Friday, July 10, 2015

5 Things on a Friday: Russia Spies Danger in Selfie Nation

Happy Friday, folks.  Hope everybody’s primed to have an awesome weekend.
Let’s get to it!
Problems with technology have at times roiled global financial markets, but the 223-year-old New York Stock Exchange has held itself up as an oasis of humans ready to step in when the computers go haywire.
On Wednesday, however, those working on the trading floor were left helpless when the computer systems at the exchange went down for nearly four hours in the middle of the day, bringing an icon of capitalism’s ceaseless energy to a costly halt.
Argh.  People are treating this like it’s the end of the world.  There are at least eleven separate stock markets in the U.S., and as of this writing, NYSE handles less than 23% of total trading.  When the glitch happened, it was barely an inconvenience to the actual market themselves, though it was without doubt a serious problem for the owners of the NYSE.  Indeed, thinking of the NYSE as anything other than a private company that makes money for itself by providing a service is a mistake.  Granted, NYSE’s service is highly technical, and that can lead to some glitches.  Still, one company’s technical problems are not an existential crisis for the entire economy.
The physical marketplace hasn’t been a thing in years.  If one set of servers goes down, there are always others, and Wednesday proved it.   This is not news.
Some argue that finally ditching the euro would be a blessing in disguise. The thinking goes like this: European policymaking—from its tight-fisted central banking philosophy to its demands for austerity—has acted like a vice crushing the Greek economy, and at this point, any deal that would keep the country in the euro would only prolong the misery. Leaving would be difficult, but liberating. Greece would default on its European debts and introduce a new currency. The new drachma would depreciate quickly, giving the economy a shot of adrenaline by helping Greek businesses sell more exports—who doesn’t love good cheap olive oil?—while luring more tourists to Santorini for affordable beach vacations. Yes, Greeks would see their bank accounts largely wiped out as their euro savings were converted into less valuable drachmas. And yes, prices of imported food, which Greeks rely on heavily, would rise. But there might be light at the end of the tunnel. As long as it's part of the euro, on the other hand, Greece's future is just a pitch-black slog with 25 percent unemployment.
Coming soon to a bank near you!
This is my view.  Greece can never pay back what it owes to the ECB; it’s time that everyone realizes the truth of this and starts moving forward.  However, the ECB isnever going to let Greece move forward; with German monetary policy, Greece will be stuck forever in a cycle of endless unemployment as they fail utterly to compete with other parts of Europe based on the value of the Euro.  Meanwhile, moving back to the drachma at least gets Greece’s internal economy moving while it slowly starts to bank real currency via exports, tourism, and whatever else it can do.  This will not come without a price—oil, food, electronics and other imports, etc.—but the alternatives are false choices.  
Enterprising Greeks ought to start farming now, because the Grexit is coming, and folks living in Greece will still need to eat, even if they have to start taking bicycles to work.
3. Friday Hair Metal: Patience
They played this on SiriusXM's Hair Nation the other day, and I knew immediately that I was gonna run it here.
Definitely don't do the one with the train.  Or the one with the lion!
Classic.  Most of these are based on actual incidents.
Netflix Inc said its first original movie, "Beasts of No Nation," will be released on Oct. 16 on its video streaming service and in select U.S. theaters…
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend" will premiere theatrically in China and will be shown on Netflix and IMAX in the first quarter of 2016. "Pee-wee's Big Holiday" can be streamed on Netflix in March 2016.
I wouldn’t have mentioned this save for the mention of a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  There’s supposed to be a whole series of books about the characters and the Green Destiny Sword, but I’ve never gotten around to reading them.  If you have, let me know how they are.
For the curious, Beasts of No Nation is about child-soldiers in Africa.
That's all I've got.  I'm in the market for a good sci fi short story plot, though, so if you've got one of those, by all means reach out.

Have a good weekend!


  1. Interesting observation, Greece failing because it can't compete. The thing is, not everything is meant to compete with each other. A fly would be irrelevant to a dinosaur. (Except as a dubious origin for cloning, of course.) But somehow we allow ourselves to believe that competition is the only viable means to express capitalism.

    1. Like it or not, competition is a part of life. Granted, there are some things in life that cannot easily be outsourced--ie. your local barber, the utility poles in front of your house, your local high school and police force, etc--but for pretty much everything else, companies either have to make things at a competitive price or face cheaper imports that will drive them out of business. Yes, this costs domestic works their jobs.

      On the other hand, it is also the only reason why most Americans can afford high end consumer electronics. If iPhones had to be made in the US, they would cost much more than they do now. Obviously they would. The folks who make them overseas get paid pennies, work twelve-hour days, and six-day work-weeks. Similarly, the reason clothes are so cheap in this country is that they're made elsewhere, in places where labor is cheap and industrial/environmental protections are non-existent. I said last week that I don't think this is good long-term practice--for anybody--but we've yet to see a groundswell of consumer sentiment demanding Fair Trade practices. Reality is, most folks like cheap stuff.

      If Greece can survive solely on its domestic economy, then the impact of its currency collapse will be muted. That can't happen as things are, however, because (for example) Greeks don't have domestic supplies of oil, and they currently import most of their food. These are serious problems, and they will wreck havok on the Greek economy if there's a default. Against that, though, is the reality that permanent debtorship is a permanently losing proposition.

      Look at it this way: if the value of the American dollar collapses, America will at least still have its farms and domestic oil supplies. Things might not go well, but they won't be disastrous in the same way. By comparison, Greeks may actually starve. This is the reality they're facing.

  2. Now, I don't see why things have to be made cheap to be available for the masses. Invariably, the companies that actively pursue this begin hoarding all profits and cutting even more corners...But the greater point is, not being able to get something isn't really such a bad thing. I don't have the latest mobile device. Never have. Never even been tempted. I don't see the point, other than it being the newest most shiny thing. Maybe it's because I grew up in a less than privileged situation, but I just don't understand the mentality that suggests it's a right to be able to get anything (much less that the most expensive things are also the most exclusive). I get the idea of the market, that large prices are meant to discourage buying because there just isn't enough of a given product for everyone, but we've blurred so many lines that we've made a mockery of the whole process. We've actively become a waste-generating economy, where (I don't have any figures) a large percentage of what we produces instantly becomes waste. Which is ridiculous. Supply and demand should work so that they even out, not so that supplies exist but demand doesn't, or can't because of financial pressures. That just doesn't make any sense. I thought the idea was to produce things people will use, not things they won't. Or to create a situation where we produce things people can access. If they can't because the system says they can't, that's just messed up. So you end up with competition being driven into meaninglessness, brand identity being the only viable commodity. But brand identity means nothing if there's no one actually using the brand.

    1. I think I might end up sounding like I'm contradicting myself. I start out by saying there is no need for everyone to have access to everything, and then finish by arguing that it doesn't make sense that we don't.

      Where the difference occurs is that everyone isn't interested in everything. But the system illogically believes everyone is. Which doesn't make any sense.