Sunday, October 2, 2011

A question of timing

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

When the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached its all-time high on October 9th, 2007, plenty of voices could already be heard drawing attention to the boom's shaky foundations in subprime mortgage and credit expansion. We fantasize about heeding their advice at just the right moment, selling out at the top of the market, and sitting out the next year and a half during which the Dow lost more than half of its "value".

But, at the time, although we know the party is going to end badly, we don't want to miss any of the fun.

Jeremiah told the people of his generation that the party would soon be over.  But it took decades for his vision of a boiling pot, tipping over from the north, to reach its fulfillment.

Common sense, not to mention a succession of writers from the 1970s until now, tell us that the endless growth model is going to run up against hard limits sooner or later.  Heinberg (The End of Growth, 2011) tells us that the time is now: "Economic growth as we have known it is over and done with." Maybe he's right.  But can't we stay at the party just a little longer?

The trouble is, getting out of this party is not as simple as getting out of the stock market.  It can't be accomplished with a few mouse clicks. It takes a change in direction, in values, in the emotional and practical skillset I bring to life.  In a word, repentance.

And by the time that changed direction is truly needed, it will be too late to begin learning it.  Better start practicing now, in the community of faith.

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