How Close Were We To A Meltdown?

According to insider masters of the universe economists, pretty fucking close:

What would be the dollar cost of not bailing out Wall Street? Try a number north of $30 trillion. (The awful math is detailed below.) That’s why Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke were so scared last week. And, yes, I think “scared” isn’t too strong a word. You don’t think they convened an emergency nighttime meeting of congressional leaders and then walked out with something close to a blank check for a trillion bucks because they thought we were headed for an outright recession, even a fairly nasty one?

Nope, I think they believed, and got Congress to believe, that the economy was on the verge of something far worse than the worst downturn in a generation. And that is why they went with the so-called nuclear option: the biggest financial bailout in history. In the words of JPMorgan Chase economist James Glassman, “Thankfully, we and our friends around the world who are watching the economic lights come on will never know where events would have led, if the clock had not stopped [last] Thursday afternoon…. Last week’s events made the 1987 stock market crash look like child’s play.”

It’s looking more and more like we dodged an ICBM… for now.

The author argues that there were non-governmental pro-market solutions to the growing problem, but that the time to enact those solutions was last year, before the system reached critical mass:

But what would have been a smart, free-market plan in August 2007 or March of this year isn’t enough for right now. Just as government created the environment for the credit crisis, it failed to enact quick solutions. The situation has gone critical. It’s time for shock and awe.

And who is to blame for this clusterfuck? Many interwoven factors, but some really stand out as primary causes.

We intend to keep his money in an S&P 500 index fund, money markets, commodities, and foreign currencies. He plans to gamble a small percentage on short selling multinationals which operate in demographically shifting countries.





Comments


  1. We still are close.

    When will the Real Estate market come back?

    From talking with people I really respect and understand real estate, my best guess would be 2012.

    – MPM

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  2. The question, what does NYC actually DO? What does it CREATE?, in terms of something you can touch, will become increasingly acute. This is a question other western nations will one day face as well.

    Publicists, marketing executives, i-bankers, lawyers upon lawyers upon lawyers… what do they DO that is of use in the hands on sense? A question China might ponder.

    NY’s ‘golden age’, after the crime-ridden 60’s,70’s and 80’s, was a product not just of brute policing, but of i-banker tax revenue. So what happens when they all leave? Megan McArdle is very afraid Is Detroit NY’s future?

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  3. That’s a trippy Bloomberg link you included. So the powerless Republicans, bent on increased corporate regulation, were thwarted by the mighty Democrats and their laissez faire ways. Is that logic tweaked or am I huffing paint thinner? Or, most likely, both?

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  4. I personally like foreign currency ETFs, which can act as a money market deposit in a foreign currency but then again, I just love ETFs.

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  5. “The question, what does NYC actually DO? What does it CREATE?, in terms of something you can touch, will become increasingly acute”

    Excellent points. I have been racking my brain lately about what America produces anymore.

    Which is too bad since I have some great contacts in Latin America now where I can move product.

    If anyone can think of some great products we produce now, let me know thegmanifesto @ yahoo dot com

    There could be a healthy kick back in it for you.

    – MPM

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  6. Sebastian Flyte 4 —

    You’re vastly overreacting

    New York is not about to cease being the financial capital of the US, or it’s advertising, media (outside of entertainment), corporate headquarters, accounting and legal capital.

    It’s tax base will take a hit for awhile. That will lead to lots of conflict. The last time NY’s finances were in seriously bad shape, way worse than now so far but it’s early days now, was in the 1970’s. Then the culprit was quite clearly excessive government spending on unions, welfare schemes, and similar lefty projects. The result was a turn to the right, really the center but for NY the right, beginning with Ed Koch, following with a brief black mayor hyatus to Giuliani and then Bloomberg, his “liberal good government Republican” successor.

    It’s not as clear what will be the upshot this time. It’s unlikely to be a wild turn to the left though. Wall Street could indeed be driven out to say Connecticut or New Jersey if local taxes became too excessive i.e. uncompetitive.

    What’s most likely is a muddle through. Cutbacks and more debt against a future recovery.

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  7. G Manifesto 8 —

    Excellent points. I have been racking my brain lately about what America produces anymore.

    .

    The upper ten percent of America earners or so produce plenty. Maybe it does down further than that in some sectors like aerospace and high tech.

    Most of the world’s innovations in every area except stuff like luxury clothing and food is American, and a fair bit of the last as well. Not all mind you, but most.

    High tech and Hollywood. Wall Street financial instruments, however out of favor for good reason at the moment – yeah, you’d be hard pressed to show what new financial products WERE’t invented on Wall STreet and massively launched there. The same goes for most insurance products.

    Advertising used to be the same, but not so much any more. Europe can be leading there, and generally is in the running.

    Hell even in green technology the Euros don’t lead that much or well. They just implement it more. They’re at best even with us there overall. Wind is one of their strongest suits, particularly Denmark.

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  8. G–

    The problem is increasingly how poorly the balance of the American public stacks up.

    We like to talk about wage levels being uncompetitve. But let me tell you, if you paid Singapore workers the same as Americans most high tech firms would prefer to make hard drives in Singapore and Malaysia. Lower defects. Faster work. And so on.

    Yet we continue to import mostly lower IQ immigrants, unlike e.g. Canada, with it’s skills and brains focued rational immigration policy.

    All of this will become more distressingly apparent when the smoke clears after the current financial and economic crisis has passed, as it will.

    The dollar will still be shockingly low. That will increasingly translate into prices for China made goods as well, as it hasn’t so far for reasons having mostly to do with China’s own policies and challenges (and fear of unrest).

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  9. dougjnn,

    I agree with everything you said.

    When I wrote, “I have been racking my brain lately about what America produces anymore.” I am more thinking along the lines of actual goods to be sold in big department stores.

    I have some great buyer contacts in Latin America. Lately we have been making purchases in China, then moving them to Latin America.

    Actual US made goods to be sold in big department stores is what I would like to do.

    Let me know.

    – MPM

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  10. “If you’re investing in the long term I would avoid commodities. While they have had a nice run for the past 10 years or so, historically they have been very bad.”

    Commodities are typically short term, very leveraged investments. Futures and Options.

    It really doesn’t matter if commodities are going up or down, you can make money either way…it only matters that you are on the right side of the trade.

    – MPM

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  11. This read like what I expect Sarah Palin’s take on the economy to be. Wait, could it be that one of John McCain’s campaign advisers wrote the article you linked to?

    I also hope that investing advice is tongue in cheek.

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  12. The question, what does NYC actually DO? What does it CREATE?, in terms of something you can touch, will become increasingly acute”

    Excellent points. I have been racking my brain lately about what America produces anymore
    Blookbuster Hollywood action films, celebrity se* tapes, and a few raw materials.

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  13. dougjn saidYet we continue to import mostly lower IQ immigrants, unlike e.g. Canada, with it’s skills and brains focued rational immigration policy

    Cananda takes in a lot more immigrants on refuge status than the US.

    Are you refering to illegal or legal immigration in your quote?

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  14. About the author of the linked article (from the linked article):

    He is an adviser to Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona in the 2008 presidential election.

    Gotta give Bloomberg props for being up front with this.

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  15. Chicnoir 20 —

    Are you refering to illegal or legal immigration in your quote?

    I’m referring to what’s actually here working or getting benefits, sending their kids to school, and getting health care at hospitals whether they can afford it or not.

    I.e. both. The totality.

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  16. “Blockbuster Hollywood action films, celebrity se* tapes, and a few raw materials.”

    Yes.

    And Crystal Meth, Pharmaceutical Drugs, Terrible Fashion ie Ed Hardy, Affliction shirts, and Chronic Weed.

    – MPM

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  17. Ahh yes. The AEI economist blames the pro-regulation democrats.

    That explains why the European banking system, which is regulated far more heavily than the US banking system, is teetering on the brink of oblivion.

    Only it’s not. That particular distinction belongs to the Americans.

    USA! USA! USA!

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  18. on September 23, 2008 at 3:41 am fuck you i got mine

    Ahh yes. The AEI economist blames the pro-regulation democrats.

    That explains why the European banking system, which is regulated far more heavily than the US banking system, is teetering on the brink of oblivion.

    Only it’s not. That particular distinction belongs to the Americans.

    USA! USA! USA!

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  19. “Its not sexy to lump your dough into the S&P, but it certainly has paid out over the past 75 years”
    ========
    Except for 1930-1944, and 1966-1982. Regardless of the asset class, if you don’t buy cheap, you won’t make much (real, ex-inflation) money. Stocks today are not cheap, and a great many of the S&P companies will soon go under (it’s called the Big D, it comes every three generations or so) or be removed from the index (the ongoing churning process). The one equities exception is minerals (energy, mining), which are an equity play on commodities.

    “If you’re investing in the long term I would avoid commodities. While they have had a nice run for the past 10 years or so, historically they have been very bad.”
    ========
    Sorry, but I doubt you’ve read much about their history. More likely, you’re parroting things you’ve heard in the mainstream media (including in 2000, when they acted as if SSRI and PAAS and AEM and NEM didn’t exist) and/or in econ classes taught by gentlemen who collect government paychecks. Historically, commodities are counter-cyclical to paper assets, yin and yang. CNBC doesn’t mention it because their biggest advertisers still sell mostly equities, not commodities. In fact, commodities have always made a ton of money when bought cheaply and unmargined. “Cheaply” means when paper is about to fall over the cliff and the public derides commodities: 1929, 1971, 2000. Since commodity bulls run 15-25 years, the getting is still good (miners have just had a massive correction and are back on the bargain table). The government’s “trillion here, trillion there” amounts to money printing, so inflation is guaranteed to worsen. In that environment, tangibles are the only assets that won’t get creamed (real estate is now out because of the Fed-driven bubble that’s started to deflate). The main problem is that you’ll have tremendous gains (largely inflation-driven) upon which you’ll be taxed mercilessly (say hello to 70% income tax a la the Jimmy Carter years).

    As realistic as R is, I’m surprised he’s not more attuned to precious metals (or maybe he is and they’re a large part of the commodities portion of his pie). Metals go ballistic in a highly inflationary environment and, in the case of bullion, have no counterparty risk. Presuming you can keep them from being stolen from you, they’re the safest investment on earth. The “gold and silver are mere commodities” idea is less than 25 years old. Prior to that, they (along with copper) were always nature’s cash, and every time there was a banking panic or a bubble crash (South Sea bubble, Tulipomania, etc.), people fled into their millenia-old arms. The MSM has done a nice job of portraying precious metals investors as kooks, but we’ve been making nice profits while wearing our tinfoil hats. Somewhere ahead the broad public will pile in, as happened in the late Seventies. THAT is when the really serious money will be made. If you wait until then to buy, you will have missed the boat and will be speculating rather than investing.

    Gold makes a man a silverback. Blow this one, and you’re going to get a tough lesson in how useful game is in a depression: not much, especially after your youthful energy has begun to fade. Watch the charts, make Kitco your friend. It’s where the money has been for years, and it will continue until the government (er, pardon me, the “independent” Fed) stops the money-printing madness.

    “Commodities are typically short term, very leveraged investments. Futures and Options.”
    ==== Not sure what you mean by “typically,” but the fact that people try to get cute with derivatives (and usually end up taking a beating) doesn’t keep anyone from taking a diversified (a broad portfolio of resource companies plus gold/silver/platinum coins), cash (non-margined) position. Investing with borrowed money is what’s risky, not commodities per se. Futures/options mean you have to catch the short-term moves, which means one is trying to beat the professional quants at their game. As with a casino, a few people do great for awhile (attributing it to their own brilliance, of course). Trading is risky at the best of times, doing so with leverage even more so…in the increasingly volatile metals markets it is perilous. No margin, no worries. Pay the few extra bucks to take possession of your stock certificates so you’re not screwed if your brokerage lays down.

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  20. whiskey,

    Those are good examples of what America makes.

    I posted above: “I am more thinking along the lines of actual goods to be sold in big department stores.”

    I should have been more clear from the beginning.

    Thanks though.

    When I said “Commodities are typically short term”, I was really referring to options and futures.

    Its difficult for many to take delivery of 1 contract of gasoline (42,000 gallons).

    – MPM

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  21. The amount of economic ignorance in these comments makes my head hurt.

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  22. excuse me, BEAR market is done

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  23. A trillion here, a trillion there, next thing you know we’ll be talking about real money.

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  24. There’s more ICBM’s coming.

    The 700 billion is not enough.

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  25. I’m with Roosh on the S&P Index fund. Passively “managed” funds only outperform in bull markets.

    Also, being an employee of one of the last “independents”, I wonder what y’all think about the following:

    “It is true that home foreclosures have risen, but a vast majority of mortgages are still paying on time. As a result, the market prices of subprime loan pools today have absolutely no relationship to the actual performance of the bonds. If every subprime loan went bad, and banks recovered just 40 cents on the dollar, the bonds would still be worth 40 cents. But the market has pushed bonds well below that level, taking down venerable firms and causing the government to consider draconian solutions.

    In other words, mark-to-market accounting, not the reality of the economy or the actual credits, has created much of the financial turmoil that has shaken the world. Imagine if you had a $200,000 mortgage on a $300,000 house that you planned on living in for 20 years. But a neighbor, because of very special circumstances had to sell his house for $150,000. Then, imagine if your banker said you had to mark to this “new market” and give the bank $80,000 in cash immediately (so that you would have 20% down), or lose your home. Would this reflect reality? Not at all. Would this create chaos? Absolutely.

    And it is happening all over Wall Street. Merrill Lynch was forced to sell $30.6 billion of illiquid mortgage securities to Lone Star Funds for just $6.7 billion, or 22 cents on the dollar. If it did not sell, these bonds might have fallen to 18 cents and further eroded its capital on a mark-to-market basis. It couldn’t take the chance.

    But what if Merrill was allowed to hold those securities on its books, without marking them to an illiquid market? The company would not have had to take a $24 billion loss. And maybe investors in Merrill Lynch would not have had to settle for a $29/share buyout from Bank of America, a 60% mark-down from the share price less than a year ago. After all, everyone knows those loans were worth more than 22 cents. The actual performance of the bonds was much better than the price, and Lone Star was able to take advantage of the fact that Merrill was over the proverbial knee of accounting rules.”

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  26. Let’s see some court time –
    leveraged into prison time –
    leveraged into multiple life sentences –
    with the only bailout being a shank –
    given to all of the clusterfuckers in the White House.

    When they cheated their way in by stealing the election
    in 2000, (psycho-alpha) and saw that no one would stop
    them – (sheeple) They have made the most hateful
    decisions time after time against the American people
    (the new powerless) and shifted record tax revenue from
    the public to the wealthiest. And sold off public assets to the wealthy at greatly reduced book value.

    Let’s get rid of the Party that destroyed America.

    to quote:
    http://jameshowardkunstler.typepad.com/clusterfuck_nation/

    “So, to begin this process, and to clarify the situation, I urge readers of this blog to identify the Republican Party by its new brand-name: the party that wrecked America. At least, then, we can reinstate one cardinal value into the juddering structure of what we claim to believe: that actions have consequences, that you can’t just swindle and loot a society and walk away with the swag. “

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  27. gold 1971 -$35 bucks. Today, 900 bucks. Return: 2500 percent

    Robert Heinlein in Time Enough for Love created a fictional company called the Howard Foundation:

    Forewarned by Lazarus Long about the 1929 stock market crash, it moved its assets to Swiss bank accounts, and restructured its operations as a Canadian corporation to avoid U.S. restrictions on owning gold.

    However, the problem with investing in gold nowadays is that the actual material itself is held somewhere else, in some bank vault, where you do not have access to it in person. Same with your savings in the bank.

    Only a small percentage of actual gold is kept in relation to what is “owned” or invested in. Thus it would be impossible for all “owners” to trade all at once in an emergency. The same applies to most banks nowadays.

    If you have any significant amount stowed away in savings, you might not be able to withdraw it all in cash form. The banks freak out if you actually try to withdraw your own money (personal experience). A frenzied bank run probably won’t happen these days because everyone’s paychecks are direct deposited into banks, and credit/debit is the most common way of transaction rather than cash.

    Cash and precious metal like silver and gold coins on your person, as well as hard liquor and non-perishables are the way to survive true depressions. However, the feds are inflating the dollar so much to avoid a crash that they are simply not letting the depression that would have naturally taken place actually happen.

    I’m still thinking about this one… but here’s what I got so far. We may end up having hyperinflation up to a point and then after that it will be deflation.

    This guy thinks that we will experience hyperinflation up until a stock market crash. After the stock market crash there will be extreme deflation, (meaning your dollar will sky rocket in value.) So basically, we will see more and more credit being issued which will increase the money supply up until a crash, which will cause all of the lending to disappear. All of the credit will disappear, which will decrease the money supply drastically.

    Diversifying into gold, silver, wads of cash, cartons of cigarettes, bottles of hard liquor, and survival food may be the best thing to do. I was actually thinking the other day about how people will probably still accept cash if a crash happens. It is so psychologically ingrained in them. Instead of using debit and credit cards though, it’ll be just cash.

    Money supply = actual money in circulation + debt

    The debt fluctuates when people default on their loans or new loans are issued. If we enter a period where lots of people default on their loans and don’t make their credit card payments, then the money supply will shrink. Keeping money in the banks is probably a really bad idea anyways. The banks’ reserves are all debt anyways.

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  28. QT, yes the debate today seems to focus around whether fair value accounting is appropriate for instruments whose market has become too shallow or dissapeared so that you can’t mark to market. The best “estimate” per FVA rules ends up being a fire sale value and that isn’t good or accurate.

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  29. Hope – You can buy gold coin en masse through many firms and have it delivered. In fact I have had a few clients do so in the past three months.

    However, realistically…you have a coin worth $900 and you want to buy food, gas or water with it. Not sure how anyone is going to make change for that….:)

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  30. A deflationary event is not always bad, and sometimes necessary.

    http://www.gold-eagle.com/editorials_04/field042704.html

    (Article written 29 April 2004)

    Without the deflationary event, hyperinflation is the next possibility. The currency will be skewered, but the rich have enough time to convert their holdings into non-dollar investments, then ride it out elsewhere.

    One can learn much about how to handle investments in an extreme inflationary environment from the German hyperinflation of 1920 to 1923. The Mark’s link with gold had been severed during World War 1 and the German government had the ability to print new Marks in an unbridled fashion. For various reasons the German government proceeded to do this until the Mark was worth nothing.

    German investors holding cash and financial assets such as bonds lost everything. Investors who protected themselves by investing in precious metals and in foreign currencies (at that time the Pound, US Dollar and the Swiss Franc were convertible into gold) retained or improved their real wealth.

    Investors in German real estate and the German stock market had varied results depending on how they were positioned. Real estate investors who could not quickly increase the rentals received from tenants were bankrupted by higher interest rates and rising property taxes. Others who managed to eliminate their mortgages and had sufficient rental income to meet outgoings survived with anything up to 70% of their real wealth intact.

    We know a trust fund kid with a loud mouth and who travels Europe at his leisure. His parents have detailed escape plans. They have personal plane routes to Canada in case shit really hits the fan here.

    Another guy I know is looking into holdings offshore and connections all over the world, but has not nearly the same kind of deep pockets. Still, he is in a much better position should things really fall apart.

    But many people still have irrational faith in the US dollar and the infallible economy here. People are finally starting ot get scared now, but the signs have been there all along.

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  31. Hopefully with all the financial advice getting tossed around here, some of you work in the industry and actually know what you’re talking about… right?

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  32. Michael, those in the financial industry created this mess in the first place. If you’ve been following the right news sources, you’d know that a year or two ago some of the industry insiders were having meltdowns over the situation that is playing out on the national stage right now.

    Some months ago gold prices was up to $1000/ounce, and no one really mentioned it. There was a some signs of rumblings then, but then it seemed to subside. People bought back into the stock market (2007 was an excellent performance year for the market). At that time it was not wide open like it is now. This time around, the national spotlight is on it, and the media’s getting the average joe perked up and serious.

    These things do not just happen overnight. Many people saw the Depression coming, too. Only this time, everything is being done to avert the Depression (deflationary event), which is pushing us ever toward inflation. It’s then just a matter of mechanics and semantics whether we enter hyperinflation.

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  33. They have personal plane routes to Canada in case shit really hits the fan here.

    ‘Cause you know, Canada will magically be better. Remember kids, when we had a Great Depression, they had a Great Depression. When we had stagflation, they had stagflation. If we’re not trading with Canada, then Canada’s economy is going in the toilet too.

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  34. ‘Cause you know, Canada will magically be better.

    No, it’s not for the Canadian economy, but for literal escape in case of martial law-style lockdown here. Their wealth is not in Canada, but Canada would let an American family fly out of there to another country. You understand now?

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  35. Hope –

    A very select group of people in the financial industry created this mess. I certainly did not.

    This crisis has been on the front page of the newspapers non-stop since July 2007.

    Hyperinflation in the United States is ridiculous. It is much more than “just a matter of mechanics and semantics”.

    My point was simply that when it comes to finance and economics, everyone pretends to be an expert. I have lived and breathed this crisis every day for over a year now and I would never have the gall to speak with the authority and certainty that people with close to zero financial and economic knowledge on this board do. You want some financial advice? Ponder Socrates.

    I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.

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  36. I would never have the gall to speak with the authority and certainty that people with close to zero financial and economic knowledge on this board do.

    I have no authority or certainty. My concerns are my own, and other people do not have to listen. I doubt very many people act on financial advice from blog comments anyway.

    You want some financial advice? Ponder Socrates.

    Yes, Socrates was very wise. However, people still have to survive despite their lack of knowledge. Some of us are just trying to get by with what little we have.

    We take action based on several possibilities. Even though the most probable outcome is “nothing seriously bad will happen,” it’s good to be prepared just in case.

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  37. I think a lot of people do speak with certainty, including you when you said that “those in the financial industry created this mess in the first place” and that “It’s then just a matter of mechanics and semantics whether we enter hyperinflation” or that it is “irrational” to have faith in the dollar and our economy.

    It’s definitely smart to consider all possibilities. It’s not smart to make panicky, exaggerated statements that bare no relationship to the truth.

    I don’t mean to single you out particularly. Lots of people are making those same statements here (not to mention the press). It’s just all a little silly.

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  38. It’s definitely smart to consider all possibilities. It’s not smart to make panicky, exaggerated statements that bare no relationship to the truth.

    Of course. Some of us look at the world through a historical lens, rather than focusing on the present. I’ll grant you that I made some exaggerated statements, but I won’t be the first or the last.

    I don’t think it is panicky to try to make plans by looking backwards at cases that have happened and might happen again. Beyond that, some things are simply practical no matter the circumstances, prosperous or dire.

    The truth itself is also murky. Do any of us have a strong, firm grasp on the whole truth? I doubt it.

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  39. The truth itself is also murky. Do any of us have a strong, firm grasp on the whole truth? I doubt it.

    Couldn’t agree more.

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  40. on September 23, 2008 at 5:34 pm Hadron Collider

    The crisis has been slowly building because it was planned this way – the Amaerican public has been thrust into crisis after crisis for almost eight years with a huge scam taking place each time –

    The money involved is scandalous – mountains of cash “lost” in Iraq came shortly after the stolen election.
    Huge no-bid contracts spread all over the place to friends of the administration while our guys were sent there for tour after tour after tour without enough armor.

    Take the botched World Trade Center, Pentagon, and National Security missions that are part of being in charge in the
    White House. They blew it and we got the 9/11 attacks – good job assholes! – we have the biggest military budget in the history of the world and they scrambled around 6 jets?
    They should have been kicked out for THAT. It would onlt be fair since we have had to hear nonstop whining about Clinton and “Black Hawk Down”. 9/11 was a magnitude worse natinal security disgrace.

    WTF did we buy our enormous military forces for?
    This administration has a defense of America record that truly sucks. Probably Filmore or Taft did better.

    Now take the systematic non-enforcement of financial markets – like Bush and Reagan and McCain did in the Savings and Loan crisis in 1992. Why are their not more people like me all pissed off?

    Is your friend Jeets man enough to be pissed at these assholes?

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  41. 51 Hope and 52 Michael.

    Truth? I’m so glad you brought it up. Please allow me to quote from the Master:

    Sophistry is pure argument for argument’s sake, with no concern for truth. It is just linguistic analysis, logical, rational, of course, but not intuitive, not experiential.

    And one can go on arguing and guessing, and yet, even if you argue for millennia you will not arrive at truth–because truth is never a conclusion, not a conclusion of any logical process. Truth has not to be invented by logic; truth has to be discovered by love. The way to truth is not logic but love. Wisdom is love; knowledge is logic.

    And whenever logic starts pretending that “I am the door, I am the way to truth,” truth disappears from the world.

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  42. And who is to blame for this clusterfuck?

    Who is to blame? Please. Don’t you know by now that life is just a lot more complicated than that?

    My subjective opinion at the moment is that an epidemic of Mad Hatter disease brought on by MERCURY poisoning is to blame. Am I right? Of course not. Life is more complicated than that.

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  43. No, it’s not for the Canadian economy, but for literal escape in case of martial law-style lockdown here.

    So, the economy will crash, and the government program to get us out of that mess will be to lock up the people who want to leave? Does that include the illegal aliens returning to Mexico?

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  44. @Michael said:I have lived and breathed this crisis every day for over a year now and I would never have the gall to speak with the authority and certainty that people with close to zero financial and economic knowledge on this board do.

    I think the commenters here are just sharing ideas or information. What is so wrong about that?

    @Hope- Have your wealthy friends discussed where they would go if they left the USA. What countries do they think would be safe havens from the madness??

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  45. You want some financial advice? Ponder Socrates.

    Yes, Socrates was very wise. However, people still have to survive despite their lack of knowledge. Some of us are just trying to get by with what little we have.

    We take action based on several possibilities. Even though the most probable outcome is “nothing seriously bad will happen,” it’s good to be prepared just in case

    Excellent comeback Hope. Some of the males here think women can’t debate or argue without becoming enotional but your answer proves otherwise.

    Of course. Some of us look at the world through a historical lens, rather than focusing on the present

    I cosign this.

    The truth itself is also murky. Do any of us have a strong, firm grasp on the whole truth? I doubt it.

    Couldn’t agree more.

    Neither could I.

    @Hadron Collider- For some weird reason, the average American is resistant to believeing that our leaders could be crooks or wrong. He follow them blindly.

    @MarkD- Think Children of Men the movie.
    FYI,not all illegal aliens come from Mexico. There are a number of South American&Carribean countries like Brazil, Guadalupe,Hondourus,Beleize,Costa Rica,Peru, etc… from which a number Hispanic(-Brazil) illegal aliens come from.

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  46. So, the economy will crash, and the government program to get us out of that mess will be to lock up the people who want to leave? Does that include the illegal aliens returning to Mexico?

    Beats me. It’s their plan, which I only heard second hand.

    Have your wealthy friends discussed where they would go if they left the USA. What countries do they think would be safe havens from the madness??

    No idea about that either. Many of these families travel the world frequently and talk about that, but don’t talk about where they would move.

    These kinds of families often live a very private life and not discuss their wealth much. I guess because so many people could afford the McMansions and luxury cars during the credit boom, they felt like there was no real glory in it. Also, they don’t want to invite attention to themselves, and some of that could be for tax purposes, too.

    The kid was a notable exception, on an extended break from his Ivy League education, and a bit young and loud-mouthed. He tried to give a Russian immigrant girl he fell in love with 50 grand, but she just wasn’t really into him that much. He was my husband’s coworker because he wanted to see what it’s like to “work for a while.” After that, he jetsetted to Europe.

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  47. Excellent comeback Hope.

    no it wasn’t. it didn’t even qualify as a comeback.

    Not to you, it’s the sort of thing that would fly over the heads of most men.

    So glad you said this… yes! yes! yes!

    Sorry if I’m too nice. 😦

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  48. The kid was a notable exception, on an extended break from his Ivy League education, and a bit young and loud-mouthed. He tried to give a Russian immigrant girl he fell in love with 50 grand, but she just wasn’t really into him that much. He was my husband’s coworker because he wanted to see what it’s like to “work for a while.” After that, he jetsetted to Europe.

    Sounds like a hogmosh of the kids from Born Rich.

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  49. ^^^If you say so.

    when another woman validates their opinion, a round of textual back-slapping, smiley-swapping, and wagon-circling ensues, cocooning the holder of the opinion in a comfy little mental space where none of her preconceived notions are ever challenged, and where her ego remains unscathed.
    I cosign with anyone I agree with or who makes me see the light.

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  50. Excellent comeback Hope. Some of the males here think women can’t debate or argue without becoming enotional but your answer proves otherwise.

    Her comeback was backing off from her previously extreme statements to agreeing with my point of view. I’ll take a comeback any day that ends with the person agreeing with me.

    We went from ‘hyperinflation is a certainty, prepare for the worst!’ to ‘we’re just discussing possibilities and it’s good to be prepared and anyway what do i know’.

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  51. Indeed Michael. I am a skeptic in all directions. I write with more certainty than I actually think.

    @James #71, the story with the trust fund kid and the Russian girl is one that people here might want to hear. True story, as true as I know anyway.

    She was a temp at the same place he was working, and he started pursuing her with all his energy. She was ambivalent about him, though. He was over-eager, what people here might call “beta,” and he spent money like water.

    She was from a poor immigrant family, had a hard work ethic and wanted to make her own way. But here was a guy trying to give her a car, paying her way through everything, and basically offering a cushy life no work and all play, and she couldn’t say no completely.

    He rented an apartment close to their job, and would skip work many days to sleep with her. Even though their manager himself skipped out of work quite a bit, he was more than happy to get his subordinates into trouble for doing the same.

    This manager, by the way, was the most passive aggressive, self-important prick who believed himself to be so charming, but nearly everyone who knew him for more than a month loathed him. He was an actor in his spare time (now full time), and oozes lies from every pore.

    Later, the trust fund kid would find out that his weasel of a boss was seducing his Russian girlfriend. What exactly happened was never completely clear, but something did happen between them to precipitate some incriminating e-mails.

    At the time, however, it seemed like the kid and the girl were just having issues. She didn’t really love him despite how in love with her he was. He was also a little short, skinny, high in voice and not experienced with women at all.

    They broke up and got back together several times. The last time that she broke up with him, he tried to give her $50,000 as a gift, but she hesitated taking it. An older female coworker persuaded her not to take it, and so she did not.

    Also around this time, she tried applying for a full time position, but she very obviously lied on her resume about her credentials. So even though she was favored to get the job (whatever transpired between her and the manager would have cinched it), she did not.

    The trust fund kid quit soon after the Russian girl left, but he still keeps in touch with his former coworkers, if only to talk about how great Europe is. He might have learned that he could not buy love with money, but I guess he is still able to buy the attention of plenty of good looking women.

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  52. Hope 73 —

    The only thing somewhat surprising about this story to me is that the Russian girl didn’t just take the 50k and split. It sounds like she might have, but was talked out of it. She sounds like she’s still quite unformed, which isn’t surprising given her background and new situations / confusing opportunities.

    You don’t say what the boss she had an affair with was like. He’s obviously the relative player in this story. She wasn’t just going after the easiest gold digger pot, or she would have gone with the trust fund kid.

    Acutally, if he had been a fair bit studlier, I’d guess she would have. But that is of course a mighty big IF, an IF that’s the subject of this entire blog.

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  53. You don’t say what the boss she had an affair with was like. He’s obviously the relative player in this story. She wasn’t just going after the easiest gold digger pot, or she would have gone with the trust fund kid.

    He was a player all right. He fooled the upper management into believing that he was a great boss, and that everything was the fault of his subordinates. Except, of course, just about everything that went wrong was due to his gigantic ego and micro-management style. He would wear a suit and tie to their very business casual workplace, and introduce himself to clients who already knew the people working there as their “superior.”

    He turned an entire department of independent, skilled workers who did their job smoothly into his exclusive underlings who were powerless to do anything unless the directive came from him, and him alone. The department had the worst ever ratings from the clients under his “leadership.”

    He filled a job for which he was unqualified, and he did zero technical work even though that was part of his job description. But his master’s degree in English pleased the big boss, who was big into formal credentials. This liberal arts-major, theater-actor, no management skills guy posed as a good business executive. A great charlatan.

    I loathed the guy immediately, long before my husband’s coworkers began to dislike him. My intuition about people is usually pretty reliable. Creepy, oily and car salesman-like is the vibe I got from him right away. Looks-wise, he was no taller, buffer or better looking than the trust fund kid, but he was good at the art of deception. He was utterly heartless, zero compassion, a gross narcissist, and believed himself to be superior to everyone else.

    His first week hired, I ranted openly and loudly about him at a group lunch, which surprised all of my husband’s coworkers. Seeing no one else shared my view, I shut up. Months passed, and the guy got into a bad car accident. No one so much even sent him an e-mail, much less a card or gift. There were murmurings hoping that he wouldn’t come back. In my opinion, that was well-deserved karma.

    This was all before anyone found out that he had something going on with the Russian girl. But I did know that he treated his wife poorly, and spat on her wishes to have children. He thinks children are worthless, and told one of the fathers at work with three kids that he shouldn’t have had kids if it was going to interfere at all with work — the kids were sick.

    So there you go. A portrait, not so objectively written, of this “player.” Yes, I am sure he can turn the charm on the girl if he wants it, and make her feel oh so special. If he has his wife’s undying loyalty, so be it. I don’t envy that couple at all.

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  54. Hope 75 —

    I trust it isn’t necessary for me to say that even if I discount the portrait you’ve painted of this boss by 50% for “non objectivity” (whereas I’d probably discount it more like 10-20%), I too would loathe this man.

    I said I trust it isn’t necessary but I suspect from your answering tone that it is. I partly embrace and acknowledge player skills Hope, but I do not embrace unmitigated player values. Certain not if this guy is an example. My overall test is actually getting things DONE. Meaningful work wise in that realm, and good looking and otherwise high quality female attracting wise in that realm.

    Actually though he seems to rather clearly be a Machiavellian that’s so solely selfishly focused as to be rather a sociopath type that self destructs. Not before doing damage though.

    As well, taking a larger social view, as opposed to a micro how dooes one advnace his own immediate interests one, I do worry quite a lot that high performing betas are not, and will in future be even more not, sufficiently rewarded with attractive female companionship / love. That is after all the big payoff, the real reward.

    I’m not much of an egalitarian really, if true be known. But I am a meritocritarian. I don’t worry much if perpectual male clerks get left out of the mating game. I do worry if high performing software and other enginners and scientists and higher performing technical workers generally do.

    They don’t need to get Jessica Alba’s slightly less attractive sister. But romantic life shouldn’t seem or be too impossible for them either. And I don’t think converting them to fatty loving is the answer. (Slimming the fatties could be one of the answers though. )

    But in this area Hope, please, YOU TELL ME.

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  55. I think a man marks himself by all his actions. In romance we’ve all done some unscrupulous things, and it is a private matter for the most part, so that part is more forgivable.

    He was playing his very job like a game, and even admitted it as such. Only, he was playing with people’s lives, and it’s just despicable to do that to people’s livelihoods. I will never forget the way he messed with the health and psychology of some decent people who were just trying to get their job done and get a paycheck.

    So many managers behave this way and drive people into misery and depression. You frequently complain here about bad spouses dougjnn, but I see the way many bad bosses give their underlings such undue stress that they develop chronic illnesses.

    I’m lucky to have a good work environment now, but I had a stint at a horrible place, too. My relationship was never so awful as when I was working there. My health deteriorated as well. I sucked it up and got out as soon as I could.

    I think it is great that you are a meritocritarian, and I think I am a bit of one myself. That is why it angered me so much to see such a charlatan in a position he wholly did not deserve, just because of his “people” — cough suck up — skills.

    Yes, the high performing technicians and engineers have real skill, but they are not rewarded with enormous pay in any of the marketplaces. Power comes not from any substance, but from presentation. I say this bitterly, though I myself work in a field that is close cousin to marketing, prettifying what is being presented.

    Those who present the right face, gain the right credentials, schmooze the right people, and play the right games get the best rewards, not those who are the most able. This it the case in the job market as well as the romance market. It seems dishonest to its core, but this is the process by which the “winners” are selected.

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  56. Michael- Hope’s comeback asserted her point and made you look like a male bully at the same time. That’s why I said excellent comeback. If you are arguing with a woman, and you to fall into the role of a bully, you lose.

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  57. Hope 73
    ======
    Wow, what a wild story. Guess it proves what R says about no amount of money (or even looks) being a replacement for a total lack of confidence.

    Bummer about the boss. Gawd, but actors can be some messed-up people. Hope, was this all in DC?

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  58. This was Chicago area, James O.

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