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Topsight, March 15, 2009

waltsimonsondoom.pngHappy Happy Joy Joy edition.

• Doom!: If you're still feeling chipper after reading about the latest incipient disaster, and you use Twitter, perhaps you should consider following Low Flying Rocks, a Twitter stream that mentions every near-Earth object (NEO) that comes within 0.2 Astronomical Units (or a fifth of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, roughly 19 million miles). It's relatively low-traffic -- usually just a few per day, if even that -- and most NEOs fly by at a good distance. Occasionally, though, you get one of these:

2009 EW just passed the Earth at 13km/s, approximately three hundred and forty-four thousand km away. 7:37 PM Mar 5th from Twitter4R

To put that in perspective, that's a bit further out than the Moon. Or, in astronomical terms, buzzing right past our figurative ear.

• DOOM!: Like half of Blogostan, I'm going to point you to Clay Shirky's piece on the death of newspapers. If you haven't read it, you really should -- it offers useful insights into what happens during big changes of all kinds. This section stands out:

That is what real revolutions are like. The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place. The importance of any given experiment isn’t apparent at the moment it appears; big changes stall, small changes spread. Even the revolutionaries can’t predict what will happen.

Exercise for the reader: re-read the piece, and substitute "politics," "economics," and "social cohesion" for "newspapers."

• DOOM!: I just caught a link to this, from late last year. It's a bit of info that deserved greater visibility: your share of the global derivatives bubble? $190K.

According to various distinguished sources including the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, Switzerland -- the central bankers' bank -- the amount of outstanding derivatives worldwide as of December 2007 crossed USD 1.144 Quadrillion, ie, USD 1,144 Trillion. [...]

1. The entire GDP of the US is about USD 14 trillion.
2. The entire US money supply is also about USD 15 trillion.
3. The GDP of the entire world is USD 50 trillion. USD 1,144 trillion is 22 times the GDP of the whole world. [...]

8. The population of the whole planet is about 6 billion people. So the derivatives market alone represents about USD 190,000 per person on the planet.

This will never be paid out. The question, then, is how do we disentangle the global economy from all of this?


We need a bit of happy joy in our lives.

I know! Maybe we could offload all those bad debts onto a passing asteroid?

I'm not a financier, but as far as i understand it that $600 trillion - $1.4 quadrillion is a notional value and the actual amount of money at stake is one to two orders of magnitude less. however you are still talking about potentially up to half the planet's GDP evaporating and no-one yet knows the full extent of global toxic debt.

The Guardian recently posited an interesting global debt forgiveness scenario - sample excerpt -

"2 April 2014

The fifth anniversary of the global debt "jubilee" was a sombre affair. World leaders, many still representing governments of national unity, reconvened at the Excel Centre in east London to consider what they had achieved with that fateful G20 conference of spring 2009.

So much had changed since, it was hard to remember what led them to take such radical action. The decision to forgive trillions of dollars of debt in a co-ordinated programme of bankruptcy followed months of increasingly desperate measures to prop up the teetering financial system."

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