Stocks Need Level Playing Field
Return To Trust In Institutions
Judging from the over-heated and vitriolic diatribe the writer has been reading concerning the economy, there are some very angry huzzahs out there. Jobs have not accompanied the easing of the financial crisis. People are worried, but more angry, because they feel betrayed by the continuing high level thievery at banks, brokers' offices, and the stock market.
Meanwhile, for many, the solution is a very hard ch aw to swallow. Once again the taxpayer is being informed that it is they who will pay the lions share of tax increases to pay for bailout or tarp money. The burden they will eventually pick up began with the Bush II administration. Fearing a repeat (its the economy stupid!)of the Bush I collapse and the subsequent turning out of the Republicans, the pump was primed for a major injection of capital into the economy.
Screaming to high heaven about their tax burden, the wealthy were able to convince everyone into forgetting the proposed tax increase to their class, was really not an increase at all, but allowing the "temporary tax cut" passed by Bush I to expire. Even the balm proposed by this sitting president would not stop the rolling, no tax increases now, juggernaut!
Mr. Obama proposed a cutoff of $250,000 for the seemingly besieged bankers, doctors, attorneys', and business persons. But that's only $21.5K a month, opined one of the anointed.
The banker, who had his lobbyist push through legislation in favor of unlimited interest on credit cards, could not believe anyone would question that old Biblical term, usury, as a problem in the 21st century. Fearing a loss of their cash cow, the banks screamed bloody murder, while issuing more of the plastic "money" to those already in debt up to their ears.
So they got the government to give them tarp money, on the supposition that they, as the anointed in society, were just too large to be allowed to fail. Once the tarp cash was in the vaults, the next step was to show everyone just who held the power. They refused to lend until everyone backed off trying to change the rules. No more credit for small business means no more new jobs. Except the banks could still put the money into highly risky instruments, similar to those that brought everything crashing down before.
Why should the banks approve small loans when credit card debt was the golden calf that gave them the money to speculate? Wo could make any money loaning to small business men? Which meant they wanted to play Vegas with the depositers money. The attitude seemed to be even if they lost, huge bonuses insured they could sleep well at night. Quickly paying off the tarp loans was their way of spitting in the face of the little guy, ordained by banker Cardinal elite to pick up the check. "We don't need your stinking money," said the bankers. But, as usual, it was all smoke and mirrors as they tried to time their announcements about the "bundled" horrors held down in the lower vaults, bad debt set to blow up when some other crisis set them all off.
A tarp-shaky stock market rocketed every which way, seeming almost normal again as everyone breathed a sigh of relief, then lost shirts as the bottom fell out, lost all gains for the year, then returned to levels in a rally never seen in 80 years. The public is shy, and like the sceptical retail buyer, not flocking to lose their moneyh as in the past.
Just how many Maddoff's and Keating's are out there? How many more Enron's? The investor gets shaky when too many deny regulations are necessary to curb the criminals' preying on those who trust someone to look out for their interests. The writer lost one pension from a company that filed for bankruptcy then reopened after debt discharge. The small investor routinely pays 10-40% broker fees just to buy a stock. In 2008 the market was minus several points for the year. Even those who exercise due diligence by studying the markets nuances, historical performance, and prognostications may show disappointing results because of insider trading, insider knowledge, and stock manipulation for personal gain.So called experts have bad and mediocre years but get paid regardless of results.
How can the little guy win? Computers not available to the little guy kick in and drown him. A $10,000 deposit is necessary to "day trade." Your broker suspends an account that isn't in the "club." You buy a dog, highly touted that dives 25 points after open. If you turn around and dump it, like the big boys are doing, naturally, you are "day trading," so you hang on until 24 hours elapse and you can then sell it. Cash in your account is paid at low rates but money borrowed to buy a stock(margin)is very expensive.
"Go long!" "No, stay away from stocks now," "Short everything! " Sell, Sell!" It's like the Bermuda Triangle on steroids(or the tarp). If you have ice water in your veins and you held through the past couple weeks, your stocks wound up about even. The writer, stricken for three hundred dollars, slyly began moving into high-yield instruments, that would at least show a profit, that is, if the disruptive effects of the tarp did not kick in.
A recent national poll reported by CNBC indicates most people are unable to trust bankers, the stock market, and the solutions proposed by government to fix things that have been broken and ignored for far too long. The noise gets deafening when a problem is brought to light. But, few are able to see past the problem into the solution phase. Why? It's just the way it has already been done, a patch of a few million is thrown at the problem so there will be little disruption at the polls. It's like a bailout is needed everywhere.
Consumers are fighting back by not buying. Of course, many are not buying because there are no jobs and no money for the storekeepers. Unless it is the discount grocer or pharmacy. Predicted price hikes in everything from food to school supplies has not happened, or at least has been postponed. Of course, there are those who raise prices in deflationary times.
Amidst the chaos of reality and opaqueness of a crystal ball it seems very dark for the United states. Old hurts, prejudices, and useless alchemies from 80 years (and more) ago are dragged out and paraded out for the poor, the disaffected, and dispossessed, as if things get solved that way, rather than through the time tested rule of law residing in that great document, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Finally, those from other countries validate by their pounding at our gates, that they wish to enter and share this great Democratic experiment. They, who have lived under dictators and tyrants want to breathe the fresh air of freedom. They who cannot expect to rise above the menial, nor their sons and their sons, in the United States may become educated, respected, wealthy, elected to public office, and may go and live anywhere without permission from authorities.
Greed and corruption are endemic to mankind. In China, the Arab emerites, and Russia the corrupt official is shot. In this great land of the Law, an accusation is not enough (though it may be in that flawed court of public opinion). While the United States judicial system may also be flawed, within the system is review, appeals, and higher courts that have the power to override the verdict of those with the awesome power to give or take life, a jury of the accused peers.
It is an extraordinary system that allows error then, at the urging of a court officer, may have the error reversed by a judge or judges in retrospect. The house and senate are elected by popular vote. senators are elected every six years. Congress persons are elected for two year terms. The president is elected by electoral vote, supreme Court Justices serve for life. They are appointed by the president but also approved by the Congress. It is truly unfortunate that non-elected lobbyists play such an important role in governmental decisions now. No constitutional body could predict the power of money over duly elected officials when our great Constitution was given life.
U.S.Politicians launch vicious attacks against opponents, but once an opponent is elected they may gather behind the opposition party and cooperatively pass popular legislation that may benefit all Americans. It has always been done this way. It is tradition. Even unpopular bills may pass congress through the popularity of a president who plays and maneuvers through the minefield of politics like a master chess player. The system is slow at times but assures no man is above the law. it is quick enough and truly a wonderful piece of work to observe when circumstances cause it to swing into action.