04 April, 2014

Hypersonic Speed

Seems like despite the hypersonic speed at which the US economy wants to move, people don’t want to trade with it.
The US trade deficit unexpectedly widened in February as exports hit a five-month low, suggesting first-quarter growth could be much weaker than initially anticipated…
The Commerce Department said the deficit on the trade balance increased 7.7 percent to $42.3 billion, the largest since September last year. The inflation-adjusted gap widened to $50.1 billion from $48.5 billion in January.

Hmmm. I wonder why? Surely by now everyone in the planet should have downloaded the latest version of Bill Gates’ software making him a trillionaire, at least (after the cutback of Ben Bernacke’s trillion-pumping mechanism has come to a halt, the USA needs a new way to compensate for the lost trillions. Surely Mr. Gates and his new software will oblige?). 

On the theme of the hypersonic, apparently the stock market is rigged (surprise!) Author Michael Lewis says traders are using the advantage of speed to screw investors.

The US stock market is rigged in favour of high-speed electronic trading firms, which use their advantages to extract billions from investors, according to the acclaimed author Michael Lewis.

Shock! Horror! And we thought these guys were operating on a level playing field.

According to the same article:
High-frequency trading (HFT) is a practice carried out by many banks and proprietary trading firms using sophisticated computer programs to send thousands of orders into the market in an instant, executing a small portion of them when opportunities arise to capitalise on price imbalances, or to make markets. HFT makes up more than half of all US trading volume.
The trading methods and technology that make HFT possible are all legal, and the stock exchanges HFT firms trade on are highly regulated. 

Basically, if you haven’t figured out by now that currency has become less of a sober, stable thing that people once used for exchanging goods, and more of a wildly speculative unit used to screw people and rig the markets to make insane profits in one side of the world, then you are haven’t been paying attention.

Now lets go on to the hypersonic. Apparently the race for making the next big thing, and for using that as an unit of asserting national superiority, has now moved on to the development of hypersonic weapons.

Inconveniently for the richest country in the world, however, developing nation China has already gone ahead and tested its own hypersonic weapon. The exasperating thing for the Americans, who like to make a big noise about these things, however, is that China refuses to either confirm or deny its test.

Read more about the hypersonic race here.

Imagine this. You are the one with the trillions. And suddenly not only does copycat China, dismissed for its lack of innovation, beat you at your game. But it also refuses to fess up and say it is playing the game with you. How exasperating is that?

Then just to underscore the point that money was never the issue in scientific breakthroughs, India suddenly sends a mission to Mars. Now that must have really riled the Americans. India! Isn’t India one of the poorest countries in the world that would die without Bill Gates’ support?

Now the nice thing about the mission to Mars was the voice that announced the takeoff. There I was, waiting for the smart sparks from Delhi to comment on the takeoff, when all of a sudden this very solemn and quiet down-home, Made In India voice says: Prepare for takeoff.
Whooo..what was that? IIT Madras?

In case you ever had any doubts about it, that voice informed you the  Indians mean business. It may be made out of milkcans and cellotape but that mission to Mars is going to get there and back, make no mistake about it. Proving that its not money that is needed for the development of innovative scientific breakthroughs.

Money is morphing and changing. Its usages, its historical context and exchange values, all are being wildly highjacked in ways ordinary people cannot even imagine. Clearly the drama of nation states jostling for supremacy is going to have a way in which money as a unit changes in the coming decades. As the Indian case shows, having less money may not necessarily be a liability but may even be an advantage in the scientific breakthrough race. At what speed—and with what innovation--people react to these changes will determine where their nations and people end up, whether their people remain bonded to slavery or not, whether their people remain employed or not. People need to change—at hypersonic speeds, or at slow-food speeds (both have their own advantages)—to deal with the changing realities.

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