It’s nice to have the market on an upward trajectory for more than a day or two. By the time this is published, since I write a few days ahead, Italy may have threatened default and/or the unemployed in Spain may have revolted. If so, or if North Korea did something particularly nasty, volatility may have returned. But, oh, the peace of relaxing for a few days and enjoying good news.
The tension is not just because of the market. It’s more like living on the edge as pundit after pundit and expert after expert, in print and on TV, talk about the end of the world coming at any moment. If it’s not global warming — and the fact that some researchers in England cheated does not make most other climatologists wrong — it’s China’s invading of our computer programs, Karzai badmouthing the United States (we didn’t give his country enough?) or the latest of the never-ending Mideast problems.
In the 1950s, it was the rage to talk about how, due to the information age, the world was shrinking. The bad news today is that it has shrunk, and we can’t go backwards and make it big and mysterious again. Whether it’s Proctor & Gamble having a bad earnings report, J.C. Penney having the worst corporate quarter in the history — not in the history of J.C. Penney itself, but more in reviewing all corporate quarters by all corporations ever — or the seemingly eternal Putin having a temper tantrum, we know about it seconds after.
And to contribute to tension, Network A talks about the Republicans as the embodiment of evil, and Network B attacks Democrats and the president 24/7. There does not seem to be a resting place, a Disney Channel for the mind.
One thing I’ve learned by living through the information age is that the stock market is about as emotional as emotional gets. If a part of our interconnected world sneezes, the market gets the infection right away. In some ways, the speed of information creates an environment where it is hard to develop wisdom: there is not much time for deep thinking is there? Everything seems to become reactionary — the world has become an instant camera.