Monday, November 10, 2008

Why the "Old Fashioned" Title

This blog's title is as it is half as a joke, and half with serious intent. I recall the famous old Smith Barney ad, in which John Houseman says "“We make money the old-fashioned way. We EARN it.” I thought that was so cool the title just wrote itself. That ad was broadcast so long ago it will probably be very obscure to almost anyone under 40. But hey, I remember it like yesterday.

The point of the ad was that Smith Barney was rooted in the basics, and wasn't going in for all the swingin' financial engineering that was taking customers' money and getting people into trouble. And that was before anyone had heard of the fancy financial instruments that are causing so much trouble now.

The serious side is trying to make the point that the fundamentals of economics and Capitalism may seem old fashioned, but in fact they apply just as well today as ever. It occurred to me after I published that "Old Fashioned" must seem doubly quaint when the winning campaign was dressed in the cloak of newness and change.

I do not believe that anything really new has been proposed. This term will likely be a case of "the more things change, the more they stay the same". If I'm correct those who remember Johnson's Great Society and Carter's malaise will be drawing comparisons. Those who can remember the Great Depression as adults are getting fewer. But we can all hope that as Chairman Bernanke compares the statistics the coming period won't too closely resemble it.

I must be in a bit of a dour mood today. Here's some positive spin. Today I remembered again that a few short weeks ago we were looking squarely into the eyes of a meltdown of the world financial system and possible return to the financial stone age - as least from the perspective of the global economy. Today we're only discussing the length and depth of the recession. How's that for positive?

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