Bjorn turned on the PC. "Let's check the gold price," he thought to himself. "There were something about it in the news, something about it falling, and this being a sign of health in the economy." How exactly a falling gold price was a sign of health was not explained. But with TV news necessarily being brief, this was not unexpected. A comprehensive explanation on the relationship between gold and the economy would surely required more air time than a five minute slot in the daily news. However, a quick internet search might turn up some good articles on the subject.
Finding a graph of the gold price was not difficult. The first link he clicked on turned up a scalable one where he could zoom in to see the price fluctuations from minute to minute, real time, as well as the overall movement of gold over longer periods, all the way up to years and even decades. The long term trend was clearly upwards, but the last few years had seen the gold price fall, and the price had turned sharply lower over the last couple of days, falling as much as ten percent in less than a week.
"So I guess we have had a recovery in the economy over the last few years, then?" Bjorn thought sarcastically to himself, finding this very hard to believe with unemployment and poverty relentlessly on the rise during these same years. "And this latest drop is somehow proof that everything is rapidly improving?"
However, after some more searching, Bjorn found an article on gold, and its relationship to stock prices, pointing out the obvious fact that low gold prices necessarily mean that other assets measured against gold are valued higher. Very high stock prices relative to gold is an indication of euphoria among investors, while very low stock prices relative to gold is an indication of depression among investors. The article then went on to explain that gold is a better yard stick to measure investor sentiments than fiat currencies like the dollar, since the quantity of gold is relatively stable, while the quantity of dollars sometimes increase in leaps and bounds.
"Well that makes some sense," Bjorn thought to himself. "If gold functions as a yard stick for investor sentiments, then the latest drop in the price of gold combined with the stock market making new highs every day must be an indication of optimism among investors. But is optimism among investors necessarily a good indication of economic health? Could it not just as well be an indication of unsubstantiated euphoria?"
Bjorn read the article to the end, and could not from what he had read conclude that investor sentiment in itself had much to do with the state of the economy. "What really drives the economy is real investments made with real savings," the article concluded. And by real investments, the author meant machines, factories and education. And by real savings the author meant savings accumulated from productive labour. Money created out of nothing by simple fiat would, according to the author, do little more than distort the economy.
The article was clearly anti-establishment. But it was level headed and to the point. The author was critical of what he called the Keynesian School of Economics, embracing instead something he called the Austrian School of Economics. And the author certainly gave the impression of knowing what he was talking about. It was well written, to the point, and easy to understand. Surprisingly easy in fact, which made Bjorn a little suspicious of it possibly being over simplifying things quite a bit.
Leaning back in his chair and once again looking out over the village and the fjord, Bjorn's thoughts were drawn to Ane and her factory. Her factory was certainly a good example of something created from real savings. Her grandfather had put his life savings into it at one point, and apparently gone bankrupt. But somehow managed to save it for his granddaughter. The factory had all the elements described as real investments in the article. Even education, if on the job training could be considered education.
However, the workers were barely earning enough to stay alive. All the profits went directly into Ane's pockets, which could hardly be described as fair, or even healthy for the economy. The author of the article had not taken into account the human aspect of the economy, it seemed. Ane's greed for profits was pretty much a guarantee that her workers would never earn more than an absolute minimum.
But Bjorn could not help liking Ane despite her shameless greed. She was refreshingly direct and to the point. Very unsentimental, even when talking about her grandfather, who she had mentioned with a direct and to the point fondness. She made no secret of anything it seemed, and her forwardness in explaining things to Bjorn was generous and unashamed.
Then, in a flash, Bjorn remembered the heavy revolver strapped to Ane's thigh. He could not help it, but he thought it insanely sexy. She was after all a beautiful young woman, and the gun highlighted this by its obscene contrast to her feminine frame. The gun made her the queen of her estate in a primitive, shameless and sexual way.
Bjorn imagined her pulling the gun at him, and the thought made him ice cold and excited at the same time. "What a woman," he thought to himself. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, he heard two distant knocks.
"Dinner is served," a voice said, almost equally distant, and with this Bjorn was pulled out of his budding daydream.
"I'll be right there!" Bjorn replied, shaking off the light daze of imminent sleep interrupted.