Saturday, June 26, 2010

Greek Crisis Update

I go on vacation for a couple weeks and things change quickly in Greece.

Greek bond rates shoot past 10% almost to 11%.  CMA datavision now shows a probability of default of 68% (highest in the world), up from 34% a month and a half ago.

Interesting note - California and Illinois probabilities of default have shot up considerably recently as well.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Greek Crisis Over? No

For links and explanations on the current economic scene, go here.

A few weeks back, Greek bond rates soared and the EU rushed in with a bailout.  Crisis averted, story over, right? Not exactly.

Before rates started to skyrocket they were on a steady upward march.  After the panic, however, government bond rates returned to that upward trend.  This crisis can not be considered over until Greek government bond rates stop going up.  They are now north of 8% and are on trend to cross 10% by the end of the year. 

Furthermore, I captured CMA Datavision's estimate of the cumulative probability of default back on May 12th.  At the time it was 33.92%.  That number has now risen to 45.31% a month later.

I see no sign yet that Greece is going to recover without a default or leaving the Euro and printing money.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Propaganda Revisited

In this column, I want to establish that the mature Christian mind is best protected against propaganda.

Last year, as I watched in disgust as so many Americans were mesmerized by Obama's frighteningly dark drivel, I read Jacques Ellul's 'Propaganda'.  Much rang true, but I didn't have much background to question his evidence.

As I've mulled over how people choose to believe what they believe, I was reminded of some passages in his book.  He describes modern man as such:

Above all he is a victim of emptiness-he is a man devoid of meaning.  He is very busy, but he is emotionally empty, open to all entreaties and in search of only one thing - something to fill his inner void.

The main point to my four part series on rationality was that people choose to believe the most emotionally satisfying answers.  Furthermore, I believe that our ability to ascertain the true nature of reality is when we have little emotional stake in the answer.  If we emotionally need an answer to be true we will rationalize and even lie to ourselves to satisfy those emotional needs.  In general, if we are emotionally needy people, our ability to adhere to reality is diminished.

What I propose, and it will be left unproved until later posts, is that Christianity provides the ultimate path to emotional satisfaction because it prescribes optimal human behavior.  This optimal human behavior is what I call morality.  Reality, as described by Christianity, I will call the Truth.

If one rejects the Truth, one must be accepting a disreality, a non-truth, or more simply, a set of lies.  By pursuing a path that is suboptimal, one will inevitably suffer.  The pain we suffer because we have chosen to believe a disreality while living in reality wounds us emotionally.  The inevitability of pursuing a disreality is emotional emptiness.  This emptiness, as Ellul points out, leads one to believe more lies and more propaganda.

Empty people will fall prey to propaganda.  Inevitably they will be ruled by the propagandizers.  The emptier they are, the more brutal the rule over them will be.  They will be imprisoned by the lies they have told themselves to assuage their emptiness.  It truly is a hell of their own making. 

Only the emotionally satisfied mind can see reality as it is.  And, as I propose, only the Christian mind can be fully emotionally satisfied.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Series on Rational Thought - Part IV

Rationality was born as a tool to satiate our wants and desires.  Ideas, as units of rationality, are tools within the whole.  Ideas are like any object.  We grab ahold of those ideas that satisfy our wants and needs, and discard those that do not.  When we choose to believe something, it is because it satisfies an emotional need.

I explicitly reject the notion that we can limit our beliefs to rationality.  Rationality is why we choose to believe some things, but it is not how we have come to believe most things.  We only stick to rationality when the subject major has no emotional incumbrances.  In some areas of human though, rationality can reign, such as physics, but in economics, psychology, and sociology, emotions prevent us from more objective analysis.

The final implication is religious.  I recently had an interaction with a very smart atheist friend of mine who told me that he thought that a belief in the after life was ridiculous.  I got him to concede that the evidence provides no light on its existence.  He asked why then I did believe, to which I replied, "Given the lack of evidence, it's the most emotionally satisfying answer."  He was unsatisfied with this reponse, still wedded to rationalism.  We left the discussion at that point.

I returned a few days later to continue the discussion after concluding the ideas in this series I blogged.  He followed my reasoning that all beliefs are emotionally born, and that rationalism is merely a particular method of choosing beliefs.  He conceded my point and admitted that my choice was justifiable.  The discussion was obviously much longer, but this was the final outcome.