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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Eric Is Shorting the Yen

Eric Packer's Residential Tower

Eric is doing what's known as shorting the yen. He is borrowing yen in huge amounts with his multi-billion hedge fund. A hedge fund hedges. It hedges its bets. It plays both sides. It protects equity capital. But Eric of Packer Capital isn't. He is gambling in the world of cyber-capital. If he borrows huge amounts of yen, then when it drops he pays back the yen at a much lower rate relative to the dollar (or whatever currency) and the difference is his huge profit. The speculative cyber-capital profit.


Say I agree to buy your house for market value in six months and pay you for it in six months when I expect the bottom to drop out of the real estate market. But I take possession and control of it now. By written agreement. You say yes for the option money I pay.  I get your house and sell it at today's high market price say $1,000,000. In six months I pay you for your house which is now worth $300,000. I have made 700,000 minus the option price I paid you, in profit. And not only that, I have borrowed the $300,000 that I used to buy your house. This is what Eric is doing with the yen.  He is within a world where he knows numbers signifying yen, chart. A world of linear time, historical time. It charts. Even if it charts according to patterns of nature so complex they cannot be seen as the numbers run across the screen. Eric sees these patterns. He is performing within dialectical, linear, historical time. A world where if the yen goes up, then it must come down. A world of polar opposites, of good/evil, up/down, origins and utopian horizons of cyber-capital progress continuing into a future of expanding opportunity and visionary innovation.

But he is in a simulated reality. Like the actors on the simulated set of Water For Elephants. Only the actors know they are but Eric Packer does not.

This is where Vija comes in, the voice of Foucault. Vija, VJ(ay) Day, a pun bringing the Bomb to mind? A kind of playful puzzle that DeLillo likes to toss out for our and his amusement (as Nabokov says he does). An inversion opposing the strength of the Yen opposed to the Dollar? For chuckles?

Since DeLillo has the reputation of predicting the future, and the critiques of Cosmopolis were using the stock market crash under Bush II as confirmation of his genius, were they not a bit ahead of themselves? The derivative market crash was still to come in five years following publication.

Now I am wondering if an Eric Packer was pulling the strings behind that meltdown only stopped by vast outpourings of treasury money into the pockets of the gambling bandits, which we are witnessing in $4.00 a gallon oil at the pump. But separated in time so the connecting dots are not drawn. Just a tidbit for my paranoid imagination to play with.

I think it may have been Baudrillard that discusses that an author might consider taking responsibility for his characters and their actions. The example given was in Graham Greene's novel  The Quiet American set in 1950's Viet Nam. A terrorist hides a bomb in the bicycle frame outside a coffee shop where it blows up, projects metal pieces, killing and wounding people. I think it is Ballard who reports that a similar incident occurred outside the coffee shop he had always frequented. He immediately connected it to the fictional account in Greene's novel and reflected on a writer's responsibility for the actions of his characters.

Did someone copy Eric Packer in 2008? We will never know, will we?

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