To take the parochial first, Malcolm Turnbull is now the Leader of the Opposition here in Oz, around three months later than I expected he would be. As the Sydney Morning Herald notes, Now Rudd has a contest. Sure, Turnbull has an ego the size of Jessie the elephant — who lived incidentally in the old Sydney Zoo where Sydney Girls High now is. But then, Disraeli was hardly a shrinking violet, to cite a 19th century English Conservative in comparison. The Rudd government had better perform now, difficult as that will be with an Opposition scenting blood and still playing spoiler. I know that’s politics, but I really wish they could do better than that. One of the best things that could happen for the sake of the country would be for people like Nick Minchin and Tony Abbott to go completely out of fashion. Their approach to politics damages the rest of us. They think it is about winning a game; I think it should be about winning respect and caring for the country. However, the rise of Turnbull does put an intelligent, capable person in the position of alternative Prime Minister, and that has to be an advance. One hopes the Liberal Party moves right away from the narrow, anal, and even at times quite evil, legacy of John Howard.
Annabel Crabb in the Herald this morning did amuse me with this though:
Accounts of the Turnbull ego do differ across the broad church of the Liberal Party.
Some argue it is Milky Way-sized, while his intimate admirers and defenders (whose ranks are fast swelling with opportunists) argue it could probably be squeezed into Wembley Stadium.
The chances of him finding anything about yesterday genuinely humbling, however, are about as good as Zimbabwe’s new power-sharing agreement panning out well.
Now for Wall Street. I could go into cliche mode about the wickedness of capitalism and the sin of greed, but while I may have such thoughts anything I would have to offer would be utterly banal. So I turn to a couple of people much better informed than I am. First, here in Oz, there is Ross Gittins: Worrying only makes things worse.
One good thing about our modern problem of information overload is that, no matter how bad the news, we never focus on it for long. Another day, another crisis. The end of the world is so last week.
I came to that conclusion in the aftermath of the great Wall Street sharemarket crash of October 1987. It was hugely dramatic and quite frightening. And just because most people don’t know what these things prove, doesn’t stop them concluding they must be Very Bad. Sometimes I think the less you understand, the more dire the conclusions you draw. Just to help things along, the media carried pundits predicting that, as in 1929, the great crash would precipitate another great depression (thereby revealing their towering ignorance of the true causes of the Great Depression).
Always one to react against predictions of death and destruction, I limited myself to saying it made a world recession likely. Wrong. In the end it had hardly any noticeable effect on any economy. I had figured that the scare it gave would prompt people around the world to pull in their heads and thereby bring on a downturn. But I reckoned without the media’s ever-shrinking attention span. After a week or so the crash that was going to end it all hardly rated another mention. The punters soon forgot about it…
Second, in the USA I suggest John Taplin. That links to his September 2008 entries….