Can the whole world be crazy and not you?

For the right effect, you need to hear that headline with an old-fashioned Jewish grandmother intonation. It’s what my grandmother Jenny used to say to her daughter, my mother, who was known in her youth as the terror of Eastburn Avenue.1 My mother’s answer to Jenny was, “Of course they can!” The story was one of the mantras of my childhood.

I still believe that the whole world can be crazy and not me, although wonders like blogs enable me to discover fellow travelers on just about any subject. What I certainly find is that most of my favorite people are ones who zig when everyone else is zagging, and have no discomfort in the fact. It may well be one of the preconditions for being a happy Berkeleyite.

So I felt a considerable empathetic glow when I read Nouriel Roubini’s angry and proud look back on his economic predictions from a year ago:

So those – this author and a few other bears in academia and markets – who were accused a year ago of being on the moon have been proven to be fully grounded on planet Earth in their bearish views about housing, credit, financial markets and the economy. While those who lived in a Goldilocks bubble ended up looking now like the true lunatics. Luckily the housing bubble and the credit bubble and the delusional bubble has now burst and such folks living in moon dream-land will soon get a reality check and crash back to planet Earth.

I’m glad there are people like Roubini who have the courage of their convictions even when it’s unfashionable. Now if only someone could tell me when Berkeley’s sky-high house prices are going to fall. It certainly hasn’t happened yet.

1 “Eastburn Avenue” is a so-called key phrase according to in EL Doctorow’s World’s Fair. Supposedly my uncle Harold in the model for one of the characters in the book, since he grew up in that Bronx neighborhood with Doctorow.

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