So there’s this small issue of the world being debt-ridden and nobody hiring and the delicate financial machinery of our country breaking down in a way that can only be called utterly embarrassing.
This is not altogether bad news. For those who have long been looking for their moment to escape a lifetime of professional drudgery, it is a chance to hit the reset button. Go back to university, take a master class in sculpture or become a Cordon Bleu chef. Our favorite course of late is this one.
Go to the desert and paint your masterpiece knowing you will be unmolested.
The great thing about no opportunity is this: if you remove yourself from the world to do what you want to do, as opposed to doing the fake thing you’re pretending to want to do, it comes with no opportunity cost. You will not be missing out on all the good jobs. There are no good jobs!
The best part is, after taking a year or two out to reposition yourself, the odds are you’ll be returning to a world of renewed opportunity. Maybe not of the milk-and-honey variety, but certainly superior to what you see today.
How can we presume this?
Looking at hundreds of years of financial crises, Carmen M. Reinhart of the Peterson Institute for International Economics and Kenneth S. Rogoff of Harvard (co-collaborators on the definitive doomsday book, “This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly”) concluded that the typical modern financial crisis 1) prompts the unemployment rate to climb for more than four years and 2) adds 7 percentage points to said unemployment rate.
According to the prevailing economic data, the U.S. has hit nearly four years now and 5 percentage points.
Yes, the recovery drags on for years after that. But recovery is progress and there are signs we are already progressing. Chiefly, in my view, that those fortunate enough to still be gainfully employed on Wall Street have already forgotten there ever was a financial crisis and spending like greased jackrabbits on payday.
Hedge fund money also is flowing, with this year’s invite-only SALT Conference in Las Vegas drawing a rock-star crowd of what, in the parlance of our times, we like to call (cough, cough) “thought leaders”: George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Gordon Brown, Stevie Cohen of S.A.C. Capital, Jon Corzine of MF Global, the senior adviser to Obama (still our president) David Axelrod, Michael Milken and, er, Thought Leader Rex Ryan of the New York Jets.
In fact, hedge fund inflows are expected to reach record levels this year in a survey conducted by Deutsche Bank. More money flowing is promising. While it will take awhile to roll downhill — as did the debt bomb — gravity and greed being what they are, it is inevitable.
There is opportunity in lack of opportunity. It is the opportunity you make for yourself. (Remember that kind?) It is the kind that built our country.
Let the doddering Thought Leaders take their time putting the world back together again. Given their learning curve, they’ll need it. And while they’re doing that, use your time wisely. It can be a time to impose your vision on the world instead of letting it have its way with you.