Wednesday, September 17, 2008

WC: Greed and Stupidity

I work in the Wall Street neighborhood (though not in the Wall Street milieu). I work near Citi and Deutch Bank and AIG, etc. And the 'hood has changed markedly in the past week.

When I pass the Stock Exchange each morning, there are usually hordes of tourists, usually Chinese, all taking pictures of each other with the Stock Exchange in the background. Monday morning, however, there were few tourists, but the place was swarming with media: reporters, camera people, assistants--and trucks decal-ed with familiar logos: CNN, MSNBC, FOX.

Some reporters were trying to get men in suits to comment on the economic situation, but mostly they were getting brushed off. As a woman in jeans, I was not who they wanted to talk to.

Fast forward to this morning, when I stopped into Cafe Wall, where I often get a breakfast sandwich (bialy untoasted, turkey bacon, one egg; Raymond, a cute Hispanic man with a pony tail and an amazing memory, gets it ready without my having to order it, which is very nice). And the place was empty (NY definition of empty at 9:30 am = six customers). I asked Raymond if it had been this way all week and he nodded, and then pointed to the next bldg over, as if to say that people there had gotten laid off.

Lunch was at a luncheonette. (No, I don't eat all my meals out, but I did today, as it happens.) And, at 1:30, when it usually would be close to full, it was about half empty.

And the streets are quieter. It's easier to get around. It's spooky!

While writing this, I decided to get up my nerve and check my retirement funds. I've been saving for retirement since I was 27 years old. I can't say I've suffered horribly to fund my retirement, but there are things I've done without for Wendy-present in order that Wendy-future may be able to eat and have a place to live. Each year I put 18% of my income away into my 401K plus as much as can into a Roth IRA. So, drum roll, what do I have to show for it since Dec 31, 2007? A loss of about $30K. So far.

The future of our economy is truly frightening, and the reasons for our problems are truly infuriating. As a friend and I sort of coined together: who needs terrorists when you have republicans?

Greedy fuckers have stolen billions of dollars from our economy, yet again, and now we have to bail them out, yet again, and worry about our jobs, yet again, and worry about keeping our homes, yet again, and worry about eating cat food when we retire, yet again. And the worst of them got away with it, yet again.

A friend asked today if it makes sense to put money into the market just now. I've decided to stick to the same distribution I've been using all along for my 401K. Does that make sense? Who knows? Suzie Orman says it's a bad time to be investing. Does that make sense? Who knows? Some people say that times like these are the perfect time to invest. Does that make sense? Who knows?

Greed is killing this country.

Well, greed and stupidity.


Patricia said...

Yes, I agree with you. Greed and stupidity is destroying this country and we little guys always end up losing out!

Here's an interesting article about what was going on with Fannie and Freddie in the Washington Post (a liberal newspaper) that everyone should read...

Patricia said...

Fannie and Freddie, pets and feeding troughs for democratic pols, were conducting a project of social engineering by pushing mortgage loans on people (mostly minority people) who couldn't afford the loans. This project started during the Clinton administration and led to the the sub-prime collapse.

MZW said...

Greedy, absolutely, stupidity is not clear so much as a flawed set of rules. The system was set up to reward profit today, maybe consider tomorrow, but not much further than that, especially not consequences down the line.

Yesterday a retired Navy pilot was sitting next to me on a cross country flight and opined that the military code of behavior unbecoming of an officer is a catch all code that covers bad behavior in the military. Our corporate and political leaders should be held to high standards as well.

The code covers behavior in official and private capacities, including “acts of dishonesty, unfair dealing; ... lawlessness; steal(ing) property. …Violation of this article include knowingly making a false official statement; dishonorable failure to pay a debt”

“Maximum punishment: Dismissal, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for a period not in excess of that authorized for the most analogous (similar) offense for which a punishment is prescribed in this Manual, or, if none is prescribed, for 1 year.”

Thinking about confiscating the golden parachutes, retirement benefits and throwing them in jail is a pleasant thought...