Markets

[Authors Note: This material is for entertainment and educational purposes only. Consult an investment professional about your personal investment needs and preferences for risk] I HAVE BEEN AN AVID OBSERVER  for thirty years as markets have made their seemingly inexorable rise despite manias and crashes and soaring national debt. I read about historical markets and the concomitant calamities and mostly booming recoveries therefrom.  I wish I had a dollar for every conspiracy theory and every method of prediction or forecasting I have come across. I even had a financial radio show in 2005-6. All of my guests–many of them prestigious–predicted the crash to come, though two years early.  The current market condition–like much of what else has happened in the last five years–continues to have

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Movies

TOM HANKS doesn’t make bad movies, though he has been part of so many great ones that many, like this one, are merely “good” or “worthwhile.” News of the World takes place not long after the Civil War-where a  lot of things had been disrupted, of course, and not yet returned to their proper place [Over 150 years later this remains true]. There aren’t many jobs that allow you to earn a living to avoid going home, but Hank’s character, Captain Kidd, found one. Part  performer, part civil servant, and former soldier, Kidd travels about the Middle West to read to townspeople from a collection of domestic newspapers. He has to be part diplomat, too because in every audience he is sure to have sensitive

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  LITERATURE AND SOCIETY dance a duet and take turns leading.  It isn’t always apparent that changes in Art are a response to changes in society and culture  or whether the order is reversed. Yet the very “ominous” poem, The Second Coming by Yeats was written just after WWI, the “war to end all wars” (https://www.moviesmarketsandmore.com/twilight-in-the-land-of-more/). And Orwell’s dystopian 1984 (published 1949) was a response to totalitarianism before, during, and after WWII (https://www.moviesmarketsandmore.com/orwells-1984-is-the-book-of-our-time-a-canticle-for-eric-blair/ ). In the Roaring Twenties, the male and privileged romanticism of Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald were the rage. By the end of the Depression, the mantle of social authority was transferred to the destitute masses in Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath or the more haunted existences of the Deep South revealed in

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[Author’s Note: this year marks my 27th anniversary] Until I saw the date, February 2, it hadn’t occurred to me that it was my “birthday” again. This birthday–which is more of an anniversary–marks for me the first day of uninterrupted sobriety 22 years ago. It hadn’t seemed like a very important day at the time; in fact, if anyone had asked then, I would have said it was the worst day of my life.  I was bloated and quaking. My eyes were yellow like a cat’s–from jaundice. And my store of courage was so low I had to be led around like a child. There’s no question that on that day, my second life began. It would help to note here that I am not

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Movies

            SADLY, FOR THE LAST YEAR, my established ritual of “experiencing” films at the theatre was reduced to merely “watching” them on a laptop or waiting to view the next episode on the TV. Still, I managed to watch Fargo (4) and Snowpiercer (1) on TV, and then watched Midnight Sky and Mank on premium channels. Both Midnight Sky and Mank are worthy films. Mank has a shot at a Best Actor Oscar for Gary Oldman’s role as screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz. David Fincher’s black-and-white story behind the creation of Citizen Kane reveals how one of the greatest films ever made was the result of determination (Orson Welles) and perseverance (Mankiewicz) as it suggested the often unflattering experiences of a very

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MarketsMore

  ONLY TWO WEEKS AGO, when I posted The Sun, the Moon, and the Truth (https://www.moviesmarketsandmore.com/1838-2/), it hadn’t occurred to me that the financial sector might slip in at the back of the alternate reality parade and march into make-believe with other swarms of society.  In hindsight, there was already a “mania for the ages” in progress (https://www.moviesmarketsandmore.com/a-mania-to-rule-them-all/), and what is a mania if not an alternate reality and a distortion of truth–in this case truth as value?  One source I trust cited a pandemic-induced surge in day-trading as a source of fuel for the markets (most day-traders play the “long” side only–they are buyers who follow an uptrend or  “momentum traders.”).  This surely helps to explain the near vertical rise in the S&P500 index

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Movies

Movies are more than entertainment. While film is one of the most powerful mediums for storytelling, movies can inform and inspire. First of all, Movies—the good ones—are part of our culture. Once a movie is established as “good,” it conveys some valid message about the human experience. What people watch is important—just as it is important what they read and listen to.

Movies inspire, too. When I see  an impassioned performance or notice an exceptional display of cinematography, it makes me want to try and create art.  Great stories are there to ask us if we, like the hero and heroine, could rise to become our best selves when a lot was at stake, or when no one else would do the right thing.

So do I watch movies at home?  Yes, but the movie theatre, as Joseph Campbell noted, was like a temple. Moviegoing is a ritual. We go there to receive the potent “myths” of our time, and we hope to walk away slightly charged with purpose or reminded of what it means to be human—which is why we should be seeing movies at the theater, with strangers, humans.

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Markets

The markets are probably more interesting than the movies. After all, every day billions are pilfered in elaborate schemes, the equivalent of warfare takes place in the currency and equity markets, and heroes and villains make the headlines.

Aside from the drama involved, the spectacle of crowds in action is something to behold. The average person sees little more than the change in the value of their stocks or funds at the end of the day. But imagine watching a few bankers at the Federal Reserve change a couple words in their statement, only to add or erase half a trillion dollars in global values of bonds and stock.

Macroeconomics is essential. And the history of markets is priceless—people repeat the same patterns for centuries.

Does it matter that we use computers or smartphones to buy stocks? No.

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…and More

I have taught for about fifteen years now. But I got lucky. I was offered the chance to teach classes in world religions, diversity, economics, finance and Africa—to name a few.  The value for me was to see how those subjects interrelate.

I do not see political parties, or terrorists, or despots or ideologies any more: I see power structures and patterns. History did not have much value for me in high school or college—oh, it was interesting, but I did not see the usefulness. I see it today.

People have not changed in ten thousand years. They were just as smart then as we are today. And when they get together in groups, they do the same things. Over. And over.  Africa, for example, is a study in power structures. First tribes, then empires, then colonial powers, then religious influences, then Cold-War rivalries.

The world is anarchy. In anarchy, power is king. Watch the power. It’s a little like “follow the money.”

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