Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Economy Is So Bad That...

Last night Agnes and I sat down with our financial advisor for our latest survey of the huge, smoking crater where our retirement savings used to be. This is always difficult for me, partly because it re-kindles my rage at the entire financial management industry, and partly because I have always been confused by economics. The intricacies of German and Russian grammar - no problem. Translating government pronouncements from Old Church Slavonic into English - a snap. Understanding the arcane voodoo-speak of those who deal in economics - forget it.

So I sat there at the kitchen table while Agnes and our advisor earnestly debated whether our depleted retirement savings will allow us to dine on kibble, or if we'll be able to afford Alpo, and whether we'll be able to keep paying the bank for the privilege of living in our house. While they debated the intricacies of various investment strategies, I recalled my observation that the financial management industry is the only one I know of which can charge you large fees while promising absolutely nothing. Yes, that's right - take a look at the latest letter or e-mail from your bank or broker or financial management specialist...chances are, there are at least five paragraphs of small print at the bottom that all say some variant of "we guarantee you absolutely nothing except that we will collect management fees from you."

I sure wish my job worked that way.

Anyhow, my grouchy review of the twisted wreckage of my retirement funds led me to see the "humor" in this riff on the economy. Yes, my friends, the economy is so bad that ...

I opened the mail and found a pre-declined credit card.

I ordered a Whopper at Burger King and they asked me, "Can you afford fries with that?"

CEOs now play miniature golf.

Exxon-Mobil has laid off 25 Congressmen.

The bank returned my check marked "Insufficient Funds" and I had to call them to ask if they meant me or them.

Stock in Hot Wheels is trading higher than GM.

McDonalds is selling a quarter-ouncer.

The Mafia is laying off judges.

Beverly Hills parents are firing their nannies and having to learn their children's names.

A truckload of Americans was caught sneaking into Mexico.

Dick Cheney took his stockbroker hunting.

Motel Six has stopped leaving the light on.

How bad do you think it is? Inquiring minds want to know.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

8 comments:

KKTSews said...

It's pretty bad. I live in Ohio, where the herd mentality allowed the passage on Tues of a constitutional ammendment specifying the tax plots of land (!) where a SINGLE company can build 4 casinos and operate them without any interference (regulation) from local government. They will pay tax of 33% on their profits (compare this with 45-50% in neighboring states) and hold a monopoly on gambling. Why did the voters go for this absurdly detailed and restritive constitutional AMMENDMENT? The promise of jobs. Nice, low paying jobs to operate the casinos and, perhaps, clean hotel rooms. What a stupid trade. But with unemployment well over 10% in the state, I guess I see why people made this deal with the devil. Oh, and the FOP endorsed it because they get 2% of the take.

Amanda said...

That was funny but I know it really is such a serious problem these days....

Phfrankie Bondo said...

...the rapper 50 Cent is now refered to as "Two Bits"...

Anonymous said...

The problem with most recessions is that government activity generally makes them worse. Between the founding of this country and the great depression we had 8 or 10 panics. The government did nothing, and the economy recovered within a fairly short time. Government action under the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations (especially the idiotic Smoot-Hawley Tariff, and the numbskull actions of the Federal Reserve, which DEFLATED the currency 25% from 1930 to 1933--if you did that in a PROSPEROUS economy you would bring on a recession--were among the many idiotic things the government did.) By contrast, the post World War I recession (made worse by the Flu Epidemic) drew no government response, and went away by itself just in time to bring on the Roaring Twenties (one of the largest growth periods in American History.) As 1929 neared, the same sort of investor hysteria that we recently saw in the mortgage market over the last 2 years fed unsupportable schemes (I believe that one of the largest Ponzi schemes ever, run by Ivar Krueger happened just before the crash, but I don't have time to look it up) and the bad investments came home to roost, to mix about six metaphors at once, and the market tanked. But the stock market recovered to its previously levels within a year, so the crash itself wasn't the real cause of the depression. The government reaction (worldwide) was. Right now the government is increasing our debt when the problem is unsupported debt. Does that sound like the Smoot-Hawley Tariff to you? The Smoot-Hawley Tariff killed international trade dead as a doornail, just when trade would have been the cure for the Stock Market Crash. You can thank it and the Fed for WWII, the Russian occupation of Europe, and probably the Edsall, while you're at it.

And here we are doing the equivalent again.

Eminence Grise

John said...

The economy is so bad that...
I can't even afford to pay attention!

Mike said...

If you start serving Alpo, I'm moving in with you.

lacochran said...

If you pour water over the kibble, it's sort of like a gravy. If by gravy you mean water-logged kibble.

And, at least, switch to no-load funds. But I'm sure your financial guru already told you that.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

A very dry wit there.