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Subject:  Re: 2004 Date:  3/1/2004  1:04 PM
Author:  Lammergeier40 Number:  260 of 297


1) I agree that an airliner taking out the Statue of Liberty is probably a brief hiccup that translates into a buying event (who cares about an historical gift from "old Europe" anyway), but I'm far less certain about a dirty bomb going off in a container ship in NY, SF, LA or Seattle.

2) The U.S. $ certainly complicates everything. On the face of it all, U.S. stocks would seem to be on a 37% tear since a year ago. Unless you're an investor from Canada, Australia, Britain, Europe, or Japan, where you have to carve off anywhere from 10 to 28% of that gain to account for currency losses. The "invert, always invert" mentality reminds me I'm not short U.S. stocks, I'm long U.S. cash, and that scares the bejezus out of me.

3) I agree about an oil price spike. Especially if your "cost ledger" adds in $666 per taxpayer per year to pay for Iraq (a coincidentially devilish number obtained by dividing $87 billion by 130.5 million U.S. taxpayers).

But my number one risk doesn't even have a name, as far as I'm aware, but I'll dub it "The Great Unraveling". And even though Thomas Malthus predicted it slightly more than 200 years ago and it still hasn't arrived, or that optimist Julian Simon and pessimist Paul Ehrlich wagered about it 24 years ago and Simon won handily, it doesn't exactly make me cocky about the future.

It asks "How can stock markets return 11.0% over the last 62 years while GDP has only gone up 6.3%?" (CPI up about 4.1% annually over that same interval, subtract off if you want to express those as real rates).

It asks how can you lose 12 pounds of topsoil for every pound of wheat produced on the Palouse, or 5 pounds for every pound of corn from Iowa, yet not factor that into GDP. (This as but one anecdote for a host of things representing non-sustainable growth subsidized by one-time gifts of natural resources, minerals, and fossil fuels).

It asks how we can, as a consumer-driven society, work less, earn less, save nothing, and yet somehow spend/grow our way to prosperity. Like a Jimmy, nearly out of gas, buried up to the axles out on the Mattole estuary watching the tide come in. With the pedal to the metal and wet sand spraying up like confetti. "Don't worry, America. Buy more shoes. It's morning in America."

That's mostly what I worry about.

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