Saturday, November 15, 2008

Meltdown, one month hence

Up front, a note that this might well be disjointed and fragmented. Lots of different things going on which all interact together, but do not flow well because they come from different sectors of the whole of the economy.

Just to let it be known up front.

To start, a month and a half has gone by since Henry Paulson predicted "financial Armegeddon" if we did not do exactly what he told us, in the time frame he told us.

The situation has not really improved too much, and now, Paulson said that what they originally wanted to do to avoid Armegeddon was probably not the right thing to do, and we need to shift course and do something different.

I don't know about any of my fellow Americans, but this does not engender a lot of confidence.

On top of that, it's starting to come to light that banks are not using the money so graciously loaned to them by their fellow citizens to loan money to "Main Street, and get credit flowing again, but they are using the money to pay stockholder dividends, bonuses, and to acquire other banks.

Every American should be completely filled with rage at this news. Instead we are kind of getting a shrug of the shoulders and an "Eh".

Why? Because frankly, we EXPECT to be screwed. We expect the government and the experts to screw up. There is no faith that it will be done right, and that is a shame. This is the financial equivalent of the handling of Hurricane Katrina. The lack of foresight is the equivalent of pre-9/11 when intelligence agencies were briefing that something big was going to happen, and FBI agents in Arizona and Minnesota were telling headquarters, "hey, we probably ought to check out these Arab guys taking flying lessons".

Isn't it shameful that you know they are going to piss your money away, but there is not one thing you can do about it?

Is there any surprise here? Giving these companies this money is like giving your crack addicted son or daughter $700 to pay the rent. What does that addict do? That addict BUYS CRACK. The addict does NOT pay the rent. It's kind of the same principle here. You give the folks who recklessly ran these businesses into the ground more money, expecting them to do the "right thing" this time. Why is there a surprise when the right thing is not done?

To me, the big story of the economy right now might not be the stock market, or this bailout, but companies like Circuit City going bankrupt, and Best Buy having "seismic" problems with their business. The story of consumer confidence and consumer spending.

To be frank, there is nothing that Best Buy or Circuit City sells that is a NECESSITY. They did pretty good for awhile, sold a lot of stuff, and made a lot of money. They got their money, because when you swipe that credit card, they get their money. So, we bought a lot of stuff, but we did not PAY for a lot of stuff. The economy seems to be telling us now that we don't get to buy any more cool stuff until we PAY for the stuff we have now.

We have lived for a long time, the lifestyle of the rich and the famous. Only we have done it on credit, and by not paying for it when we bought it. We have not saved money. We have just counted on something happening to be able to pay the bills when it came time to pay the bills. This was largely the issue with Sub Prime mortgages too.

Now, it is time to pay the bills and the money is not there. Additionally, to get the economy flowing again, consumer spending must be ramped up. But, guess what. The money is not there to ramp up consumer spending.

Pessimistically, I can not really see this ending any other way but bad. I think, at least for awhile the days of rapacious conspicuous consumption are severly curtailed, if not completely over.

The latest economic news being discussed (disgust) is the idea of bailing out the Big Three Auto Makers. There are a lot of arguments by economists, pundits and others, pro and con. These companies mostly were as poorly managed as the other companies we are bailing out. They guessed wrong every time they had a chance to look at market trends or energy trends. Not only did they guess wrong, but some would say that they willfully tried to push their vision onto consumers who were looking for more fuel efficient quality cars. This is why Toyota has been consistently moving up and doing better than the big three.

I do not know about this at all (bailing out the big three).

I do know that we need to really figure out what is going on, and get America back on the right track. Otherwise, we are going to be in deep trouble.

Now is not the time for small, timid thinking. Now is the time for audacious, bold thinking. Is our government up to it? They have not shown over the past several years that they were. I would be pleasantly surprised if this time they were.

See, I said it would be disjointed and fragmented. That must be caused by the anger.

1 comment:

Vince Patton said...

Good stuff my man - good stuff!