Monday, September 29, 2008

Wow... Get me off this Ride!

This summer, I had a run in with Labrythitis. No, that's not connected to my love for the David Bowie movie, but rather a weird virus with dizziness, nausea, and headaches as symptoms. In short, it was like an intense case of motion sickness... and motion makes the symptoms worse. Guess when it hit me? That's right... during our vacation period, whem my friend Mark and then my mother visited for six days and ten days, respectively. Naturally, we spent a lot of their trips driving to around, even multiple trips out on Eliott Bay and Lake Union. Fun, fun!

Over the last couple years, I've been teaching myself about the stock market. No, I don't plan on becoming a day trader, but I would like to control more of our investments. For the time being, most of our decisions simply amount to picking mutual funds through 401k programs, but I suspect there will come a time when I'm able to invest additional income (my "Mad Money," courtesy of Jim Cramer) in some stocks, hoping to sell them for profit in a six to eighteen month window. So I started keeping tabs on the stock market. Since I replaced my laptop computer with a Slimline desktop (HP), I've been watching daily. My desktop includes a gadget that has real-time stock updates. Like just about anyone with money in retirement, I've watched accounts plummet for the last year or two, and the last few weeks has been atrocious. Today, a 777 point loss, was especially hard to stomach.

As I said in my last post, I hope to continue incremental investments and make certain Brenda is able to retire comfortably... hopefully before she's sixty-five. Lately, I'm glad we don't have more invested. It's been hard to predict what's going to happen. Will the $700 billion bailout work? Will any form of it pass? Will the pop of the housing bubble and the horrible state of the financial world bring down all the other businesses?

I've heard WAY too many people complain that the "fat cats" are getting rich on Wall Street, and cries of "let the market fix itself." Yes, the CEOs are filthy rich, but do people really think this problem is just the greed of the part of the population that benefitted from the housing bubble? The people to blame include all the dim-witted folks who took out ARMs they couldn't hope to repay without divine intervention. It's all the people juggling credit card debt. It's all the people that hope to retire off of less than $50,000 and live on Social Security, as if that was ever meant to replace a savings plan. In short, most of America is to blame.

I'm sorry if you're in the crowd that didn't contribute. I don't think I had much to do with the problem either. I rent, despite the fact we're closing in on a six-figure income because I won't gamble on future earnings and take out an ARM on a house I can't afford today. I have NO credit card debt. I invest between 11% and 14% of our income into a diverse retirement fund. Of course, I've also had periods of tremendous credit card debt and my family even received welfare (or whatever it was called from 1994 to 1997) for a time. Thankfully, those days are behind us.

My fear is that if the government fails to buy up these foreclosed homes, the recession will deepen to a depression. The unemployment rate when consumers stop consuming, businesses can't expand by attaining loans, and homes sit vacant for years at a time. Does anyone really believe a "correction" of the market--especially one as dire as the Great Depression--is something we'd find preferrable to an increased tax burden? It seems to me that paying a lot in taxes is less of a problem than not having an income to pay taxes with.

BTW, does any one else think Boeing is a really good value at $55/share? Perhaps it'll continue to drop, but BA is one of the few strong manufacturing businesses left in the United States. It may well bounce up when the bailout (in whatever form) passes, the strike ends, and the first 787 rolls off the lines. Those increases alone might make BA an attractive stock to own. *Shrugs*

Don't worry. My next post will be on the 2008-2009 Pistons team.

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