Wednesday, May 18, 2016

To explain Spain: Madrid - I

I'm so sick of writing about Donald Trump that I've decided to write about the country where I live, Spain. I usually don't do this in my English language blog, because what knowledge of Spain I may have achieved by now is very long learned and intensely personal, with plenty of "skin in the game", and I would be loathe to do a superficial, touristy travelogue for English speaking day trippers; coyly loaded with bulls and flamenco and tips on where to dine, etc. That sort of thing makes me squirm.

However, I can imagine that I might have some things to say about Spain that someone genuinely curious to learn about one of Europe's oldest and most historically rich and important countries might find useful. 

To begin with, forget about all the classic cliches about Spain, from Bizet to Mérimée to Hemingway, and take a close look at this map:

European population density
You'll notice that most of the center of the Iberian Peninsula has a population density similar to the outback of Sweden or Finland or the forests and western Steppes of Russia... or the Alps... and you see that smack dab in the middle of that vast yellow emptiness on the map, floating like an asteroid, there is a blue star-shaped blob called Madrid (where I live). This is a city with a population of 3.165 million people.

According to the map's legend, the blue color of the blob shows that Madrid has a density of population similar to Paris or London. Spain has a total population of 46.77 million, while France has 66.03 million, Britain 64.1 million and Germany 81.1 million .

More or less one out of every 15 Spaniards lives in the blue blob in the middle of nowhere.

Madrid is not only the largest city in Spain, it is also the political, financial, cultural and communication capital of the country. To put this into an American context, try to imagine if Washington, New York and Los Angeles were all in one city... located somewhere in Montana.

If you now move your attention to the right toward the Mediterranean coast you'll see a large, long and narrow area with a brick-red color similar to most of Germany and the dynamic northern region of Italy around Milan.

At the top of the red patch sits Barcelona, the capital of the Catalonian region of Spain which produces some twenty percent of the Spanish GDP.

So without any knowledge of the history, culture and languages of the blue blob and red patch, separated as they are by a great expanse of yellow, it's easy to imagine the tension that might exist between the blob and the patch.

My next post on Spain will be about why the blue blob got to be where it is. DS


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Obama and Trump... The Hillary Connection

It would be practically impossible to imagine two more different human beings than President Obama and Donald Trump, but it occurred to me that they do have one thing important in common: they both chose to make their move and go for the presidency when their prime opponent was most probably going to be Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Clinton is now viewed unfavorably by 55 percent of the electorate, according to the HuffPost Pollster average, (...) Only 40.2 percent of people view her favorably, according to that average.(...) The historic comparisons are stark. At this point in the 2008 presidential cycle, then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was seen favorably by 62 percent of voters and unfavorably by just 33 percent. (...) In the most recent Gallup poll, released late last month, her unfavorable number was 53 percent versus only 42 percent who saw her favorably. The Hill
Most observers agree that however different they may be in every other way, one thing most successful people have in common is that eye for "the big chance", the instinct to catch an opportunity that perhaps only comes once in a lifetime, and I would argue that both Barack Obama and Donald Trump, if nothing else, share that instinct.

Obama has been a successful president and his only stumbling block to having been an even better one has been his inability to deal with the catastrophic obstructionism of the Tea Party infected, Republican legislators. That was always going to be very difficult, but I would argue that Obama could have been even a more successful president if he had spent a few more years in the Senate, learning the ins and outs of how that institution works and building personal relationships with its key members. But if he had stayed, he probably would never have become president. 

The moment to run against Hillary would have passed.

Donald Trump has been fondling the idea of being President of the United States for the longest time.
Establishment Republicans have watched the rise of Mr. Trump’s presidential bid this year with shock. And yet, Mr. Trump has been telegraphing his presidential ambitions for decades, including when the ever-confident businessman told Oprah Winfrey in 1988 that he would probably win the presidency if he ever competed for it. Wall Street Journal
Seeing an amazingly lackluster Republican field of what the British would call "odds and sods" and waiting for him and at the end of that rainbow... Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

Every fiber of his being must have shouted, "go for it".

We can only hope that he will have less luck with it than Senator Barack Obama did. DS


Friday, May 06, 2016

The Trump voters' message

The Trump voters' message to America and the world could possibly be contained in the two words: "Fuck + You", or then again their message might be described as "nihilism".
Nihilism: a doctrine or belief that conditions in the social organization are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility. Merriam-Webster
I'm sure I'm not alone in not finding Trump interesting, but I have to admit that I am fascinated by the people who are fascinated by Trump.

When you come down to it, what is truly amazing is that Trump's speech is so contradictory as to be utterly meaningless... and that is the message and the key to his success. The only constant is his aggressiveness, his offensiveness. 

Nate Silver, one of America's most insightful political analysts, who admits having constantly "misunderestimated" the Donald, in analyzing his own puzzlement, sums up the heart of Trump's success.
Trump’s main differentiator was doubling down on cultural grievance: grievances against immigrants, against Muslims, against political correctness, against the media, and sometimes against black people and women. And the strategy worked. Nate Silver - FiveThirtyEight
Who is moved by this? Who is it working for? Where will it lead?

I know I shouldn't quote myself, but a couple of months ago I wrote:
We are looking at exasperated, paranoiac, xenophobic, racist nastiness, in short a fascistic mentality of crippled personalities in reaction to changing mores and a failing economy. All the unhappiness and frustration are searching for moral absolutes. Moral absolutes are what allow people to kill each other... if only in their imagination. All this hateful speech and dippy ideas are pregnant with death, they are about to give birth to a monster, but the Republicans are only the midwives... They are helpless in the face of the spirits they have invoked from the country's inner darkness. It is that darkness not any individual like Trump that should worry us, something very, very nasty is cooking in it.
In short I'm saying that if Donald Trump is not the genuine old Nick, could he be some sort of dark mirror "John the Baptist" for the very Devil himself? 

That what is really important is not Trump himself but the forces he invokes.

But returning to the present, aside from Trump's aggressiveness his only other constant is "making deals". At this he is an acknowledged master

Something that has been rolling around my mind for some time. Does he really want to be President of the United States or is he putting together the deal to end all deals?

For at this moment, for a deal maker, the Donald is in a very sweet if dangerous spot. 

Back in February I wrote:
Lets look at what's on the table. 
The Republican Party controls both houses of Congress... for the moment, and a Supreme Court that could mark the ideological slant for a generation is up for grabs. 
If Trump runs as either the Republican candidate or as an independent, all poll projections predict an Armageddon for the Republicans, with not only the loss of the presidency, but loss of majorities in both houses  of Congress, perhaps even in state houses too. 
Has the moment finally come for doing a "deal"?
It seems to me that Donald Trump is now holding the family jewels of some of the most powerful people in the world in his tiny warm hands and is squeezing them rather hard. We are talking about a political party that now controls both houses of Congress and represents the interests of the top 0.01% of the American economy. What laws could they write for him (which I'm sure Obama, as a patriot, would be quick to sign)? Or how much would, say the Koch brothers, or all the conservative super-PACs, be willing to cough up to kiss him goodbye 
The shape of a deal?
What are the Republicans still in a position to offer Donald Trump between now and the convention, something which would be more attractive for him than losing the presidential race by a historic margin and destroying the Republican Party in the process... in which case they could give him nothing?
I should have said "in which case they could give him the same medicine as was given to Jimmy Hoffa". 

Donald Trump has already made some of the most powerful people in America his blood enemies in exchange for what seems to be a slim chance of winning the White House.  

Is he insane? 

Is he not insane? 

I admit I don't know which of the two is the worse alternative. DS






Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Nightmare of Clinton versus Trump: Hillary is not a shoo in

Is a dream a lie if it don't come true, or is it something worse?   
"The River" - Bruce Springsteen 

The failure of the economy to deliver real progress to middle-class and working-class Americans over the past 15 years is the most fundamental source of public anger and disaffection in the US.  BBC News 
Forty years of hurt has driven some people to answer Springsteen's question, that the American dream is something worse than a lie, and from that bleak answer they are looking for a political leader who echoes their anger. So my answer to presenters' questions whether Trump can win, is now and was before the primaries started: "Yes."  Michael Goldfarb - BBC

As of Today

In this the strangest of presidential election years, a poorly flushed Donald Trump pops up out of the backed up drains of the American psyche and the only thing standing between him and the Republican nomination is Senator Ted Cruz, who could pass as Boris Karloff's baby brother. 

Republican debate has now moved from the size of Mr Trump's penis to whether the evangelical Mr Cruz sleeps around. And this, far from hurting Trump, is fattening his lead in the polls
Mr Trump has succeeded in breaking down the boundaries of political debate. He has drained all civility from politics and licensed a discourse that elides bigotry with patriotism, is derisive of women, scornful of minorities and permissive of racism. The Republican primaries have become a contest in which it is acceptable to throw a punch at those who happen to disagree, to threaten to muzzle the freedom of the press and to make jokes about those with disabilities. Mr Trump has tossed overboard any idea that politics and public service can serve a moral purpose. Philip Stephens - Financial Times
If The Donald wins the nomination, which as of today, seems probable, he will, unless a kind providence intervenes, end up facing the most soiled politician in America... except for her husband, of course: Hillary Clinton.

For no one, not even Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, has objectively done more to turn Bruce Springsteen's dream into a lie than the Clintons.

Here is how Thomas Frank lays it out:

Ukraine is considered the most corrupt nation in Europe

After the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000, the corporate scandals of the Enron period, and the collapse of the real estate racket, our view of the prosperous Nineties has changed quite a bit. Now we remember that it was Bill Clinton’s administration that deregulated derivatives, that deregulated telecom, and that put our country’s only strong banking laws in the grave. He’s the one who rammed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) through Congress and who taught the world that the way you respond to a recession is by paying off the federal deficit. Mass incarceration and the repeal of welfare, two of Clinton’s other major achievements, are the pillars of the disciplinary state that has made life so miserable for Americans in the lower reaches of society. He would have put a huge dent in Social Security, too, had the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal not stopped him. If we take inequality as our measure, the Clinton administration looks not heroic but odious. Thomas Frank - Salon


The Skinny
Assuming, as now appears most likely, that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination and that either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz becomes the Republican nominee, the general-election ballot is set to feature a choice between two candidates more negatively viewed than any major-party nominee in the history of polling. Ruth Marcus - Washington Post
The only thing standing between such a nightmare choice for American voters is Bernie Sanders.

No two human beings could be more different than Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump and the most fundamental difference between them is that Trump is a very bad man and Bernie is a very good man,

However what they both have in common is that their campaigns are both propelled by the passionate anger that so many Americans feel at the failure of the "American Dream" and their mounting distrust of the "Establishment", Wall Street, the media and of course the government itself.

Hillary Clinton's basic problem is that no one incarnates that Establishment so much as she does.

If it's Hillary versus Trump, America and a watching world will be treated to probably the dirtiest, most depressing campaign imaginable and with the probable, massive abstention of grossed out voters of both the left and traditional conservatives too and therefore with a result infinitely more unpredictable than anyone can now imagine.

However if Bernie Sanders manages to pull off an upset and the race is between him and Trump, the world will be treated to an all-American, Hollywood-esque spectacle of good versus evil, Batman pitted against The Joker, Saint George kicking the dragon's ass.

Not only would it change America and the world, it would be tremendous fun.


Probably the most fascinating, indeed endearing thing about the USA is the "let it all hang out" transparency of such a huge beast. What is missing today, unfortunately, is someone like Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis or Norman Mailer to write about all of this. DS

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Republican Primaries: The Voyage from Eisenhower to Trump

"Oppressed beneath the weight of their own corruption and of military violence, they for a long while preserved the sentiments, or at least the ideas of their free-born ancestors."  Edward Gibbon, "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire"

I think people are making a mistake if they treat the Republican primaries as serious politics. They obviously aren't, but at the same time it seems to me that they are a more than serious symptom of levels of unhappiness, frustration and confusion among the citizenry that border and frequently cross the border of collective insanity.

Under Richard Nixon's guidance the Republican party executed the "Southern Strategy" and took know-nothing, racist-populist America to its bosom and began to win majorities sufficient to implement policies that have led that same voter base of know-nothing, racist-populist Americans to even greater degradation.

Now the Republicans are trapped in a nut house of their own creation.

Just as an exercise of political science fiction, try to imagine Dwight D. Eisenhower in the midst of these Republican primaries, try to imagine him on Fox news. 


Impossible, right?

When I was a boy the Republicans that lived around me were mostly pallid, though vigorous, high church Episcopalians, solid, smug types who struggled mightily with golf and sedately clipped stock coupons. As to the younger ones, crew cuts and white bucks, energetically embalmed in stifling, Pat Booney squareness come immediately to mind.

I cannot think of a better bellwether of America's malaise then that of the party of the formerly priggish, self-contented, self-righteous, self-satisfied, conventional and sensible becoming the party of the paranoiac, the exasperated and the kooky

A century from now, the years between Eisenhower's and today's Republican party will seem a brief interlude and I'm sure that Chinese historians will puzzle over the swift deterioration of America and its institutions in that time frame.

I am neither Chinese nor a historian and I am puzzled as hell. I was a kid when Ike was president and I am an old man now... Blessed with an extremely good memory, I have trouble associating the America I was born into and the America that withers before my eyes today, as if it were being struck down by a wasting disease.

I would think it important to separate this new "conservatism" from the traditional variety. Remember the American vice is to use language to hide meaning. 

One of the most disturbing things about America is the incoherence of American language, the endless euphemism-laden double talk. American terminology is confusing and perhaps the confusion is deliberate.

For example, everywhere but in the USA, “red” is the color of the left, but in America, the term, “red state”, means one that is right-wing and “blue”, which is a color that in most countries is associated with the right, to ultra-right, in the US is used to label what Americans call “liberal”, which in the USA means the left, but which everywhere else is used to label the economic right-wing… These examples are just the tip of a semantic iceberg.

This brings us to the word, “conservative”.

The new conservative is, in plain English, in fact, a neo-fascist and the personality traits we observe on the American right these days are those of a fascist.

What is the difference?

If a person is born into a well to do, stable family, where the parents respect and perhaps even love each other and treat the child kindly and his/her exposure to traditional religion is benign. He/she is likely to accept the family’s traditions and values unquestioningly.

From that point his/her attitude will be one of prudence, of not spoiling  (for him/her and his/her family) a good thing… and his/her attitude toward the less fortunate than himself/herself may even be benevolent and paternalistic and be expressed in contributions to charity and other good works.

What we are seeing in the Republicans now, has little or nothing to do with that kind of conservatism. We are looking at exasperated, paranoiac, xenophobic, racist nastiness, in short a fascistic mentality of crippled personalities in reaction to changing mores and a failing economy.

All the unhappiness and frustration are searching for moral absolutes. Moral absolutes are what allow people to kill each other... if only in their imagination. All this hateful speech and dippy ideas are pregnant with death, they are about to give birth to a monster, but the Republicans are only the midwives... They are helpless in the face of the spirits they have invoked from the country's inner darkness. It is that darkness not any individual like Trump that should worry us, something very, very nasty is cooking in it. DS

Monday, February 29, 2016

Is Trump really running for POTUS, or is he just "making a deal"?

"My party has gone bat shit crazy"
Sen. Lindsey Graham R-SC

How did he survive all this?... Hint: watch what happens next


What makes Donny run? 

He is known far and wide as a "deal-maker". 

To most American ears this term "deal-maker" is both familiar and at the same time a bit exotic. In the USA 90+% of Americans go innocently through life paying the price marked on the product they are buying or "shopping around" for a better price and if the price seems correct, this is considered a "good deal". However if you had spent some time haggling over every tomato you bought in the market places of countries like India or Morocco, or visited other cities famous for their "bazaar mentality" where you must even bargain with a pharmacist for the price of a tube of toothpaste, with "and if I buy two?" or "if I pay in dollars?",   you would have had to have learned how to make real deals or you would have been quickly skinned alive even by the street urchins, 

We might say that Donald Trump could hold his own in some of those places, but he wouldn't stand out all that much.

He even wrote a famous book about it, "The Art of the Deal".

Here is a review of that book, from the New York Times, by one of America's most prestigious literary critics:
He is proud to be at play in the fields of American free enterprise, looking for every loophole in the law and edge on his competitors he can possibly get.(...) He sounds disingenuous when he asserts that he never harassed the tenants of 100 Central Park South, but merely wanted to help the downtrodden when he threatened to move homeless people into the building's empty apartments. Christopher Lehmann-Haupt - NYT review of "The Art of the Deal"
Let Donald himself explain how it is done, which he did very thoroughly in his book:
“My style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward. I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after.” (...) “The point is that if you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you.”(...) “good publicity is preferable to bad, but from a bottom-line perspective, bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all. Controversy, in short, sells.”(...) The point is that you can't be too greedy.(...) “I discovered, for the first time but not the last, that politicians don’t care too much what things cost. It’s not their money"(emphasis mine) Donald Trump - Quotes from "The Art of the Deal"
Those are all quotes from his best selling book for the 1980s, The Republican Party are living those quotes in their own flesh at the moment.
U.S. Republicans in Washington are coming to grips with what many of them not long ago considered an unimaginable reality: Donald Trump is likely to be their presidential nominee and standard-bearer.(...) Trump has vowed to scrap U.S. trade deals, slap a tariff on imported goods and raise taxes on hedge-fund managers, as well as retain some sort of mandate to purchase health insurance - clashing with the free-market principles that have long underpinned Republican economic policy. Some Republicans in Congress, such as (...) Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said a Trump nomination would do enormous damage to the party and predicted a heavy election defeat in November to the eventual Democratic nominee. "I am like on the team that bought a ticket on the Titanic after we saw the movie,” said Graham, contending that Trump would be “slaughtered” in the general election. Money Market
Very big money is beginning to react:
A top adviser to the network of donors backed by billionaires Charles and David Koch is joining Republican Marco Rubio‘s presidential campaign, as the Florida senator seeks to rally establishment support.(...)The Kochs, who preside over a network of donors who plan to spend roughly $750 million influencing 2016 races, have said they don’t necessarily plan to endorse a candidate in the Republican primary race(...)a growing question for the Kochs is whether they will intervene to bolster the campaign of a Trump alternative. Mr. Rubio has addressed the network on several occasions. Wall Street Journal
Panic is setting in and Trump is ready and waiting for it.
The specter of Donald Trump as an elected nominee for president pushed his Republican opponents to desperate measures on Sunday, two days before a dozen states could vote to give the billionaire a huge lead in the 2016 contest.(...) Both Kasich and Rubio – who trails Trump in his Florida home – suggested their campaigns were ready for a brokered Republican convention in July, in order to keep the delegates Trump needs out of his hands. But that scenario would require a wholesale revolt against Trump by the Republican party, and the billionaire repeated hints that he is prepared to break his pledge not to run a third-party campaign.“If they have a problem, I’m going to have a big problem with that,” Trump said. “If they want to play that game, I can play it a lot better than they can.” (emphasis mineThe Guardian
Lets look at what's on the table.

The Republican Party controls both houses of Congress... for the moment, and a Supreme Court that could mark the ideological slant for a generation is up for grabs.

If Trump runs as either the Republican candidate or as an independent, all poll projections predict an Armageddon for the Republicans, with not only the loss of the presidency, but loss of majorities in both house of Congress, perhaps even in state houses too.

Has the moment finally come for doing a "deal"?

It seems to me that Donald Trump is now holding the family jewels of some of the most powerful people in the world in his tiny warm hands and is squeezing them rather hard. We are talking about a political party that now controls both houses of Congress and represents the interests of the top 0.01% of the American economy. What laws could they write for him (which I'm sure Obama, as a patriot, would be quick to sign)? Or how much would, say the Koch brothers, or all the conservative super-PACs, be willing to cough up to kiss him goodbye

The shape of a deal?

What are the Republicans still in a position to offer Donald Trump between now and the convention, something which would be more attractive for him than losing the presidential race by a historic margin and destroying the Republican Party in the process... in which case they could give him nothing?

To answer that question we would have to know things that, for the moment, only Trump himself and possibly his lawyers, accountants and tax "planners" know, but which might become public (IRS-FBI) knowledge in a foreseeable future?

Stay tuned. DS

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Oil, Banks and Bonds and the Majestic Flight of the Oozlum Bird

If you don't know him already, let me introduce you to the Oozlum Bird, probably the most useful metaphor possible for describing the world's economic/political situation today.
The oozlum bird, also spelt ouzelum, is a legendary creature found in Australian and British folk tales and legends. Some versions have it that, when startled, the bird will take off and fly around in ever-decreasing circles until it manages to fly up itself, disappearing completely, which adds to its rarity.(...) A variant of the oozlum, possibly a mutation, is the weejy weejy bird, which has only one wing which causes it to fly in tighter, faster, smaller circles, until it disappears up its own fundament. Wikipedia
Where are we now in in the Oozlum's flight plan?
Received wisdom has been upended. The fall from $100 a barrel in 2014 should have seen consuming nations throwing their hats in the air. Not a bit of it. Europe, beset by stagnation and overwhelmed by refugees, has other things on its mind. The US, now producer as much as consumer, is stuck with anaemic growth. China, the world’s thirstiest economy, has its own challenges. Global equity markets have tumbled in tandem with the oil price. Philip Stephens - Financial Times
Lets bring that up a bit closer, make it "real".
As the economy struggled to take off in the years after the financial crisis, Americans had at least one shining source of optimism: a booming stock market that not only helped rebuild shattered 401k plans, but suggested better times to come.(...) that silver lining is being threatened. The stock market is lurching downward after a flat 2015, and large banks are casting increasingly gloomy predictions about returns in the years to come. Some older workers say they’re now planning to push back retirement dates, bracing for a protracted bear market that shrinks their nest egg.  (...) wages are flat and housing prices are only beginning to recover. (...)Bond yields are at basement-lows and savings accounts offer only fractional interest rates.     Washington Post
Closer yet:
Older Americans are burdened with unprecedented debt loads as more and more baby boomers enter what are meant to be their retirement years owing far more on their houses, cars and even college loans than previous generations. The average 65-year-old borrower has 47% more mortgage debt and 29% more auto debt than 65-year-olds had in 2003, after adjusting for inflation, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released Friday. Wall Street Journal
Of course in a globalized economy, what goes around, comes around.

Today's financial crisis, as in any oozlum-ish situation, has innumerable factors all of which play off each other in endless and unpredictable ways. One of the most ominous factors is the deteriorating geopolitical situation's effect on the price of oil and vice-versa; and the effect crashing oil prices have on the health of banks and investment and retirement funds. 

Two years ago activists were pressuring investment funds etc, to divest from oil company shares. Most fund managers, even those most sympathetic to their pleas, found this nearly or totally impossible.
If you have your 401(k) or IRA invested in a diversified U.S. stock fund, there’s a good chance Exxon Mobil and Chevron  are among your biggest individual stocks holdings. Those two oil giants alone represent 4% of the S&P 500 index, a standard market benchmark. Most professional fund managers think they simply have to hold energy stocks. Time Magazine (Sept 2014)
This reminds me somehow of the idea most people had before the crash of 2008, that real estate value was stable, that you could "bank on it", that prices would always go up, or at least never go down... and they woke up to discover that the house they lived in, their home, was worth much, much less than the mortgage debt they had contracted on it. And of course those investors holding mortgage backed securities (MBS) discovered that they were worthless. 

We might call the crash of 2008 "Oozlum - I"

Knowing what an ironclad, "good as gold" storehouse of value oil has been for many years and extrapolating from the old Time article, the image of another punctured bubble arises and it would be essential to quickly know the exposure to oil shares of any bank or fund where your savings are.
RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) has advised clients to brace for a “cataclysmic year” and a global deflationary crisis, warning that major stock markets could fall by a fifth and oil may plummet to $16 a barrel. The bank’s credit team said markets are flashing stress alerts akin to the turbulent months before the Lehman crisis in 2008. “Sell everything except high quality bonds. This is about return of capital, not return on capital. In a crowded hall, exit doors are small,” it said in a client note.(...) "All these people who are ‘long’ oil and mining companies thinking that the dividends are safe are going to discover that they’re not at all safe,” he said. (emphasis mine Telegraph
How to proceed in the age of "Oozlum - II"?

One of the advantages of growing older is to still possess the living oral history of ones parents and grandparent's generations, which can often take you back well over a hundred years. 

If like me, you are an American in your seventies, one, who as a child liked to listen to older people spin yarns, you may have heard many vivid stories about the bubble that led up to the crash of 1929 from people whose entire lives were marked by it and its aftermath. 

Just on example from my family lore would be a relative who went from running a steel mill in '29 to selling shirts from door to door two years later and going to markets at closing time to buy cheap, unsold, vegetables. I heard endless stories like that as a boy. The idea that Wall Street was either corrupt or strictly for insiders was common to nearly everyone who lived through the depression,

The bottom line would be that my parent's and grandparent's generation would never dream of investing in stocks; and the only bonds they would buy would be US Savings Bonds... and that was good enough in the post war boom years of the 50s and 60s. 

It is when middle class prosperity began to stutter and splutter in the 1970, and hard work and earnest saving became not enough to fully participate in the globalized cornucopia of consumerism: it was then that "simple folk" were lured back into speculation.

And now as we await the Oozlum's last plunge.
Just like we have seen so far – periodic inexplicable and what the heck moments as markets everywhere hunt for causes to explain away something very inconvenient. That the game has changed for financial markets – that there is no going back to the boom times – and that the world going forward is a much more boring, and much less finance friendly place, than the markets want to admit. Most of all to themselves. Mark Blyth - The Guardian
What to do? Where to go from here? Personally, I can't think of anything better than the video below. DS