Time Cuts Deals for No One… Not Even the Stock Market

Yesterday, the markets seemed to return to ‘normal’ – or, at least to what is taken for normal by today’s investors. That is to say, things that were already over-priced became more overpriced. And investors who were already over-stretched, reached a little further.

Time heals all wounds…and wounds all heels. Got a problem? One way or another, time will solve it. Something not right? Someone getting away with something? Don’t worry…time will take care of it.

And if we can’t sort out what is going on in the financial markets, time will have to do it.

The Dow rose 115 points. “Investors regain risk appetite and put subprime fears on back-burner,” says the Financial Times.

And regaining an appetite is a good thing when you are sick. But we are not so sure it is a good thing when you are about to explode from overeating.

And if time can heal things…it can rot them too.

“Oh time…won’t you spare me over another year? I’ll give you my gold coins. I’ll give you my stocks. How ’bout my beach house?

“I’m not asking much. Just make my face look like it did in ’68…just let me buy a gallon of gas for 25 cents, like I did in ’72…just let us stay up all night and howl at the moon like we did in ’82…just make my dotcom stocks worth what they were in ’99…

“That’s not asking too much is it?”

Yes, you can ignore time, but it won’t ignore you.

Time sorts out everything and everybody. Nothing and nobody is missed. You can’t hide from it. You can’t escape it. You can’t outrun it. You can’t make a deal with it.

If only we could arrange time…chivvy it into place where we want it, we could have ourselves a bit of fun.

We would set the highway traffic back to the levels of ’50s. And our automobiles back to the ’50s too…but then, let’s put 21st century technology under the hood. We don’t want to have to fool with carburetors like we did back then.

And consumer prices; let’s put them back into the early ’60s too…before the first big wave of inflation hit. We recall buying a hamburger at The Little Tavern in Annapolis for 25 cents. Another quarter got us a Coke.

And what did it cost to go to the movies? We can’t remember, but we think it was about 60 cents a ticket. Everything was cheap. Of course, it didn’t seem cheap back then. So, since we’re rearranging the sequence of things, let’s set incomes at 2007 levels.

And let’s go back to the Eisenhower era to find a political system we can live with. There were real conservatives back then – people who were reluctant to spend the public’s money…and reluctant to meddle in the public’s affairs. Now, we have only phony conservatives – people who preach ‘conservatism’ while pushing the most activist agendas since FDR.

“Turn the desert tribes of Mesopotamia in to Dixie Democrats?” the old timers would have joked. “Why not turn them into Baptists too? Ha ha…”

Meanwhile, the front page of the USA Today tells us that this latest attempt to remake the world in our own image is running into problems. A few months ago, Iraqis held up their purple fingers and proudly supported democracy. But now that they’ve had some experience with it, a new poll shows that the majority of them are against it. Only 43% think democracy would be good for Iraq. The rest have other ideas.

By contrast, a majority of Iraqis think it is ‘acceptable’ to kill U.S. soldiers. These are the same people – at least, according to the fiction of it – that U.S. soldiers are trying to protect. Take them out of the picture, said America’s president last night, and the Iraqis might start killing each other.

Oh, if only we could rewind the tape. If only we could go back to the Eisenhower era when U.S. presidents still had wit and charm! Yes, those were the good old days – at least they seem pretty good looking now, from a half a century later. America was still a free country, as near as we can recall. No phony wars against terror…no Sarbanes…no Oxley…no Hillary…no George.

And who was chairman of the Federal Reserve in 1956? Who knew? Who cared? The dollar was still linked to gold. You could trust it. America was the world’s biggest factory…the world’s biggest creditor…the world’s biggest exporter…the world’s fastest growing economy. All people cared about was that ‘Ike & Dick’ were ‘Sure to Click’ – no kidding, we have an old campaign button.

Of course, public life was as full of humbug as it is now…but the humbug seemed more innocent, less intrusive…and ultimately, more humane.

But enough of this reminiscing…no point to it. Time cuts deals for no one. Not even for the New York Stock Exchange.

Bill Bonner
Markets and Money

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.

Bill Bonner

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