Saturday, October 4, 2014
The US Dollar VS Socrates
It certainly appears that as Europe and Japan collapse, the US dollar will keep rising indefinitely.
It appears that the US Dollar is manifestly different from the Euro and the Yen, and from the Ruble and the Yuan.
It is true that only the Dollar is able to fund itself internationally through the issuance of dollar denominated debt.
Yet it is also true that the dollar is similar to the other currencies in that has no intrinsic value. It is backed only by the Good Faith established by the US Government.
Some people claim that no currencies have ever had "intrinsic value." But this claim ignores that fact that for all of human history gold has been either money itself, of exchangeable on demand in virtually every city in the world for local currency - even today. This is the very definition of "Intrinsic value."
The dollar has been the world's reserve currency - which means it can fund itself through dollar denominated debt - for 50 years of world history.
That appears to be a very long time. It appears to be almost permanent.
Yet the dollar will cease to be the reserve currency the second a large creditor refuses to roll over its dollar denominated debt.
It appears that this will never happen.
Yet is has always happened.
As Euros and Yen and Rubles and Yuan flee Europe and Japan and Russia and China to escape the massive instability in those countries, and pour into the US - It Appears as if the US economy is strong and gaining strength.
Yet the US economy has barely been growing at 2 percent for the 5 years of current "recovery."
And as the Dollar gets stronger and stronger, it becomes increasingly difficult for US companies to export to the rest of the world.
It appears that the US Dollar strength must be a very good thing for the US economy and the US markets.
Yet that very dollar strength in an economy that's barely growing will be the very thing that pushes that US economy back into recession.
The markets appear to welcome the dollar strength.
Yet the US markets have thrived precisely because of everything the US Central Bank has done to weaken the US Dollar.
So what's all this have to do with Socrates?
Well, Socrates was the fellow who developed an entire Philosophy based on the idea that to understand anything at all one must ask as series of four questions:
1) What is it? 2) What is it not? 3) What does it appear to be? 4) What does it appear not to be?
The entire universe of Greek Philosophy revolved around the discussion of "Appearance" or "Seeming." The first word ever to appear on coinage is "Phanes" which means "To appear" or to "Seem to be", and also "to Shine" and by extension to be "Eminent" or "Royal."
Before the Greeks the idea of a difference between appearance and reality did not really exist. There is not even a word for to appear or to seem to be in the Semitic languages.
As our culture was founded on Greek Culture, our institutions founded on Greek institutions (like "Democracy") it would appear that Seeming or Appearance should be at the center of Modern American Thought.
Yet it is not.
In fact, there are many right now who would argue that everything is relative - in other words there is no real difference between Seeming to be and Being. It is thought to be quaint or naive to believe in this distinction that informed that thought of Socrates, Parmenides, Heraclitus and Plato.
We know better now. So if the dollar appears to be strong, and the US markets appear to be strong then they must be strong.
Until, suddenly, one day, they're not strong.
And then it will appear as if this change happened over night.