Noah denkt™ -
Project for Philosophical Evaluations of the Economy
Not speculation in general is the problem but mediocre speculation is
Dialog on the elevated oil price between Noah denkt™ and its Alter Ego, first drafted on June 25,
published on July 31, 2008
Noah denkt™ (Nd) speaking: There is something that we wanted to straighten out for a quite a while now. But we
never found the right moment to do so.
Reply by Alter Ego of Noah denkt™ (AE): And what is it?
Nd: It’s the assertion by some commentators that it was speculation not demand which was driving up the oil price
a few weeks ago.
AE: So Noah denkt™ disagrees with this observation?
Nd: Well, we disagree with the notion that speculation as such could be a problem here. After all, human
behaviour rests - to varying degrees - on assumptions. So it would be wrong to criticize it for what it is. For too
much is such guessing at the heart of all economic activity, that you could now still want to do without that.
AE: But surely you do agree that the amount of speculation that recently went into the oil price discovery was
Nd: Possibly. But even in this case it isn’t the act of speculation as such that is causing the problem here, but
much rather is it the inflated mediocrity of that speculation that is at fault here.
AE: And what is this inflated mediocrity that you are referring to?
Nd: It is the assumption that you simply have to follow the general trend to generate the highest returns.
AE: But what could possibly be wrong about this?
Nd: Well, if you go down that route you will invest into one bubble after another. And so it is only a matter of time
until you will get burned terribly. For too little will you have been able to identify the right exit point that you could
now still hope to avoid the damage that bubble bursts wreak.
AE: So you are saying that excellent speculation has to be of a contrarian nature.
Nd: We believe so.
AE: And why is this?
Nd: Because in this media dominated world of ours, the life span of a trend is so short that it is next to impossible
to truly take advantage of that before it implodes..
AE: Because the media is doing such a good job in blowing every new trend large?
AE: But could it not also be trendy and hence mediocre to be contrarian? After all, it isn’t that unique anymore to
be a counter-trend investor.
Nd: You are right. Being contrarian could turn into a mediocre speculation if taking the opposite view should turn
into a general trend.
AE: And we are still far from that?
Nd. Not too far from but still somewhat far from that.
AE: Okay. And how do you know when this approach has established itself as the general trend?
Nd: You can tell that from the inflated number of pundits who will then advocate a contrarian point of view. Once
that happens though you will have to turn into a contrarian-contrarian to avoid mediocrity.
AE: I see. Do I gather from this then too, that Noah denkt™ would be against any attempt by politicians to reign in
the amount of mediocre speculation that goes into the futures markets. After all, if I read your argument correctly,
you will probably have to believe that the markets will eventually take care of this systematic stupidity by itself?
Nd: Right, we absolute believe in the self-corrective capability of the markets. That does not mean to say
however, that politicians should stay inactive in this time of crisis. Much rather would we like to see them reducing
the amount of simple-minded greed by personally demonstrating that you can gain more in this world by following
a less materialistic approach therein. For too much is it the power of this overwhelming personal example that can
induce behavioural change most, that you could now still allow yourself not to follow such a lead.
AE: But why would this personal leadership prod others to reflect on their own approach?
Nd: Because of the immense success that such consequentialness will have in our mediatized world.
AE: And what makes Noah denkt™ so sure, that the media will actually cover and reflect on this example of
Nd: It is the fact that such consequentialness is an unheard of event. And so it will be the media’s own need for
sensationalism that will lead it to cover the latter. For too much will it hope to make money thereby that it will now
still permit itself to stay away from covering it.
AE: Okay, let’s assume that you are right, and that such a principled approach indeed results in the
aforementioned media coverage, could you then still expect your average politician to provide such an unheard
kind of leadership. After all, he would have to be very unique to provide such an example. For too frequent would
else such a display of principle be that you could now still hope to force the media into acknowledging it.
Nd: Good point! In deed it would be extravagant to believe that there could be an inflated number of heroic
leaders at any time in this world. But then again it really does not take all of Congress to follow such an
outstanding path in order to achieve the desired disciplinary effect. Much more is it necessary that every now and
then there is someone who accepts a higher calling for himself.
AE: And what could instigate someone to accept such a higher calling for himself?
Nd: The discovery that you can reasonably manage your own suicidal tendencies only if you put them at the
disposition of a higher cause.
AE: And Noah denkt™ truly believes that someone with suicidal inclinations could qualify for exemplary
Nd: Well, not only do we believe that but much rather are we convinced that the recognition of one’s own suicidal
inclinations is a necessary precursor for heroic achievements.
AE: How do you defend such an assertion?
Nd: Okay, take for instance Christopher Columbus. Do you think he could have set sail to the yet undiscovered
Americas if it had not been for the suicidal streak in him that forced him to do something extravagant if only to
manage his self-destructive potential constructively?
AE: What an extravagant argument in itself! But even if I accept it as being valid, I would still remain doubtful that
such an acrobatic sublimation act can be done by everyone?
Nd: Perhaps not everyone, but anyone who truly embraces the idea of freedom and democracy surely can
AE: Why is that?
Nd: Because taking responsibility for one’s freedom is a self-crucifying job in and out of itself. And so it is only
natural to assume that every one who does so can also take it to moral extremes. For too little would he else have
understood this freedom for what it is that he could now still hope to consequentially support the latter.
AE: I give up on you, - at least for the time being.
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