The Quantum Pontiff

My favorite line from today’s inauguration speech:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labour, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

The following line, as you can imagine, made crowd gathered in the Paul Allen Center to watch the speech pretty damn happy:

We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Comments

  1. #1 John Sidles
    January 20, 2009

    Another great post!

    I wrote down from Obama’s speech these three themes:

    “Everywhere we look, there is work to be done. … We must join necessity to courage … Nothing is so defining of our character, as giving our all to a difficult task.”

    Can’t wait for the transcript to be posted!

  2. #2 John Sidles
    January 20, 2009

    As a followup, the text of Obama’s address is here. Outstanding.

  3. #3 Melvin Eloy
    January 20, 2009

    I was listening to President Obama while having lunch and when he said that about science I raised my left hand curled in a fist (my right hand was busy with food, same for my mouth). To my surprise, the people around me were doing the same.

    It is a good feeling to know that this President understands the current situation of science and wants to do something about it.

  4. #4 yogi-one
    January 20, 2009

    Yes, for the first time in a very long time – I feel connected to the occupant of the White House.

    I hope that’s a feeling I will be justified in keeping as the years test his – and our – resolve.

  5. #5 Vladimir Levin
    January 21, 2009

    What about the “deciders”

  6. #6 jeff watson
    January 21, 2009

    His speech caused a sell off that made all of us happy as it was the most advertised, advance notice sell off in the history of the markets. I was able to scalp 30 full S&P out of his speech alone, which is a good year’s work for many. I think the volatility will be around for awhile, as the markets don’t like Obama….and I spend all day on the phone in the markets hearing this dislike. Frankly, I feel no emotion about politics and just look for trading opportunity, because it is what it is.

    Jeff

  7. #7 Dave Bacon
    January 22, 2009

    Jeff: I viewed the movement on Tuesday as the market having a temper tantrum. I’d probably be a horrible trader because I personify the market too much. But my guess is that there will be at least a few months of good old fashion denial in the markets over Obama, and then eventually the practical realities that their stuck with him for at least four years will take over. Silly hypothesis?

  8. #8 jeff watson
    January 22, 2009

    Dave,
    That’s not a silly hypothesis at all. Frankly, I haven’t a clue about the market direction(beyond the real short term) and anyone that says they do are just guessing. In these volatile markets, one has to be very reactive and keep their defensive game strong.

    Jeff

  9. #9 Jonathan Vos Post
    January 24, 2009

    A couple of years ago I posted a comment including this paragraph on Gregory Benford’s blog:

    “It is only the Euroamerican perspective that diminishes the China-India space race. Odds are, that is the race which matters. Both are capable and serious. Japan, until they admit to a $2 x 10^12 debt overhang are out of the race. Europe, demographically challenged and starting to hit the wall with a Welfare State, is out of the race. The USA? Well, I used to differ with Jerry Pournelle about NASA. Now I agree with his suggested draconian remedy. Except that I wouldn’t allow our communist bureaucrats to wear a blindfold, or smoke a last cigaret.”

    Since then, the world economy crashed, Obama was elected, and the old head of NASA has had his resignation accepted, while replacements are mooted.

    Indeed, Japan’s “liquidity crisis” which gave them over a decade in Recession was due to their having roughly 2 tera-bucks of debt, while admitting (for sociopolitical reasons) only about a half terabuck.

    How does the USA’s liquidity crisis a.k.a. Credit Crunch compare, quantitatively?

    “Goldman Sachs & Co. economists estimated this month that a total of $2.1 trillion in U.S. debt will have to be written off to purge the system of bad credit.
    That includes mortgages, other consumer loans, as well as commercial real estate and corporate loans.
    Yet banks and investors have recognized just $1 trillion of loan losses so far, Goldman calculated.
    So the Obama administration is considering reviving the original idea of the $700-billion bank bailout Congress approved last fall: Have the government take bad loans off banks’ books, freeing them of that dead weight.”

    I link to, and quote from:

    From the Los Angeles Times
    TOM PETRUNO
    Economy in shock: It’s failure overload
    Tom Petruno
    Market Beat

    January 24, 2009

    Any capitalist nation must be willing to embrace some level of economic Darwinism: the notion that the fittest survive while the less robust fall away.

    But what America is living through now is a drastic and high-speed wave of Darwinism that reaches every corner of the economy and financial system.

    We’re on failure overload — which is why this all feels so frightening and why markets remain in disarray.

    Case in point: It’s a good thing, ultimately, for sickly banks to be closed and for stronger banks to take their place.

    When too many major banks are at risk of failure at the same time, however, the entire financial system is threatened. The fittest might survive systemic failure, but to what end?

    [snip]
    The relative lack of credit, however, also obstructs the “creative” part of the creative-destruction continuum: Many firms that should be survivors of this debacle can’t get the basic funding they need to carry on and position themselves for an economic upturn, wherever it is on the horizon.

    That’s why the Federal Reserve, and the Obama administration, are focusing so intently on trying to reopen the credit spigot.

    [snip]
    But one way or another, the losses from the debt binge will have to be recognized.

    That’s lost income or principal to someone — bank shareholders, bond holders, or the taxpayer.

    That is more failure that the economy must digest, when it’s already choking on the first huge lot of it in this recession.

    The only solution for this mess is the one most people don’t want to hear: time.

    It took 25 years to inflate the U.S. consumer debt bubble. It will take longer than two years to deflate that bubble to a size that no longer threatens the national well-being.

    And in the meantime, federal borrowing to support the economy will balloon.

    The stock market, off to a lousy start this year after last year’s horrendous losses, may simply be recognizing that there is no quick fix.

    The market also may be acknowledging that, although there will surely be survivors of this Darwinian shakeout, identifying them remains a high-risk game.

    tom.petruno@latimes.com

  10. #10 Paul Murray
    January 27, 2009

    I dunno. That line about risk-takers and doers sounded like Ayn Rand to me.

  11. #11 Dave Bacon
    January 27, 2009

    Ha, Obama as an Ayn Rand. A liberal with an Ayn Rand bent sounds fun to me, but then again I’m reckless.

  12. #12 filc
    July 7, 2009

    Putting Obamah and Ayn Rand in the same sentence seems awfully oxymoronish to me.

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