Albert Edwards On The Resurgence Of The "Conspiracy Of Optimism" As Groupthink Is Back To Record Levels

Tyler Durden's picture

As regular readers know too well, one topic Zero Hedge enjoys ridiculing with the disdain it deserves is groupthink of any form. The phenomenon, which is nothing but transference of laziness by those who manage other people's money with complete disregard for the consequences of their actions, was among the main reasons for the Great Financial Crash.  As nobody was willing to engage in any form of critical thought, and with the market "only" going up, any investment thesis was predicated solely on what the "other guy" was doing. Of course when it all blew up, it was time to blame the evil rating agencies. After all, heaven forbid someone actually think about the logic behind the credit ratings of hundreds of billions in synthetic CDOs, or worse still, take responsibility for their own stupidity and laziness. We are now precisely in the same place we were when the market peaked last time around, with groupthink rampant, with any attempt at opposing thought squashed for fears it will end the party early, with sellside analyst optimism at all time highs, and with the administration actively encouraging rampant lies and perpetuation of the myths that take hold in the market with no factual footing whatsoever. The "conspiracy of optimism", as dubbed once by James Montier, has once again fully taken hold. As SocGen's Albert Edwards points out "despite another post mortem on forecasting failure, nothing has or will change": this is true... until the next crash. Then the finger pointing will begin anew, theatrics about the change in the Status Quo will resume, and once again the Fed will attempt to reflate the latest bubble crash. Only this time there will be no reflation, as the central planning committee's reign of terror will be over, and the fiat monetary system will have ended. Below we present Edwards' most recent solemn and very troubling thoughts on the latest break out of the great groputhink malaise, which will only last as long as the great chairsatan has some control over events. Luckily, with the amplitude from a stable market equilibrium shifting ever greater in either direction, and as the Fed's very existence (remember: the whole point of the central bank is to contain price stability) is repudiated, the time until the reset is now shorter than ever before in history.

Edwards laments:

I was leafing through a critical report into the IMF’s performance in the run-up to the financial crisis by the Independent Evaluation Office of the IMF (see IMF Performance in the Run-Up to the Financial and Economic Crisis: IMF Surveillance in 2004-07 – link).

"Groupthink” mentality effectively sums up the reports criticism in one word. In Chapter 4 entitled Why Did The IMF Fail To Give Clear Warning?, the series of sub-headings reads just like my erstwhile colleague, James Montier’s papers with pronounced cognitive bias being cited as the basis of the view that almost everything in the garden was rosy.

But suppose you were a dissenter – well ... “Staff incentives were not well aligned to foster the candid exchange of ideas that is needed for good surveillance—many staff reported concerns about the consequences of expressing views contrary to those of supervisors, management, and country authorities.” Or let’s shoot the messenger!

Dissenting voices were ridiculed throughout the mid-2000s as the US and UK housing bubbles defied the pessimists’ pronouncements of collapse. For the vast majority of the analytical community, the fact that the cassandras were proved wrong gave them more and more confidence that there was, in fact, no bubble to burst at all, whereas it was clear to many that the crash would end up being all the deeper when it eventually came.

But what has changed? The new groupthink is that the Chinese economy will not crash in the same way as the US economy did in 2008. China’s own Great Moderation has continued for so long, the mainstream will only extrapolate this into the indefinite future. And in developed markets, despite two gut-wrenching equity bear markets in a decade, QE2 has taken analyst optimism back to all-time highs (see chart below).

A topic Zero Hedge presented previously is that while companies are now getting more bearish, the sellside doesn't want the party to end, and its optimism is at an all time high. The same goes for economists, who following in the footsteps of Goldman's Jan Hatzius stunning reversal in opinion, are now deliriously bullish on everything.

None of this is of course surprising: it is a matter of national interest for the banks and their employees to promptly reflate the bubble at all costs. Otherwise, the great reset will send them all packing and looking for a job that actually involves doing something socially useful. As before, Edwards believes the great wind-down on groupthink will begin with China (despite Stephen Roach's optimistic view that the entirely export-led country can promptly shift its entire economic system to one driven by the consumer class : sorry, ain't happening... not without a catastrophic global economic realignment).

So we await some sort of correction in risk assets. But is this just a technical correction within a bull market for risk assets or something more?

Personally, I would categorize the entire move up in the equity market since March 2009 as a bear market rally which at some point will fall flat on its face. Investors seem to have forgotten that in a post-bubble world, recessions become far more frequent events. Certainly in the UK I don’t have much doubt that fiscal tightening is taking us back into recession, let alone now the increasing likelihood the Bank of England will soon raise interest rates.

But it is China and the commodity markets where I remain most concerned. Many seem to have forgotten just how vicious the collapse in prices in H2 08 was – i.e. they have forgotten just how all-persuasive yet wrong the prevailing groupthink was back then.

And for those who need a natural antidote to Roach's perpetual optimism on China, here is Edwards' punchline:

Far bigger brains than my own seem pretty sure that China is a bubble destined to disappoint. Most recently I was reading a piece by Edward Chancellor of GMO entitled Entranced by China’s Bubbling Economy (see Financial Times 7 Feb – link). He points out that bubbles can be identified before they burst by using simple valuation tools. China has all the characteristics of “a truly great bubble” with the housing stock set to exceed 350% of GDP this year, the same level of Japan at the height of its real estate bubble in 1990. Construction accounts for around a quarter of China’s economic activity which Edward notes is coincidently the same level that Ireland attained before it’s dramatic explosion. Oops!

Meanwhile, the major external imbalances that reflect the easy money policies that ruined the US, UK and Eurozone peripheral economies persist. The Chinese trade deficit with the US reached new highs in 2010 (see chart below). In many ways the persistence of the huge surpluses in China, Germany and Japan suggests that nothing much has changed. Economic implosion in the indebted countries has been prevented by the public sector simply replacing the excess debt of the private sector. The solution to the private sector debt excesses has been more debt and monetization of that debt. The real issues have been simply avoided.

But at least one consensus trend trade has just bitten the dust. Emerging markets had a fantastic decade run because they were cheap (see chart below). But as ever, this outperformance was extrapolated way into the future. Groupthink failed yet again.

The one traditional refrain on Wall Street has been to "never fight the Fed".. or by implication the great worldwide central banker cartel, which are now interchangeable as all the money printers are all in on the Ponzi. Yet with the massive moves in gold and silver, the market is telling us that ever more are taking the other side of that trade. Perhaps the only place where "this time it is different" is that the Fed is now losing. As Bernanke is now openly monetizing every dollar in gross issuance, what else does he have in his bag of trick? We contend that there is nothing left. And with QE3, QE4, etc. just a variation on a theme of dollar destruction, the end game is now here. Only this time even the Fed knows the outcome is given.

So let the groupthink have its last moment in the sun for a few more week, or months, or at even years. Those who wish a return to a normal and efficient market system are already putting in place the structural supports for a systemic "Volkswagen" on the lazy parade of groupthink Koolaid drinkers, who will "never see it coming." Only this time, the resulting squeeze, and subsequent reset, will make even the Volkswagen chart from late 2008 pale in comparison.

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quasimodo's picture

Groupthink=circle jerk

Michael's picture

The "Powerlessness of Positive Thinking" is the new reality.

"Confidence" is a subjective mindset, intangible and powerless in the long term.

Yet, the mainstream media has circled the wagons and guarded this concept to a point of schizophrenia.

Tangible objective reality always wins in the end.

I see a new book in the making.

ZerOhead's picture

 

Forget "Conspiracy of Optimism" Michael... Check out my digital doppelganger from yesterday. A member for 2 weeks 7 days... WTF???? Who is this guy? Anyone?
by Zer0head 
on Fri, 02/25/2011 - 22:16
#998928

Whack!!! damn cat.... did I say that? so sorry, it's  back the lair for me...I promise next time I'll be a good koppy-cat...promise

 

ZerOhead's picture

Repeat.

Watch out people we have doubles!!!!

 

Things could get interesting here... hate to say it but until Marla straightens this identity theft out don't believe a thing I say... (as if you did! :)

Later guys... oh be sure to check out histories first!!!

Seriously!

 

Michael's picture

I'd love for someone to dopplegang me, my Avatar is custom made. Could you imagine someone lifting it and plastering it on every thread topic? I purposely don't comment on many threads and it would be a dead giveaway seeing that Nancy Pelosi mug on those.

anarkst's picture

It's not group-think, it's grand-theft.  People will do everything for money.

 

velobabe's picture

zerohedge and the tylers, are going to rule the world†

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

PsyOps!  Optimist groupthink is nothing but BS trying to keep us in equities!  Danger...

...

O/T, but, just a little.  Anyone else read the Barrons interview w/ Stephanie Pomboy?  Bearish as ever.  She is also smoking hot, it would be hard for even us happily married guys in our 50s to push her away!

living on the edge's picture

She needs to quit calling and texting me!!

New_Meat's picture

dcrb: talking about psyops--who reads?--oh never mind, I only read Pomboy's articles for the content.

We laughed and laughed at her price for her "service".  Then comes out on the chaise longue and ... well ... wow.  Picture might require sub. not my fault!

http://online.barrons.com/article/SB122912505428802977.html#articleTabs_...

- Ned

t0mmyBerg's picture

What is the price for her service?

ebworthen's picture

Remember Challenger blowing up in 1986?

Classic group-think. 

The engineers that designed the O-ring seals, when asked, said unequivocally "DO NOT LAUNCH" and said specifically that the temps at the launch pad could cause the O-ring seals to contract and leak fuel.

NASA ignored them; after all, America was watching, Christa McAuliffe's Parents were in the stands, all the school children were watching, "We must launch - we must ignore reality."

BOOM

jmc8888's picture

Yep, and my dad told the GM engineers (him being one at the Desert Proving Grounds, before they moved it to mexico) that at inflating at 1/20th of a second, and using rocket fuel to do so, that airbags were going to kill people.

They didn't listen to him, and we know the rest. Now this was of course AFTER they were in production for a couple of years, but BEFORE the redesigns when the crap hit the fan.

Groupthink, it's what's for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner in bizarro monetary world.

 

 

Future Jim's picture

Telling people what they want to hear is the surest path to success. I suspect it has always been this way, but it really seemed to take off when Bill Clinton showed us the way. It seemed like the only thing that mattered any more was what you said, who you said it to, and when you said it. Of course, I was living in the DC area for 14 years spanning the whole Clinton administration, so it was really in my face.

It reached a peak when people elected Obama knowing nothing about him because of rabid positive groupthink. Given the growing disappointment from the impossibility of hiding the reality of Obama's failure and his similarity to Bush - the subject of rabid negative groupthink, I think we may have seen the nadir of groupthink, but it may be too late.

New_Meat's picture

Feinman took NASA apart like a chicken.  See his solo appendix on the Challenger report.

I use his discussion of the flight software guys, who had/have the attitude "a failure in simulation kills us as much as a failure in a flight" to talk to our engineers. 

- Ned

Rogerwilco's picture

"Certainty generally is illusion, and repose is not the destiny of Man"
-- O W Holmes

I expect this will hold true for the lucky top-pickers who make it out the door first, as well as the PM hoarders that see a shiny future in their stash. Real wealth has nothing to do with speculation or gambling, no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves it is so.

JW n FL's picture

Army Psychological Operations used on U S Congressmen

Allegations surfaced in a Rolling Stone article today that members of the military used psychological operations on U.S. dignitaries in Afghanistan in order to get more money for the war. Msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell has an exclusive interview with reporter Michael Hastings.

 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/41770019#41770019

 

**********************************************************************************************************************

 

 

Solicitation Number:

RTB220610

Notice Type:

Sources Sought

Synopsis:

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Software will allow 10 personas per user, replete with background , history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographacilly consistent. Individual applications will enable an operator to exercise a number of different online persons from the same workstation and without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries. Personas must be able to appear to originate in nearly any part of the world and can interact through conventional online services and social media platforms. The service includes a user friendly application environment to maximize the user's situational awareness by displaying real-time local information.

0002- Secure Virtual Private Network (VPN). 1 each
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Unless specifically designated as shared, locations are dedicated for use by
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Unless specifically designated as shared, locations are dedicated for use by
each customer and never shared among other customers. Anonymizer Annual Dedicated OCONUS Light Geosite or equal

 

0006- Remote Access Secure Virtual Private Network. 1 each
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Contracting Office Address:

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Place of Performance:

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Primary Point of Contact.:

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Phone: (813) 828-4729

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https://www.fbo.gov/index?_cview=1&id=d88e9d660336be91552fe8c1a51bacb2&mode=form&s=opportunity&tab=core

 

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Is this a conspiracy theory of optimism or a conspiracy fact of optimism? Isn't it interesting how we can accept the existence of some conspiracies and not others equally as valid?

What are we afraid of?

JW n FL's picture

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwu1niQqwKA

 

FDR The only thing we have to fear is fear it self and spiders,snakes, wherewolves...

ft65's picture

Take a look at the poster "JW n FL" posting on his own web site (handle ^TrInItY) read a few posts and then disclaimer. www.godlikeproductions.com. Nice stuff (not!)

Misean's picture

ACK! A conspiracy post on another conspiracy on a conspiracy post!!!

Anyone have a scorecard thingy I can use???

The Grip's picture

Quack fucking city! Thanks for snapping my ZH buzz for today...

prophet_banker's picture

scratching at the truth, consider it conspiracy fiat, as long as everybody is on the same side of this bull market trade, that lacks technicals to support it. 

 

i see shocking conspiracies when i started questioning everything, the moon landing hoax, the man made global warming through co2, aid virus never has been isolated, reproduced, photographed, 9-11 controlled domolition, and building 7, 7/7 bombing, madrid, oklahoma city, jewish nazi's conspiracy

ft65's picture

JW n FL does this document mean anything to you. To save you reading it, I'll post the last two paragraphs...

http://www.ftc.gov/os/comments/spyware/040312lucas.pdf

Re: FTC Public Workshop: "Monitoring Software On Your PC: Spyware, Adware, And Other Software" (April 19, 2004)

Advertising software companies whose products fall within my proposed definition of 'adware' should not be penalized for creating innovative new technologies that allow advertisers the opportunity to more easily reach targeted consumers. The onslaught of 'anti advertising' software that is now being marketed has had a serious impact on Internet advertising, and that commercial industry is now being forced to create new and innovative methods to deliver their message to consumers.

Advertising software when constructed and distributed in a responsible manner is the very future of Internet advertising. While there should certainly be clear guidelines establishing what is, and is not, acceptable when it comes to this new technology, we should be very careful not to penalize legitimate companies who are willing to follow the rules -- less we unfairly stifle an already weakened industry.

 

JW n FL's picture

I will say it again... if you would like to know who I am... why dont you just ask?

 

I understand you are a coward, thusly you must hide behind your mask for comfort... I dont fault you, it is typical.

 

So, coward... since you dont know how to use Google to your own benefit... it is so very complicated for some I understand... would you like to know who I am?

JW n FL's picture

Sorry VI... this idiot stalker of mine thinks I am someone else named Jason...

He cant find JWnFL in google to figure out that is not the case and above and beyond that as many times as my name has been mentioned here... he still has had no luck figuring out exactly who I am... thusly he is lazy or stupid or both... sorry for the mess, it seems to be disrupting daily business as of late.. from the posts above.

 

Other than that BTFD's!!!!

 

How are You Fine Sir? any thoughts on the RollingStone piece? http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/another-runaway-general-army-deploys-psy-ops-on-u-s-senators-20110223 I wish I could say I am in some way... any way... suprised by the news.

Village Idiot's picture

Sorry to see good energy go to waste, my man.  And if the Rolling Stones comment was directed my way, I would just have to say that I'm laughing. Reminds me of that scene out of the Clooney movie where he pushes the goat over.  Bring in the Senator.  Fucking ridiculous.  Cheers.

JW n FL's picture

I spit out coffee, I needed that.. Thanks!

S.P.Q.R.'s picture

 As Bernanke is now openly monetizing every dollar in gross issuance, what else does he have in his bag of trick? We contend that there is nothing left. And with QE3, QE4, etc. just a variation on a theme of dollar destruction, the end game is now here. Only this time even the Fed knows the outcome is given.

 

You have markets priced in dollars and a central bank driving currency to destruction so why is it suprising markets, when priced in fiat money, are seen to rise? The markets are not the bubble, fiat money is. This insanity will continue ad infinitum until enevitable collapse which could take alot longer then we think. Dow 50,000 anyone?

prophet_banker's picture

sure it'll get to dow 50,000 when gold goes there with it.  i'd place my bet that it goes to 5k before 50k

Spalding_Smailes's picture


 

China Law Blog 

 


China Manufacturing: "We're Bringing It Back Home."

I know many of our posts of late have been fairly negative on China, and I really wish this one were not, but I really have no choice but to "call 'em like I see 'em" We are constantly writing articles on what country is going to be the "next China" and I have mostly been talking up Vietnam as that choice. See, for instance, the following posts:

I had a revelation today. The United States is the Next China. How could I have missed it?

There are many articles out today on how manufacturing jumped unexpectedly in both the United States (and in England) and most attribute that to a rising economy. I agree, but I also think/know that at least some of that is due to American companies choosing to expand their manufacturing in the United States (as opposed to China) or simply shutting down their operations in China.

Here is what we have been working on JUST THIS YEAR:

  • We are working on shutting down a large American service company that has been in China for more than five years. The reason for closing is that "we never felt our Chinese employees were on board with our organization" and we would rather run everything from outside China.  
  • We are working on extricating an American company from a manufacturing Joint Venture in China. The reasons are two-fold.  One, the Chinese joint venture partner never cooperated and treated the joint venture like anything other than an extension of his own fiefdom and the cost savings just were not as great as expected, when productivity and quality problems were taken into account.
  • A manufacturing company that is shutting down all operations and "bringing it all back home." Again, the cost savings were never as high as expected and the U.S. facilities are just "so much better and easier."

I am not saying that every company is going to be closing down their China operations and going home, because that is certainly not going to be the case. Indeed, on the flip side, we are getting a ton of work from companies seeking to tap China's consumer and B2B market. We also are getting a steady flow of companies seeking to make low to mid range goods in China. Where I see the "return home" phenomenon most likely to occur is in difficult to manufacture goods where the U.S. company has existing U.S. operations so closing down China will not involve building a new factory anywhere else, but simply hiring back already-trained, already-skilled workers.  

This is a new thing and so I am dying to know what you are seeing out there? 

 

http://www.chinalawblog.com/2011/02/china_manufacturing_were_bringing_it...

Rogerwilco's picture

All well and good, best of luck to their repatriation project. However, you underestimate the Chinese if you think they will just wave goodbye and holler "Next!". I see evidence that China has active efforts to destabilize and eliminate what remains of our domestic manufacturing industry. These efforts involve buy-outs via Chinese controlled front companies, blatant theft of contracts from small businesses via loss leader pricing, and political influence in regulatory decisions that will adversely affect the business climate for small companies. Their allies in this long term strategy are the multi-national corporations -- the ones we see represented on Mr. Obama's "get well" committee.

ivars's picture

It is relatively easy to predict how stocks and oil will behave this year and also 2012:

Stocks will go down because of recession

There will be no big inflation because of recession

Oil will continue way up -despite recession- because of punctuated supply disruptions as instability spreads in the oil producing countries, one by one, making the whole supply country base much less stable and output smaller.

http://saposjoint.net/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=2626&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

The graphs also logically follow from a response of global system to sharp crisis event as happened in 2008-March 2009. First, everyone cooperatively reacts in a linear way- markets move exponentially back up. There is one typical hickup on its way- 2010 Apr-August dip. After that, where we are now, the linear cooperative response is over, actors start to desynchronize, de cooperate and put own interests more and more in front of global concerns. That leads already today to market drop, then to sharp drop, then to fluctuations around low levels in 2012-2013 in a decooperating, antagonistic world ( 7000-8000 DJIA) until some new form of cooperation is found that would prop stocks up (everyone in war with Iran in 2014?) .

China is on its way to crack down on its middle class and nationalization as a result of recession and Western stimulus packages slowly comes to its shores. Somewhere around 2012-2013 its policy will start to change markedly.

As there will be recession in the USA in 2012-2013 (minus 2-4% GDP drop) , dollar will not hyperinflate as prices will remain supressed and printing will subside as global inflation will threaten coming back to the USA, or will come, so interest rates will have to be raised during recession.

So stocks will go down instead, and oil will stay high in dollar terms with rather strong dollar. Not good for anyone, including Chinese.

 

 

 

 

Horatio Beanblower's picture

There's some good stuff in this presentation and in the other videos on the page...

 

http://www.cheviot.co.uk/sound-money-conference/presentations/confessions-of-a-former-bond-bug

 

You may need to watch Sandeep Jaitly's presentation more than once.

Misean's picture

The Biggus Americanus Dickheadus strutting around with his gaggle of yes man all singing "My future's so bright, I need to wear shades..." is hardly a conspiracy. More like the regimentation of the youth indoctrinariate and society in general.

One day soon, they'll march off a cliff and the fiat money safety bag will simply fail.

I'll be the one chuckling in the hermit cave, pulling desicated bird bones from my scraggly beard...

JW n FL's picture

They spend $12m a year in Afganistan.. in Pys-Ops... but nothing here at home, they are not allowed to use such things on the people of America... why would they have to with the natural market saturation provided by everyone else?

 

Everyone else being all of the media outlets that give them face time...

 

Them being... Banks or any kind of Financial Company inclusive of the Stock Market / Markets in General... leed, follow or sit home and be brainwashed by the sheer amount of shit thrown at you.

 

I would like to see a number for hours of hype a day being forced down the American Peoples Throats on TV / Cable / Inter Webs... GO TEAM!!!! mean while The Ber-Nake is printing shit out of thin air... for which the American People are Stupid Taxxed... I used to say we paid the interest, thru inflation and pass thru... but I was bashed the other day for dumbing it down.. but in the end "We the People" pick up the tab for the Printing in a Million and 1 ways.

Misean's picture

"pick up the tab for the Printing in a Million and 1 ways."

Million and 1...giggle...how pre-Bernutty of you!

ft65's picture

Quoting JW n FL

>>They spend $12m a year in Afganistan.. in Pys-Ops... but nothing here at home, they are not allowed to use such things on the people of America..

Who are you trying to kid, http://www.godlikeproductions.com is very well known to you... Trinity!

 

 

JW n FL's picture
by JW n FL
on Sat, 02/26/2011 - 14:33
#1000087

 

Army Psychological Operations used on U S Congressmen

Allegations surfaced in a Rolling Stone article today that members of the military used psychological operations on U.S. dignitaries in Afghanistan in order to get more money for the war. Msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell has an exclusive interview with reporter Michael Hastings.

 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/41770019#41770019

*******************************************************************************

That quote way up above you here from earlier just skipped right past you didnt it???

for the record you are whats wrong with the Country, stupid people are the problem... of course I am guilty of not demanding that you idiots be educated, thusly your ignorance is my fault.

pacu44's picture

They do it... It may not show up in some accounting column, but it is done...

JW n FL's picture
by JW n FL
on Sat, 02/26/2011 - 14:33
#1000087

 

Army Psychological Operations used on U S Congressmen

Allegations surfaced in a Rolling Stone article today that members of the military used psychological operations on U.S. dignitaries in Afghanistan in order to get more money for the war. Msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell has an exclusive interview with reporter Michael Hastings.

 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/41770019#41770019

************************************************************************

I guess you missed this post from way up top too...

Gold 36000's picture

If ZH dislikes groupthink of any form then beware the drearying sameness and conformity of the non mainstream community.

JW n FL's picture

there are not enough smart people here... to where you could call ZH a group... we are the .00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001%er's!