June 18, 2014
Today, June 18, 2014; just before the chairman of the federal reserve stood up and ended her news conference, someone asked a fundamental question referring her to the Standard and Poor stock exchange’s surpassing its historic value, and asking if the federal reserve thought that such record heights for stocks were historically typical. Her response though almost subdued, perhaps because she was thinking of the irony implied in the question that might also have referenced Canada’s TSX exchange today at record levels while interest rates, the purview of the federal reserve and the Bank of Canada, are being kept historically low, sounded hushed but direct: stock markets are functioning at historic norms.
Now since I have no financial literacy, I’ve been wondering to myself for some time now how stock exchanges in North America could be doing record business while interest rates for those who might qualify like banks have been flirting with 0%. I would have thought that all the money purchasing stocks would have depleted investors’ funds so that there’d be no money to buy bonds. Historically I think that usually happens with the result that bond prices fall as their yields/rates increase. As a consequence of my amateurish interest in finance, I was unable to understand how there could be enough money to keep stocks and bond yields at record levels, stocks at historic highs and interest rates at historic lows. Now recently a financially literate BNN commentator said almost with a tone and contortions of flabbergasted surprise that banks were purchasing the stocks that are helping keep stock exchanges high; surprising, though everyone knows that the U. S.’s reserve and Canada’s central bank have been purchasing bonds, but that banks were also buying stocks seemed historically unusual. If banks are investing in both stocks and bonds, then their ” bi-polar” investment behaviour might explain how there can be enough money to keep bond yields low and stock values high, and a more significant concern that popped up during the chairman’s one hour news conference: the worth of U.S. capital.
The Fragility of Human Perception
On Sunday evening June 30, 2013 I found myself searching an external hard drive for my pod cast of Emma Woodlouse’s father from J. Austen’s novel Emma, but what I found were two mp3 recordings by Cesaria Evora that reminded me of the rather brief time not too long ago that I used to hear her on CBC radio. My surprise at having forgotten her singing led to my searching Online to see if either of the two recordings I had was the one that originally attracted my attention. When I accidentally came upon an entire video concert,D’Amore 2004 of Evora performing in Paris, my desire to find that tune ended, as my attraction to the concert replaced it.
The first thing that caught my attention were the musicians who would accompany her. Their dress was striking only in the sense that each player seemed to be wearing what he might always wear on the street or at a day job. And there seemed to be a great many of them, so many I thought, that as a group including Evora, paying them might be too expensive to give each person a living wage. When Evora entered to sing her first song she smiled benignly, a smile that kept returning throughout the tunes I saw her performing. One song followed the other without any indication that she was tiring or that the smile might not return. The music seemed uncomplicated and wistfully melodic with a kind of Latin rhythm. that seemed to never intrude on her calm composure. And though her group’s instrumentation was mostly rhythmic, the instruments created a kind of spontaneous orchestration that made their accompaniments sound almost classical. The language of Evora’s lyrics was Portuguese, apparently a kind of Afro Portuguese. An Online note indicated that she had died at the age of 70 in December 2011 in Sao Vicente, Cape Verde.