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The Advent Of Luxury Importing




The English writer and artist William Norris once observed: “Settle the economic question and you settle all the other questions. It is the Aaron’s rod which swallows up the rest.”
“Aaron’s rod,” the Bible tells us, was the rod used to perform miracles in Egypt on behalf of the captive Hebrew people at the time of Moses. Taking a cue from Norris, one might argue that the study of economics in the modern era is, in essence, the study of the architecture of social “miracles” on the local, national, and global levels.
Although he died in 1896, it is hard to imagine that Norris would have found reason to revise his opinion if he lived in today’s fast-paced era of globally interdependent economies, on-line investors, and pan-European currencies. Global economic issues are relevant to just about everyone, even though not everyone realizes that. Ours is, after all, a world in which economic changes in Indonesia or Japan canand dohave instant, impossible-to-ignore effects on intrepid Internet purchasers of mutual fund shares who live in the suburbs of Massachusetts.
Why study economics? Because miracles matterand because people tend to notice their absence. Consider, for instance, that seven decades ago, the United States was running low on economic miracles: a third of the workforce was unemployed. The gross national product had dropped to a little over $55 billion in 1933. Compare that to the robust $103 billion figure of four years earlier, and you will get some sense of the effects of the stock market crash that commenced in the fall of 1929. The shock-waves from America’s economic collapse were felt around the world, and especially in Europe. In Germany an economic crisis marked by massive price inflation and a truly frightening period of social chaos proved a perfect setting for the disastrous career of an ambitious and opportunistic politician by the name of Adolf Hitler. At the beginning of 1933, the world’s supply of economic “miracles” appeared to have been exhausted.
Thirty years later, the economy of the United States was an unparalleled engine of prosperity, and Western Europe had recovered from economic chaosand, of course, from World War II, a conflict that, like most wars, had causes that could be traced to economic issues. A fair number of economic “miracles” appear to have taken place. But why? How?
What, precisely, caused the Great Depression in the United States? Why did that crisis affect other countries so dramatically? Why did some countries prosper after the war, while others stagnated? Could such a tragic global crisis have been averted? Could it all happen again? If so, what steps can today’s decision makers take to avoid it?
People who pose such questionsand search earnestly for their answersmight be called analyzers of miracles. They are more commonly called economists, and the fact that they don’t always agree is not as important as what they have learned, and continue to learn, about what supports or obstructs the growth and development of nations across the globe. Nations are composed of communities. Communities are composed of people. And economic decisions, by their nature, determine the kinds of lives people find themselves living.

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