So the US credit rating gets downgraded by S&P which, as many of our saner bloggers have pointed out, is one of those same sage agencies that just a few years ago were giving sterling ratings to 11-dimensional "derivative" investments based on beach-front real estate in Outer Mongolia, and which made a $2 trillion math error in its calculations. In response, the stock market plummets and money flees into US Treasuries. The MSM, of course, insist that this is all awesomely significant, and doubtless all the talk shows are even now full of boring people in dark suits gravely discussing just how awesomely significant it is.
Well, the stock market is always going up and down because of one thing and another, and most of the time it means nothing and has no long-term effect, the boring guys in suits notwithstanding. As for the big rush into Treasuries, well, the money fleeing the stock market has to go somewhere (what else are people going to invest in -- the eurozone?) and sensible people know perfectly well that, as Obama pointed out the other day, the United States is still the United States whatever the bunglers at S&P think.
Meanwhile, the price of gold has cracked $1,700 an ounce, an event so thoroughly predictable that I feel downright frustrated at not having predicted it. Every time the MSM starts bleating about the crisis of the day (whether real or imaginary or, like the recent debt-ceiling hostage crisis, fabricated by politicians), the usual Chicken Littles all panic and decide that, this time, the sky really is falling and The System is going to collapse and plunge us all into one of those post-apocalyptic Road Warrior scenarios they've watched too many bad movies about (just as they thought during the previous crisis, and the one before that, etc., etc., but they've forgotten about that) -- and so they rush out and buy some gold, a substance unlikely to be of any value in a post-apocalyptic world (you'd do better with food or machine-maintenance skills), thus driving the price up. If I'd invested in some gold a couple of years ago and sold it yesterday, I could have doubled my money. And the investment would be a very safe one. There will always be another crisis sooner or later, and there will always be swarms of gloom-and-doomers who somehow imagine that the best response to an impending collapse of civilization is to buy gold and drive the price up. It's just a matter of waiting.
Meanwhile, here are some numbers from the real world, showing that the public basically understands whose fault the recent mess actually was, despite the dereliction of the MSM whose pristine aversion to bias evidently includes refusing to take sides between verifiable facts and teabagger delusions, which helps explain why their own numbers have been tanking for years. Speaking of the teabaggers, their numbers are tanking too -- 18% support might seem high for an astroturfed Mongol horde of nihilists who can't spell, but it's lower than the numbers who believe in ghosts and flying saucers, or claim to. Eventually it may even get low enough that the Republican party can stop pandering to them, and Barry Goldwater can at least reduce the number of RPMs he must now be doing in his grave.
But when you get right down to it, there's just one set of numbers we'll see this week that will really matter: the election returns from Wisconsin. Keep your eye on the ball.
Update: David Frum is well worth reading on this.