The Infinite Meaning of Meaning

Some people see meaning when it just isn’t there.

But maybe it is – just not in the way you think.

And who am I to presume what you’re (not) thinking?

Start again.

There is meaning.

Perhaps more meaning.

Than.

I.

Realised.

But the pre-meditated, agenda-pushing, social engineering nature of this message may not be as clear as a Chanel or a Tory Saatchi ad.

What would Barthes say?

And what of Jung?

Is my shadow bursting out of the shadows?

Are my deepest most repressed desires all simply masquerading themselves via randomness?

Or has an experiment in image generation let me colonise semiotic space by repurposing otherwise dormant media so as to to operationalise my own bit of harm reduction?

maybe

such undertakings leave little to the imagination.

Di(c)e-Sect a.k.a. Random De’ath Cult

Speaking of Rednecks / Bannonites:

Kulchur

Ezra Pound starts his defence of totalitarianism known as the Guide to Kulchur with a reference to a conversation involving a Chinese Philosopher on the topic of government, law & language.

The first thing is to agree the terms. He prints Chinese ideograms. Some repeat.

 

 

 

 

So Pound is against the Clouding, the Vagueness, the Shadow.

The double standards.

The lack of a go to point where meaning is meaning and not Machiavellian semantic gymnastics.

We have this today with Shadow Banking which is an activity in which all major banks are players — and with the use of this word Regulation.

Once we go into the regulatory space then it becomes a civil matter.

No such thing as a Corporate Criminal!

And the Police will tell you to call your lawyer.

Brexit means Brexit.

Q: What do you like about Pepsi?

A: It is the Taste of a New Generation.

When marketing bleeds into news you have a world full of shadows.

From the flickering light of the Sun as viewed indirectly from inside the Cave to the Electric Flicker of the Mobile Smart Phone competing for your attention with actual traffic and real world goings on.

Have we become fully Cyborg? Part Man Part Machine.

Of course there would be no advertising per se in a truly totalitarian society. Advertising is driven by tapping into people’s free desires. So what is the difference between today’s China and ‘the West’? Or Russia for that matter?

We are amusing ourselves to death. 

Shirley Robin Letwin in her On the Idea of Law references Plato’s idea that if a law is wrong, it must stay wrong  until it is updated. In some systems this would have been every five years.

Better there be injustice for all till the bad law is updated – or instead everyone will turn a blind eye to the bad law – and the good law as well!

They say the best way to get rid of a stupid law is to apply it fully — to the letter.

As Mencken said :

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

Does this make Shirley Letwin, Ezra Pound and Ayn Rand Crypto-Fascist Proto-Platonists?

Who wants the Law updated every five minutes?

Now that we have access to real-time updates and big data, continuous consultation could be an imminent reality.

Nothing describes the pitfalls of modern British politics better than the closing scene of The Rise of Michael Rimmer.

Discrete vs Continuous

A bit of continuity might help. Walter Lippmann, in Public Opinion, refers to those people who lived in peace after war had been declared simply because they hadn’t yet heard the war had started.

In the same way there are those for whom there will never be peace.

Permanently living in the subjunctive.

The role of fiction & theatre for the anti-truthers.

The rapidity with which truth subverts itself to reveal yet more truth at a scale so granular as to elude reasonable immediate inspection yet somehow capable of permeating through to all.

One has to either be very clever or try very hard not to feel it. Our society excels at both. From the outstanding declarative to the merely procedural.

From neoteny to phylogeny. The Master and his Emissary. Left Brain / Right Brain. Iain McGilchrist.

The recreation of the journey of human consciousness from zygote to foetus to birth – thousands of generations of evolution in just nine months.

Laputa

Jonathan Swift’s mysterious flying island of Laputa features in two places of significance for me.

At the beginning of Nicholas Dunbar’s Inventing Money – on the downfall of the Long Term Capital Management Hedge Fund staffed by Economics Nobel Prizewinners who perhaps should have known better. LTCM’s collapse was a notable pre-cursor to our post 2008 too big to fail bailout culture.

And in Alfred Korzybski’s Science and Sanity as recommended by the wonderful Robert Anton Wilson.

Science and Sanity was published in 1933 and opens  with a quote about the mysterious flying island of Laputa in Gulliver’s Travels.

The Laputans’ collective consciousness enabled the island to fly.

Was Swift satirising scientists? Full of knowledge but lacking basic wisdom?

The island was a place where they were very good at music and mathematics and interested in little else.

not unlike our current love of sharing songs on social media to help marketing firms target us with the data we generate:

If you look at the bottom of the image above, I like how the guy who came up with the term self fulfilling prophesy also wrote a book called Mass Persuasion.

And spawned a mathematician, Robert C Merton,  who, with Fisher Black and Myron Scholes, created a derivative pricing mathematical model which in non financial engineering terms could legitimately be described as a money machine.

Shun peer pressure from social media or the internet. If you reveal your opinion to a group with strong views, the sociologist Robert K. Merton has warned, the ensuing debate becomes more “a battle for status” than “a search for truth.” Instead, get a second opinion from one or two people you know and can trust to tell you if they think you are wrong.

But as Donald Mackenzie of the University of Edinburgh points out in – It’s an Engine Not a Camera – the point of these mathematical models which are based on imperfect economic and psychological assumptions is not to be correct.

They are simply designed to make money!

And if they go wrong – we shouldn’t be surprised because truth was never their purpose.

A source of confusion when marketing rubs shoulders with fact.

When the Calculus was invented many scientists went around saying that what they had discovered was wonderful but they didn’t know why it worked.

In the case of financial engineering, the bottom line is the bottom line.

Korzybski said:

The Map is not the Territory – The Menu is not the Meal.

Bit like Magritte:

And his pipe:

Took me forever to realise that it’s not a pipe – but an image of a pipe.

Korzybski speaks of abstraction:

There are no illusions. Only what we abstract.

Neil Postman, follower of Marshall McLuhan fused his Medium is the Message argument with George Lakoff’s Metaphors we Live By to produce: The Medium is the Metaphor in the first chapter of his 1985 work: Amusing Ourselves to Death.

McCluhan was a Catholic and heavily influenced by GK Chesterton who also influenced Jorge Luis Borges.

Borges is himself referenced in Dunbar’s Inventing Money.

The Garden of Forking Paths is quoted in reference to option pricing. So many possible futures. We happen to be friends in this world – doesn’t mean we would in any other.

Borges himself was interested in Infinity.

One of the best books I ever read was Jorge Luis Borges and the Eternal Orang-Utans

whose title is inspired by the idea that if you give a chimpanzee a typewriter and infinite time it will eventually write the works of shakespeare.

imagine my joy when I saw the Thomas Mullaney book on the Chinese Typewriter – in front of which I would be no different to an Orang-Utan!

Tamil is the oldest spoken language. I no longer speak it but here is a recent talk in Tamil on Borges. I only found it because I couldn’t find my favourite sound recording of Garden of Forking Paths.

How Borgesian! All things for a reason. Or Not.

Discriminate.

I am that.

Things. Consciousness. Bliss.

 

What happened to that €1.1 trillion ?

stealing QE

Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.

Handing €1.1 trillion of public money to ANONYMOUS bankers with no publicly available audit trail is an act so corrupt as to be beyond comprehension.

Yet that is what has happened to residents of that well known museum — the European Union.

Inventing Money

The European Central Bank, owner of the world’s third biggest money printing machine — behind the Federal Reserve’s and the People’s Bank of China’s — has already printed and distributed the best part of a trillion Euros to private financial institutions in exchange for various bonds over a two year period.

In November 2014 just as they started what became known as their Quantitative Easing (ECB QE) programme, I asked them to publicly state exactly which bonds they were printing money to buy.

Seeing as they were spending billions of euros of public money per month during a time of extreme austerity – it felt normal that EU citizens be told how the money was being spent.

Disclosure

The only information the public had been told at that time was that the ECB were buying repackaged bank loans (Covered Bonds) and Asset Backed Securities (ABSs) in order to stop deflation and maintain inflation at 2%.

Despite the simple nature of my request — I asked for a country by country, bank by bank, product by product breakdown including ‘ISIN’ Codes for what the ECB had been buying — the bank refused to disclose the full nature of its holdings.

Decision

This week, more than a year and a half after I originally asked them, the ECB — and the European Ombudsman — ruled against my appeal for transparency.

Click below for the link to the EU Ombudsman decision on the case:

But the question remains: What happened to the money?

Groupthink

Bizarrely the woman who runs the European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, has a reputation for being a fair-minded adjudicator.

This week the Irish papers portrayed O’Reilly as a friend of transparency who had rebuked the Irish Central Bank and the ECB for not publishing their correspondence during the Irish Bailouts of 2010.

If only those newspapers had known how O’Reilly has sided with commercial confidentiality and non-disclosure of the multibillion Euro QE recipients.

O’Reilly ruled in favour of the ECB without once consulting me — the complainant — to find out why I had brought the case or to let me challenge the groupthink logic of her flawed judgment.

Too little, too late

Ironically on the date of the ruling (18th July 2016) the ECB itself announced that another slice of its QE programme, the Corporate Bond Purchase Programme, would publish its ISIN codes.

This is a screenshot of the paywalled Financial Times story with the announcement about the new stance on ISIN codes.

ft ISINsHow funny that I had to wait 18 months to get a definitive ‘no’ on receiving the ISIN codes for the Covered Bond and ABS QE programme, only for the Corporate Bond Purchase Programme to publish its ISIN codes on the very same day.

A Pyrrhic Victory perhaps?

Time will Tell.

Corruptissima respublica, plurimae leges

The most corrupt state, the most laws – Tacitus

My feeling is that the ECB don’t want to the public to know how much they are protecting the very same German financiers that benefited from the ECB’s imposition of austerity, deregulation and privatisation policies in southern Europe.

I believe the worst offender is DePfa / Deutsche Pfandbriefe.

Just as the IRA and Baader Meinhoff are known for their politically inspired terror campaigns in the 1970s so has Deutsche Pfandbriefe exported financial terrorism throughout Europe from its tax avoiding, financial engineering Dublin Headquarters as of the early 2000’s when it re-domiciled to save cash.

ECB QE and commercial confidentiality for public money are the very definition of double standards and, in this case, perpetuate the myth that North Europeans are honest and that everyone else is corrupt.

I appreciate that this is not something many people are willing to accept – such is the scale of our programming.

Just as with PPP / PFI in the UK, commercial confidentiality and financial engineering remain the respectable face of corporate fascism and fraud.

For more adventures in Bazookanomics:

Failure of Bazookanomics – ECB QE

bond trader

The European Central Bank’s (ECB) monthly Quantitative Easing (QE) Programme prevents banks, pension funds, and insurance companies from accessing traditional low risk investments and forces them to take on more risk by buying lower quality investments.

This has a serious knock-on effect: the more risk we take with our money the more recklessly large firms will behave in our name and the more likely we are to lose everything.

This post seeks to explore some of the implications of ECB QE.

Why have 100 year government bonds recently started being issued?

 

The sudden flourishing of century bonds appears to be led by investors, with both Belgium and Ireland’s €100m, 100-year bonds arranged by Goldman Sachs and Nomura at the request of investors, with some suspecting the buyer is a single European insurer.

Funny how no-one knows who bought the bonds.

If you or your pension fund buy a 100 year bond for 2.3% like these Irish or Belgian Bonds then you’re heavily exposed to inflation and interest rate rises over the next 100 years.

This is sometimes referred to as Duration Risk:

The issue of negative interest rates is one of huge concern to the UK population. How do we pay for our future if the money we’re saving can’t even retain its current value?

Financial Times Financial Times

It’s ok for large companies who can now borrow cheaply. But what about everyone else?

Maybe we should ask Larry Fink. This is taken from Robin Wigglesworth‘s piece on Negative Rates / Yields.

The swelling universe of negative yielding sovereign debt was dragging down yields globally, including in the US where negative central bank interest rates remain unlikely. That was keeping government and corporate borrowing costs subdued, but at the cost of savers and investors, Larry Fink, the head of BlackRock, recently said.

“There has been plenty of discussion about how the extended period of low interest rates has contributed to inflation in asset prices,” Mr Fink wrote in his latest annual letter to investors. “Not nearly enough attention has been paid to the toll these low rates — and now negative rates — are taking on the ability of investors to save and plan for the future.”

The following piece by Eric Platt looks at the data for negative yields and the psychology of investors looking for long term returns. There are fewer and fewer places for them to go. Either they have to lower their standards or lobby for longer bonds.

Financial Times Financial Times

What are Central Banks doing about this? Are they bringing stability or making things worse?

The recent extension of the ECB’s QE programme to take in Corporate Bonds suggests the latter.

Whilst researching this article I discovered that the ECB had already been buying Volkswagen Bonds as part of its Asset Backed Security Purchase (ABS) Programme which started in November 2014.

The following City AM piece by Madeline Ratcliffe says :

The ECB started its asset-backed securities bond initiative last November, as part of efforts to be more transparent with investments.

I assume the piece is referring to the same ECB ABS purchase programme as referred to in the following Freedom of Information (FOI) Request.

I must admit I’ve seen no signs of any ECB efforts to be more transparent with investments.

As highlighted in their FOI response, current ECB policies are anything but transparent. The ECB’s PR team are well versed in the art of spouting nothing more than gobbledygook.

Perry Mehrling has pointed out that in reality a sense of mission creep has led to Central Banks becoming dealers of last resort.

If the ECB continues to fail to explain its ideas clearly then the time may come for it to have some new ones.