NOW WITH MOTION AND SOUND

And the men’s stuff. Behold Charles’s Fall show.

And look what they’re saying about it in Cleveland:

You know how fashion experts always say that every woman needs only “10 easy pieces” in her wardrobe? The crisp white shirt, the perfectly tailored blazer, the great black pants, blah, blah, blah? Not that that advice isn’t perfectly legitimate, it’s just that when we’re shopping, it’s not the black pants and white shirts that grab the eye now, is it?

Somehow, though, designer Charles Nolan continues to perfectly bridge that line between the classic and the eye-catching, with beautifully tailored separates that flatter a woman’s body – women of all ages and shapes. His fabrics are generally sumptuous, and they’re what sets him apart from the usual glut of monotony that makes up most mid-tier womenswear.

For fall ’08, Nolan was inspired by the costumes he’s making for a production by the American Ballet Theater, saying “It’s all about moving forward mindful of the past,” in his show notes. There was a certain Edwardian charm to much of the collection, but only in the intricate construction of bodices, seams and tiny puff-shouldered jackets – do not forget that these are modern clothes for modern women.

There may be flashier clothes, but it’s doubtful there are more wearable, flattering clothes with a touch of artsy playfulness. And that’s what 10 easy pieces should be all about.

CHOPPY MARKETS

You can’t say the market is not volatile.

One of my stocks, CME, was down $103 yesterday.

The good news is it’s a stock I’m short.

The bad news is I only had the guts to short 100 shares of it.

The further bad news is that, in addition to being gutless, I am brainless. I shorted it a long time ago at $420. So even with yesterday’s drop to $485, I’m still down $6,500.

The further good news is that I recognized I knew next to nothing about CME when I shorted it (‘but it sure seemed pricey to me’) so I never mentioned it to you, because I try superhard to mention here only situations that, while they may be wildly speculative, I have either at least thought through – or, better still, have grabbed from someone smarter than me who has thought them through. (Obviously, that has not always worked out.)

WHY IS CHINA LENDING TO US?

Wayne Seibert: ‘I have a question that you might be uniquely able to answer, since you are both a political activist and a financial smartypants. Why is the fact that other countries want to lend us money bad? When I see that China is willing to invest a trillion dollars in US bonds, while their people live on $100 a year, I wonder why … wouldn’t that be like Americans in the 1840’s foregoing railroads in order to invest in British manor houses? My uninformed speculation is that the elites of China know how precarious their hold on power really is, they know a revolution is coming, and they want liquid assets abroad to hold onto when the deluge comes. What’s your opinion?’

☞ Well, big topic, great question. It’s fine for us to borrow money – from anyone – to invest in our future. But it inevitably erodes our future if we borrow for things like VCRs and oil and bombs that soon get junked or burned up or blown up.

The foreigners lending to us are happy to do so, knowing they can trade their VCRs and oil for our farmland and banks and whatever other assets of ours they will be buying.

The reason the Chinese government allows this to go on may be at least in large part that they are trying to grow quickly – yet not spiral out of control (a ‘boom’ can send an economy spinning out of control).

So one interesting thing will be to see what happens if we have a recession that causes us to buy less from China. If this causes their own growth to fall, one thing it seems to me the Chinese might then consider would be to redirect some of their investment from US Treasuries into their own economic projects, to keep their economic engine roaring ahead.

It will be good if they can keep roaring ahead, because they will buy more stuff from us and their middle class will one day be able to buy the shares of stock we Baby Boomers have accumulated in our retirement plans and will be selling to finance our retirements.

But it won’t be so good if, because of this redirection, they stop lending to us, because that will drive our interest rate higher, making the mortgage woes, and all the rest, all the worse. Which they’d rather not do, because it would cut our imports from them, so that’s another reason they keep lending to us: to keep us buying from them.

We’re in a bit of a debt box, largely of our own (Reagan/Bush/Bush’s own) making, and the story of the next decade will be whether, and how well, we can work our way out.

 

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