Cryptic Remarks

Over the last couple of days (mostly what i read at the end of last week and over the weekend) there has been a marked change in the tone of the doomsayers. The likes of Zero Hedge, Denninger, Mish, etc. have been saying for a while now that this rally in the stock markets is ‘not based on fundamentals’. They’ve all had slightly different takes on who, or what, is driving the indexes higher, and what will, eventually tip things over the edge. Denninger, for example, thinks every Treasury bond sale is going to be the straw that breaks the dollars back; Zero Hedge sees market manipulation in every chart; Mish sees things in terms of deflation, and the falling housing market.

In reality they are probably all right some of the time, but the markets just kept on shaking off the knocks.

Then, over the last couple of days, everything in the media has been about how the recovery has started, the bottom is in, growth has returned… and that seems inherently dangerous. Happy talk.

Monday  saw markets around the world move lower, many indicators are heading back to where they were when Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers hit the floor… it seems possible that reality was coming back to town.

Personally, i’m guessed that nothing dramatic would happen during the summer, and it would October before we’d see if the system had enough to drag itself over the cusp, or fall back into the pit. Perhaps that’s still a good guess, and this is just a little wobble.

Take a glance at this set of charts, and try to convince yourself that they are all about to start heading in the right direction. It’s not working for me.

On the other side of that coin, take a look at the depths that have already been plumbed and note that The System is still with us. This is the biggest shock that it has been through in almost 80 years, and it’s still hanging on.

It’s too easy to declare that the thing is fundamental broken and beyond repair (undoubtedly correct) and that it it must fail (questionable). The degree of flexibility, and freedom with which elements can be manipulated make short-term predictions very hard.

Really, it’s a coin toss. All of it.

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S.M.A.R.T

For years and years hard disks have been labelled with “S.M.A.R.T. enabled” and yet no O/S that i know of reports this stuff in a meaningful way.

Yes, yes, I know, most disk failures happen due to catastrophic hardware failure (hardly surprising if you think about what we do to disks, the conditions they operate in, lack of environmental control, etc). Still, if just one time in ten a disk can tell me that it’s in the process of dying, it might save me some hassle.

Consequently i’m now running SMART Reporter on my work machine. It’s unobtrusive, tiny in memory, and free… a combination that’s hard to beat. It’s set up to send me mail if it notices anything odd happening on any of the disks.

All of which makes me wonder why OS X doesn’t automatically do this? Surely it would be a simple thing to have as part of the system – after all, SMART Reporter is reliant on systems calls that Apple provides to get the status codes off the drives…