THE WORLD AHEAD?

A few years back I was fascinated with what the world might look and be like in the year 3000.

Here already is a tiny peek ahead at three separate items which are tantalizing.

Among the things I imagined was that there would be basically one language, and a world government to allocate resources among many fewer people on the globe than we have today.

Now, we are confronted daily with global warming as a doomsday risk AND we also see that population size correlates with more warming.

I had not expected to see confirmation of my population size guess so soon. But, I am in complete agreement with the view that population size is a critical component in addressing the threat of too much warming.

In 1929, the famous crash in financial markets occurred. One of the key causes of that crash was far too much cash lending leverage at that time, which prompted inescapable selling that got out of hand and drove the country into the worst, longest depression in its history.

Today, the use of financial leverage has been better contained and managed by governments.  But there now appears to be a new type of perhaps even more powerful leverage, which the famous Seth Klarman of the Harvard Business School now calls psycho-leverage (PL). PL is the powerful echo chamber of social networks enabled by the Internet. That echo chamber is capable of magnifying prospective value/price changes more, and more quickly, than financial leverage did in 1929.

We all need to factor that new force in our financial system into how we invest and protect ourselves from the emotions of excessive volatility.

Until WWII we had, and some of us enjoyed, the stability of a predictable national leadership process sometimes referred to as the ‘establishment’. That was based primarily on predisposed ideas about family, birth and selective education.

In recent times we have seen that automatic, established process of inevitable leadership solely from establishment figures give way to a new idea of meritocracy based on records of accomplishment with help from the press.

Fareed Zakaria, the brilliant and insightful journalist, commented recently that meritocracy has shown its own weaknesses in that it opens many doors to many excesses which traditional establishment types – perhaps exemplified by George Bush Sr — knew how to avoid, even to the point that they anticipated, saw and felt limits which they would observe and respond to, even if it might cause them losses of some sort.

These are three quite important new developments in how our world works or does not.

We should try not to be too judgmental in assessing these newly observed phenomena. They are simply what they are and, good or bad, they are part of a world in which it helps to recognize that things are constantly changing.

There really is no status quo for very long!

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