Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Marketing of Madness

One of my personal "flags" is when someone creates a catchy phrase or name for something that seems to be too important to be summarized by that catchy name.  A few examples might be "War On Terror", "WMD's", "Axis of Evil", "Shock and Awe", and "Main St. vs Wall St.".  When we were kids, we called it the "atomic bomb". That quickly presented images of a mushroom cloud. WMD's sounds really high tech and not really intimidating. "War On Terror" is nice and vague. It's better than saying "waging war on people that don't think like us". That's just too many words. "Shock and Awe" sounded really cool. Who wants to say "dropping missiles in a Middle Eastern city so that we can obtain control of oil reserves". That's just too complex.  Then we had "Desert Storm" and "Desert Shield".  With Mexico we now have the "Battle on The Border".  Main Street and Wall Street is perfect because it quickly creates a victim-villian relationship.  BP provided us with "Top Kill" and "Static Kill".
The latest one that I like has even been shortened to an abbreviation, "Q.E.".  Yes, quantitative easing.  This cute phrase represents the process where the Federal Reserve prints a bunch of money and we quickly go spend it on things we believe that we have to have.  The short term result is economic stimulation and a facade of economic strength.  The media now just calls the upcoming "printing event" QE2.  Sounds like a ship named after a British queen.  Get prepared for QE2.  The timing with an election only appears to be a  coincident.  Wink wink.

"The economy is weak. So you print money. The money pushes up asset prices.  People think they are wealthier. They think there’s a real boom going on.  They invest. They hire. They spend.  Then, there is a real boom!  Do you believe it works like that, dear reader? If you do, you should be an economist. Or a doorstop. There’s no doubt that printing money can create a boom. But it’s a phony boom, not a real one. And when it blows up…which it inevitably does…people are worse off than they were before.   It’s one thing to introduce small amounts of extra “money” into a growing, prosperous economy. It’s a fraud. It’s a mistake. But it doesn’t blow-up the system. It’s petty larceny; nobody cares.  It’s another thing to introduce large amounts of new currency into a funky, struggling economy."
Bill Bonner, The Daily Reckoning

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