George J. W. Goodman (aka “Adam Smith”) was a writer who knew how to explain the economy in ways common folks could understand. He wrote the following in The Money Game as a way of depicting the temptation let the good times roll:
“We know at some moment the black horsemen will come shattering through the terrace doors wreaking vengeance and scattering the survivors. Those who leave early are saved, but the ball is so splendid no one wants to leave while there is still time. So everybody keeps asking — what time is it? But none of the clocks have hands.”
That oft quoted metaphor transcends anything the author originally intended. When I heard it I had a fleeting recollection of housing in 2005-2006, commodities in 2010, but almost as quickly as those thoughts came, they faded.
What lingered was the unsettling reality that the whole world is the ball. It’s more splendid for some than for other, but everyone is here and trapped until death finds them. You can’t leave. The apocalyptic horsemen are coming. And the only escape is to be covered by someone more powerful than they.