I’m not a pessimist. But I get pretty cranky when my car dies in the driveway, my son gets sick, when the person on the bus behind is gabbing on their cellphone, when the financial system drops an atom bomb on the economy that we’re still dealing with, when the central bank plays God with the markets, when companies wrap themselves in the flag and then ship jobs to China, when politicians from both parties wrap themselves up in the flag and then take millions of dollars from the companies shipping jobs overseas, and then rewrite the rules to favor the companies shipping jobs overseas, when…
Well, you get the picture. I consider myself an optimist. But I am also a realist, and I have to tell you, right now, realistically, everything stinks.
Okay, you got me; not every single thing in the world stinks, and like the New York Knicks, everything that stinks can get better. It may take a major upheaval, a revolution or exiling Justin Bieber to Inner Mongolia to make it better, but it will get better.
Now, if you’re a player, a real player, a Koch brother or Jamie Dimon, then everything’s great. But, for the rest of us, here’s just a partial list of everything that today stinks. Tell me if I left anything out.
The economy stinks. We are not creating anywhere near enough jobs, which means we’ve got millions of people stuck on unemployment, and millions more who are employed but are seeing their wages and benefits undercut by the lack of demand. We have a completely shot-through housing market. The list is endless. We will be lucky, and I mean David-Tyree-catching-the-ball-against-his-helmet lucky, to avoid another global banking crisis.
Stocks stink. I don’t want to hear about bull rallies. The market is largely controlled by computers programmed by pros who can suck all the value out of a stock 200 times over before you even get near it. The average investor does not stand a chance, not a chance, of getting real value out of the stock market.
Bonds stink. The Federal Reserve has been driving down interest rates in the interest of driving investors further out along the risk curve, into, say, stocks (and commodities.) Where you’ll get crushed by the quants and bots. That’s not even factoring in default risk. I’d go so far as to say that today, there is not a single safe investment for the average person. Not one.
The Republicans stink. Poppy Bush had it right when he blasted “voodoo economics,” but nobody in the party listened, we had 30 years of “supply-side economics” that led directly to an all-time economic crisis. Republicans stink.