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Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets by Lila Rajiva, Will Bonner

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The Tao of Jones

Of course, we doubt if many public prescriptions are really intended to solve problems. People certainly believe they are when they propose them. But, like so much of what goes on in a public spectacle, its favorite slogans, too, are delusional—more in the nature of placebos than propositions. People repeat them like Hail Marys because it makes them feel better.

We hear from followers of Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation that muttering “OM” raises our brain potential. And other groups have still other ways of confronting the great unknown. Confucians call it the Tao or Dao—the Way—and tell us that we should treat it reverently. Wall Street also treats the Dao reverently—the Dao Jones. And it, too, has a mantra it likes to repeat—Dow 12,000 … Dow 24,000 … Dow 36,000. …

Most of our beliefs about the economy—and everything else—are of this nature. They are forms of self‐medication, superstitious lip service we pay to the powers of the dark, like touching wood … or throwing salt over your shoulder. “Stocks for the long run,” “Globalization is good.” We repeat slogans to ourselves, because everyone else does. It is not so much bad luck we want to avoid as being on our own. How flattering to say you “lost a bundle in semiconductors”! It makes you feel—momentarily—like a Goldman banker about to spring for a fetching blob by Robert Motherwell. We might not know a pixel from a byte and our last acquaintance with a chip might have been at Wendy's, but losing in the ...

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