Friday, March 6, 2009

Totally Off topic: Ayn Rand selling in the downturn

I'm a huge Ayn Rand fan. I don't necessarily agree with all of her philosophies, but I really like the way she pitches her ideas with interesting characters in readable novels like The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

I've noticed that the current economic downturn has a lot of similarities to the plot of Atlas Shrugged, and I'm not the only one. The Economist had an article about it this week.

Some people on Facebook, the world’s biggest social-networking site have created a group on the subject:

“Read the news today? It’s like ‘Atlas Shrugged’ is happening in real life”. The group, and an expanding chorus of fretful bloggers, reckon that life is imitating art.

Some were reminded of Rand’s gifted physicist, Robert Stadler, cravenly disavowing his faith in reason for political favour, when Alan Greenspan, an acolyte of Rand’s, testified before a congressional committee last October that he had found a “flaw in the model” of securitisation. And with pirates hijacking cargo ships, politicians castigating corporate chieftains, riots in Europe and slowing international trade—all of which are depicted in the book—this melancholy meme has plenty of fodder.

Whenever governments intervene in the market, saled of Atlas Shrugged go up.

Tellingly, the spikes in the novel’s sales coincide with the news (see chart). The first jump, in September 2007, followed dramatic interest-rate cuts by central banks, and the Bank of England’s bail-out of Northern Rock, a troubled mortgage lender. The October 2007 rise happened two days after the Bush Administration announced an initiative to coax banks to assist subprime borrowers. A year later, sales of the book rose after America’s Treasury said that it would use a big chunk of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Programme to buy stakes in nine large banks. Debate over Mr Obama’s stimulus plan in January gave the book another lift. And sales leapt once again when the stimulus plan passed and Mr Obama announced a new mortgage-modification plan.

Getty Images

On January 13th the book’s ranking was 33, briefly besting President Barack Obama’s popular tome, “The Audacity of Hope”.

1 comment:

  1. lol, I've seen that facebook group - it's so true!