Either of these situations, when the stock market is booming, is a cause of much rejoicing amongst the investment managers. But it is not Joy that interests me about it. It is the unaccountable rise in the volume of stock exchange transactions, the principal cause of which is the ever-increasing amount of money we exchange: for commodities, for goods or services, for ultimately for anything and everything. In the United States—a country historic for its indifference to investments—the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) calculates that, since the early 1990s, the volume of transactions on the New York Stock Exchange’s computers has risen from a high of about $3.6 trillion to $14.6 trillion. Whether this is good or bad, or what it is, I do not know. But we have every reason to rejoice. This vast sum will soon be put to the reduction of deficit and debt, the elimination of malefactors and inequality, and the repetition of what has already been, hopefully now with a little more inspiration and creativity, achieved after centuries of toil and trouble by the primitive species of fishlike men. This time, we may be able to talk of justice."
So said the man, as the girl in The Economist intriguingly noted in early June. There is much work to be done if the money we spend on purchases really surpasses $2.50 trillion. I write to you, not only as a long-time subscriber (I have been one since 1970) but as someone who has a close, caring relationship with two of the fine executives at the masthead of this magazine: Paul, who edits our international coverage, and Mark, who is editor-in-chief of our business coverage.
The quotation from The Economist is actually the report on a report, that written in January by the Bank of Canada, the main purveyor of recent statements (and evidence) of a booming stock market. This report, from chapter four of "Off Balance: Debt and Deleveraging in the Seven Sisters," is titled "A tale of two markets," and chapter one defines its subject in these words: d2c66b5586