September 23rd, 2009

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You don't even need to read between the lines -- just read the lines

As I finished my workout, an ad came on for one of those companies hawking gold. They made the usual silly claims about gold being a "safe haven" and so on. What really struck me, though, was the big headline: "Gold has tripled in value since 2001!"

This is supposed to make me *want* to buy it?

The first rule of economics is pretty simple: that which goes up too fast, will come down. The faster the rise, the steeper the fall when it comes. An asset class that has tripled in value in only eight years -- well, that's a pretty fast rise.

I've been pretty clear for a while that we're in a gold bubble: this is just another bit of evidence. Just as in real estate and stocks, when people are going around, parroting claims about how an asset class is "safe", while at the same time bragging about how fast its value is rising -- that's practically the textbook definition of a bubble.

I don't know when it will crash -- for all I know, it could rise quite a bit higher yet -- but I don't recommend being invested in it when it does. Unlike real estate or stocks, there's not much fundamental value in there to slow down the crash when it comes...
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Make Money Fast With LiveJournal!

It's interesting to notice my own knee-jerk reactions sometimes.

Just got up to the announcement of the new LJ feature letting you put ads on your journal. (Basically, you can associate your journal with Google AdSense.) Intellectually, I don't have a problem with the way they're doing it -- it's strictly opt-in, and they're passing on 100% of the proceeds to you. In principle, it lets people make a little money, in a way that is very normal these days. (What's in it for LJ? It's a paid-members feature, so presumably they are hoping that bloggers who have lots of readers will find it worthwhile to pay for an account in order to make money off of Google.)

And yet, my gut reaction was quite negative: it somehow felt like it was intruding crass commercial reality yet further into the space of me and my friends. That actually surprises me -- I hadn't realized that button was there. Too many years of spam and popup ads have clearly made me resentful of them, to a degree that I find just a little irrational.

How about you? Positive, negative, indifferent?

ETA, since several people have asked in one way or another: I *believe* the scheme is that the ads won't show up when you read your friends page normally, only if you actually look at the person's journal. The reason I believe this is that they've also added a new option that lets you deliberately opt *in* to reading the ads from your friends view, apparently on the theory that it's a way to put a little money into your friends' pockets. I confess, I'm skeptical about the idea; it'll be interesting to see how many people turn that on...