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Cheaper Brass, Rising Celery

July 13, 2022 - 2:13am -- Selcuk Gulboy

What if the popular wisdom is wrong? As usual. 

For many decades, the consensus was that if inflation gets too hot, the Federal Reserve must raise interest rates to tame it. Reduce demand for goods and services by making them more expensive, then people will purchase less and the pressure on prices will seep out like air in a balloon. It makes sense, seemingly. The Fed is the only powerful force capable of doing this in the American economy because Congress and the President have become helpless beasts stuck in Washington sludge, incapable of reducing federal spending.

But in 2022, we have a situation somewhat different from the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s. It is much different than the subprime Wall Street fiasco of 2007 to 2009, and the short recession in 2020 directly related to COVID-19. 

Now we have the “impending” recession caused by a real estate bubble, as well as a quick run up in grocery and gas prices, partly caused by the COVID recovery, but mainly caused by the war in Ukraine driving up oil prices.

Then add in the container mess in the California ports, a chip shortage, record employment, and federal subsidies for everybody and their brother’s brother’s sister-in-law. Most of these factors are temporary and already fading away. 

The billboard advertising of higher interest rates and possible recession has spooked almost everybody from here to Shanghai. Metal prices have now tanked. Stocks have plummeted. A few layoffs have begun, and Amazon has discovered even they had over built warehouses. 

Fed Chairman Powell’s advertising campaign has worked better than Apple’s Super Bowl ads. This could be the mildest recession that may not even happen because everybody bought the story, not the event.

***

Wimbledon, the most wonderful tennis tournament in the world and still played on grass, has started. Daniil Medvedev of Russia, the number one player in the world, is banned. 

I don’t like it. 

I am a tennis fan. I love the game, and Medvedev has always impressed me as a terrific player and a good person on the court. I despise what the Russians have done in Ukraine. I think Putin is a combination of Hitler and Stalin. He thinks he is a Czar, but I do not see how keeping mild-mannered, huge server Daniil Medvedev out of Wimbledon serves any purpose. 

The NBA has Russians, the NHL has Russians, and MLB has Cubans.

Let the players play unless they make themselves into political shills.

***

I have watched a lot of movies lately, in addition to the first Top Gun. 

Some recommendations. 

Coda on Apple TV had me in tears from the first few minutes. It won the Oscar for best movie and deserved it. 

Little White Lie on Amazon Prime is a fascinating story directed by the main character. It is about a girl with Jewish parents who looks like a black girl. She slowly uncovers her life story, interviewing her parents and many others. Beautifully done movie.

Mully is a story about a penniless orphan in Kenya who becomes a very rich entrepreneur and then decides one day to give up his wealth and create a home for destitute orphans. Marvelous documentary, told in Mully’s words and video. 

And finally, Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen. It is an amazing documentary of the coming to life of the Sholem Aleichem story by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock. It is choreographed by Jerome Robbins, who had choreographed West Side Story.

If you love musicals, if you connect with the story, or even if you just watch NFL football, you will enjoy this film.

Question: What is the worst movie or TV show you’ve seen in the last two years?

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