Well yo ho ho and a bottle of Keith’s, perhaps even a chorus of Barrett’s Privateers. It’s time for another rrrrrrrrrant coming out of Doom North: “M’Pherson’s time will not be long …”
But what time would that be? That’s the question. My trusty timex, in alternate mode, tells me it’s 3/15 16:15 UTC, but the hands on that clock on the wall show it’s 1:15 PM. In any case, I’m definitely late getting this thing out.
Well hold on now. Who’s that big fellow in the amazing hat behind the guy with the spade in the iconic picture of the Canadian Last Spike? The one who looks a bit like Sam the Eagle? Why it’s none other than Doom’s favourite 19th Century railroad builder and Halifax resident, Sir Sandford Fleming! Thanks to him, in a perfect world those times would suggest that: 1) it should be time to start thinking about where to eat supper in Greenwich, England; and, 2) folks on the southern tip of Greenland might want to finish washing their lunch dishes.
But this is by no means a perfect world. In a perfect world, the answer to the question: “When is the sun most nearly overhead?” would be “Noon!” Halifax is at longitude 63.58 West, and if my calculator hasn’t failed me, that’s 4 hours and 14 minutes behind Greenwich, or just one minute after noon, so the answer to that last question is (almost) now.
Now in some ways it’s unfortunate that the curiously Muppet-like Fleming never worked for CTW / Sesame Street. If he had, he likely wouldn’t have omitted the letters “I” and “U” (if I recall from Fleming’s biographer Clark Blaise) from his original proposal for universal time. He proposed labeling the twenty-four hours of the day with letter codes, but the ones he used weren’t consecutive. Now military time uses Z (Zulu) to stand for the “zero” hour of 12AM (or 00). What if we use A for 1AM (01), B for 2AM (02), and all the way up to W for 11PM (23)? That would yield a “civilian” version of Zulu time with letters replacing numbers. Over the last few days I worked out a set of decoding rings (in the form of analog clock faces) that might help the members of our globe-spanning GWAP team keep track of our relative times. Perhaps less than practical, but it was fun learning that you can actually do stuff with Microsoft Paint 😉 Since we don’t really care what time it is in suburban London, one could effectively use the letters on a clock face, when “Papa One Five Zulu” from the Zone Charlie decoder ring would read off the UTC at the same time it suggested quarter past one in the “afternoon” to me.
There are two letters not used in the system, X (Xray) and Y (Yankee). It’s natural to take as “Xray” time the solar local time where the sun is highest at noon; and then as “Yankee” time whatever $#@% fool time the authorities want us to use as local time here. Xray time, then is the gold standard time pretty well everyone used until the train tracks started coming through in the 19th century. Given the pervasiveness of mobile devices with GPS, it would be trivial to do a mobile ap that would give us Xray time as we moved. Luddites like me who don’t own the things and don’t travel much would just wind our stems to noon when the sun was high, like it was pre-Civil War days. That’s time without borders, albeit two polar singularities at the (go figure!) North and South Poles, which would at least provide entertainment for frequent flyers over the arctic.
Meanwhile, “Yankee” time is pretty chaotic, with the zones following compromise, colonialism and the cease-fire lines of various great 20th century wars. It’s a lot like the fiat money we got left with after the Ides of August in ’71. The abomination of “daylight” times has added to the confusion. Wide zones extending far south (above the equator) are especially hard on their bottom-left corners. Texas actually lost a few miles of its western tip to “Mountain” time, because otherwise a resident of El Paso setting their alarm for 7AM Yankee today would have been roused at 4:56AM Xray, and it’s still winter!
Anyway, the Fed’s own MBS holdings jumped up $44.926 billion while treasuries sagged a bit and the other numbers were flat. That’s not too exciting.
This week Doom derived the NY Fed data set from a date-limited session with the Data Download Program:
Treasuries returned to the downside, but only by $2.925 billion.
Agencies continued up by $0.170 billion with others adding $0.329 billion more.
The net of US obligations lost a modest $2.427 billion.
Twist’s ratio graphs ticked up.
The Setser agency numbers converged ever so slightly.
Notes and References
: “Foreign central banks’ US debt holdings fall – Fed”, Reuters, March 14, 2013.