Party Like There's No Tomorrow
Via Mark J. Grant, author of Out of the Box,
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
-Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
One of the most famous opening paragraphs ever penned. A tale of the years leading up to the French Revolution that ended in the Jacobin Reign of Terror. The world, today, is neither in the best of times nor the worst of times but perhaps the oddest of times would be appropriate. Italy is in total disarray---don’t care. The United States faces sequester tomorrow---don’t care. Earnings at many companies are coming in far short of expectations---don’t care. “The world’s central banks are handing out free money at the giant ATM and don’t bother me until they finish,” said Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men in the Marketplaces.
“Anything that happens, happens. Anything that, in happening, causes something else to happen, causes something else to happen. Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen again, happens again. It doesn’t necessarily do it in chronological order, though.”
-Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless
There is little sense to all of this except the flood continues, no letup in sight, and money like water must go somewhere and all of the boats, without exception, have been floated. Political governance has become irrelevant, a sideshow, both technicals and fundamentals are of paltry value, and I am reminded of the boys at the table in Oliver, “More gruel, if you please.” The central banks slop it out into the various bowls, it is consumed, more is demanded, more is ladled out and the dining continues unabated. You would think, a rational man would assume, that there was an end to this somewhere but with nowhere else to put the gruel; the feeding frenzy continues. A momentary glance at Spain, at Greece, at Italy; a fleeting look at the U.S. budget, a brief examination of the sushi table, but who cares, nothing else matters, “More gruel if you please.”
“The wind is rushing after us, and the clouds are flying after us, and the moon is plunging after us, and the whole wild night is in pursuit of us; but, so far we are pursued by nothing else.”
-Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Money is not like a commodity; there is no end to it. You don’t have to grow it, find it in the ground, drill for it or plant it in the spring. It is not even that the supply of lumber will curtail the paper for most of it is not printed at all. Made from nothing, recorded on a spreadsheet, sent out across the wires, a digital divinity of man’s own creation. It is a world that none have seen before. It is not Huxley’s “Brave New World” but something far stranger; a financial system cobbled together in counting houses and made from nothing but air. In the last days Bernanke promised that the feeding would continue, Draghi promised a food laden table without end and the Band of Merry Men rejoiced and the gauge of their elevated mood, the markets, responded accordingly and the party continued.
The world is partying as if there is no tomorrow. I will certainly give you that. One day, however, some event is going to draw open the curtains and then the partygoers will notice the sunrise and then the light will dawn.
You can party like there is no tomorrow. The problem is this; either the Universe ends or tomorrow always arrives.