Supermodel gives Americans food for thought?
Tabloid journalism, heck, mainstream journalism, had a field day yesterday with the revelation that supermodel Gisele Bundchen is refusing payment in dollars. Could this be the moment that ordinary Americans are waking up to the realization their cash is trash?
The tone of Bloomberg's coverage is especially telling:
Like billionaire investors Warren Buffett and Bill Gross, the Brazilian supermodel is on a growing list of rich people who have concluded the currency can only depreciate because Americans led by President Bush are living beyond their means.
Here's the thing: Between Clinton and Bush, government economic figures — inflation, unemployment, GDP — have become so distorted that they bear no relation to real life. So ordinary folks experience a huge disconnect: They turn on the TV and they hear the economy is strong and there's just a little temporary trouble in the housing market. But this doesn't square with their own struggles to pay the bills and keep up with the rising costs of just about everything. So they don't know what to think. The distortions have become so severe, the economy isn't even a major issue for presidential candidates. Republicans sing from the everything's-rosy songbook and Democrats spend precious little time discussing the economy. (Well, one candidate is trying to tap into this middle-class angst, although he needs to sharpen his message for it to start having an impact.)
Now, though, people hear about this supermodel refusing to be paid in dollars and maybe — just maybe — they're starting to think that something's rotten. That when an international celebrity refuses payment in the currency of the world's sole superpower, that maybe something's wrong with the currency in their wallets.
I'm not saying this is a major shift in consciousness that's taking place; I'm through predicting that sort of thing after my bold declaration in June that Peak Oil had become a household word. Most likely this nagging suspicion that something's wrong will go back to the suppressed, subconscious place where it lay before, until something else awakens it again. It'll be a slow-motion process. But Bundchen just helped moved along that process a wee bit.