If everybody gives me a hundred bucks each, I might even share the solution with you.
Just kidding. I really have solved it, though. Get comfy because it’s going to take awhile for me to explain how I reached my conclusion. Make a pot of herbal tea…ooh, that’s a good idea. Excuse me. I’m going to make some ginger tea. Be right back.
Ok, here I am. Ready?
First of all, let me state the obvious–the stock market is not real. Oh, I can hear your protests. “Wait a gol-dang-minute, Minna,” you’re saying to yourself. Well, actually, if you’re reading me, you’re probably saying something more akin to, “That’s fucking bullshit, Minna.” Ah, yes, the dulcet tones of insurrection sounds mighty fine in the morning. Ok, yes, it’s night, but still….
Anyway, let me tell you something about our economy. My dad, who is a pretty big economic muckety-muck in Taiwan (and he has a Ph.D. in economics) is basically optimistic about the American economy because the real stuff is still there. We still have the land and the people and the materials. He wasn’t blowing steam up anyone’s ass the way McCain did, but his point was that our actual commodities, to loosely use that word, are still intact.
So, then, what about this big stock market hoo-ha, and what about Bernie Madoff? Didn’t he rip off billions and billions? Well, yes, he did. However, he was partly able to do so because the market is mythical. Basically, he told people, I am taking your money (which itself doesn’t seem so real now that we no longer use cash on a daily basis, which is partly the reason it’s so easy to run up a credit card debt, but let’s save that for another day), putting it in the market, where the money elves will give you back a thirty percent profit, no matter how poorly the rest of the market does. You just sit back and don’t worry your pretty little head about it.
You know, what he did was shitty, and, yes, the SEC (that’s a college sports’ conference!) completely failed in their job, but I have a hard time not being a tad incredulous at all the people who fell for Madoff’s shit–hey! I was writing his name as Madeoff. Freudian slip, anyway? Oh, and Alan Rickman HAS to play Madoff in the bioflick–without questioning any of it.
Joe Nocera, a financial columnist for The New York Times, wrote this fine column on the Madoff victims. He followed it up with this blog entry. I really am a strong advocate of not blaming the victim, but in this case, they deserve a bit of it. As Mr. Nocera points out, there were very few financial types who actually invested with Madoff. Why? Because they knew after talking to him that something wasn’t right. It’s not coincidental, I think, that most of Madoff’s victims were celebrities, rather than financial people.
Madoff succeeded for the same reason W. was able to propoganda us all the way into a fictitious war–nobody actually questioned what he was doing. Those who should have (SEC in the first case, and the press in the second) either looked the other way or actively colluded in the deceit. Then, we, the people, followed along. Now, Madoff’s victims think the government should reimburse them because the SEC didn’t do its job. As is pointed out in Mr. Nocera’s column and blog, the victims actively participated in their own demises as well.
Anyway, back to the fairy tale of the market. Once upon a time, there was no market. I know! Can you believe it? It’s true, though. Then it was created, and all was good. Then, the market gods rested up for the onflux of hedge funds, toxic assets (I guess they weren’t toxic to begin with), and much screwing around–in an economic sense. People have carnally screwed around since the beginning of time.
Suddenly, people who moved Monopoly money around for a living were GODS. They could do no wrong. They deserved a zillion dollars in risk-free bonus just for existing. Hell, fucking AIG is still giving out $165 MILLION in bonuses because they are ‘contractually obligated’. To me, this is just a Ponzi scheme of a worse order. They are taking OUR money and giving it to the very people who drove the company into the ground. The same old bullshit of having to reward the best and the brightest–what the fuck??????? And is Edward M. Liddy related to G. Gordon Liddy? Hm. Doesn’t appear to be so, but I don’t feel like doing any more research on the matter.
Anyway, let the so-called ‘best and brightest’ leave. Let them ‘go Galt’ and disappear. There are plenty of other bright and probably better people who can take their places. I am fuming over this newest tidbit from our biggest welfare king (AIG), but that’s not the point of this entry, either.
The point is, the market is purely created. Let’s take the Dow Jones. Apparently, it tracks thirty stocks (!) and then extrapolates how the economy is doing based on how these stocks perform on a daily basis. Now, let’s take a stock, say, AIG. Yes, it’s fucking pick on AIG day. EVERY day should be a fucking pick on AIG day until they are beaten into the ground. Anyway, before they were removed from the Dow–just an aside, if they are no longer on the Dow (but are now on the dole), then do they still exist?–they went from $70 a share to less than $2 a share. So, if you had one share of stock in AIG, you would have lost $68 on that share. However, if you had sold it, say, before they collapsed in a big, steaming pile of shit, you might have made money on it. Then again, if you bought it now, and somehow, they miraculously recover and reach $70 a share again, then you will be rich!
The share, which isn’t even a piece of paper or written down or anything, is, to put it bluntly, an illusion. We imbue it with whatever power it has, much like anything monetary. The share is worth whatever people deem it to be worth. That’s why it’s easy to rig the market (I learned that from Jim Cramer). You just talk down a stock when you want it to tank, then you buy it, then you talk it up, and then you sell it. Sure, it’s illegal, but only Shug Martha had to go to jail for insider trading–and that’s mostly because she’s a woman who succeeded without being nice.
So. Over a thousand words later (I had to make you pay for the solution somehow), here it is. Remember, I am not an economist. I was, however, a psych major, and my mom is a psychologist. She and I both know that this crisis is more psychological than economical. Therefore, this is my solution. Remember how this week, Citibank circulated an intra-office memo about how even though their stock isn’t worth the paper it isn’t printed on, they are still fine, fine, fine? By the way, FUCK YOU Citibank for using taxpayers’ money to bust unions before they even start up. Anyway, the Dow went up for three days straight after the Citibank memo was ‘leaked.’ Really. A bankrupt company gives a pep talk, and the market goes up.
Here’s the money shot (pun intended): Make ALL the failing companies to write pep-talk memos and circulate them around their offices, and the Dow will soar over ten thousand again! People will think the crisis is over, and they will buy back into the fairy tale. Then, we can rebuild our house of cards and do it all over again. There. Problem solved. Next up, world peace.