Preface

Pattern in randomness

I was born in 1983, 19 days after US President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an evil empire, and 4 days after Michael Jackson performed the moonwalk dance for the first time during his Billie Jean song. At that time the financial markets was at the early stage of the greed of junk bond era, and the world was about to begin a 30 years deregulation that would eventually lead to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Iceland in 2008. But of course I hadn’t the faintest idea of what’s going on in the world, I was only a spiky-haired baby.

Growing up in a diversified big family, I have cousins from Java, Binjai, Padang, ethnic Sundanese, Arabic, Chinese, long lost cousins who are Czech and yet to be found British. I am who I am partly because of romantic stories during Indonesia’s Dutch Colonial period, which made way for Europeans and other nationalities to search for a better life in our land. It’s funny how a decision by Elizabeth I of England to ban the export of raw wools in 1578, and the purchase of the first ever joint-stock shares by the Dutch people in 17th century Amsterdam, can lead to the occupation of Indonesia by the Dutch East India Company and created the path for my adventurous ancestors to cross.

Yes, life is indeed an adventure, one serendipitous event at a time that oftentimes seem random at first, but later merges into an unexpected pattern of order. And more likely than not, we can find the reasoning or the order out of chaos if we trace back deep into history, as O.W. Holmes famously declared "a page of history is worth a volume of logic."

History can show us why carrot is orange, and why before the reign of Dutch King William of Orange its original colours were purple, white and yellow. History can reveal that the never-ending violence in several African countries is partly the result of the 1885 Berlin Conference that created several fictitious states without considering ethnic, tribal and religious differences. The same goes with Sykes-Picot Agreement 1916, the root-cause of the complicated Middle East tensions today. History can also provide us with the reason why the likes of Al Qaeda, FARC Rebel and West Papua separatists exist in the first place, and shows us that in real life there are no distinctive heroes and villains, as one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Hence, every random causes and events almost certainly have an underlying reason, if only we can find it.

One look into Operation Ajax in 1953 can give us a glimpse of Iran's resentment to the US and British governments, and why today particularly the US is trying so hard to discredit Iran through its media propaganda. A similar pattern emerged in the Latin American chapter, where a coup in 11 September 1973 in Chile, the installment of General Pinochet and the economic plunder by the Chicago Boys became the blue print of CIA's work that have since shaped the future directions of countries in the region such as Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay that led to their Lost Decade of the 1980s.

If the course of history can shape the lives of many in the future, it does make one to wonder, what if some defining moments in history never happened? What would Russia be today if Stalin's mother was successful in giving birth to a baby boy in her first attempt? Would the Arab Spring 2011 ever be ignited if Ben Bernanke didn't launch Quantitative Easing and cut US interest rates down to 0.25%, which led to global food inflation? What would our technology be like if Steve Jobs' biological mother decided to have an abortion when she got pregnant as a teenager? Or what would our world be like if Hitler was successful at becoming a painter in Vienna? And if the Holocaust never happened, would there still be a walled city of Gaza in an apartheid state?

Directly or indirectly, whether we like it or not, all of our lives are interconnected with each others, where good and bad random events can eventually create a pattern leading to something, and that something will participate in other random events. In a personal level, throughout my life I have experienced several significant events and have been faced with life-changing choices. The decisions that I've made, the sins that I didn't do and the bitter-sweet tragedies that I've experienced have all made me who I am and where I am today, doing what appears to be one random thing at a time, until someday everything starting to connect to one another, and make one big sense. Welcome to Chaos Theory.

This blog is Voltaire's Candide in an Orwellian Nightmare. It's that moment when that one prisoner is set free from Plato's Allegory of the Cave. It's that moment when Prince Siddhartha Gautama stepped out from his castle, to explore the bitter truth about the real world. Every facts have been verified, every conspiracy theories have been screened out, and the opinions expressed here are my own and not necessarily of that my family, friends, colleagues or employer.

I have no single individual inspiration, with my influences ranged from a Marxist journalist, to a Keynesian academician, to an Austrian School role model - where I sometimes disagree with the opinions of the same role model that have inspired me to alter my life to finance. My real-life mentors are equally diverse: from an activist politician to a Greek historian, from a millionaire businessman to a bat-crap crazy backpacker. And despite the fact that I have learnt to trust only a handful of media, every now and then I still read the likes of Jerusalem Post to counter my Haaretz perspectives.

Moreover, in my writings you will see that in general I find myself comfortable in the centre-left of the spectrum. I'm more Keynesian than neoliberal, more secularism than religious conservatism, but that doesn't mean that I'm rigidly bias towards their ideology and may appear conflicting at times for a simple reason: I'm supporting the truth. I don't agree with Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's ideology but they were democratically elected and thus I condemn the coup by General Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi in 2013. I'm championing Keynesian-style governance but I don't agree with Obama's Keynesian rescue for the huge mess made by laissez-faire free riders.

Therefore, this is not by all means an ideological-based blog. Instead, this is an attempt to figure out the truth, to assemble one giant puzzle of information pieces, and to analyse things like whether we would still have Foo Fighters if Kurt Cobain didn't kill himself.

This is a not-so-frequent blog, however. Like a sword-master crafting his samurai weaponry I take my time in contemplating and writing my craft, in the tiny spare of time I have between life, family and the financial markets. For more frequent updates from me please visit my twitter page and comment section at The Economist. For many infographics, statistics and general musings please visit my Pinterest page. For those who love non-fiction books, you can visit my book reviews page on Amazon. Or for those who want to reach me directly, my e-mail address is edwin.setiadi@gmail.com. But nevertheless, this blog remains the centre of my thoughts, in which the highest possible tribute is given to what legendary Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano describe as Lady Reality.

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