Monday, January 23, 2012

Year of the Dragon

Chinese New Year, 23 Jan 2012

What I know about dragons: They are big hoarders of lethargic wealth. They live in gated communities or other hard-to-reach places.

I know that their hoards are money that is not circulating.

I know that the gold miners have to work twice as hard to produce gold to replace the gold trapped in the dragon hoards.

I know that the dragons capture most of the newly produced gold, so that the miners' work solves no problem.

I know that in good times, their hoards look to us like "the ford foundation" and "the bill and melinda gates foundation" and we think that they do good work. And they do. But their hoards interfere with circulation. The hoards make good times go bad.

I know that dragons arise as dark ages approach.


Smaug was intimately familiar with every last item within his hoard, and instantly noticed the theft of a relatively inconsequential cup by Bilbo Baggins. According to Tolkien, his rage was the kind which "is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy lose something they have long had but never before used or wanted."

Encyclopedia of psychology and religion, Volume 2
By David Adams Leeming, Kathryn Madden, Stanton Marlan
via Google Books

A couple good brief stories there, St. George and the dragon, Beowulf, more. But then the book takes these tales of hoarding and recoup, and turns them into psychobabble:

As C.G. Jung writes, "[t]he treasure which the hero fetches from the dark cavern is life: it is himself, new-born from the dark maternal cave of the unconscious..."

That's not what I'm talking about. There is no metaphor, no analogy in my description. The concept of the "dragon's hoard" applies directly to our present economic situation. And the stories of dragons convey the size and scope of the dangers that arise when the hoards absorb too much of society's wealth.

The Wealth Report, June 22, 2011:

According to the annual World Wealth Report from Merill Lynch and Capgemini, the U.S. had 3.1 million millionaires in 2010, up from 2.86 million in 2009. The latest figure tops the pre-crisis peak of three million.

David Cay Johnston of Reuters, October 19, 2011:

There were fewer jobs and they paid less last year, except at the very top where, the number of people making more than $1 million increased by 20 percent over 2009.

The median paycheck — half made more, half less — fell again in 2010, down 1.2 percent to $26,364.

CNN Money, May 9, 2011:

Despite the Great Recession, which wiped out $15.5 trillion in household wealth in the United States alone, the number of millionaires in this country and abroad will grow rapidly over the next decade.

Dragons arise as dark ages approach.

//UPDATE 23 Jan 2012: I have removed the Huffington Post quote (which said "median income fell") at the request of David Cay Johnston (who actually said the "median paycheck" fell. By email, Mr. Johnston points out that "Wages are only one component of income."

Mr. Johnston's First look at US pay data, it’s awful at Reuters is excellent.


jim said...

You have previously told the reader there is only $2 trillion in real money(M1) and then you inform the reader there are 3 million Americans "hoarding" more than a million dollars each.

Does that add up?

Perhaps you will enjoy this:

There is this blogger named Philip George who has an interesting take on the "riddle
of money"

The Arthurian said...

Did I confuse hoarding with saving, perhaps?

Interesting link. Maybe I will print it out. Thanks.