Thursday, September 18, 2008

Greed is good! Greed is right!

I remember that line from Gordon Geckko's speech to stockholders in the movie "Wall Street", and it seems particularly prophetic as I (and everyone else in the United States) ponder Wall Street's collapse over the past week, and in a more specific sense, the failures over recent months of Bear Stearns, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, FannieMae, FeddieMac, etc., etc., etc.: Here are some numbers for one and all to ponder: The Dow Jones Industrial Average ("DJIA"), which is considered by virtually everyone to be the bellweather for the health of the stock market, closed yesterday at 10,609.66, dropping almost 450 points. This followed Monday's 500+ point drop. On October 9, 2007, the DJIA closed at 14,164.53, its all-time high. After yesterday's close, it has dropped in value since that date by 3,554.87 points, or 25.1% (and those figures are even worse overseas), and that's despite the government pouring almost half a TRILLION dollars into the market to rescue some of those failed corporations. Like so many others, I have a 401(k) plan. That means that my investments--my FUTURE--are worth that much less today than they were 11 months ago. Given that so many people in the country have similar plans, that goes for them, too.

So, the inevitable question becomes, "Who is to blame for this mess?". To me, the answer is "All of us." At the risk of offending my conservative brethren, we overly deregulated in the late 1990s (thanks to a Republican Congress and a Democratic President). We the people over-leveraged our properties. Our banks got caught up in the property speculation boom and lent money to people who never should have received loans and then were shocked when those people couldn't repay the loans. The Federal Reserve pursued (in my opinion) a borderline idiotic policy regarding interest rates, making it far too easy for people to obtain loans that as noted above they could not repay. SOME CEO's (not all) looted their companies and then took golden parachutes as the company's employees were left hanging when the companies failed. We all followed Gordon Geckko's mantra; Greed is good, greed is right........

Ultimately, the situation will iron itself out--it always does. However, the road back will be long, painful, and it will be years for the market to recover the ground lost since October of last year. That said, here's what I want out of our "leaders" in Washington: SHUT UP. Stop the posturing. Stop the finger-pointing. This isn't a Democratic problem. It isn't a Republican problem. It is an AMERICAN problem. Do your jobs and work for us. Figure this out. Or, am I asking too much of them?

1 comment:

serket said...

Interestingly, Mcardle has another post today about the stock market, but I'm not sure what point she is trying to make:

Here is my post on the "Wall Street" movie:

The DOW closed today at 9286.