Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Other Kind of [Inflation]


Grade inflation has been a growing problem through the Anglo-Saxon world for decades now. From the ridiculous "Everyone is a Winner" meme, to the intense distaste for grading on a curve it has become easier-than-ever for EVERYONE to do better [or at least appear to do so]. Perfection, it would seem, has become more ubiquitous, something to be cheered were it not for the total utter bullshit of the supposition. This is perhaps related to the divergence between a society's perception of reality, and that which resembles objective reality (at least that which can best be triangulated through the intersecting vectors of others experience and tangible comps). Even France has suffered from a lowering of the bar, where historically the perfect 20/20 was virtually unobtainable as an example of the belief that no one is perfect - least of all a novice. 'Tis a shame from my curmudgeonly chair.

"Free-ranging, massaged spring-veal milk-fed from the udders of organic mountain-raised cows, triple-lacquered in a traditional slow-cooked three-nation-three-fortified wine reduction emollient, served on a bed of  a trio of hand-picked high-altitude wild mushrooms scoured from pastures and surrounding woodland of the Haylesdaleford organic farm paired with a duet of Egyptian-garlic-braised Spinach from the Franciscan Monk's Abbey's Farm grown between 700 and 900m in altitude for the perfect tenderness, and hand-crushed Blue-potato mash...."  Errrrrr ......yum???!?? No, rather the opposite - as the embellishment upon more honest "Veal & Potatoes - let the prep speak for itself" nearly makes me vomit.

There has been, needless to say, inflation in humanity's waistlines, which is plain for all to see, perhaps related to inflation in portion sizes as well as calorific value. And there has been a grand inflation in expectations - not the traditional form that refers to future price expectations, but rather expectations of what the life will and should offer, and more importantly, in what they deserve.  This is not universal, though I put to you it is more prevalent in the Anglo-Saxon countries, where the divorce between expected effort and expected reward has inflated the most. Of course, no one can fail to have witnessed the rather frightening inflation in bullshit itself, evidenced chiefly by the rhetorical vacancy of the populist American Right and the "news" and information service pandering to its customers, though it must be said that they have no monopoly given the left's increasing drift from reality-based tethers such as confronting the ability to finance their initiatives without doing an electoral "Mondale". One could see this - across the tax-paying electorate as inflating selfishness - now in its third decade.   

The financial world is not immune, and in many respects, is the champion of inflating hyperbole. From Fund complexes stroking the virtue of their single top-quartile fund with a short history in a stable nexto to thirty-losers, to the near-universal confusion of beta for alpha, inflation is prevalent. Perhaps most notably has been the inflation in the boundaries of what grey-areas are SOP, be they front-running, cynically-bent research, or what BS is required to move the financial merchandise du jour out the door.   My own pet peeve, the one that makes my eyes roll in their sockets is the inane claim of the budding partnership of still-green MBAs in Get-Rich-Mode reaching for respectability by claiming "100 more than years of combined experience...." or whatever number in whatever permutation of ridiculousness. In any form, be it the Tear-Sheet of an emerging fund manager trying to raise money, or the bio of the management team of any start-up, this singularly bogus over-reaching phrase transmutes a potentially slick and informative presentation document into scrap-paper for utilitarian shopping lists, children's colourful doodles or electronic trash-basket-filler.   

So while markets remain on inflation watch, we, as citizens, should be more vigilant in fighting tooth-and-nail against the arguably more pernicious and endemic [other] inflation...

3 comments:

Namazu said...

Too many inflations to catch in one post, but don't forget about sanctimony inflation (very big on the left, where cognitive dissonance is becoming a problem in our one-party system). In America, for instance, you can still achieve perfection by using the right toothpaste; if you think nothing is beyond parody, watch the commercial:

http://www.tomsofmaine.com/home

Disclosure: longtime user of the product, hope they don't put the Onion out of business.

phoneranger said...

Forget TomsofMaine or artisanal salt check out http://www.fairtradespirits.com/
A French kid was pitching this vodka at a liquor store on Lex. Quinoa! Goji berries picked by monks! Merde.

Anonymous said...

Rather than having your fancy veal I would rather have frozen pizza and watch Aqua Teen Hunger Force reruns. It's at least amusing:

Master Shake: Who are you?... What is this?
The Voice: It is the Broodwich, forged in darkness from wheat harvested in Hell's half-acre, baked by Beelzebub, slathered with mayonnaise beaten from the evil eggs of dark chicken forced into sauce by the hands of a one-eyed madman, cheese boiled from the rancid teat of a fanged cow, layered with six-hundred and sixty-six separate meats from an animal which has maggots for blood!
Frylock: [long pause] See... told ya.
Master Shake: I tasted mustard.
The Voice: Yeah... DIJON mustard!