talk about it. You’d swear they were meteorologists studying the weather. You’d suppose they might be cosmologists gaping at the nameless abyss of the galaxies. You’d imagine they were discussing some immutable natural force, bound by the laws of physics and chemistry, united by the eternal subtle and beautiful language of mathematics. That’s what you’d imagine, isn’t it, if you listened to these economists?
The natural order.
The power of the Universe.
But it’s not. It isn’t the weather. It isn’t gravitation. It’s not spiral nebulae swirling their relativistic ever-expanding dance across the void.
What drives these rates up and down, what makes the Yen surge or the dollar recede, what brings poverty to Africa and smaller houses to Europe is not some profound, primeval and pristine law of nature. Newton wrote no Principia in its honour and conceived no calculus to describe it. Nor did Leibnitz. Einstein wrote no coda to the music of either.
It isn’t Nature that changes share values. It isn’t physics, nor chemistry, nor even the strange underlying chaos that dances beneath everything.
And most of all, it’s stupidity. The stupidity of mankind, which no science can explain.
(I was going to write something about the current crash, when I realised that I’d written it already, a year ago. So why bother? This is just a re-print of last year’s post, and I’ll probably put it up next year as well, and the year after that … )
Mr Darwin had an interesting post on the Federal Reserve a while back.