The hazy pea soup engulfing most of British Columbia is persisting and made me think of the nuclear winter scenario that was bandied about in the 70’s. I know the birds are freaked out and the trees are going into early fall mode, due to the diffused light and cooler temperatures. I can stare directly at the orange sun but not see the mountains or the islands. Somebody told me that it’s like smoking half a dozen cigarettes a day. I used to smoke a pack a day back in the day when you could still smoke on planes. But we all go on about our daily activities and watching the news makes me feel even more helpless than usual. Campbell, my Thirsty Thursday beer buddy, has matters far removed from the Gibsons weather on his mind.
“Did you hear that Maduro in Venezuela has created the new Soverano Bolivaro, tied to a crypto currency called Petro which in turn is dependent on the Ayocucho 1 oil field that is deep underground and has neither been developed nor accessed. He’s also striking 5 zeros off the old Bolivar. He calls it a ‘magic formula’ to solve the hyperinflation in his country. He might as well wave a magic wand and sacrifice a chicken. It’s about that effective I think.”
“I read that one coffee that used to cost 450 Bolivars now cost one million and that 4000 people per day are fleeing into Ecuador. Apparently over one million have crossed into Columbia in the past year,” I said.
“Yes, it’s a disaster and Ecuador is now enforcing a passport requirement for anyone coming into the country. Many Venezuelans only have ID cards which will not allow them entry.”
“But Maduro had himself a big military parade last week and claims he was attacked by a drone.”
“More theatre of the absurd I think,” Camp said.
We both concentrated on our drinks, trying to think of something upbeat for a change but nothing came to mind. I wanted to mention an article I read waiting at the bank in line for a teller.
“Did you know that households directly own 36% of the $46 trillion U.S. equity market, and indirectly through mutual funds over 50%; not portfolio managers or other professional market participants. Think about it Camp, day traders and mamas and papas sitting at their laptops trading stocks according to their whims, fears, horoscopes, tips from neighbours, even advice from their priests and rabbis. It’s a gigantic casino and nobody is in charge.”
“That’s very interesting my friend but it means diddly squat to me since I don’t have casino money and even less control of what goes on in the stock market.”
“I think we’re all influenced by it by way of pensions or currency fluctuations.”
“That may be true but the voodoo economics practiced by the US lately has far more influence on our daily lives,” Camp said. “Between Wilbur Ross –
Trumps commerce secretary – Maduro and Erdogan we have an unholy trinity. If I had a crystal ball my prophecy would be: If you didn’t change your misguided, self serving policies and refused to listen to reason, you will be remembered as the chief architect of the failure of the international trade and monetary system and are therefore to blame for the 2020 recession. But then again maybe that’s what they want to achieve. Maybe they’re all secret anarchists in capitalist cloaks.”
“A bit harsh don’t you think,” I said, “since economic theory is just that: a theory, from Adam Smith to Keynes on one side and Hayek and Friedman on the other side, all are preaching from their ivory towers. Try and explain to a Venezuelan why his cup of coffee costs a million bolivars.”
“How about Doug Ford’s promise on twitter that ‘a-buck-a-beer’was coming back to a shelf near you.”
“Beer politics at its basest,” Camp said.
“You boys ready for a refill,” Vicky asked. It was a rhetorical question since she swiftly exchanged our empties for two fresh pints.”
“Happy International Beer Day,” I toasted.
“You’re a couple of weeks late,” Vicky pointed out. “That was on August 3rd.”
“He means to say every day is beer day,” Camp said, raising his glass.