Jan 19, 2015

Put that in your alpenhorn and smoke it

I told you the goddam Greeks would screw up your next day at the range.

About four years ago ago Greece finally discovered it was broker than Pa Joad and went whining to the real Europeans for enough money to keep up its crucial grape-leaf ag subsidies and free goatburgers for its starving masses.

Bonn said "Jah!" and Paris said "Mais oui!"  Never mind they didn't have any Euros to "lend" Greece.  They borrowed some. From themselves and the other Eurozone sub-bureaucracies organized along old nation-state lines.

You make such magic work by owning the  printing presses.

All else followed, and now you can't afford ammunition from the gnomes of RUAG. The latest currency jitterbug will make everything Swiss costlier; the expert guess this morning is 5 per cent to 20 per cent.

It happened this way:

The money gods of Bern (analogous to our own Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellin) tried to prevent that for a few years. They would seduce the rubes -- many of whom hold  PhDs in economics -- by simple decree.  Like a 20-dollar girl, Swissies  would take on all comers. "You want to sell Euros? Sure, I'm putting out francs for them; price be damned."  And that's how Switzerland kept her franc low when  it wanted to climb.

The purpose, of course, was to make Swiss manufacturers and exporters happy.

It worked out okay for a little while, but last week some pin-striped Swiss guy in a big corner office stumbled over a Maggie Thatcher speech and made a brilliant leap to the logical next step of her famous comment on the economics of socialism.

In which ever of the 666 Swiss dialects he favored he said, "No shit. And that means the trouble with tossing your pretty-good money after Europaper cartoons is that pretty soon you run out of it."

So he called a gnome meeting. His insight carried the day, and all the  Swiss bankers and government ministers of plenty decided to let the franc do what the franc wanted. Mirable dictu, it would find its own value -- some number freely agreed to by people who want to acquire it or dispose of it.

You have seen the rest. The franc mimicked a Space-X shot while stock markets hit their knees like a Clinton intern.  Chaos ensued. What will happen to our cozy trillion-dollar bets (again, overwhelmingly with borrowed money called "margin") if politicians start getting serious about letting actual markets decide on the cost of things, including, especially, money? 

Anyway, that's why you can't afford to shoot much of that good RWS ammo anymore .

(It didn't help that the Chinese --the Chinese for crying out loud -- decided to make their speculators gamble with something more like real money. Nothing wong with that, but it is a rant for another day.)


Rob said...

I need to talk about Travis McGee, in my world it's tough to find anyone who remembers him.
Part of his charm was the 'work today and retire for the next year or however long until the money runs out', then work again philosophy.
I read the first "Parker" book by Richard Stark, "The Hunter" and found that philosophy again.
In this series the guy is a crook, a sociopath, and retires between scores.

Parker (1962) predates the McGee character (1964) by a couple of years but both come out of the early 60s.

Retire a little at a time... kind of like the Greeks did? Now it's time for them to score again...

Jim said...

It's tough in mine, too. Fortunately, I made McGee a factor in raising my kids, so at least a couple of people close to my heart will get tarnished-armor allusions.

I should do more to try to widen knowledge of McGee/McDonald. I've had a little luck in acquiring every JDM paperbackI find on the thrift-store shelves and spreading them around.