On Monday, a trader named Alessio Rastani told BBC interviewers that he was “dreaming of another recession” and that “governments don’t rule the world; Goldman Sachs rules the world.” It seemed like bad news. Rastani’s candor—some might call it glee—in describing how he profits from the kind of large-scale economic disaster in which we’re currently living also made it seem like a hoax. Several Twitter wags accused him of being a member of Yes Men, the group of agitprop performance artists who impersonate corporate spokespeople to draw attention to, well, the kind of thing Rastani talked about. But Yes Men has disclaimed him, and Rastani is an actual private day trader, as near as the BBC can tell. If he is a Yes Man, the organization is fielding much better actors, as this 2006 interview with a Dow Chemical impersonator suggests. That’s what a fake interview looks like. Rastani looks real, but what is he?
As the chick who does it with Dracula in Dracula once said,* sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. Today is Friday, and that’s good. The American economy collapsed like two years ago and now the only people with jobs are professional assholes arguing about whom to blame for said economy and each other, plus terrorism, and that’s bad. It’s a continuum, see, and we’re all just swept up in it, bobbing up and down like boats, albeit not both up and down simultaneously as would better fit my point. Maybe let’s go back to the pill metaphor. For this week’s link roundup, we have some important stuff that’s so horribly depressing I can barely stand to think about it. We also have Kanye and a fail video, by way of sugar. Won’t you have a swallow with me?
The New York Times managed to make me feel both sad and angry—my two basic emotions!—with this article about the career prospects of recent college graduates as compared to their counterparts in previous generations. That’s the sad part. The angry part comes with Louis Uchitelle’s framing device, which wisely presents the article’s many surprising/dry economic statistics in the context of one particular Millennial, Scott Nicholson. If he still hasn’t found work, I suggest Nicholson hire himself out as the world’s least sympathetic protagonist. He graduated from Colgate in 2008 and has lived with his parents since, unable to find work. He also just turned down a job with Hanover Insurance Group that would have paid him $40,000 a year.
Hey, remember the estate tax? That bogeyman of the Bush years—the injustice enshrined in the federal tax code that robs hard-working Americans of their right to establish multi-generational dynasties as the Founders intended? The death tax? It’s possible you’ve forgotten it because it only applies to estates valued above $3.5 million dollars, and like most Americans you only stand to inherit, like, $3.2 mil. Then again, maybe you forgot it because it doesn’t apply this year.
Just how bad is our continuing economic downturn? Depending on whom you ask, the recession is basically over, or it will continue for many months, or the American economy will become so vitiated that we will all be forced to subsist by selling naked pictures of Tila Tequila to our Mandarin overlords. It’s all a matter of perspective. If you’re a guy with slicked-back hair in JG Melon, chances are things are looking better for you, since the Dow is back to a rosy 9,825—a far cry from the bat[sugar] crazy heights of 2007, but still pretty good. For people who are not named Tad, little has improved since this time last year, as unemployment approaches ten percent and the job-loss rate increases. It’s a good old-fashioned jobless recovery, and once again the best way to make money in America is to do no work and produce nothing of value. So is it time to strap on your overalls, sterilize your harmonica and ride the rails in search of pie? When your grandpa talks about how bad the Depression was, can you call him a bitch? Economic misery is a competitive business, and if you’re like me, it’s not enough to know if things are Bad. You want to know if they are Historically Bad.