[Emil’s Summary] US President Harry Truman prosecuted the war to its conclusion, finishing his predecessor’s near-impossible task. Then, with bitter irony, History reversed his role as “anchor” for the Second World War into “lead” for the third. As the trilogy approached its near-miraculous end decades later, one could hear an echo of a Truman slogan – “Education is our first line of defense” – in the 1980s cartoon GI*Joe that averred, “Knowing is half the battle.” Both aphorisms are twigs coming off the “Knowledge is Power” branch. And the trunk itself? A tree of the knowledge of good and evil with roots stretching to the genesis.
More recently our physicists have been informing us of hard limits to our knowledge – uncertainty principles, incompleteness theorems – buttressing Socrates’ statement that, “The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.” Still, bounded knowledge is a poor excuse for apathy, and in 1951 Truman signed into existence an agency whose purpose was to prepare American citizens for nuclear war. “Knowledge is not only key to power. It is the citadel of human freedom,” he said.
In this 27th episode of Making Sense, Jeff Snider reveals that Truman’s agency’s most iconic result was that of a cartoon turtle named Bert. It may sound startlingly silly to the 21st-century ear, but educating citizens to turtle up, to duck and cover at the first instance of a flash made sense at that particular time. At least, up to the point when weapons, and thus circumstances, evolved. Similarly, the Federal Reserve’s monetary policies made sense, up to the point when money, and thus circumstances evolved, which, coincidentally enough, began in Truman’s time.
00:54 Why does Jeff write about Brazil regularly?
01:46 The 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis taught everyone to build up foreign exchange reserves
04:30 Why has Brazil been reticent to mobilize their reserves and what is the ‘Brazil Solution’?
09:15 What happened to the ‘Brazil Solution’ when it ran out of time and space?
11:03 What is the ‘Beijing Corollary’ to the ‘Brazil Solution’?
13:24 Beijing’s recent balance of payments vast incongruity is catching media attention
16:00 Summary of the Brazil-Beijing problem and the wider, global implications
The Contingent Hole In China’s Brazil Dollar Strategy: https://bit.ly/35PJGve
The Mysterious $100 Billion Gap In China’s Payments Data: https://bit.ly/2FIAVZo
Alhambra Investments Blog: https://bit.ly/2VIC2wW
RealClear Markets Essays: https://bit.ly/38tL5a7