What’s That Ringing Sound?

Is that a bell I hear? The pundits are out in full force. Negative news abounds. Jobless claims have now risen to the level of last November. Those two awful words “double-dip” are now more famous than Dairy Queen could have ever dreamed. But, wait…it’s never that easy. I must admit I have been on the bearish side of the news for some time, and rightly so. It is on these very pages that you have read about the BS numbers coming out of Washington, about the potential for slower growth, about the unemployment issues and about the continued destruction of wealth, as we know it thanks to the real estate market.

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Still, it’s never that easy. And, that is why the markets are not crashing…yet. Too many people are expecting it, preparing for it by buying puts or selling stocks. When the trade becomes crowded, as the saying goes, then jump on the other side of it.

Think about past crashes. They have come when they were least expected. Bubbles take forever to inflate but just a few moments to burst. Everyone knew housing was overvalued, yet how many managed to sell his or her own house and move into the rental in 2007? Those that did benefited from great timing I would guess, not great forethought. It’s like buy a 1,000 shares of Potash (POT-NYSE) on Monday just to be informed on Tuesday morning that BHP offered you $30 per share more than you just paid for it. Some people are lucky that way. But, before you count yourself amongst the best seers in history, ask yourself this: “have you been right before”, I mean spot -on, selling right before a collapse in any asset group? Has it happened once in your life? If so, count yourself amongst the blessed. Now, if you answer truthfully and say “no”, then why is it different this time? Crashes are not announced beforehand. They happen when you least expect them to.

Money In, Jobs Out

The results of the Great Stimulus of 2009 are in. No jobs and more debt. How is that possible? All those billions and very little to show for it. What happened to Keynesian Economics? Why aren’t jobs being created? Well, for one thing Keynes argued for monetary stimulus during rough economic times when countries weren’t already in debt up to their eyeballs. And, who needs to create more jobs when everyone who has one is working twice as hard because they want to keep theirs. And, you know what? They’ll work three times as hard if need be. It’s called survival and humans are capable of going through great periods of suffering to maintain their livelihood.

The jobs picture continues to be dismal, and without jobs there can be no real recovery. Those shovel ready jobs that were talked about so much – well they’re out there. The problem is that those shovels already had owners. They fall into the “jobs saved” part of the message from the Whitehouse about millions of jobs “saved or created”. Apparently, we are still in the “saved” era, patiently waiting for the “created” one to start.

Well, just to be fair, there is one place where the “created” part is working – Washington DC. That place is booming. No recession in places where people think about creating jobs in other places. I was there recently. Traffic jams on the Beltway, home prices moving up, restaurants full of patrons – it’s a boomtown I tell you!

Take the Money and Run

Things may look grim today and that is why interest rates are so low. But, even in this low rate environment, you can reboot your financial position and walk away a little bit richer. Last week mortgage refinancing saw a nice increase of 13% over the previous month. With mortgage rates below 4.5% people are taking the Fed to task and pocketing a ton of extra cash. Low rates are here to stay for a while and if you can’t get the bank to pay you on your savings, take it from them by refinancing your mortgage.

I got a call this week from Chase Bank. They sent me a $100 voucher to open an account with them. I ignored the first call, but they just kept calling back. Finally I returned the call and I told them it wasn’t worth my time to open an account with them if all they were offering me was .25%. The lady on the other side informed me that no one is getting that much on their savings. I corrected her and informed her that you can get 4 to 5 times what Chase is paying you by typing in one single url on your browser’s search line: www.bankrate.com…Capital One, Ally and even American Express are paying more than 1.25%.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the rent-out-your-house scam. That’s where you move out of your house, stop paying the mortgage, then rent it out and pocket the cash knowing all the while that the bank will take months if not years to foreclose thanks to the government’s generous bailout package. The new one that is making the rounds is the unemployment scam. It’s nothing new, but it is something that is much more common then ever before…almost acceptable, like not paying your bills. I was having dinner with some friends the other evening. One was a manager of a retail store. She said that while she was not having a hard time filling positions, she was shocked at how many people would either turn down the job or ask to be paid under the table…just so they could still collect benefits.

These never ending benefits, bailouts and stimulus package are having an effect on the population and the economy. We are developing a healthy black market as a way to avoid paying taxes. We can sit around and do nothing while the government pays us. We can live for free while the banks turn a blind eye. What’s next? Free healthcare? The government and their spineless policies are playing into the hands of the socialist element in this country. No longer are you rewarded for what you do…rather you are rewarded more if you do nothing, but just because you exist.

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Best Regards,

Kevin Raymond


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