The headline over at Bloomberg View said “Rutger’s Scandal Should Surprise None, Horrify All”.

I’ve seen the video of the coach throwing basketballs at players (the sport is basketball, so it would be assumed some of that would go on at any practice of any basketball team), moving/pushing them around, etc.  I couldn’t hear in any of the videos any of the homophobic slurs he might have been making, but if he was, it wouldn’t have surprised me.  Nothing about any of the video left me feeling “horrified”. 

I get horrified watching those grainy videos shot of the concentration camps as they were liberated.  That elicits horror, “an intense, painful feeling of repugnance and fear”.  It is horrifying to so vividly and clearly see how atrociously men can treat each other.

The basketball video?  Give me a break.  The coach was definitely a hard-ass.  But I’ve seen worse from football coaches for whom I played, and I didn’t even make it to the collegiate level.  I vividly remember when I was about thirteen or so and my football coach broke a teammate’s arm while aggressively trying to show him a particular tackling form.  I thought nothing of it, except that the kid who broke his arm was a pussy for whining about it.  Big deal.  Go home if you don’t like the coach.  Nobody’s making you play.

But what does that have to do w/ the Bank of Japan announcing it will follow Bernanke’s path, and start buying on the long end of the yield curve, i.e., that it will start a strategy of quantitative easing?

Words are the currency of ideas.  When Bloomberg says a video showing a coach being a hard ass to his players is “horrifying”, the word is indelibly cheapened.  Words respond to supply and demand pressures just like any other commodity.  The more words there are, and the more specific words are used, the cheaper the words will be.  24/7 news coverage, which has turned news into entertainment, has vastly cheapened the currency of language. 

What happens when someone reads that something rather mundane should be “horrifying”?  They immediately discount the word, taking account of the general oversupply, and the bias that news organizations have for getting noticed.  The reader might read “horrified”; what he internalizes is “mildly disgusted”, or something along those lines.

Money is a form of language, but one designed to communicate the idea of value.  The same thing happens with money as happens when words are oversupplied–the ideas they transmit are discounted.  The Bank of Japan can print all the currency it wants.  If a Big Mac in Tokyo costs thirty minutes of work for a low-skilled worker to buy before the printing, it will cost thirty minutes of work after the printing.  The mental discounting that is required with the overuse of words (like horrifying), isn’t even necessary with money, because the idea that money communicates (value) is ever and always a relative, i.e., non-monetary phenomenon.

Incidentally, how the BOJ thinks its latest money printing mania will work to reanimate the animal spirits of its economy this time, where it hasn’t worked since its inception almost a decade and a half ago, is beyond me.  But it proves that the BOJ really is taking a page from Bernanke’s book.  In the US, Bernanke saw a problem caused by too much money and promptly moved to increase the supply of money.  Japan is doubling down on a feckless strategy.  Japan’s real problem is wealth and demography.  Old rich people have very little incentive to animate their spirits such that the economy might, in aggregate, grow.  And all the Yen in the universe won’t change that reality.

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