Calm before the storm?

My early evening walks around the ‘hood this weekend have a new, strange element. Fewer cars driving (and speeding) about, less people in the local merchants- and this is a pretty lively area, located just eight miles from downtown Los Angeles.

Now, I am aware this could just be down to most people having left town for the holiday week.  Perhaps too, folks have modified their drving habits to try and offset that $5 per gallon price of petrol- which would explain the empty parking lot at Vons and Pavilions.

In light of the financial crisis confronting this nation, it seems to me a bit, well, odd. Can this be ignored? Am I alone here? Hello? Hello?!

Now it is not like there is a thing one person can do to alter the situation. Steward your ship to the best of your ability, and brace for the worst they can throw at you, is about all an individual can do to cope.

Personally, I’m voting with my feet (and in protest), and moving nearly all my funds from BofA, where I’ve banked for over thirty years, into a couple of local credit unions that appear to be well managed. Certainly BofA, with their ill-advised purchase of those Cunts at Cuntrywide(tm), as well as their failing foray into investment banking, is looking like a pail imitation of their once formidable self.

Ever since this takeunder of Tangelo Orangezillo‘s personal piggy bank was announced, I’ve been scratching my head asking Why? Why? Does Kenny-boy (Lewis) even begin to realize what ha has gotten himself and his shareholders into, by bailing out this big bowl of wrong?

So few of the everyday people I encounter seem to have any idea that things are melting down in financial markets, and that we could actually experience something only every third generation gets to encounter- a big time event like a Great Depression, or a World War.

It has always seemed to that everyone born after World War II has been coddled in a way, that they would always have the gummint as a backstop to just such a massive life altering event and so don’t worry, be happy, live your dreams.

I must be weird because that has always made me suspicious. I was indocrinated in this life by survivors of the Great Depression- my gandparents- from whom I learned to value prudence, thrift, and self-reliance. If you count on the government to do the right thing, or do right by you, you are better off making a deal with the devil because at least he has a retirement plan for you.

So, in other words, don’t. Be self reliant.

Certainly Indy Mac, Wachovia, WaMu could, based on their crashing share prices, be close to closing their doors. With BofA and Citi right behind them in the queue.

But the take I get that most people seem to have is they expect a bailout. And that that is okay.

Yet, only a few seem to ask the question, what if that’s not feasible? Why not? Maybe the numbers don’t work. Aw hell, the Fed can always call up the Treasury and tell them to fire up those presses and print more money. Job done. Hmmm, maybe you are right.

So far I have not heard of one run on any bank.

The cable business channels pump “this is the time to buy” like excited monkeys, in a fruit-bearing attempt to steer the herd to stocks they need to unload. Fast.

That seems to working. For now.

But out on my walk, in fabulous summer SoCal weather with nary a cloud in the sky, I had this eerie feeling one gets in the calm before a storm.

Is it due some misplaced sense of complacency?

Is it because folks are simply too busy with work and famliy to stay abreast of current events? (Certainly the teevee news does nobody any favors.)

Or am I simply overfed on Crisis, Panics, and Crashes and under-informed about the realities of high finance which might, unbeknownst to me, be beyond my comrehension?

Everyone else must be feeling confident since they feel free to vacation, sit back in their hammock or Lazee Boy, and with the fullness of faith rely on Big Brother (i.e the Fed and the gummint) to step in and save us from ruin bail everyone out.

Even though all that the gummint can do is rob from Peter to pay Paul.

So somebody is bound to be short changed in that transaction.


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