It's not the economy

Like billions of others we watched with great intensity the inaugeration of the 44th President of the United States. We waited for the inspiration that sadly did not materialise. Not for me, anyway. I saw high intellect, total professionalism, firm resolve, irrelevant references to race, beautifully constructed language but no inspiration.

Sometimes when your back is against the wall a leader's inspiration is all you can look for, all you want; indeed all you can have. And at this point my country's back is indeed against the wall. So is Mister Obama's country and so are many others'.

The markets and the underpinning system has finally collapsed says, in any other words, a piece in this morning's Global Edition of the Times On-Line; (endorsed, incidentally, by all of yesterday's financial indeces.) The article is about Jim Rogers' pronouncement to that effect. I quote ...

"Worries intensified yesterday that the vast liabilities of Britain's wobbling banks could swamp the public finances. Between them, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and Barclays have total liabilities of £4.5 trillion. That is about twice the country's entire output and 40 times current government borrowing.

Mr Rogers gave no further reasons for his contemptuous assessment of Britain's prospects, but his view of America's bail-ut plan, which is similar to Britain's in many respects, probably explains his scepticism.

“The idea that you can fix a period of excess borrowing and excess consumption by more borrowing and more consumption to me is just ludicrous,” he has said.

He is also deeply gloomy about the time it will take to resolve the problems of the credit crunch. “Most Americans alive today won't be around by the time the last of this credit market mess is finally cleared away,” he said last August."

Who is this Jim Rogers? If you need to ask that, just be assured that he most often gets things right and is followed by millions of investors. Immediately following his pronouncement yesterday the value of pound v yen fell by 4%.

Any minute now, as night follows day, we will see the collapse of the first major insurer / pension provider. What then for us all and for all we individuals?

Those still alive who recall the dark days of 1939 will know the answer. They will remember that there are values far, far greater, far stronger than simple economics. (Yes, econmomics are very simple - in spite of the best efforts of a few to obfuscate their own grand larceny or to realise their political ambitions.) Look at the archival newspaper pictures of smiling people under bombing attack in London and Berlin. See the obvious content in the look of servicemen and women, no matter which uniform they wear.

Hardship can equal human happiness provided it is applied equally to your fellow as well as to you, yourself. And how very much easier is this when you are inspired by the spiritual values of your leader - Churchill, Hitler, Roosevelt, even Uncle Joe Stalin!

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