June 10, 2011
God and the stock market
In this article in the New York Times, one paragraph jumped out at me because it touched a nerve.
"On the one hand the markets want a deal," said Howard Gleckman, an editor and analyst at the Tax Policy Center, a joint effort of two centrist research organizations, the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution. "On the other they don't want a deal that's going to send the economy back into recession."
I find it really annoying when people speak so glibly about what 'the markets' want and don't want. How could they possibly know? The stock markets involve millions of people trading billions of shares each day for all manner of reasons. The idea that one can look at the behavior of stock market indices and deduce what is causing it to behave in a particular way is ludicrous except in the case of major events (like the financial collapse) in which case almost anyone can assign cause without being a Wall Street market 'expert'. And yet these people do it on a daily, or even hourly, basis.
Bob Garfield of the radio show On The Media had a droll piece on this glib single factor analysis. (Note: The audio is wrong and different from the transcript. To hear the seven minutes audio report, click on the link below, and begin at the 24:50 minute mark.)
The way these analysts speak so confidently about something they cannot possibly know reminds me strongly of theologians who also speak confidently about the properties of god and what he wants, even though they have no idea either. The way that politicians try so hard to propitiate 'the market' by doing things that will raise the stock indices also reminds me of the way that religious people try to do things to please their inscrutable gods.