Updates and Acknowledgments

While I have heard the term “blogbook,” I don’t recall having seen one, despite having spent a good part of my existence in the last six years “surfing the web.” By a blogbook I mean something that, utilizing blogging technology, is to be approached as a book, with a chapter organization and such.

Google's webhosting service, Blogspot, is not made for blogbooks, though it is easily adaptable to that purpose. But one note of caution: Ordering within each of the chapters depends on time of posting, so my time stamps are not necessarily indicative of the actual time the material was posted. I have altered them to allow for an orderly presentation. The initial foray of posts was made in mid-October 2008, and the time-stamps will stay ordered in that time frame; since then, I have mostly been updating with links for further reading. When I make a substantive change to a post, I will signify that by a date at the bottom of the entry indicating the date of the latest update.

Doing a blogbook is an odd writing experience. My normal method is to write something, then fiddle with it endlessly. I always think I’m done, but this invariably proves an illusion. I’m never quite done. I have also found that I have to post something several times before I correct all the typos and haywire formatting. That’s fine if you’re writing a book and no one is reading it, but odd if you’re doing your composition and revision in plain view.

A great many websites that contain charts like those appearing here are in the business of investment advice. They are basically trying to figure out which way the various asset classes are going to move—up or down?—and they attract readers because they help answer the question: where should I put my money?

I do not find that an obnoxious question; I have devoted considerable time, not necessarily well spent, to thinking about that very thing. But the focus of Cause for Depression is otherwise. The question that it asks is not: how is the investor or future pensioner to survive in the coming turmoil? Instead, the focus is on public affairs. What is the nature of the crisis that government must address? Has it responded judiciously to the crisis? What lessons for financial governance may we draw from the experience? What are the implications for the world economic and financial system? I don’t pretend to exhaust these subjects, but they and questions like them are what draw my primary interest in this presentation.

My deeper interest, though one that is barely registered here, is with the implications for American foreign policy. What will be the features of the new era that has now suddenly fallen upon us? How should the nation adapt? The nexus between the financial crisis, on the one hand, and our energy and environmental problems, on the other, also excites my rapt attention. I hope to get to those one of these days.

While I would sincerely like to go to a place where the words “finance” or “derivatives” were never uttered, I will probably keep updating, mostly with links to new information and developments. The financial crisis is a hell of a lot more exciting than baseball, if you ask me, but it does have the aspect of watching a not-so-slow-motion train wreck. Repellent, but enthralling! And very consequential.

When possible, I’ve tried to indicate where to find updated sources of information for the material presented here. Given my harsh view of "derivatives," I'm obliged to say that this compendium is almost entirely derivative. I’m deeply indebted to my blogroll for ideas, inspiration, and many of the charts contained herein.

If you are intrigued by what you find here, my idea for further research is pretty straightforward: Just put my blogroll into your Google Reader, and follow along with Yves, Tim, Mish, Jesse, Mike, Barry, Willem, and the rest as they illuminate the great transformation now occurring.