Hey, have you noticed? The days are getting longer! (Circadian: from the Latin, ‘circa,’ not the Locust, ‘cicada.’.)
Bob Fyfe: ‘Very interesting table in your column Monday. You wrote (in part): ‘Commodity prices have already jumped a bit since 1999 (oil comes to mind).’ Gold and silver come to mind, too. As for the 17 year cicadas, there’s a very interesting theory as to why cicadas come in 17 (and also 13) year cycles. It has to do with the numbers being primes. Look at this from the Baltimore Sun:’
. . . By springing forth from the ground by the millions, cicadas help ensure that no single predator can devour them, a tactic that evolutionary biologists now call the “predator satiation” strategy.
And by emerging every 13 and 17 years, Gould argues in his 1977 book, cicadas minimize the chance that their infrequent invasions will sync with the life cycles of birds and other creatures that dine on them.
For example, imagine bird species that wax and wane on a five-year cycle. If cicadas emerged every 10 years, their arrival might coincide with the peak of this avian predator, setting up a pattern that could drive the cicadas to extinction.
By cycling at a large prime number, cicadas minimize the chance that some bird or other predator can make a living off them. The emergence of a 17-year cicada species, for example, would sync with its five-year predator only every (5 multiplied by 17) 85 years. . .
☞ Or (says the article) maybe not. But it’s fun to puzzle over.
In the old days, brokers – ‘customers’ men’ – charged fixed commissions, read Barron’s on the train in from Mt. Kisco and Princeton Junction, and paid attention to a thing called Dow Theory, invented a century ago by Charles Dow. More than a few investors still pay attention to it, and one of them sent in the following from Richard Russell’s Dow Theory Letter:
The Transports continue to advance into new record high territory, thereby leaving the Dow far behind. This is one of the most extraordinary and flagrant non-confirmations that I can ever remember.
The Industrial Average represents the manufacturing capabilities of the US. I think the message of the stock market is clear. A massive amount of goods are being shipped by the burgeoning Transports — but a large percentage of those goods are goods that have been MANUFACTURED IN OTHER COUNTRIES. That, sad to say, is the message I’m receiving from this dramatic Dow Theory non-confirmation.
And I guess the decline in the stock of General Motors is symbolic of the fact that the US is steadily losing its manufacturing base. So question – what in God’s name is the US producing here in 2005?
Answer – Basically, what the US is producing (in huge quantities) are Federal Reserve notes – we call them dollars. Yes, the US is still in the manufacturing business, but the main item that the US is manufacturing is oceans of fiat currency.
Thus, the big question is simply this – how long will the rest of the world be willing to swap their merchandise and services for paper dollars that the Fed can produce at will in any quantities desired? Answer — they’ll continue this weird swap just as long as it serves their purposes. Thus, the so-called prosperity that the US is enjoying today is a “house of cards” prosperity. It is one of the strangest periods ever in world economic history. Is it any wonder that real money, gold, is creeping ever higher?
RUNNING FAST TO STAND STILL
Matthew Yglesias notes: ‘Median [inflation-adjusted] household income in 2004 was $44,389. [In] 1998 it was $45,003.’
SIT RIGHT DOWN AND WRITE YOURSELF A LETTER
Here‘s a site that will send you an e-mail from yourself on a date you specify – your 50th birthday, say, which could be kind of neat if you’re 12 now. (‘Dear Me – If this works, you’re 50 today. Dear me, indeed! Oh, me, oh my. Of course, by the time you read this, 50 may be no big deal – you may have the body of a 25-year-old and million-terabyte brain implants that make you smarter and faster than anyone ever was in 2006. But I’m really writing you – me – to remind you what I was thinking when I was 12. In case you forgot, I also sent us a copy to be delivered when we turn 90. (What: your g-mail address is still good 78 years later? Has Google bought planetary naming rights yet? Are we living on Google, or is it still called Earth?’ Etc.)
Or maybe you just want to send yourself an email next Tuesday reminding you to pick up your shirts.
Read about FutureMe.org on CNN.com. And consider, also, myLastEmail.com and LastWishes.com, where you can say your piece in peace, or perhaps arrange to send your loved one your password. (‘Darling, I never trusted you with this in life, but now I want you to know that the password on all my accounts is our dog’s name – backwards.’)