Elections and Stock Markets

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A number of studies have been done on the impact of the stock market on presidential elections. Not surprisingly, they show that when prices are rising on Wall Street, the occupant of the White House is very likely to win another term.

House prices have been rising three times faster than incomes over the last four years. They can’t do that forever. People have to be able to afford to live in houses. In many areas, the median house is already far too expensive for the median householder.

England has seen a similar run-up in house prices — especially around London. A typical one-bedroom apartment near the center of the city, for example, costs about $500,000—$800,000. How many Londoners can afford to buy them, we wondered. But recently, prices have been falling. The papers are full of alarums…one reports that prices have dropped as much as 20% over the summer!

“You are getting to be such Euro-snobs,” said an American friend over dinner.

Must have been something we said. Or something we drank.

Everyone likes to feel superior. The beer drinker imagines that he is more authentic and relaxed than the fops and snobs who drink wine. The champagne drinker fancies himself as smooth as David Niven or Cary Grant. And then, people move up the "snob scale" by trying to outdo each other with their knowledge of wine or fashion or art…or whatever…even language.

“If a man says ‘often’ and pronounces the ‘t’,” explained our friend, “he is snobbing out the poor oafs who say ‘offen’ as if they didn’t know how it was spelled. But then, people who really know anything about language know that you’re not supposed to pronounce the ‘t’…so they can snob out others by saying ‘offen’ just like the oafs who don’t know any better. But if you really want to snob them all out, you say ‘often,’ with a ‘t’…It’s a way of declaring that you’re not bound by silly old rules laid down by a bunch of language snobs a hundred years ago.

"Besides, the rules are mostly wrong — I mean, from a snob’s point of view. English is a Germanic language. But the language snobs were trained in Latin and French…because the Normans beat the English 1,000 years ago…so the Latinized version of the language was always the version used by the upper classes, and when they went to write down rules for the language, they applied the Latin rules, the wrong set of rules. But the real snob knows that the more authentic language is German. So when someone asks him, u2018Who’s there?’ he replies, u2018It’s me.’ I don’t know if that’s really more German or not…but it does make me feel superior.”

Bill Bonner [send him mail] is the author, with Addison Wiggin, of Financial Reckoning Day: Surviving the Soft Depression of The 21st Century.

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