The World From Two Perspectives

Ball Bearing Gear by ~R-Nader
Ball Bearing Gear by ~R-Nader

I have been reading a number of trader blogs recently trying to get a qualitative read on the mood hoping to find traces of capitulation. Unfortunately, the mood seems to be “hopeful.” As S&P500 approaches the November lows, VIX is actually half of where it was then. As usual, all participants are trying to determine what may happen next. Some apply complex metaphors from other paradigms to the various markets to see if these explain the numbers. Others purchase a few hundred thousand shares to boost confidence in their stocks. Government officials explain how they will fix the economy. Workers worry about their jobs, their houses, and their small businesses. I look at all this from a few different angles.

The Childhood Angle: Growing up at the observatory I had a few close friends my age. There were also the older kids and the younger kids; and as expected we had different interests. I don’t remember from where a game came about where we had to hit another persons marble with ours from a distance and if it was a direct hit (the two marbles touched), we got to keep their marble (substitute ball bearing and thrust bearing parts for marbles). The kids with the most bearing parts were considered excellent at the game. The others had to go find more balls or quit. My friend and I ended up accumulating a lot of these. A few other kids felt they were ruined when they lost their last pieces with some breaking down into tears as if life was over. Looking back, it’s amusing how much importance we assigned to these meaningless childhood games. I wonder if people my wife’s 95-year-old grandmother’s age view us with similar lens.

The Computer Systems Angle: Sometimes people build a system. Sometimes they break down a system so a new one can be built in its place. Sometimes the system has usability issues and sometimes it crashes. There are bugs in all systems. Sometimes it takes years for the particular set of circumstances to trigger the bug. The bug is usually a minor issue and by the time it is discovered, quite a lot of damage is done by a malfunctioning system. Looking back people are amazed how the bug was not obvious. It takes a minute to fix the bug but months to clean up the damage from it. Some people have specific roles to kill systems, break them down. Others simply cannot build anything so they maintain. Maintaining a lousy system is counter-progress. There are also those who, given the job and the tools to build, ruin more from lack of knowledge or inability to use the tools appropriately. Sometimes we lose power (electrical system) or all systems come to a screeching halt (9/11). Some of us participate in multiple systems all at once. In times when the system stops temporarily, life goes on. In times when the system collapses (I’ve experienced this), life goes on. When our character, beliefs, values, and families collapse, the systems do not matter.

A few other angles remain but from fear of having another very long post, I’ll stop here.

4 Comments

  1. Why does capitulation matter? Is it one of those memes that writers at Barron’s et al care about… but is perhaps irrelevant? Looking for capitulation is like rummaging at the 90% off rack at Nieman Marcus… You may find lots of clothes, but they will likely be in the wrong size, wrong color and perhaps have an extra sleeve or two.

    A perhaps better approach would be to pick the clothes that you like, decide the price that YOU are willing to pay … and only feel a bit of regret if someone else is able to buy the same pair of shoes for less money …. Certainly better than going barefoot …

    Thank you for commenting at http://www.onehonestman.wordpress.com … I’m glad you enjoyed your visit.

  2. Rocky, Thank you for stopping by. I understand your point. I have been to Neiman Marcus once where, among other high priced merchandise, I saw a sweater for $1,200 which at TJ Max was $4.99. Even at 90% off that store is way out of my league. I don’t subscribe to Barron’s either as I’d much rather read your blog instead.

  3. Rocky and you share at least one thing in common. Rocky does not subscribe to Barron’s either. He finds it lying (in a plastic bag) on the pavement outside of his office building on Monday morning; peruses it for two minutes; and then carefully replaces in the plastic bag — for delivery to its lamentable, intended recipient.

    Every rule has an exception, and while acknowledging that Nieman Marcus clothing is extremely expensive, there are differences between quality clothing and knockoffs. Just as there are differences between Coca-Cola and Safeway House Brand Cola. The beauty of the free market (and free choice) is the ability for consumers to express their own preferences and choices. If Coca-Cola is overpriced, it will not sell and will go out of business. No such remedy exists for Government Programs, which cost vastly more than any Nieman Marcus sweater.

  4. I cannot disagree with Rocky regarding the government programs but have blind faith in the United States to remain the one-eyed king in the land of the blind (In regione caecorum rex est luscus. ~ Desiderius Erasmus) at least during my lifetime.

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