the wringing effect
Friday, July 25 2003
This evening Sarah the Korean (who is not technically Korean) was arriving by bus from Brooklyn, and since Gretchen was off listening to a lecture about Ralph Waldo Emerson, it was my job to pick Sarah up. The problem was that all I had was my pickup truck and I needed to take both dogs Sally and Eleanor with me. This might seem absurd on first blush, but consider for a moment the reality of the situation. I had no precedent for leaving Eleanor unsupervised and didn't want to experiment with doing so on her third day living with us. But if I did take her, I'd also have to take Sally. Otherwise, at this early stage of the adoption, Sally would feel as though she was being dealt a terrible injustice. So I had Sally climb into the passenger seat and then put Eleanor into the narrow space behind the seats. My truck is one of those extended-cab model Toyotas - there are no seats back there and not enough room for an adult human, but there is a narrow bench that is wide enough to comfortably accommodate of dog of Eleanor's size. That was good enough for us to get to the bus station, but once Sarah the Korean was in the passenger seat, Sally had to ride in Sarah's lap.
Gretchen returned soon after we got back from the bus station. By then I was drinking a curiously unsatisfying cranberry-flavored Mike's Hard Lemonade. (The bottle's label told me yet again that Mike won his cranberry farm in a poker game.)
Sarah the Korean spent her bus ride catching up on the life of J-Lo, but at our house she was more interested in talking about politics than Gretchen ever is, so we had this big hand-waving conversation about recent macroeconomic trends. Talking macroeconomics is something no one with our qualifications should attempt - everything that happens in macroeconomics seems counterintuitive or impossible to divine. Then there are the "good economic news" stories (which cause the stock market to rise) that then prove to be indications of yet more economic malaise. Take, for example, the June figures for new housing sales, released today. They've broken a record. Glory, hallelujah, we've turned a corner, the economy is poised for a robust recovery and no one will care about the Iraq quagmire when Bush runs for re-election. Not so fast! This uptick is almost certainly something I'll call "the wringing effect" - what happens when low interest rates start to inch up. Suddenly people panic and think that if they don't buy a house now, they'll never get a low interest rate. They buy houses in cases where they normally would have waited.
This led into a brief conversation about Paul Krugman, and how his New York Times editorial page skewers of the Bush administration always seem so logically bulletproof that they preempt any possible rebuttal. "He's probably on some list at the Bush administration," Sarah mused. Behind the scenes at the White House, poetic talents manifest in couplets such as, "First against the wall is Krugman, Paul. This you'll see with Patriot Act III."
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