Saturday, October 11, 2008


This crisis is on the path of surreality. I understand Dadaism in an entirely new way after this week.
  • Switzerland (1291 - 2008?), as an independent nation, may be in danger. Naked Capitalism, in Why European Banks Look Precarious, reports:
    Many are fearful of the consequences should UBS capsize. Switzerland's gross domestic product totals 512 billion Swiss francs (€332.1 billion). UBS's balance sheet adds up to 2 trillion Swiss francs (€1.3 trillion) -- four times as much. Even Switzerland's second biggest bank, Credit Suisse, oversees assets totalling 1.2 trillion Swiss francs (€778.4 billion). Together UBS and Credit Suisse have over 640 billion

    Swiss francs (€415.1 billion) in outstanding loans.

    "We owe this crisis an uncomfortable revelation: UBS and Credit Suisse are too big for Switzerland," wrote the ex-editor-in-chief of the German weekly Die Zeit, Roger de Weck, last week in the Swiss periodical Das Magazin. "If they went bankrupt, a flourishing country would be ruined."
  • In other surreal news, things have gotten so bad that former President Carter felt comfortable slamming another president for his handling of the economy. Seriously, I'm not joking:
  • Former President Jimmy Carter said on Friday the "atrocious economic policies" of the Bush administration had caused the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

    Carter told reporters on a stopover in Brussels that "profligate spending," massive borrowing and dramatic tax cuts since President George W. Bush took office in 2001 were behind the market turmoil and economic crisis.

    "I think it's because of the atrocious economic policies of the Bush administration," said the 84-year-old Democrat, who served in the White House from 1977-1981 during a period of high inflation and energy crisis.

  • North Korea is no longer a member of the "Axis of Evil." Oddly, this raises serious theological questions of theodicy and redemption. If we posit that evil exists, is it possible to go from evil to no longer evil?

  • The NSA actually admits to both its existence and its suspect conduct.

  • President Bush is 'relieved' that is presidency is almost over. Really, this is not the Onion. Truth trumps fiction.

  • Our Cook County Sheriff insisted that he will no longer be serving eviction notices to renters, as banks have failed their obligation to identify building occupants prior to service.

  • The ethics of koshrut and the 'ethical koshrut movement' are actually examined as opposed to assumed after terrible conditions have been uncovered in kosher slaughtering facilities.

  • The New York Review of Books published a competent piece about George Soros.

  • A major political party in the United States has broadcast its scorn of 'words' and actually managed to bring the sophomoric solipsism, 'book knowledge,' into a competition for the highest office in the land as an epithet.

  • An experienced writer has actually composed a non-satirical nor hysterical piece seriously labeling the United States a 'banana republic.'
Where is the world I grew up in, the world we all once knew? This week has changed our lives in material ways, whether we are able to recognize it yet or not. How is there such a lack of seriousness in such serious times? Jon Stewart composed a piece showing 'news' channels and programs using cartoons, oversize dominoes, and childish language to 'explain' the crisis.

I remember, as a child the Challenger disaster. News programs were somber, informative, and substantial. Now, Jim Lehrer, a guy usually referenced in accordance with his 'high-brow' style, has some shmuck on laying down sheets of paper with zeroes onto a coffee table.

Has anyone felt compelled by a strong sense of 'leadership?' Not just from the US, but from anywhere? The closest I came was hearing the UK Finance Minister speak rather frankly about the scenario. Alas, that was comforting simply because at least someone in power appeared to be contending with reality, not because of any great leadership demonstrated. Now, there are actual discussions and preparations taking place for the possible failure of Switzerland.

I am caught; a strange stasis straddling outburst and shrivel.

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