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I pride myself in my constant curiosity for life-long learning, and I have explored almost all aspects of knowledge, but where I fall short is the subject of economics. No, I don’t fall short, I fall flat. I know little or nothing about the topic. Economics seems to me a pseudo-science, a mumbo-jumbo about money, and it is not based on anything but human emotions (and that ain’t good). There is a Monty Python sketch in which Eric Idle plays a newsman, who announces millions of pounds were wiped out today at the London exchange when someone on the floor coughed. That was my one take-home lesson in economics: things are aleatory and not to be trusted.

It would be good to learn some basics in economics to frighten away the demons of ignorance, so I bought a lecture series on the topic at ‘The Great Courses’. Let’s see if I can pay attention and learn something.*

What interests me most about economics is the human psychology aspect. I know from history of several economic follies like The Tulip-mania and The South Sea Bubble. There are plenty more, and they all sound the sadly the same: people get wrapped up in speculative frenzies to buy rubbish things, only to have it all crash on them, like Beanie Babies or Bernie Maddox. This is why I am highly suspicious of ‘fads’ like bitcoin, NFTs, and starter companies. Sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury than buy these buggers.

Someone and I are fuddy-duddies that we squirrel away some money each month and invest in oh-so-sensible mutual funds, hoping this staid approach is good enough to have retirement money. Mr. Mahoney, our money man at Merrill Lynch, handles all our savings, so I don’t have to worry – much**. He is a sweet guy and well over four feet. He occasionally sends us explanatory emails of what’s happening in the fabulous world of the economy, but these may as well be written in Chinese for all I comprehend. I have some basics down: stay the course; keep investing; don’t freak out with the ups and downs; avoid curried snacks.

I have a 401(K); it seems to be slowly progressing upwards (good) and Someone has some pensions (good) but there remains a fear I won’t ever see it (bad). If I were a betting man, before I get to retirement, I will either drop dead or my savings will all be absconded by some villain on Wall Street, resulting in Urs Truly becoming a crazed-sterno bum living in cardboard boxes on the grounds of some municipal parks (it could happen).

This is what comes from ignorance: speculation (pun intended) on all sorts of nonsense and what-ifs about money. It is hoped with some book-learning I can settle down my inner “The Fagin Complex” and not worry about it so.

Meanwhile I stay the course; I put away what money I can. I don’t invest in fads and I watch my pennies – and hope this will work.

*I have twice tried reading “The Wealth of Nations” but I could not get past the first chapter. Mr. Smith is more wordy than Mr. Dickens and that’s saying something.

**Not knowing how things work allows anxiety and paranoia to creep in to wonder if Mr. Lynch or somebody like him will someday run off to South America with our money. Perhaps someone at the NYSE will cough and it all goes down like a soufflé. It could happen.

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