Wednesday, April 22

Changing fashions

At some stage in life we relish the crisp feeling of a freshly ironed garment, a new shirt, a snappy suit or formal attire for that special occasion. During such occasions or be it frequently for those more fashion conscious, it is inevitable fashions sway our choice. Fashions and tastes repeat in all walks of life, whether spiritual or secular,since even those most sacred ideas will eventually be jettisoned or rebirthed to reflect changing ideas.As we add new rules we dismantle the old ones to leave the only certainty, which is change.

Take poetry for example. Those elaborate rhyming masterpieces have given way to modern free verse.The rules for free verse (if there are any) are only described in such subjective terms that only the finest distinction exists between a highly abbreviated short story and free verse poetry. Rhyming poets convert their poems to free verse to be fashionably commercial- if they want to be considered for publishing. Rhyming poetry is now mostly confined to greeting and Christmas cards. Rhyming is thought to undermine a poet’s freedom to create clarity and purpose. Will rhymed poetry ever come back into fashion? -Maybe!!

Music is another entering new cycles. Most types conform to mathematical intervals as anyone with an ear will attest. Try singing or playing a musical instrument off its designated musical key signature and what you hear is very unpleasant. But contemporary modern music is experimenting with discordant sounds to create for its listener a new experience. As you listen to it, it can grow on you and so you get used to it; although to my ear it will never replace the more traditional music. But what was once fashionable in everyday popular music has also changed enormously from the days when you sang along with the latest hit record. It has become more fashionable to choose your own genre and be entertained with its many different facets. I am yet to meet anyone who claims to like all the different styles such as classical, opera & operetta, Gilbert & Sullivan, choral, lieder, pop, musical theatre, jazz, folk, rap, hip hop,soul,baroque,classic rock, heavy metal, punk rock and country or blues. Interestingly enough classical music and opera has increasingly entered our daily lives in unexpected fashionable ways: cartoons, movies, advertisements and on TV shows. Classical themes help create an emotional mood to prompt an audience to be in a more receptive state of mind to the words and images.I think it will become even more fashionable to link music to your presentations and to choose that genre which best represents words and images.

It has become fashionable to suggest that a new model is required in economics because of the failure to predict or prevent the current economic crisis. But thinking in economics is paramount since economics is unlike Science which can perform repeated scientific experiments within a controlled laboratory to prove causation. Economics studies society in the raw whilst it is in a state of flux experiencing changing fashions and technology.It aims for the best model in the interests of the public good. It started out with Adam Smith’s idea that the invisible hand of the market provided what was needed in spontaneity and natural restoration. John Keynes’s mathematical modeling predicated a government’s need to intervene with increased spending measures (creating a budget deficit) and money supply during any downturn and for the reverse to apply during overly expansionary periods. Both measures were demonstrated to restore the economy to its optimum state of equilibrium when demand and supply are in balance.
However he would have assumed governments were net savers during those periods of relative prosperity so that the accumulated surplus was available during an impending downturn.
This theory was further endorsed by acclaimed economist Paul Samuelson whose extensive mathematical modeling further endorsed Keynesian economics. But it was in 1970’s the economist Hyman Minsky further refined Keynesian theories to support intervention in the financial markets. Minsky’s theory was surprisingly simple yet very elegant and influenced by his understanding of human nature. In a nutshell his idea was that as prosperity lengthened over the economic cycle an overly optimistic euphoria inevitably occurs as part of human nature. More and more of a cavalier approach would begin to take hold to ensure aggregated savings dissipated in favour of more risk and debt. This would lead inevitably to a financial crisis unless there is government intervention via the central bank to quell any early signs. Otherwise if unchecked any bubble developing will inevitably burst and reap havoc with accompanying credit tightening as the economy subsequently contracts with all of its ensuing misery.
His ideas necessitated the need for preemptive action to control any tell tale signs of an impending bubble or excesses through regulation to put the spark out before it does too much damage. But his ideas were soon to be out of fashion and his books failed to make the required reading list in the graduate schools. In stark contrast deregulation became the latest fashion that characterized the economic management from the 1980’s and ensured the sub prime fiasco could flourish unhindered. In just the few intervening years immediately prior to the sub prime fiasco twice as many homes were sold in the USA as what averaged the proceeding period.

Given the Minsky model; banks would never have been allowed to become so highly leveraged, to create immense non disclosed off Balance Sheet vehicles, to allow prudential lending standards to be waived and to allow Hedge Funds free reign with immunity from transparency and regulation.

I think it’s time for a fashionable change.


Cart said...

Lidsay, an appropriate juxtaposition, though I admit to a fondness for non-rhyming poetry and atonal music. Each to their own…
Economics, while not a science seems somewhat more objective to me. Well, at least it can relate solidly to cause and effect. I remain, essentially, a Keynesian. Any qualification would reflect the lessons of Galbraith, among others; the basic theory is eminently adaptable to specific dynamics.
What history seems to be showing is that regulation is a vital factor, self regulation being little more than fairy dust. But regulation needs to be dynamic and responsive to changing conditions and I guess free will.
Perhaps ‘caveat emptor’ is an appropriate approach, setting appropriate regulatory limits and allowing the market to choose levels of protection or to simply take risks.
Take mortgage levels as an example. It is considered that around 30% of income is a reasonable limit to set on mortgage or rent expenditure. The sub-prime issue arose because that limit was ignored. Perhaps that limit should be regulated with the understanding that both borrower and lender going beyond that point be denied any bail out support if the situation fails.
I suspect in the current climate some sorts of ‘freedoms’ will be required, and freedom to take the risk perhaps should be allowed, with an equally set denial of any support if the risk taking fails. You can’t protect people against their own worst tendencies, but you can protect those who are inclined to play within rules.

Gary said...

I agree (partly because you're so darn smart :)

Just to follow the theme, a poem by e.e. cummings, arguably the founder of free verse (and oh so fun).

Spring is like a perhaps hand

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.

john stuyfbergen said...

Hi Lindsaay,
Always good to read your writing.
However,actually 'non rhyming' verse is older, even in English than 'rhyming' verse. 'Rhyming' is not natural for the English tongue, rhytm is.
John S

lindsaylobe said...

Hi Cart & Gary & John
Thanks for your insightful comments
Cart – I concur with what you suggest and agree with the idea industry self regulation is something for the fairies.
Gary & John - Thanks for the reference Gary – A very talented poet of free verse which is a lot of fun and one who paints a wonderful picture. I also note however some of his pieces are also readily identiafble as sonnets of 14 lines inclusive of intricate rhyme rules.
I’m not against free verse or just for rhyming poetry but rather I was indicating modern day free verse (as distinct from much older versions) has gained fashionable ascendancy over rhyming poetry. Modern day free verse is free from rhyme and can be free from meter but is still considered poetry because of its complexity and word patterns to make up a coherent whole. Modern Free verse originated from the early part of the 20TH century to become more fashionable and avoid the artificialism / aestheticism considered to be inherent in earlier poetic rhyming. However in older forms of free verse rhythm is present (combined with repetition) as is evident in the translation of the Biblical Psalms.
Best wishes

susan said...

Let me introduce you to someone who enjoys classical, opera & operetta, Gilbert & Sullivan, choral, lieder, pop, musical theatre, jazz, folk, rap, hip hop, soul, baroque, classic rock, heavy metal, punk rock and country (not so much) or blues (absolutely, yes). There are even a few you missed that I also like: J-Pop, ambient, flamenco, Reggae, ska, digital, electronic and ragtime. I'm sure there are more but we've probably covered most at this point. Our i-Pod carries nearly 14,000 pieces of music so it's never boring on shuffle mode and we're often struck by amazing synchronicities when we're out driving. We have an external hard drive with many more and CD's and albums galore in storage waiting for the day when we either have a place for them or to send to our son (if he had a place big enough).

I agree it's time for a new fashion in world finance - one that's not all about greed would be excellent.

All the best.

lindsaylobe said...

Hi Susan
I think you may well be the first person ever to confirm you love all of the different styles of music. That collection sounds absolutely amazing and I could see you retiring to become an all season’s music & Art maestro supplier!!
I could imagine a one shop golden oldies musical and arts café where one can select from among any of the 33 or so different styles of music? While taking time to purchase some paintings or scarfs!! Now its time I think for you and your husband to retire and enjoy yourself !! .
If we are ever going to return to a state of equilibrium on the economic side, it’s going to have to be predicated on the basis of less growth and without the greed!!
Best wishes

Seraphine said...

a truth: first-world humans bore easily.
as long as there is a challenge or some new experience, humans stay engaged and vital.
but when a fashion is allowed to linger, boredom quickly follows. out of that boredom come bubbles and moments of discordia.
some consider it creative destruction. but it's a dangerous game.
rhyme will indeed become fashionable again.
rules are currently being discussed to prevent a future financial melt-down.
melody will be seemly again.
truth will prevail until it becomes a lie.

lindsaylobe said...

Hi Sera – thanks for you visit and thoughtful comment.

To hear this history rehearsed, for that there be inserted in it no fables, shall be perhaps not delightful. But he that desires to look into the truth of things done, and which (according to the condition of humanity) may be done again, or at least their like, shall find enough herein to make him think it profitable.
Best wishes

Sarah J Clark said...

Hey. I like fashion. And poetry. ;)

gfid said...

with true freedom comes responsibility, else all is anarchy. this applies to music, art, poetry and finance. what we sometimes call freedom, is often only selfishness, giving no thought to unforseen consequences to innocent others. only unforseen because we didn't care to look for them.

now i'll get off my soap box. i don't know a lot about poetry, but i enjoy it. a dear friend is a poet of some note, though little renown. and i, obviously, love music. all music. some, of the more angry and violent genres, in less quantity than others, but i still love the gift that brought it into being, and appreciate the craftsmanship and gifts or the musicians. and i don't think this is an unusual thing among serious musicians. we all have our preferred varieties, but we know and value quality and skill when we see/hear it. as always, an insightful and thought provoking post. thanks