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As the year Anno Domini 2015 is upon us, it is customary for individuals who are entrusted with “managing” other individuals “property” to write to those individuals and explain how they have performed over the past year. These missives can take the form of a “letter to investors” as in the case of investment firms who manage financial assets in their care. These missives could also take the form of a “letter to friends and benefactors” as is the case of the local ordinaries of the Catholic Church who manage the eternal well being of the souls entrusted to them.

I have come across this most interesting post at the website Zero Hedge. Its subject matter has a striking similarity with what the average Catholic has experienced over the course of the 50 year “new springtime of the spirit of Vatican II”. Furthermore, the subject matter of this Zero Hedge post fits very nicely with a previous post titled “You Can Fool Some of the People Some of the Time”. (see here) So I have linked to this post with commentary below.

Introduction

Above I provide a video of the gentlemen who is the subject of the post at the Zero Hedge (“ZH”) blog (see here), one of the premier blogs dedicated to writing about the financial services industry. This ZH post features a letter to investors written by Hugh Hendry, the Managing Director of Eclectica Asset Management and one of the premier fund managers in the managed funds industry at present. Not only is Mr Hendry a highly competent and intelligent investment manager, he has a rather unique characteristic for someone in his position, i.e. he does not suffer fools gladly, publicly. For those interested in more proof, please see here (starts at the 5:00 mark) and here (starts at about 1:30 mark). A further reason that I bring these two videos into the narrative is because they were produced during the first Greek financial crisis in 2010. Needless to say, the Greek crisis is still dragging on and the economic situation is far worse now than it was in 2010. Furthermore, as of this past summer (2014), the new “communist” pretender to the Greek throne prime minister-ship has a new and unexpected supporter (see here) and a snap election coming up at the end of this month that could actually see him taking power in Greece (see here). What could possibly go wrong? But I digress…

Another reason that I have strayed from our usual subject matter is to demonstrate the problems that we Catholics or any “rational thinking” individuals for that matter face, are not that much different from what “rational thinking” investment fund managers face. And if we were to identify the underlying problem facing both of these two sectors of our society, it would be a problem with what could be called a “denial of objective truth”.

Problems with “Objective Truth” in the Investment Industry

In the attached ZH post, the problems with objective truth manifests itself due to national central banks creating (or “printing” as it is commonly referred to) large amounts of money, amounts that do not correspond to the level of the underlying economic activity that this money represents. Without going into too much economic theory, all one needs to understand is that the growth of the money supply needs to correspond with the growth in the underlying economic activity (as measured by GDP). Once we get away from this equilibrium, we start observing market behavior that becomes “irrational” or “not predictable” with our understanding of the laws of economics. This situation creates havoc for individuals who manage money/investments since the objective economic laws lose their “prognosticative” properties. In market-speak, the markets break down. The classical example is the Soviet Union. Since the “homo-sovieticus” did not subscribe to the “natural law” that underlies market economics, he learned the hard way that you can fool some of the people some of the time (where have we heard that before?), but you don’t mess with Mother Nature. But I digress…

When writing to his investors, Mr. Hendry makes the following observation:

“There are times when an investor has no choice but to behave as though he believes in things that don’t necessarily exist. For us, that means being willing to be long risk assets in the full knowledge of two things: that those assets may have no qualitative support; and second, that this is all going to end painfully. The good news is that mankind clearly has the ability to suspend rational judgment long and often… He who hangs on to truth has lost. The economic truth of today no longer offers me much solace; I am taking the blue pills now.”

And the above is what Mr Hendry wrote in his letter to his investors.

Problems with “Objective Truth” in the Catholic Church Hierarchy

This brings me to another letter, one not written to investors per se. This letter, which might not have been written yet, is or will be addressed to “friends and benefactors” by our local bishop. As Anno Domini 2015 is upon us, we can expect to be receiving a “letter to friends and benefactors” from our local ordinaries. In this letter, we no doubt will hear something to the effect of “the popularity of the bishop of Rome”, or as is commonly called, “the Francis Effect”.

And as it so happens, during the next month or so, we will also likely start receiving the first reports of church attendance figures in the Anglo-sphere and in the Germano-sphere. This will be the first objective evidence of the supposed effect that the Francis “gospel of luv and joy” is having in the second year of the pontificate with respect to dragging those lapsed Catholics back into those empty pews. Remember, the first year was a non event.

Having said the above, I also need to qualify this a bit. Now I understand that “objective measurement standards” are not what the Modernists “are all about” to use a 1960’s expression. Furthermore, I understand that the Modernists simply detest the notion that God can be rational and the further notion of a “rational God’s will” that can be supported by empirical evidence. But please allow me to play the advocatus diaboli for just one moment. I am sure that all sides in this debate will agree that no matter how “un-empirical” one is, he still needs to eat. And when there are no Pew Sitters, there cannot be any revenue coming into the collection plates. And eventually, even the trust funds and the Kirchensteuer will dry up just like vocations at the Franciscans of the Immaculate order during the Volpi administration. And once that happens, the individuals in the catholic hierarchy will need to find another… how shall I put this… another means of gainful employment.

Therefore, I think this discussion is not only necessary, but I think that the average Modernist should have matured enough by now to engage in it.

Francis Effect – The Spin

So if a Catholic bishop were to write a letter to his friends and benefactors, along the lines of Mr. Hendry’s letter to his investors, how would this letter sound? How would it read?

I do not have one of these letters in hand, so I can not answer the questions posed above.

But what I do know is how this letter should not read. A good idea of what the local ordinary should not write in this letter to friends and benefactors is what appeared in the National Catholic Register Online titled: Pope Francis continues to take “the world by storm”. (see here).

The reason that I linked to this article is to give you, dear reader a peek into the mind and writing strategy Pastoral call of the typical catholic industry professional, one who produces headlines like the one above. And no doubt this type of person would be advising the local ordinary when writing the letter to friends and benefactors.  And after a 50 YEAR failure of the “new springtime of the spirit of VII”, we can expect to see a qualification right from the outset. This is what a financial industry professional would call a “hedge”. So here is the catholic industry professional’s hedge:

One catch, so far with the pope’s popularity, is that it has not, as of yet in the U.S., drawn more people, or those who have left the church, back to Mass or the sacraments in measurable numbers, according to a Pew Research Center poll earlier this year.

Oh my! So much for year two of the Francis Effect.

But 2014 mass attendance figures are just around the corner. Yes?

Besides, as the readers of this blog will remember from the last post titled “You can fool some of the people some of the time”, Mr. Griffin the President of MSNBC is in his “SEVENTH YEAR” of trying to turn around the MSNBC operations and his “news” business is still losing viewers. And he not only has quarterly reporting to contend with but also has neither a trust fund nor a Kirchensteuer to fall back on. Therefore a case can be made to allow some more time for the Francis Effect to take hold.

Therefore, the next paragraph of our letter to the investors Faithful should not, I repeat should not sound a bit like this:

Eileen Burke-Sullivan, associate theology professor at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., told CNS in March that in visits to various parishes in the country, she heard numerous stories of parents’ grown children who have been inspired by the example of the pope and want to come back to the church.

The good times might just be around the corner. And there might be hundreds if not thousands of these “parent’s grown children” who are in the starting block just waiting to dash into the first “space ship” church that they see and are just itching to relive their initial encounter with the “Godspell and/or Jesus Christ Superstar” experience through a Novus Ordo Missae, their last was when they were force bused to the local theater to see this modernist junk in the late “60 and early “70’s. But I digress…

But whatever the local ordinary writes, he should not double down on the above bet by going one step further. He should not use this argument:

She also said parishes should be prepared for these returning Catholics and be sure they are ready to serve as “field hospitals” welcoming all, as the pope has said they must do.

Oh my! Oh my!.

And this is where the rubber meets the road as they say.

What looked like a potentially “logically coherent” narrative espoused in the NCR Online post just hit the proverbial wall. Why you may ask? Well because, this narrative does not correspond with the “objective truth” of the situation. How can one believe that the “new springtime of the spirit of VII” is just around the corner if we see daily reports that the local ordinaries are closing churches left and right? Obviously if these same ordinaries, who will be writing these letters to their friends and benefactors believed in this new advent of the post councilor church, they would be either renovating these churches or knocking them down and rebuilding new ones in the belief that there will be this impending rush of these “parent’s grown children”. Yet the objective reality of the situation is that they are selling these churches in order to monetizing the properties as fast as humanly possible. (see here and here)

Summa Summarum

As we can see from the above text, it is not only the Catholic Church that has a problem with dealing with “objective reality”. We can observe it in different areas of human activity such as in the case with Mr. Hendry above or with Mr. Griffin in our last post. If one were to draw an inference from the above observations, one would no doubt conclude that although in the short term, the above described financial “anomalies”, such as the empty pews of the local parishes or central bank interventions in regards to the investment community can exist, in the longer term they are not sustainable.  And since humanity, adhering to the Keynsian maxim that says “in the long term we are all dead”, has to function in this world, these slight anomalies over the span of a few quarters or even a few years can be financially supported and maintained. But at the end of the day, the issue always rests on how much money does one have to throw at any particular problem.

However, with respect to the Church, we know that the Catholic Church’s mission is one that is rather longer time wise than a couple of quarters, years or even a couple of lifetime. Therefore one would think that the individuals entrusted with the management of not only Her physical structures but more importantly the souls of the Faithful, would be taking this into consideration. One would expect these individuals to act a bit more responsibly. Yet what we observe is not only a complete irresponsibility in matters of the purse, but what’s worse, a complete and utter denial of even the basic objective reality that they have found themselves in. To paraphrase Mr. Hendry from the letter to his investors, they have taken the Blue Pill.

As far as the souls in their care, I will save that for another post.

I will stop here, since I want to leave the initial post of 2015 on a cheerful note.

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