Tuesday, August 28, 2007

James Grant on the Fed's Sub-prime Solution-Socialism for the Rich

I know Climateer Investing has gone off-topic more than usual the last few weeks. The reason, to paraphrase Chairman Mao's statement "The guerilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea" is that climate/energy investments swim in the larger sea of the markets.

Here's one of the sharpest credit analysts combining some climate history with economics "red in tooth and claw".*

...Significantly, such cycles have occurred in every institutional, monetary and regulatory setting. No need for a central bank or for the proliferation of hedge funds to foment a panic - there have been plenty of dislocations without any of the modern-day improvements.

Late in the 1880s, long before the institution of the Federal Reserve, Eastern savers and Western borrowers teamed up to inflate the value of cropland in America's Great Plains. Gimmicky mortgages and loose talk of a new era in rainfall beguiled the borrowers. High yields on Western mortgages enticed the lenders. But the climate of Kansas and Nebraska reverted to parched, and the drought-stricken debtors trudged back East or to the West Coast in wagons emblazoned, "In God we trusted, in Kansas we busted." To the creditors went the farms.

Full Op-Ed at the International Herald Tribune

*Fifty-sixth stanza of Tennyson's "In Memoriam":

Man her last work, who seem'd so fair,
Such splendid purpose in his eyes,
Who roll'd the psalm to wintry skies,
Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,

Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation's final law -
Tho' nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek'd against his creed -