The collision of global markets and social mood

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Socionomic Blast From The Past

Found some old Wallpaper magazines the other day while going through some stuff. They were from December of 1998. What a socionomic trip down memory lane they were!

Wallpaper was founded in the mid-90s by Canadian Tyler Brule and fetishized all things design, architecture, travel, and technology. I used to read it to study the current Zeitgeist when I was in advertising.

In light of present day events, one story in particular caught my eye. The title of it was Greece Lightning, and it was all about how Athens was getting its groove on.

While it's no laughing matter now, it serves to illustrate how things look the very best when markets are booming and everyone is in a great mood. That is why I'm not a momentum trader who seeks to buy high and sell higher. Waves of euphoria can crash against rocks of reality without warning. The best time to bet on a rising tide is at low tide. That is why I try to buy low and sell high.

Anyway, enough rambling. First, the story's lead. And it's a doozy.

Hedonism was invented here, then reinvented in the 70s and, once again, Athens is getting into a party mood. With the Olympics coming home and a new international airport under way, Angela Buttolph dons her Jackie O shades and goes in search of her own latter-day Aristotle.

Hedonism. Party mood. A shiny new airport. Do you think this might have had anything to do with the flood of capital coming in due to excessive borrowing?

With the luxury of hindsight we are able to see both the country and the writer caught up in what is basically a psychological delusion that those groovy feelings meant that everything was going to be okay. Remember this was 1998, when the dot-com era was in full swing.

The first line of the story continues the good mood. The motto of the ancient Athenians may have been 'nothing in excess', but Athens has always been a hedonist's dream.

I'll say. Where else could you have retired with a full pension at age 50?

For the new millennium, Athens is emerging clean and serene with modern, glossy white buildings appearing amid the chaos like blocks of feta on a bed of iceberg and olives: from a flashy new hospital (which looks disconcertingly like a casino), to the immaculate Megaron opera house (all white marble, wood-lined interiors and designer constumes) to the recently revamped New york-style Athens Plaza hotel.

Hmmm, a hospital that looks like a casino . . . so that you can spin the roulette wheel for which surgery to have after a life of hedonism?

Athens is a city that likes to party. So much so that national productivity started to plummet as party-pooped Greeks fell asleep at work (and school) after working the night shift in clubs and bars.

I did not make that up. Nor this, either:

Richard Branson is planning to open a resort on Hydra. A $100 million 'mythological theme park' is under construction in Athens, with a lifesize Trojan horse to climb into, various animatronic mythological creatures, and water rides that snake past a model of Jason's Argo.

Then the writer sums it up perfectly for our purposes. Here's her last line:

For those who want everything in excess, Greece is the word.

Indeed it was. And still is.

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