Blessed Are The Thieves

You ask me how I became a madman. It happened thus: One day, long before many gods were born, I woke from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen ” the seven masks I have fashioned and worn in seven lives ” I ran maskless through the crowded streets shouting, “Thieves, thieves, the cursed thieves.” Men and women laughed at me and some ran to their houses in fear of me. And when I reached the market place, a youth standing on a house-top cried, “He is a madman.” I looked up to behold him; the sun kissed my own naked face for the first time. For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, “Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.” Thus I became a madman. And I have found both freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. – Kahlil Gibran, Prelude to The  

How Congress set the stage for a fiscal meltdown

A fascinating, well-researched article by Ken Delanian in today’s USA Today.  What’s bothering me is the fact that Ken cites U.S. derivative wealth debt (deeply leveraged debt – “paper trail wealth”) as a half-quadrillion dollars: this is 35-times larger than our GDP. When I first read this number, I didn’t believe it. The Wikipedia graph on GDP, if i read it correctly, claims U.S. derivative wealth is 3X larger than U.S. real wealth. The 3X number was staggering to me. But 35X ? Here’s the original data from a guy who spends his time tracking the intricacies of DEBT. Note the $520T entry:  At a 3X multiplier, I can just barely get my mind around “derivatives.” Maybe. But at 35X, I’m baffled. How can this country be leveraged at $35 for every $1 of real wealth? I need to sit down with a really sharp economist for a deeper explanation of how “financial derivatives” can be 35 times larger than our Gross Domestic Product. Either I’m missing an important piece of the economic puzzle, or we’re in deeper global quicksand than most people realize. Against $520T of U.S. debt, the $700B bailout looks like a band-aid.  Go read Ken’s