Link and Comment: the Fed

I read three daily newspapers now — the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, which I have delivered by paper to my home in Oakland — and still the Los Angeles Times, via a web browser subscription that my partner maintains for his family in SoCal. (Coverage of the arts and the movie industry is primary there.)

Obviously, I don’t read every word in every paper. (Does anyone?) I skim. I read the first few words of each article, to get an idea of what’s going on in the world, or scan it to get the idea of the piece and see if it fits into my interests.

Here’s one from Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, on a subject that wasn’t obviously relevant to me, but which was fascinating, and eventually, quite relevant to my current worldview…

Adam Davidson: In Greenbacks We Trust

It’s about the Federal Reserve, what is it, how it came to be (the San Francisco earthquake!), how much influence it has over the world. The writer discusses how the 2008 financial collapse challenged his faith in the bedrock of this system.

For me and many others who watch the markets, the collapse was not just a horrible financial and economic disaster. It was also a psychological and existential blow. It brought on a painful recognition that there is nothing truly solid at the center of our economic lives. There are only the stories we tell one another, the promises we make, the shared views we have about the future. It’s something like the challenge so many writers faced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when they confronted a world without a knowable God providing absolute structure. Or the work by Einstein and Heisenberg that shattered the predictable world of Newton and showed that there will always be uncertainty, that there are fundamental limits to our understanding.

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