sâmbătă, 31 mai 2008

l'enfer c'est pas toujours les autres...


mi-a forwardat cineva un mail din seria aceea anticorporatista, inca un manifest indirect pentru downshifting, pe care imi permit sa-l reproduc in integralitatea lui mai jos:

"Noi astia care visam mii si mii de euro salariu, noi astia care avem mii
de euro, dar ne-am mai dori 1.000 in plus, noi astia care am terminat o
facultate din 2000 incoace, noi astia care renuntam la facultate pentru job, noi astia licentiati, masterizati si doctorati pe banda rulanta, noi astia care lucram la o multinationala, noi astia care avem telefoane mai scumpe decat tot salariul parintilor - pe 2 luni, noi astia care nu mai avem timp in afara jobului, noi astia, corporatistii in devenire si in general,… suntem toti o generatie de ratati.

Suntem ofticati din orice, suntem morocanosi, posaci si ne punem picaturi cand avem ochii rosii. Ne enerveaza cei care sunt la fel de suparati ca noi, ne enerveaza si cei diferiti. Injuram mult, dar suntem credinciosi. Salvam Rosia, Vama, natura si tot ce mai e de salvat printr-un mail sau o plimbare intr-un weekend cu masina pana acolo. Ne pasa de tot ce e "eco", de viitorul copiilor si al omenirii, dar avem becuri aprinse non-stop si un motor de 2.0 litri la masina.

Lucram in nestire, visam promovari si un bonus la salariu, dormim putin, fumam, bem cafele si energizante de ne zapacim creierii, dam banii pe prostii, pe jucarii care sa ne dea inca putin timp, pe mese proaste in restaurante costisitoare, dar aproape de job. Ne cumparam masini mai scumpe decat ne-am putea permite doar pentru iluzia apartenentei la o clasa sociala creata artificial, ne imbracam cu haine idioate, incomode, care nici nu ne stau bine - la fel ca toti cei din jurul nostru.

Ne cumparam apartamente fara sa le vedem in nu-stiu-ce-complex ca-o-conserva la cativa kilometri de oras.
Platim rate 50 de ani de acum incolo. Dormim putin, ne doare capul, ne
tremura mainile, ne promitem ca vom avea mai mult timp pentru noi, ca vom face mai multa miscare, ca vom sta mai putin in fata calculatorului, ca vom merge intr-o zi pe jos.

Ne place jobul pe care il avem, corporatia e mama si tatal nostru, corporatia tine loc de familie, de prieteni, de iubiti, de amanti,
de tot, ne da bani pentru tot ce vrem sa cumparam si asta e tot ce conteaza. Nu stim alte reguli in afara corporatiei, nu ne intereseaza altceva, nu vrem altceva. Ne simtim impliniti. Nu stim altceva in oras decat drumul spre job, inapoi spre pat si vreo 2 cluburi. Nu vizitam nimic decat in team building.

Pentru ce? Ca sa ajungem niste legume terminate la nici 40 de ani? Ca sa ne facem scrum inca inainte de a incepe sa ardem? Pentru a ajunge intr-un pod imaginat al unei ierarhii sociale? Ce o sa raspunda copiii nostri, stiind ca toata viata nu am facut altceva decat sa ne gandim cum sa platim rate, cand vor fi intrebati ce suntem noi?
Niste ratati…




desi nu e singurul mesaj care circula pe net pe aceasta tema, mi s-a parut evocativ pentru starea de fapt si oarescum in corelare cu postingul anterior legat de indatorare si supraconsum.


caci ce altceva reprezinta corporatismul decat o forma de sclavagism modern? si cum prin "democratie" asuprirea impusa fatis e mai greu de realizat (acum cand oamenii au constientizat ca au si drepturi) e mult mai bine sa ii exploatezi cu consimtamantul lor ba chiar sa transformi 12 -14 ore de munca pe zi in ceva "a la mode" si un exemplu demn de urmat. asta e capcana in care suntem momiti prin intermediul ego-ului nostru. munceste din rasputeri ca sa fii admirat de sefi si colegi,sa primesti un bonus cat e cat decent si in speranta (daca nu clachezi pana atunci sau daca nu te sunteaza vre-un coleg binevoitor) c-ai s-ajungi si tu un sef intr-o zi. si-atunci ai sa poti pacali/asupri pe altii la randul tau...

what a fucked-up world...cum altfel te-ai putea referi la un sistem care te stoarce de forta ta de munca incurajandu-te spre autodistrugere? e povestea morcovul care e pus in fata magarului, magarul tinjeste dupa el dar n-are cum sa-l ajunga. in schimb trage caruta fara sa cracneasca cu gandul la leguma. funny as it is majoritatea magarilor ajung legume...


e al naibii de parsiva chestia, trebuie sa muncesti, sa te sacrifici ca sa castigi un ban pentru a-l putea cheltui pe bunuri de care nu ai nevoie si a caror preturi au fost orscium umflate cu pompa. asa fac unii bani de pe urma ta dandu-ti un salariu pe care il cheltui pentru ca altii sa faca profit. morala jocului, muncesti o viata pentru niste rahaturi...

what can I say, playing by the rules doesn't pay. it's their rules...

daca vrei sa muncesti cu spor macar fa-o pentru motivele corecte, ca sa inveti ceva, ca sa te perfectionezi, ca sa ai satisfactie profesionala (eventual apreciere din partea clientilor), ca sa-i inveti pe altii etc, nu pentru ca este "a la mode" sau ca te spala pe creier cultura corporatista. Corporatia nu "te iubeste" ci te foloseste doar, in secunda in care nu mai esti "up to par" te poate arunca exact ca pe o lamaie stoarsa. n-o spun cu ranchiuna (nu mi s-a intamplat sa fiu "downgradat" pana acum:)) ci doar cu simtul realitatii

be smart.

PS. sunt bineinteles suparat pe mine ca i-ar m-am luat dupa morcov si de cateva saptamani incoace bag 12 ore... yeeek wake up stupid!!



sâmbătă, 10 mai 2008

the w(hole) pie I

this one goes off in English...

it's about why I am so pessimistic as to what lays ahead at the end of the tunnel for the international financial crisis and about this recession. I reckon I might have been influenced by the works of Nouriel Roubini, the "uber bear" and father of all doomsayers but it also comes from what my common sense tells me. and yes I know that this looks like a complex (and it is) situation where common sense might yield the wrong conclusions but hell, I'll stick to my guns and go with my gut above any other fancy explanation an economics Nobel Prize might come with...

what does the main stream media tell you? there is an "issue" with the mortgage crisis that has spread to the financial sectors, caused problems on Wall Street & to the banks. consumers hesitate in spending but don't worry we'll just throw in some more debt, some fiscal stimulus packages and people will (need to) start borrowing some more and come back spending these dollars. everything will be great again, just wait a little...

ok, let's take a step back...

first of all I'll have to warn you, this one tends to be holistic (wow!) :) oh yeah, I do believe things are interconnected... and amongst the many factors leading to a set of potential outcomes, several issues came to my attention:

- consumerism as an economic engine;
- the fractional reserve system
- the role of the financial system (even as a Ponzi scheme)
- the central banks
- pure greed

those of you that know it already just bear with me while I give a bit of background to what I am about to say. those of you that haven't yet might want to have a look at some materials on consumerism and the role of the banks

so...consumerism appeared in the early 20th century and was boosted by the necessity of using the over sized post war production capacities and as a means to control the masses. simply put, make them believe that this or that product makes them feel good , special and gives them a social status. invent new needs, manipulate their desires to sell them more products, always more. cater for their needs (real and invented) and they'll be gullible sheep easy to herd. oh! I forgot to mention, more products sold = more profit for the few.

but how do we sell them more and more products when they don't earn the money (and God forbidden, we don't want them to earn more money - they might start thinking about what to do with it - so bring on that inflation and rig the statistics) to afford them ? well there's always the banks...

and you know how they work don't you? to put it plainly, they create money out of thin air and by that I mean they can lend more than their deposit base (fractional reserve system) which is to say for the 100$ deposited by you with the bank, they can create $400 new out of thin air... I am oversimplifying now but that's pretty much the name of the game.

there are several tricks to the game though:

1. You pay interest on the loans you take from a bank. Let me spell this out to you, you pay something on the money that was given to you, created by magic out of nothing (most of the times it's just an electronic entry on your current account that goes electronically to other people's accounts when you use that card of yours...); and the interest is not that small of an amount...take that mortgage loan over 25 year and you'll end up reimbursing significantly more than you initially paid on that house. And some more bad news to you, when the bubble deflates (did I hear something?) your house may be worth a lot less than what you initially paid for with the money taken from the bank.

2. To pay that interest you have to work for the money.Real work that involves time and real effort. And guess what, as you are an employee you only receive a fraction of the value you created through your work (though some of us manage not to create much:)) through your salary. That means a heck of effort goes into that monthly installment...

3. Banks are institutions based on trust. You trust them with your money (that is the fraction left after you buy all the nice stuff you don't need and pay the interest on the loans). But banks are also (and more than others) into the "all for profit mantra". And they'll do anything for more of that juicy stuff including all sorts of reckless things such as betting your money (oh that's called investing) on worthless instruments (call them CDOs, RMBS, CLOs, Alt A, CDO square, CDS and the likes of them) with the hope on selling them with a profit. And, guess what, they've added layers upon layers of these worthless instruments and invested irrespective of the fact that they had no real clue about the risks they were taking.

All is well that ends well but what if not? Then there come the losses that wipe out the capital (writedown/writeoff sounds familiar recently doesn't it). Don't worry, there's that "too big to fail"... or was that "too many to fail" ?

That's when they can change the rules of the game to get away with it, modify the regulations to report worthless collateral as solid stuff, avoid rating downgrades, use the FED's money (or FHLB, Fanny & Freddy for that matter) to plug the holes in their balance sheets.

4. There are guarantees to the loan. Sometimes real. So if you don't pay that money back they're gonna take real things from you . That's how funny money gets translated into real things...


so in a nutshell you have to work more in order to pay the interest on the money you borrowed to buy the things you don't need. In the meantime the economy produces more than is needed because one knows that the consumer will buy and the banks will give him/her the money. All the while the banks will do their utmost to make crazy bets with your hard earned dollars and rig the game to get away with the blame if the cards come crumbling down.

Oh almost forgot, there's also inflation, that phenomenon that makes your 100$ worth 50$ in several years :) More about it later

but let's take a look at the broad figures for 2007:
I believe this alone is sufficient evidence as to there is enough debt already.

It's simple, why borrow more when you're already over indebted, pay more interest while earning less and all of this just to buy things you don't really need ? What does your common sense tell you to do?

And there's another catch to consumerism, it can't just be consumption for the sake of consumption(not to mention on your own money) as if we were in a world with infinite resources. We're not. We're on a planet with very finite and rapidly dwindling resources that we have to share with an exponentially growing population. Economists will have to realize that they're not living in a theoretical world and cope with the real resource consumption rate.

There's always an equilibrium tendency in every system and certainly not such a thing as a free lunch in real world. Somebody always pays that bill and I see the waiter coming...

(more to come on the FED, the shadow financial system and inflation)

vineri, 9 mai 2008

Consumer credit & Recession

ma contraziceam mai deunazi cu Liviu Moldovan pe blogul lui de pe hotnews (quintum) apropo de criza sistemului financiar international si in mod special cea din SUA... departe de mine gandul de a ma erija in specialist in macroeconomie si interpretarea fina a variilor indicatori economici corelati, a fost doar o aplicare a bunului simt, insa iata ce-am gasit ulterior pe net. concluzia articolului:

"It should be painfully obvious that expanded consumer credit is not evidence of improvement, but simply, deterioration. Unfortunately, when it comes to understanding the economy, there is little common sense on display. By going even deeper into debt just to make ends meet, American consumers are digging themselves, and our entire economy, into an even greater economic hole and laying the foundation for the next major credit debacle."

Tot despre common sense/bun simt

ca sa revin la common sense / bun simt si partea cu eu vs. ceilalti...m-am tot gandit cum poate sa fie un simt/sense comun sau bun? cum poti sa definesti acest "common" prin pespectiva unui simtamant sau sens cand vorbesti de o notiune pur subiectiva ce tine de perceptia personala.

ma gandeam ca acest common sense e, intr-un fel, o manifestare a acelui swarm behavior care dirijeaza stolurile de pasari sau bancurile de pesti. citisem intr-o carte cum de fapt, in loc sa fie o actiune concertata cauzata de anumiti membri mai inteligenti ai grupului, miscarea omogena a intregului banc de pesti e de fapt rezultanta unui set de reguli simple aplicate de catre toti membrii, de genul:

1. evita orice pradator care se apropie de tine;
2 pastreaza o distanta egala fata de membrii bancului/stolului

e si simplu la prima vedere dar parca si transcende explicatia...

intr-un fel sintagma "bun simt" in romaneste parca e mai larga, include si o anumita notiune de buna educatie si civilitate si de aceea mi se pare mai adecvata (si prin introducrea notiunii de "bun" ca rezultatul unei judecati).

orsicum, un alt lucru interesant aici este si caracterul uniformizator al acestei notiuni, ce e bun pentru grup, dovedit si acceptat ca atare este automat impus si individului. Pac! te-am stantat si trebuie sa te conformezi! :)

si mai e un lucru, bunul simt poate fi si sursa de erori atunci cand ai de-a face cu situatii contra-intuitive...

joi, 8 mai 2008

a small step...

off we go... iata si prima incercare de postare.

De ce?

pai sa-ncepem deci cu inceputul si desi in general e cea mai futila (da!) intrebare sa incepem cu vesnicul "de ce?"
raspunsurile sunt, ca de-obicei, multiple dar as retine cateva dintre ele, nu neaparat pe cele mai importante dar cu siguranta pe cele care-mi vin in minte acum:

  • de plictiseala
  • pentru mine
  • pentru a incerca ceva nou / pentru a invata ceva nou
  • ca exercitiu de transparenta
  • eventual ca sa si raspunda cineva vocii alea mici care se aude singurica in creier (nu c-ar fi vre-o garantie la capitolul asta :)
  • sa vedem daca mai sunt si altii pe aceeasi frecventa (poate rezonam?)

si o sa mai adaug pe masura ce apar...
Avand in vedere ca sunt primii pasi in acest domeniu nici macar n-o sa-mi cer scuze pentru eventualele erori sau abateri de la uzante. Pana una alta incerc sa-mi imaginez exercitiul ca acei radioamatori care emit (sau cel putin asa imi imaginez) in eter si leaga prietenii pe calea undelor cu alti necunoscuti.

Despre ce?

pai cred ca o sa fie despre absolut orice subiect de interes. eventual un focus pe acel common sense pe care eu cred ca-l pierdem usor usor. momentan lista cuprinde, inter alia:

  • oameni si relatii umane
  • fotografie
  • economie
  • ecologie
  • computere
de ce common sense/bun simt? tocmai pentru ca e o notiune atat de greu incadrabila incat vrea sa spuna destul de multe pentru fiecare dintre noi. pentru a substantia la ce ma refer eu si a face legatura intre common sense, bun simt si titlul blogului, as vrea sa pun accentul pe buna simtire comuna ca indemn (cmon') inspre a ne gandi si la ceilalti cand facem ceva.
Call me naive, dar cred ca una dintre cele mai mari impliniri pe care o poti avea in viata este sa-i ajuti pe ceilalti. Sa nu ma intelegeti gresit ca nu-mi asum nici o misiune de culturalizare (nici nu cred ca am calitatile necesare).

Cum?

Oricum.
Sunt adeptul ideii ce primeaza asupra formei. Deci voi scrie si cu minuscule si cu majuscule, cu si fara reguli de ortografie (voi incerca sa evit greselile grave), in romana si in alte limbi. Voi reveni si voi corecta posturile daca am idei noi si voi tine cont de eventualele comentarii. Cel mai mult conteaza daca ce se posteaza aici va avea un efect pozitiv asupra cuiva.

Share is the operative term...