So, when the stock market fell 770 points after congress initially voted down the Wall Street Bail Out, there were dire warnings that, if it didn't pass, the market would fall to 8,000. So, we passed it... and the market fell to 9000, and 8000 is maybe two rumors and a week away. Is it too late to stop payment on that check? If 700 billion didn't stop this, what, exactly, will?
I would argue that the damage done to the markets in selling the bailout did far more damage to Wall Street than just sitting back and doing nothing. Having every politician with any real power go on TV and tell us that the next depression was around the corner if the government didn't save us has done more to lock up the economy than anything. In the debate the other night, McCain and Obama seemed to be competing to see who could offer the most frightening doomsday vision. To hear them talk, every other person in America is getting evicted, losing their jobs, and going without health care and food.
No one dares speak the truth because it sounds callous: The vast majority of homeowner's aren't in any danger of losing their house. Even if their house has lost value as the bubble collapses, most people with fixed rate or even variable rate mortgages can still afford to pay their mortgages. Second, most American's still have their jobs. Don't get me wrong: I can feel the job market tightening. Every day, I get phone calls from people asking if the company I work for is hiring, and that wasn't true a year ago. But, the job market is never zero sum. A lot of car dealerships are going to find the market for new cars getting really tight, and they'll be letting go more and more sales staff. On the flip side, I think I can safely say that if you have any mechanical skills at all, your job is pretty safe for the next few years as people spend more money on keeping their existing cars on the road. The economy is likely to be cruel to people who sell stuff, but I predict it will smile on people who actually make or fix stuff.
On the final note, health care... lord only knows. It's still a growing business in North Carolina. I keep hearing about shortages of workers in the health care industry. And, when I visited my friend Greg in the hospital last week, I didn't exactly notice many empty rooms. It's true that costs are insane, and show no end in sight.
But, have you noticed that industries that recieve money directly from government tend to have the most out of control costs? A fair amount of money is spent to ensure people go to college... and college tuition costs rise many times that of inflation in the rest of the economy. Doctors and drug companies recieve hundreds of billions from the government for medicare, and that industry's costs rise many, many times that of inflation.
Now the government is about to start pumping money into banks... and I predict the cost of banking for ordinary consumers is about to jump at breathtaking rates.
Man, I hope I'm wrong.
I miss capitalism.