Background: Page 176 of MM shows the following table of polarities of social mood:
|Positive Mood (+)||Negative Modd (-)|
The Fundamental Working Hypothesis stated on p. 170 is that there will be an accelerating shift from the positive to the negative polarities in this table. The Blog section adopts this hypothesis, and consists of micro reports from the media illustrating it in various aspects of everyday life.
Xenophobia Makes a Comeback
Here are three recent headlines from the mainline media:
US Rep Backs Deport of Illegal Immigrants??US Kids ? Associated Press, April 29, 2010
Of Values, Veils and Mistresses ? International Herald Tribune, April 30-May 2, 2010
Anger over Ariz. Immigration Law Drives US Rallies ? Associated Press, May 2, 2010
Each of these articles underscores the pronounced movement from tolerance of ??he stranger??in western industrialized society to its polar opposite, bigotry and xenophobia. The second piece is especially interesting, as it is a column by Alan Cowell addressing the social divisions in France stemming from an incident involving a 31-year-old woman wearing a niqab, a form of headdress with only a narrow slit for the eyes. French police officers levied a 22-Euro fine on the woman for driving while wearing a veil, presumably because they were worried about safety on the highway. But the action sparked off a huge debate in France over what it means to be French and what it means to be French and Muslim.
From the socionomics perspective, this is precisely the type of event that we can expect to see repeatedly in coming years as the social mood moves deeper into the negative. As people?? fear of the future accelerates, there is a heightened sense of a hard-to-pin-down threat to both personal security and identity. This feeling of threat then translates into a society developing a kind of ??unker mentality?? of which the sorts of xenophobia expressed above are but surface manifestations of a deeper sense of something being lost. We can confidently foresee much more of this type of behavior to come, especially in Europe where the immigrant ??roblem??is most acute due to the tension between declining birth rates and decades of overly-generous social welfare programs that are increasingly difficult to finance without a major influx of young workers into the system.
"Recovery" of the Art Market?
??igns Emerge of Recovery for Art Sales??shouted a headline in the April 20, 2010 issue of the International Herald Tribune. By way of contrast, pages 70-72 of Mood Matters argue that art sales will be a big-time loser as the overall global social mood deepens. Since this story seems to undermine that claim, it?? worth digging into it a bit deeper to see what is really going on.
After quoting sources like Philip Hoffman, head of the Fine Art Group Fund, and the head of Castlestone Management, a fund that specializes in art investment for well-heeled clients about the prospects for the art market (which is tantamount to asking the foxes if they thought chickens were a good investment), the article slips-in the very revealing quote from Castlestone that ??quities is considered to be a key indicator when analyzing trends in the art market.??A socionomist would read this as: The art market can be expected to rise as the social mood increases, and then decline as people start fearing the future again.
After recounting the downturn in the art market in 2009 (which is the basis for the story told in MM), the article notes that Sotheby??, the poster-child for the story in the book, reported a 31 percent increase in sales in the last quarter of 2009. As Mr. Hoffman argued in another quote from the article, ??ou??e going to see some great prices in New York. The rare pieces are going to go through the roof and make prices that you wouldn?? expect to see in the economic climate we??e in.??/p>
From this kind of unbridled optimism, you?? expect to see clear sailing and cloudless skies on the horizon. But a little farther on in the piece turns up a little different scene.
Michael Moses, co-developer of the Mei-Moses Art Index (discussed on p. 191 of MM), says that in the first quarter of 2010 the Index declined by nearly 5 percent, a loss that he attributes to a single category: pre-1950 American art. So maybe it?? not so negative, after all. But then Mr. Hoffman states at the end of the article that works at the very top end of the price list are set to get bids as much as 50 percent over their pre-sale estimates, but that works at the lower end of the market will probably hold their ground, with those in the midrange or by second-rate artists could slide by about 20 percent.
The overall message from this piece is that the so-called ??ecovery??of the art market will be driven by the big-name sales of collections from author Michael Crichton and Brody, thereby pushing up the picture for the overall market. But the vast majority of the market will do nothing better than hold its ground, which is already shaky, and that even this bright picture is predicated on a continuing escalation of prices in the equity markets.
In mid-April 2010, professional basketball?? most marketable and iconic player, Michael Jordan, purchased majority interest in the Charlotte Bobcats for $275 million. It?? often said that timing is everything in life. So in view of Jordan?? exquisite ability to move in and out of the NBA as both a player and owner at pivotal turning points in the overall social mood (i.e., major turning points in the financial markets) as discussed on p. 85 of MM (and depicted in the graphic below, which was not used in the book), we wait with bated breath to see if Jordan has or has not lost his golden touch (or perhaps we should say ??ool?? golden??touch). If the Jordan?? past is prologue to the future of the social mood, a prudent investor might start accumulating a fistful of call options on the S&P500 right now.