This is a tale of three money pits. It's also a tale of monetary regress - of the strange determination of many people to turn the clock back on centuries of progress.
There was, I'm pretty sure, an episode of The Three Stooges in which Curly kept banging his head against a wall. When Moe asked him why, he replied, "Because it feels so good when I stop." Well, I thought it was funny. But I never imagined that Curly's logic would one day become the main rationale that senior finance officials use to defend their disastrous policies.
Robert Benmosche, the chief executive of the American International Group, said something stupid the other day.
In this age of information, maths errors can lead to disaster. Nasa's Mars Orbiter crashed because engineers forgot to convert to metric measurements; JPMorgan Chase's "London Whale" venture went bad in part because modellers divided by a sum instead of an average. So, did an Excel coding error destroy the Western world's economies?
News flash: recent declines in the price of gold, which is off about 17 per cent from its peak, show that this price can go down as well as up. You may consider this an obvious point, but it has come as a rude shock to many small gold investors who imagined it was the safest of all assets.
We are not having a debt crisis. It's important to make this point, because I keep seeing articles about the "fiscal cliff" that do, in fact, describe it - often in the headline - as a debt crisis. But it isn't. The US government is having no trouble borrowing to cover its deficit.