Thursday, 18 November 2010

red herring

Whenever we enjoy a bottle of Portuguese wine, which is not limited to Port incidentally, I recall from my MBA training one tract about the origins of trade and economic theory: the text posited that two not so very hypothetical countries, England and Portugal, who discovered a mutually beneficial arrangement in the exchange of English fabric for Portuguese wine. This barter sounds rather simplistic but was lucid and the example's transparency allowed one to discover all the nuances as trade blossomed into more complex markets--wine-making was less labour intensive to the people of Portugal than to the people of England, natural endowments were taken into account,worth, novelty, currency exchange and so on were considered.   But, like a toy poodle or a liger, this system could not evolve organically into a situation where hedging, speculation, and unabashed gambling are the chief financial expressions of the markets.  These, I believe, could only be successful through fear and manipulation, a reverse psychology, which comes after the pride of inventing a new outlet for wagers and getting the rating agencies and one's peers to vet it, when bookies can convince investors that missing this opportunity would be a grave mistake.  It is the antithesis of the fear driving most other news and developments, of which I have certainly not been immune, the fear of inclusion, assault by an airport-screener even though it only happens to a select few or some animal hybrid-based influenza-become-raging-hypochrondria or of terrorism itself or of jonsing to keep up with the Joneses.  While preoccupied with the sour idea of exclusion, meanwhile, the book-makers are concocting the next novel and impenetrable way to perpetuate this losing game.