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November 18, 2003

Information....Coin of the Realm? A Pizza for Your Thoughts!

One of the enduring themes of the late great internet bubble was the value of information.  Information, it was claimed, was to become the new money.  Now, with a little distance, thinking  about it comes off a little tinny to the ear.  Imagine me walking into the pizza-by-the-slice emporium over at Piazza Trilussa (I am in Rome, Italy that is) and ordering a big slice of pizza bianca.  Two euros, the man says as he hands me the piping hot cut he’s just pulled from the shiny oven, and I turn back to him and say, “the odds are 8 to 5 that Roanoke is going to win in the 4th at Santa Anita”, it’s a good bet.  Goodbye and we’re even”  I don’t think I’d make it out the store, even if I rang the bell over the entrance he’s hung there for his customers to express their appreciation.


I mean information, what is it? It’s just data, right.  What the guy might appreciate would be something like “listen, take my word and buy all the shares of MJBO you can afford and then go into hock, a friend of mine works in a law firm and he’s says they’re about to be bought by his client, TUVX at double the price they’re trading at.  Well probably I would still have to give him the 2 euros but at least the next time he might listen to what I have to say, if the deal does go down and he is paying attention to things other, that is, than to the Shela’s sitting at the corner table, which he definitely is.


What we’re looking here in the Dymaxion Web obviously is not information.  Every day our email box stretches across the screen with hundreds of free publications from all over the world, some of the best and worst money can buy.  We have more information than we can possible handle.  Does it make us even a wit more flush?  I don’t think so.  We are, if we were crazy enough to actually dig through half of it, that many hours poorer.  What we don’t have enough of is the combination of information and knowledge and insight. 


We tend to be very suspicious of the paid hacks, the yeasayers and neasayers who generally act like a bunch of blackbirds on a telephone wire.  Not that all these guys are a bunch of hacks by any means, there are plenty of serious people out there.  But still……we wonder. Why is it that nobody seems to get worried about persistently high unemployment numbers, good jobs that get financed here and sent abroad permanently, a trade deficit that has no equal in history and government deficit spending, not to mention personal indebtedness that is also at historical highs?  To mention a few of the structural problems all this easy mony is creating.


Well, my experience tells me; if this were an issue that the powers that be was stressing, we’d hear nothing but how precarious a point we have reached.  They’d be calling for a change of government and the head of head of the Central Bank.  Sure, the US is in the special position of having a license to print all the dough the rest of the world is willing to take without any constraints –like backing it with gold, for example--  but can we not imagine a day when somebody says enough, I think I’ll price my oil in say, Yuan.


Well my guess is that is not going to happen soon.  After all, we are financing all those jobs in China and Japan and India, aren’t we?  They are like the banker who can’t call in overdue loans on his biggest customer for fear of causing a cascade of failures that would fall back on her.  I think, by the way, that pretty much describes the ongoing and never ending saga in Japan, though I can’t claim to know too much about Japan.


What I do know is that the pressure is on those who do this thing professionally to come up on the bright side of things.  I’ve been there.  Most of the time nobody has to hold a gun to your head.  Self censorship has a way of taking care of a lot of truth.  Pumping has its rewards.  After all, the suckers will aways come back for more.  Just get the momentum rolling and in they will come.


As I’ve said, we here in Dymaxionwebville are looking for something else.  The glimpses of knowledge of the knowledgeable, a web of intelligence across bounds.  We’d like to know, for instance, what those numbers just released by a General Motors, say, really come down to.  Are they selling more cars or is it money coming from the financing operations?  And, if so, is that sustainable.  And even more importantly, is this kind of safe bet where you can collect your dividends without worrying about your capital.


We know there is a lot of good well analyzed information out there.  We subscribe to a number of ones already and are always looking for people who seem to cast a highly skeptical eye on things.  I mean, after all, if it was so easy to make money legitimately, how come, all these guys were cheating their mutual fund customers a few pennies a day, here and there.  I mean, hedge funds that charge their customers 5% and up to manage their money based on their sophisticated capabilities, reaching into the pockets of the average joe schlemiels, or lumpeninvesterat  as the guys at the Daily Reckoning like to call them (us).


Does that make your blood boil?  Does the flaccid reaction of the SEC make you want to barf in your spaghetti?  That, dear readers, is how we feel today though, barf we won’t, in the excellent spaghetti alla matriciana at the local trattoria down the road in Piazza della Quercia.




Copyright 2003 Richard Mendel-Black. All Rights Reserved


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