Flâneur is my profession, it is an ancient term meaning not being guided by constrains. Every now and then I pay dearly for it, but hell – I’m still around.
I had some free time recently, so I was sitting and thinking, because you know – if I don’t have the time I am just sitting.
According to a leading expert, and that would be me, Canada is the nicest place on Earth. We’re good looking, I know that, we’re super diverse, the people here have positive energy and are doing cool things. Get this – the cold winter doesn’t bother me, this is how good this country is. The summers are hot and steamy and most people in Europe are surprised when I say how we cool our houses and use our swimming pools well into the fall.
We respect people who take risks and this is a big one for me, because this is the difference between a society that is alive and one that is not so much. If you go to a major airport in the US there is a lane “Military personnel first”, as they respect people who risk their life.
Try to find that at the Frankfurt airport.
We humans are lousy at detecting deception, and since the life kicks me from continent to continent with some frequency, I developed some skills in reading people.
First thing I look at is the hair; does it look healthy and well groomed?
It’s not that it needs to be, but you start getting the feeling about a person.
Then the lips, and we don’t really know how our lips look like. We tend to compress them if something bothers us, or open slightly if we’re interested to hear more or we’re upset, and these are emotions, meaning that there is a character behind them.
I used to believe that the eyes are windows to the soul but I don’t anymore. Eyes can reveal lack of sleep, sickness, or indifference.
And the way you look at others can be managed.
Body language reveals more.
Something else I learned moving around - we’re about to undergo a demographic shift, life expectancy is expanding and birth rates are contracting dramatically, so we’re moving into the period when there will be more older people than younger people. And so the political structure will not be driven by those who are driving creativity, but those who are interested in preserving the status quo.
Add to this the covid damage done to society with restrictions for no reason really.
The government pays hospitals if you die with the corona virus for those who lack insurance. Therefore, if you are shot or born 15 weeks premature, or are in an automobile accident or drink yourself to death or have a stroke or heart attack or suicide you have just died of the corona virus.
The other part is the damage to the economy.
A Delta Airline executive said recently that they make money if the plane is full, and they make profit on the last four passengers. On my flight across the Atlantic there was 49 passengers, and the plane capacity was 300. How do you think this will end?
Sadly, there is no leadership anymore to guide the course, the authorities didn’t come through in the moment of challenge.
So I have my own rule that keeps me in shape – don’t ask “when” or “what” or “who”.
Why was Beirut attacked the other day? Abu Dhabi the day after.
We will never get the answers, but I will still push the envelope – there is a reason I bought a 200hp bike and not a relaxed Harley-Davidson.
The wild Yamaha better fits my nature.
My old boss once told me - take all the risks you want, but make sure you’re in tomorrow.
The most important role of a leader is to give his people confidence.
Not the management of the country - there is an army of bureaucrats who do just that and are happy to stretch it until retirement. And there is nothing wrong with it.
The leader needs to say what will stir people’s souls.
We may have lost a bit in that area – Reagan was a leader, FDR was one too (“the only thing to fear is fear itself), as is president Trump and I am surprised how this man still stays alive - his security unit should get a Nobel prize for efficiency.
John F. Kennedy tried to introduce similar reforms in his time and got quickly blown to that great struggle in the sky, the surprise of his life, I’m sure.
Strong leaders always polarize societies, but they bring balance to the technocrats, the experts, who attempt to rule the world since pretty much the end of World War II.
One thing that expertise does, is the suspension of common sense. There is nobody to say: “guys, you can’t have anything that complicated”.
US healthcare plan is 15,000 pages and I guarantee no one read the whole thing, but boy, the people who wrote the specific chapters, they really knew their stuff.
But the citizens have no idea what’s in there and that’s a direct threat to democracy.
And don’t let me start with EU, where they pump out new legislation at a frantic speed.
There are ways to stop this madness and here is my favorite one – any new legislation comes into effect 10 years after it is voted on and passed.
This would simply increase the quality of law.
In truth, 10 years is nothing in business and social life, the planning and execution span in both is longer than that, so why rush it? I don’t question the good intentions to improve the world, but at that speed the legislators do more harm than good.
“Don’t crash the ambulance”, as Mark Knopfler would say, “whatever you do”.
The covid crisis is a failure of technocracy to do what they’re supposed to do – be competent. It’s a failure that will be in history books for ages.
Also - this is the first event in history when both, the social cycle and the institutional cycle bottom out at the same time. I see this as a tremendous opportunity for the societies to reset. The normal business cycle has been traditionally altered by central banks with interest rate manipulation and open purchases in the bond and stock markets (it used to be that the word “fraud” would describe it, but now I have to use the whole sentence to explain what I mean).
As I said before, when words lose their meaning, people lose their freedoms.
But it seems that the nature is taking care of that, or is it the wisdom of crowds, which is the same thing in my mind, accelerating the great reset.
During the Second World War the world stock indexes bottomed out in the darkest moment, when Hitler was at the peak of his military power. Looking back at the graphs, the markets had it down precisely to a day. Then the tide turned and the stocks started rising as Hitler was losing ground. The mystery of his rise and fall was never properly explained in history books, my opinion. The emotions were too strong to focus on the human factor, plus it’s always the winners who write history.
As an end note: a nonsense from recent days – Christine Lagarde, the president of European Central Bank announced that the bank will get involved in climate change activities (selling “green bonds”).
Mrs. Lagarde can never stop being the entertainment factor.
Can they service my swimming pool too?
Hot evenings on the deck, with a cold beer in hand, make my mind flow freely.
As the old song goes – you fog your mind, you free your soul.
So here it is for tonight:
Europeans conquered the world and created humanity, connected the peoples.
The Chinese or the Aztecs didn’t do it, no other culture did either for that matter, and you may ask yourself why. The answer will show you how different we are.
European people were not afraid of risking their future exploring the world, we eventually came and conquered North America. I consider myself one of them; I came to Toronto a long time ago in the middle of a cold winter, with two suitcases not speaking English. Four years later I was able to buy my first house.
These days we are in process of eradicating what made us, Europeans, so successful.
There is no need to create laws that specifically guarantee any right to any specific group. The core of a successful civilization is that all groups are treated equally. Ethnicity, creed, race, religion or gender share common rights of equality. They do not share God-given talents, but the right to pursue whatever talent they possess.
We started having doubts about it, and this is making us week.
There is a reason for it - in the last century Europe and the European culture destroyed itself - between 1914 and 1945, 100 million people died in wars on a continent of less than 500M inhabitants.
What emerged after 1945 was a Europe without the sovereignty, being divided between countries under US and Russian control.
This arrangement is now in the process of change, as the Americans don’t care anymore and the Russians just want to be left alone. The question is what’s next?
We must remember that the most vulnerable country in Europe is Germany, with their GDP being dependent on foreign customers. This simple fact drives German foreign politic to no end, not easy to manage, but they took some heavy-handed steps not exactly good for the peoples of Europe.
The way the European Union was created was to limit entrepreneurship – the level of taxation and regulation there is extremely high, the workers councils are powerful to the point you don’t really hire a worker, you adopt him. And you couldn’t shake lose from a mere bankruptcy. Europe is still with 1950’s style corporations and they’re paying the price for it.
There is a reason that no Apple, Google or Cisco emerged from there. Interestingly, Switzerland (not a part of the EU) is more open and flexible to what business needs, even though the richest family here are the guys who run IKEA.
Things happen without apparent consequences, which bother me, and I understand that to be human is to be dogged by your own thoughts.
By now I am totally confused with the Covid-19 story. We had a saying back in the day in Eastern Europe – “if I didn’t know its stupidity, I would think it’s a conspiracy,” but the sad part is the damage to the economy and peoples lives.
Like Hemingway’s old quip about a man going broke slowly and then all-at-once.
Get this: none of these things now wobbling and staggering in society will be resurrected, so maybe there is something perversely good coming out of this so called “pandemic”.
Back to real life.
Wherever I go on my new black bike, people stop and ask what is it. “Limited production” I say, “heavy and fast.”
“And the insurance?”
“Okay for me, young lady, but I am old, like George Clooney.”
“You look like him a bit”, she said before driving off.
There you go – me and the slick George, but he drives a scooter around the lake Como and I am good for 200 horsepower.
When it comes to the covid-19 problem, the media in the western world all tweet with the same key, which usually means they’re paid from the same pocket.
Not that there is anything wrong with it, it’s just how the power works.
This is the first deadly virus in human history you need be tested for to find out if you have it.
Some aspects of it are amusing - if you start coughing hard in a line up you will clear the store in seconds.
But what’s most important is invisible to the eye, and this is a quote from the “Little Prince”, a book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I remember reading it with a flashlight under the blanket after my mother sent me to bed, way back in Eastern Europe.
What has disappeared? For starters face expressions under the masks, we are no longer interacting as humans, which is what has created our culture.
I had no idea that this will bother me so much, but it does.
With the remote working regime I could be in Switzerland, or on the Amalfi coast on my motorcycle, I could be in the beautiful city of Warsaw, or up North in Ontario with my computer and headsets for calls and I will do my job.
I may have done most of it.
A few hints about transatlantic travel - they encourage you to buy food and drinks in the terminal and bring in onboard as the service during the flight is limited. What they don’t say is that for the night flight there is just water, no glass of wine before sleeping and you can’t bring you own. No pillows or blankets either.
The flight attendants are fully gowned up and look like doctors. I felt like I’m about to get a colonoscopy (recent memory) so I was sitting straight the whole night.
When words lose their meaning, people lose their freedoms, you know. The media and the governments are doing a terrible job handling this crisis, and the worst part is how this will destroy confidence of the people.
Negative interest rates demonstrate just how bad the confidence level of investors is, meaning they prefer to pile money into governments debt, facing certain loss, then in the real economy.
It also means that too much money was created, way above the needs of the economies to function. The argument always is – how do you know how much money in the system is enough? Well, there is actually a good answer to it – the retirement funds need about 8% annual return to meet their obligations. By law, they have limitations not to play with risky assets, so they are primarily invested in government paper.
So, here it is: a 30 year bond should yield about 8% per annum to make us safe in our golden years.
It yields minus 0.317% in Switzerland as of today, this is how far away we are from normal. This is a big deal, don’t take it lightly.
In the past, when people felt that the tax oppression and income inequality was to high, it would result in a rebellion on some scale, revolution even, and the French are always first to do it.
So, people would go after the real estate, land and gold of the rich, but the point is - it doesn’t make sense anymore.
Bill Gates’ house is not even in the first 50 most expensive properties, gold is a shallow, tiny market and the assets of this world are represented by entries in computers, be it stocks or bonds. What will happen if you go after it if you’re a rebel? Distribute the digital assets among the people, so they’ll try to sell it causing prices to collapse? And who will buy?
To end with an AC/DC moment, I got it all from a sweet woman and she was telling me no lies.
In politics, the men and women who are elected to public offices have the feel of what their country needs and wants, and that knowledge is indispensible.
This is very different from professional expertise, which is very helpful only when controlled and managed.
In that sense Donald Trump is different, and right too, because he doesn’t trust experts.
It’s not that he doesn’t believe them; he thinks they don’t understand the consequences of what they’re saying. The clash here is that the technocrats believe that the management of the country should come from experts. Trump believes it should come from the understanding of the public.
Put another way – the question is if the solutions should be imposed on the public, or should they be negotiated with the public.
The latter attitude is called “populism” in the current media lingo, a really wrong take on life.
The fundamental truth is that a country is composed of people with different views, if you don’t understand that, you’re either a dictator or incompetent.
A good example is China - they elected a technocrat to manage the country, and for life term no less – meaning his life or the life of united China, whichever ends first.
So far president Xi has failed on all fronts – he is a massive failure as a politician in internal and foreign affairs.
Another aspect that is seldom understood is that different countries require different level of oppression to function. Iraq was once a place where people went to work, then retired, kids went to school and play sports, the life was normal.
Was Saddam a tyrant? Yes he was, but a tyrant was needed to make the country function.
Now with the imposed democracy it’s a failed state, you leave your house in the morning not sure if you will come back in the evening. You or your kids.
Russia is a similar example – president Putin has support from the public at the level western leaders can only dream of. And he is tough on the opposition, makes deals with the oligarchs and likely with the mafia too, but this is what it takes to keep the country together, this is the only way you go. People there know and accept that.
Looking at the demographics, the western world is a retirement community with the exception of the US. The average American became younger than the average Chinese some four years ago. The one-child policy imposed over there about 30 years ago means that they’re running out of 30 year olds, because that is how the math works. Meaning even less domestic demand at the time they need it the most, at a time when the population is shrinking (China replacement ratio is 1.7 kid per family and they need 2.1 to keep the population steady).
As you can gather from the above, I think that I am right and the rest of the world is not marching in sync. This comes from the fact that my logic is as clear as an Alpine waterfall.
However, what I learned in life is that logic alone doesn’t bring you far.
It feels good, but it’s useful when solving crosswords and that’s about it.
Things that run life are grey, and the cool name to navigate through them is now called “emotional intelligence”.
Or, if you a stubborn, thinking person – it means, “giving up on what made you”, or at least on a significant part of you.
The emotional intelligence is not worth your time – applying it is how we become mediocre. One needs to be real, sometimes controversial, to matter in life.
Try that, don’t try the other new thing.
It can’t be all-smooth - real life experience will leave you breathless or with a nasty scar, but you will know that something important happened before you’re gone.
It’s either that or just the therapy talking.
There is a massive market for high-level intellectual engagement. The narrow band of TV made us feel stupider then we are, and people have a real hunger for deep intellectual dialog. I know that I do, which is why I am typing these essays every week and I don’t even consider selling any advertisements, even though the readership is through the roof, from Japan to São Paulo and everything in between. It’s free of commercials and always will be.
A good example of the TV narrow band came just in recent days again. Chancellor Merkel announced that it’s time for Germany to take more of a leadership role in Europe. Now, Germany is already the most dominate economical and political power in Europe. They also control the currency through the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, so what other increased leadership is she talking about?
Not in the movie making, I hope.
She is talking about the military build up.
With the US withdrawing from managing Europe, and the world at large, the problem that Germany has is plain to see. Their supplies of energy and raw materials are from outside of the EU, hence outside of their control. The same holds true for the markets they sell to (the automotive market alone exports 80% of what they make, there is hardly any domestic demand).
The obvious way forward for them is first to get close with Russia to secure the supply side, but they don’t have a great history in doing that – the last pact lasted only 22 months before they started shooting at each other (Ribbentrop – Molotow in 1939).
There is also an internal problem that Germany has, and it’s the collapsing demographic.
This is the reason for their desperate attempts to bring people from outside, the Turks back in the day and the Syrian refugees recently.
As for the access to oversees market part of the equation, Germany needs to develop a serious naval power to secure it and in doing so, it will face fierce pushback from Great Britain.
They say that history doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes, and we will see how close the rhyme comes this time around.
Not the time yet for red shoes dancing the blues, I will say my two cents on the economy first.
The markets are massively overvalued. In fact – a recent Bank of America survey had 78% of fund managers saying that stocks are overvalued higher than ever in the history of the survey, and it includes the Internet bubble from 20 years ago too. More importantly – we never saw a stock bubble like this in times of such political and social uncertainty. Now add the covid disaster to top it off.
The one thing that surprises some market players is that gold isn’t reacting to the super massive money printing by the central banks.
I subscribe to some Swiss gold promoter’s websites (physical bullion selling and storage services) and lately they’re getting plain angry, as they don’t understand what’s going on. Well, boys and ladies, the concept of money is changing, and since it has zero connection to gold since 1971, you’re left behind.
May as well leave the gold in the tunnels drilled in Swiss Alps - nobody is going to come and look for it anytime soon.
The important point is that this covid crisis is different enough to matter. We haven’t have a lockdown of the global macro economy for any pandemic - the polio epidemic of the 50s, for War World I, World War II, for the Spanish flu, this one now is a first. It’s the biggest disruption by far to the economy since the Great Depression (and even back then we didn’t have a lock down of businesses).
The decision to shut down the economy was a political one and it will be studied for years as an example what not to do.
Now, did you want to hear about the deal?
Let's dance, she said, while colour lights up your face.
For fear your grace should fall
For fear tonight is all *
And all this happened, more or less.
* Lyrics by David Bowie
China exports about half a trillion worth of products to the US annually and purchases about 165 billion. China’s manufacturing industry is totally dependent on the US, and so the primary job of the Chinese president has been to keep the US presidents under control and don’t get into a fistfight with his best customer.
He did it with Bush, he did it with Obama, but he is not able to do it with Trump.
The Chinese president has a really bad run of late. His relationship with the US went south, the protests in Hong-Kong erupted with no end in sight, economy stopped growing and the corona virus started in their own Wuhan.
Talk about a bad year!
Adding to it – the US may delist certain Chinese companies from American stock markets unless they allow the auditors to look at their books, as it is the case with other listed companies. Obviously that’s a problem - Alibaba’s Jack Ma was quick to step down and let his successor handle the mess.
With the virus story, it’s clear that the Healthcare system failed us, which is the reason why president Trump cut the funding to WHO (the specific reasons why are documented in a 12 page US government report).
The Healthcare profession was not geared to deal with a pandemic like this.
Should they have been? Well, hell yes, especially after similar scares like this before – SARS in 2002 – 2004 and HIV before that.
The world powers reacted to the virus problem in the way they do best: the US president invoked war powers, which he can do without the consent from congress, because this is what the US is good at – war. Except this time the enemy is not visible.
Russia went into denial, and China rolled out the propaganda machine boasting how they are the greatest country there is. In Europe the Schengen zone collapsed, borders went up and every EU country makes their own decisions now.
This is the end of EU as we know it – it makes sense as a trading block, but not as a political entity, simply because the countries interests differ significantly.
There is a clear trend of people trusting less and less in the mass media coverage of the pandemic. In the UK, a recent Reuters Institute polling found out that only 28% of the people trust consistently in what the media are reporting. The trust in BBC news dropped 20% since 2018 alone.
The problem is, that the media will report some expert’s opinion and once they are broadcasted, there is no going back, like you can’t put tooth paste back inside the tube. Then the politicians have to act on the hype.
Experts know their area, but very little of the next area over, meaning that they don’t have a good understanding of consequences of what they are saying. This is what differentiates them from politicians, a definitely more sophisticated breed.
A politician has to comprehend a spectrum, not just an isolated field. He or she also has different objectives – you need to keep people’s confidence, energy and engagement high, and to achieve this you have to lie sometimes.
Unthinkable for an expert, but - they started the corona virus mess and it is now up to the politicians to clean it up.
As for the title of this essay, dog days refer to the Dog Star, Sirius, and its position in the heavens. In Homer’s Iliad, it’s referring to Sirius as Orion’s dog rising, and it describes the star as being associated with war and disaster.
Not a war for us this time, I think, but a long way to recovery.
This is the Beatles song that I am sure you know, partially sung in French.
“Sont des mots qui vont tres bien ensemble
Tres bien ensemble.”
I don’t have a woman named Michelle, but I like the language and the song a lot. And the way the song is written, every woman could be a Michelle.
I took French lessons extensively in Suisse for quite some time but I was a terrible student. Once I stopped taking them, I started speaking it more and more. I can roll the “rrrr” easily, to the point that you would think I am from Montreal.
I can attend meetings in French now, but I ask questions in English.
Still pretty good, I think.
I could easily mess with people’s heads speaking Polish, like saying “generalnie jest kapitalnie.”
The meetings gravitate around how to get things kind of done, which is also known as OE, operational excellence. Every company has this function now, big time.
You need to switch gears and see it as overall equipment efficiency – but isn’t that in every manager’s job description to begin with, to maximize it?
OK, let’s start at the beginning.
In a school or university the key is not the level of teachers, is the level of students that matters and it goes with the price of admission. You need students who were taught by parents not to act on emotions, but on facts. It is tough as hell, but that’s how you get the best of the best. The teachers just guide them through the thinking process.
One thing for sure, the teaching and political elites are sensitive to criticism and they should be, because they’re mediocre. Things go high wire fast and the incompetence shows.
I give you one example – some months ago the Swiss government decided to tax people with company cars for some more money. Just milking the cow, and with enthusiasm.
Guys and girls – you have a budget surplus anyways, why you’re going after us? What’s in it for you? Leave the people alone, let us spend our money as we see fit.
The sad thing is, the bureaucracy can only function if the structures are the same across the society, otherwise they would go crazy. It is by definition a big equalization program. The school programs and graduation standards are same across the system and this is just the beginning of the problem. The interest rate is the same across the country despite plenty of proof how this doesn’t make any sense, as economies differ from oil to mining to agriculure to high tech. Every one of these sectors has different financing requirements and reacts differently to market moves – they can’t be covered with one rate! It is plain stupid.
The media don’t pick up on any this and I have a theory why. You can’t really hire smart people and ask them to come in front of the camera and say what doesn’t make sense. Impossible to do.
The key is to hire people who don’t comprehend much of what’s going on out there and are convinced of the good job they’re doing just providing bullet news, like about a car accident on the bridge or a cat stuck in the tree, or somebody just bent the windshield wipers on the neighbour’s car.
Then you have the other class of people, the ones who have the drive and are creative. You can see them on a corner of the street looking around in a composed way, but for a good observer they have an engine inside that never stops. They also tend to do some crazy things between being brilliant.
Problem with people like this is that they make mistakes more often than not, but if they hit it good – things happen, it’s called progress and this is how we move forward.
I am one of them.
So, my Michelle? Life is rocky, but we may just make it.
The economy works in cycles, from high spending to merciless cutting despite (mostly) failed attempts by governments to stabilise it (i.e. interest level manipulation).
The leaders consistently make every crisis worse than it could have been, but they like to fly high on catchy phrases – flatten the curve, tax the rich, no child behind left… no wait, that’s the Vatican version – no child left behind.
Talking about income inequality is another one, but we can flip it around and call it outcome inequality, switching the meaning to the level of output.
Then the question becomes – how do we handle this, and all of the sudden the discussion gets real. The idea of Universal Basic Income (UBI), which makes rounds through the media outlets, is no solution to no problem.
No problem because progress of the world is not a problem and never will be, and no solution because this is like giving a person a fish, instead of a fishing rod.
Instead, too much time is devoted to nonsense - the Artificial Intelligence is a buzzword, nothing more than pattern recognition, it is in the category right up there with Blockchain which is in essence just an advanced spreadsheet.
And by now nobody really knows what to do with any of them.
AI will mean anything if it’s a software that writes itself and if you believe we’re anywhere close to that, I have the Eiffel tower to sell to you.
The point is - both get more attention than they’re worth.
There is nothing in the computer world today even remotely approaching creative thinking, which is the key in moving the humanity forward.
What doesn’t get the attention it deserves is the idea of meaningful work, which goes together with being creative and original. Meaningful work requires mental effort, routine doesn’t . Mental effort is harder than physical effort.
As humans, we were never programed for the 9 – 5 working days; that came with the industrial revolution and it is going away.
The information age will reverse the industrial age, and the smart people already started figuring it out and they started to work more and more remotely, on their own schedule, their own time and pace and in their own way. And this is actually how we’re most productive.
Human nature doesn’t change with the speed of technological progress – evolution takes time. As hunters-gatherers we had moments of high performance followed by periods of rest. Think lion’s lifestyle.
As farmers and settlers we became more structured, but it was mostly family driven. What we have now is a new way of working, with four or five levels of management and this is fresh on the time scale of human progress. The important (and attractive) part of it is that it dilutes accountability.
It goes with the size of a company, no question, but they will become smaller as we move on.
The current virus scare that we are going through, will seriously weaken people’s trust in governments and media, but businesses will adjust the ways they operate to a more lean way.
Truly, socialism comes from the heart, we all want to be good, but capitalism comes from the head, and this is how we survive.
I like Nassim Taleb’s take on this – “with my family I am a communist, with most of my friends I am a socialist, at the province state level politics I am a democrat.
At the federal level I am a libertarian.”
Now I am asking myself who am I, sitting here in the sun typing this essay – creative and cynical I think.
There is a lot of Kurt Vonnegut in me, if you know the writer.
Also, I used to do boxing hard, I can hit 200 on my motorcycle and I admit that I did things in life I should have done better.
So on a second thought - replace cynical with real.
A transition from public to private is taking place… is why the future will be very different this time around. The confidence in governments is fading away for a number of good reasons, and it will change the world we live in.
The bond market will go through painful convulsions, which is a big deal.
China is in a free fall, which translates into “take your money and run.” Middle East is in transition, to put it mildly, and then there are some interesting things about Europe. You can never underestimate the Old World, when it comes to making a mess of things.
Northern Europe is flat and well rivered and so countries there can achieve efficiencies and economies of scale. Southern Europe is rugged and lacks rivers and so cannot. The bottom line is that Southern Europe will never be able to compete with Northern Europe economically, just as Northern Europe cannot hope to compete with Southern Europe when it comes to sun, fun, food and flair. (France has a foot in both worlds, which is part of what makes the French so cool.)
The bottom line is that the European union can’t last and the Euro can not either.
However, the thing to understand is that we’re not heading into war, because there is no business in it - nobody wants to occupy the other. All the talks about world war III are nonsense, there are better ways to make money and all the players know it.
But, there are huge differences how the world works from place to place.
In Europe the welfare state is in essence a huge shock absorber, but they’re paying for it with lower living standards.
Or, as in China, the command and control state provides the same function – as long as you play along, you’re left alone.
Once you get to United States, it’s a totally different growth model – the idea here is to optimize the run with no buffers. We will accept short, sharp shock, which will allow the economy to come back without massive amounts of new taxation or state intervention. It is a more difficult method, but it tends to work.
It’s an American thing.
Russia is quiet, and this is not good, the media are not picking up on what’s going on there.
And you know, I have a problem with that – in the communist Eastern Europe years ago, the TV had specialists for each region who would come on and explain the settings as things unfolded. There is nothing like this today, we’ve lost the depth of thinking in understanding the world.
On a lighter note, I rode far North the other day and I was talking to a beautiful gypsy woman while my motorcycle was cooling down in front of a restaurant.
She started the conversation.
“Never take advice from someone wearing a suit and tie,” she said.
“How do you know I am even around people like this?”
She just looked at me.
I put my helmet down and unzipped my jacket. “Now you’re getting into my head, which is a mistake, my head is not a place you want to get into.”
“You know the boss, no?” she ignored what I said.
“I do, and she talks in her sleep.”
She laughed quietly. "Your wife."
“I hope that life will treat you kind,” she said.
“What will happen when they call for you?” she asked sitting comfortably in her light flowing brown dress, the wind moving it as she spoke.
I understood right away what she was saying.
"I never get into a situation without knowing the way out."
She looked at me again.
“They can leave a message at the beep.”
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler