Dec 242008

In ancient Athens’s Agora, in medieval Venice’s Rialto neighborhood, and in small village market squares everywhere, the marketplace for ideas — that is where attention was exchanged —commingled with the market for goods. Socrates wandered around the Agora talking with his disciples and enemies, according to Plato. But he and they spent little time trying out or examining the wares, or in bargaining over goods. Others, say in Cairo’s souks up until today, spend much [...]

Dec 212008

A couple of years ago, I pointed out that in some ways money was losing its hold on reality. Routine activities and producing things to which can be assigned some relatively stable amount of money now occupy far less than majority of human effort — while more and more energy goes into the new attention economy, which is only loosely connected with money or markets. At the same time, the growing financial sector takes on [...]

Oct 312008

Having discussed the new strangeness of money as such, I will now turn the most money-dependent sector— finance. But before getting into details, let me make a point about banks and attention. Money flows in the same direction as attention does, and so, right now stars — that is, large scale attention getters — generally have high monetary incomes. But having money incomes doesn’t lower the net attention they have, because attention itself can be thought of [...]

Oct 232008

In the previous post, I pointed out that money is of great importance  only when the world is dominated by standardized goods and services. One essential of standardization is  that goods or services of a certain type are interchangeable. This ton of wheat equals that one, this 100 watt lightbulb equals that one, this kwh of electricity equals that one, and so on. In some cases (actually even in these cases) one has to specify [...]

Oct 152008

SUCCESS REACHES ITS LIMITS In my previous post on the crisis, I claimed that we are suffering from too much savings and not enough consumption. The worldwide pool of money seeking growth investments is too large to be sensibly invested in any sort of production or service-providing corporation. The reason for that is that consumption is just too low, and is not likely to be able to rise to the levels needed to sustain such [...]

Oct 092008

As I write, the stock market is flatlining, credit has seized up, no one seems to know what to do, and bad times seem in store. What caused it? Not what you think. Not, basically, greedy Wall Streeters, ordinary consumers taking on loans they could not pay off, bad accounting requirements, faulty credit ratings, failures of regulators to regulate, nor a formerly too rosy outlook from the Fed. These were all surface phenomena. What lay [...]

Oct 022008

While a money-economic downturn would have happened anyway, it need not have hit with the precipitousness it did. That has to be blamed quite substantially on the combination of cupidity and stupidity of the elite bankers. Here’s why. The sub-prime mortgage meltdown began months ago. As more foreclosures are instigated, the adjacent homes lost value, helping lead to still further foreclosures — thus lowering the value of the collateralized debt obligations that include “tranches” of [...]

Sep 262008

When I wrote about Palin shortly after McCain chose her, I said she did not have enough time to gain fan loyalty in order to have a significant positive effect on McCain’s votes. I think I was right on that, despite her obviously having gotten a big bump in popularity, simply by being a novel sort of candidate. I wouldn’t be surprised, after seeing her disastrous interview with Katie Couric on CBS news, if she [...]

Sep 152008

American and probably world financial institutions continued to reel today as an outcome of the credit collapse that began with the sub-prime mortgage mess. Because primary and secondary mortgages and other forms of personal and institutional debt were completely essential for whatever economic strength the old economy has shown since 2001, it seems probable to me that the latest failures are just a harbinger of worse money-economy times to come. However this plays out in [...]

Sep 122008

The Hyperlinked Society, the book I’ve referred to before, is a  book which shares the common faults of printed versions of conferences. Though the very word “conference” suggests the possibility of a rich dialogue among participants, the printed version tends to suggest no attention paid to each other. Here, for instance, there are two chapters on maps and the Web — the second much better than the first — each covering much the same topics, [...]