Oh Shit My Shit

A funny thing happened on the U.S. stock market today, the P.E. ratio's of even the most bloated stocks started looking pretty damn attractive. If I had the money I would start buying stocks again. Oh wait, nobody has any money, except Warren Buffet. That's pretty much the same boat everyone is in.
So now it becomes apparent to a lot of people that we aren't just in a recession, we are in a freefall. No one knew where the bottom was going to hit and indeed we still don't. But you know what, we are going to be alright. Even if this goes from a gut wrenching recession to a full blown Depression it will be O.K.
Let me tell you a little story of what happened to a lot of people in my world after Reagan took office. Back in the 80's things seemed a lot stronger, even for a poor kid in Utah. Somehow we left most of those people behind, we abandoned the dignity of basic work and now here we are, we screwed a huge group of people in America, they used to be called the Middle Class.
For the bosses it was a different story. They would have a great factory in the Heart of America making an innovative product that sells in Wal-Marts across the country. They would have a solid infrastructure, amazing workers with mortgages and a load of machines that cost a fortune. One Wal-Mart comes into the shop and says that don't want to work with a Union shop in the U.S. but they love the beds. They ask the boss to move his factory to China. Pennies on the dollar for workers, and you don't have to worry about Health Care, Days off, Pensions or Government Safety Regulations. The offset in worker cost far out-weighs the shipping costs and besides Wal-Mart can help you set everything up. So the boss has a tough decision to make, but it will greatly enrich him. "The U.S. economy is strong, the workers will find another way to make money", he would think.
So the workers who once had Pensions and Healthcare and Vacations and Security do what ever they have to do to keep paying their Mortgages. Things were getting tough for the former workers of the Mattress factory, the service industry just wasn't as good. Their new Jobs at Wal-Mart just didn't pay like the old. They could never make as money in the blue vest selling the matresses that used to be 'Made in America.'
Meanwhile back at the Country Club the boss was living large. Since he started outsourcing he had more money than he what to do with. He had the Mercedes, the Mansion, the Vacation House, the Viking Stoves, the Sub Zero, the Toys, the Healthcare security, everything a person could want, and then some. He still had enough money that the only thing he could do was work to keep his money keeping him wealthy. Some investment's weren't panning out that great though, the dot-com bubble had already poppped and he still had too much money to just let sit there wasting away in bank at 2% interest.
While some the Old Factory crew were toiling away in jobs going nowhere some of the other people were getting smart. The best place to make money in America was in Housing, in California and Florida and New York the price of real estate was rising by as much as 25% a year. The markets were heating up every where. "Everyone has to have a home, and anymore it's the safest investment you can make", they would say. There was just one problem, everyone but the old boss was working for Wal-Mart or the Mortgage company, how were they going to get people that work for Wal-Mart into a home?
Well it turns out that the Conservatives in Washington had been grappling with that same problem for a while. It turns out if you just lower the barriers to entry enough anyone can have a million dollar home. Besides they had to something to help out their constituent's, they were friends with everyone from the Old Factory and the Boss was their biggest supporter. So eventually they decided it would be good to cut away enough regulation that anyone could have a house. It turns out to get a family working at Wal-Mart into a house you can't ask for money, have a high interest rate, or even ask if they were employed steadily.
So the Wal-Mart workers finally got their houses but the banks were having a tough time making their balance sheets work. "At least these home value's are always going up!" Maybe we can sell the value of these debts off to someone and maybe not have things be so risky.
The Boss has been shopping around the market looking for the best place to put his money and what does he find, Real Estate! Housing prices have been rising for years, it's easier to buy a home than ever and if anything goes wrong at least you have the house! Besides the more houses there are the matresses he can ship in from China!
For a while it seemed like everything was going to be O.K. Long after the factory had closed the Boss was richer than ever, the workers had found new jobs and they even had houses and a piece of the pie. The banker, the mortgage broker and even the Conservative politician seemed to be doing just great.
But then a funny thing happened. Some of those workers at the Wal-Mart started having problems, maybe it was an illness, maybe it was their family, maybe it was some accident or bolt out of the blue. But one way or another when the people at Wal-Mart fell they fell hard and they didn't have anything to fall on. The only money they had left was the equity in there house. When they got sick they had to take out reverse mortgages to pay the doctor. When they had family struggles they had no where to turn, everyone they knew was in the same boat.
It wasn't like there weren't tough times at the Old Factory, sometimes they got hurt, sometimes they had emergencies, but they always had a soft place to fall, and it wasn't just a mattress. They had healthcare, and vacation times, and sick pay and they were pretty secure when they had a Union to help them keep it.
The bad times were back and it seemed like a long time ago when things were good. They went to church, they voted Conservative, they even gave their old Boss a big tax cut so that some of his money might trickle down. Somehow none of that seemed to help a bit. Now they were loosing there home, which wasn't even worth what they paid for it, and they didn't know what to do, they had nothing left but a pile of debt, and now there were new laws that didn't even let get rid of that debt in a bankruptcy.
They turned on Fox News at their Son's apartment one night. Sean Hannity was talking about ACORN and giving loans to people that didn't qualify and how it was causing a crisis. They weren't minorities and they used to make a lot of money, they couldn't believe that the people they helped all there lives would turn on them like that. They were sick, they lost their houses, they lost everything. Shamed and with nothing left they just wanted to cry.
So they went to sleep on the mattress they brought with them from the house they bought after Wal-Mart. It was one the last ones that still said 'Made in America'. It was over 10 years old now, stained from moving house, a little neglect, and a lot of tears.
The story of the family who got sick or had something bad happen got told a few too many times. Too many people got kicked out of their houses and there was no one left to buy the ones that were there. The old boulevards next to the derrilect old factory were almost completely vacant now. The mortgage companies couldn't sell the houses.
One morning in November, the Boss returned from his trip to the Tropics to find that most of the money he just stuck into the Bank was gone. It was millions of dollars and he didn't know where any of it was, or how he was going to get it back. In a matter of weeks he lost more money than most people will ever see in there lives. He couldn't understand where it all went, he believed in America, and now he didn't know what to think. He felt a hollow in his stomach and now he just want's to be sick.

So take a look at the Dow and realize that every point that drops it is just a variation of this story being told a hundred times.

Anyone who has read my blog should have a pretty good idea of how I am voting. Now you know why.

No comments: