The day after giving thanks for all that we have, we turn around and
jump through horrible hoops to accumulate more at the insistence of
sleazy, desperate retailers. It's a nice summation of everything wrong
with this country and the holiday season, an appropriately named
cancerous mark on our calendars. Our behavior today is the sort of
thing an alien race would use as justification for our destruction.
Let's run through the specifics, shall we?
. . . Seriously, what the hell are you doing buying this stuff anyway? You
don't have any savings, you live paycheck to paycheck and if you
haven't been laid off yet you probably will be soon. Just because
something is cheaper than it usually is doesn't mean you have to buy
it. You can go into debt just as easily buying shit when it's on sale
as you can buying shit when it's full priced. Don't get suckered by
advertising. Give yourself the best gift of all this holiday season:
being fiscally responsible.
It's called a "correction" for a reason. And if the forces of
collective insanity do all they can to "stop the correction," they only
postpone the ultimate day of reckoning - and make it that much worse --
as Andrew Sullivan tries to explain:
Why? Why does the world owe us a soft
landing after the insanity of the last decade? Haven't the excesses of
the past shown that it is only through such market discipline that we
will ever avoid the easy path of borrowing out of greed? Yes, innocents
will suffer terribly, and many of the guilty will escape. But that is
life: we can and should try to help the poorest, but avoiding our
collective responsibility for this insanity seems a very bad signal to
send to ourselves.
The truth is: we had this coming. We deserve it. And we deserve leaders who are able to tell us that.
We can only hope that our new leadership has a grasp on what is really
going on, and sidesteps the temptation of going farther down the path
that has brought us to this perilous destination. But if Pelosi and
Reid and Frank have their way, Obama hasn't got a chance.
So far, this has been one of the most severely destructive bear markets in history. Almost no asset class has been spared. Stocks, commodities, housing, bonds have been battered. All the famous investors have been slaughtered -- Buffett, Pickens, Icahn, Adelson.Of the 500 stocks in the S&P 500, only 13 are up for the year. The Legg Mason Value Fund, which boasts the longest streak of beating the S&P 500, is down over 65% this year, the third year that the fund has under performed the S&P. According to Investor's Business Daily'sMutual Fund Index, the average growth fund is now down for the year around 44%. My own guesstimate is that the average US investor has lost over 50% of his or her assets so far this year. And the bear market is not over. The pros are struggling, global diversification has proved to be costly, the "buy-and-hold" method has been a disaster, bonds have not been a safe haven. One year ago gold was selling at 817. Over the last year gold is now up. Compared with almost every other asset class, gold has served us well as a safe haven.
Days like these, a haircut is infinitely preferable to a decapitation. But none of us is out of the barber chair yet...
Had enough of the wild fluctuations on Wall Street (and Main Street)? Wondering what other surprises the future has in store? Wonder where "the bottom" is hiding?
Writing in the Christian Science Monitor, columnist Mark Todd speculates what it will take to restore confidence and settle the international financial turmoil:
Weimar Germany experienced one of the greatest inflations in modern
history in 1922 and 1923. Eventually, the official exchange rate
reached 4.2 trillion marks per dollar. Some Germans heated their homes
by burning cash, since it was cheaper than buying wood. The inflation
finally was tamed by government bonds promising repayment in gold,
backed by land taxes also payable in gold...
America faces a stark choice. The path back to a gold standard is rocky and uphill. The current inflationary path is slippery
and downhill. One leads to integrity and stability. The other could lead to financial ruin. Which will we choose?
Besides burning their cash instead of firewood (anybody remember the episode of "Superman" in the 50s where Jimmy Olsen became a millionaire?), Germans living in the Weimar Republic were seen carting their paper marks to the grocer in wheelbarrows to buy bread.
So, my advise: until the world comes to its fucking senses and stops printing money as fast as the presses can run, invest in companies that manufacture wheelbarrows.
USA Today and Gannett columnist DeWayne Wickham offers a trenchant post-mortem on both the Republican AND Democratic party's future prospects:
A new American majority has emerged from the voting that made Obama
this nation's first black president. Obama was backed by just 43
percent of white voters. His largest percentages of support came from
blacks, Hispanics and young whites.
In the past, the Democratic Party has been much more in sync with organized labor and liberal interest groups than with the millions of new black, Hispanic and young voters who cast ballots for Obama. It would be a mistake for Democrats to assume these new voters will embrace their old ways of doing business.
Obama's coalition is the political party of the future. It won this election under the Democratic Party's banner, but there's no guarantee it will remain there. What seems certain is that this coalition is born of a new political paradigm -- one in which the power to elect a president is no longer firmly in the hands of this nation's white majority.
I probably don't qualify as one of the 'young whites' that Wickham cites as a pillar of the Obama coalition, but I'm definitely somewhere on the outskirts of the camp. And, particularly in light of the way that my own state's "Democratic" party discarded the primary victory of my duly elected State Senator Rosalind Kurita, I don't hold much allegiance there, either.
Wickham is essentially correct. The political landscape is changing dramatically and the dust has very much yet to settle. As we watch the knee-deep-in-the-old-paradigm stalwarts of Congress attempt to come to grips with the country's economic woes, it's not hard to imagine the electorate ultimately losing their patience with BOTH political parties and throwing ALL the bumbs out...