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Econ 101 – He Never Saw it Coming

Sometimes people just don’t look both ways. That’s how wrecks happen. In this country, the level of economic expertise is pathetically low. We don’t mandate even basic economics classes in most high schools. The average American doesn’t have a clue how the economy works or what the Federal Reserve does. If the paycheck clears the bank, the economy must be good. If our collective ignorance didn’t have such a monumental influence on our future, it would be funny. But when some people listen to the likes of Glenn Beck for their economic knowledge, our future is bleak indeed. Tea baggers sit in judgment of President Obama, Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, Barney Frank and myriad others who provide direction to our economic policies, yet few could tell the difference between their economic philosophies and Shinola. It truly portends of a dismal future.

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Cheer Up – It Could (and will) Get Worse

After reading Babs’ “A Fine Kettle of Fear”, I feel like an optimist.  Admittedly, the economy has seen better times, but let’s look at the shiny side of the coin.  Some segments of the economy are doing great.  Repo businesses, pawn shops, loan sharks, suicide prevention clinics and others are having banner years.  I’ll confess main stream Americans may be dealing with an issue or two, but who cares about a few million foreclosures and millions of people without jobs when so many others like banking and Wall Street executives are doing so well?

Babs seems to view the glass as half empty.  I view it as a broken glass.  No pessimism there; that’s good news.  It means we might be able to glue it back together.  Let’s take a look at one of the pieces that could be easily “fixed”.

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A Fine Kettle of Fear

I’ve locked myself in my house and I am not coming out until the world is prosperous and at peace. Well, prosperous. Or at peace. Or until I run out of supplies and am forced to temporarily abandon my nest to feather it. I refuse to listen to NPR, watch CNN or MSNBC, read the New York Times online or listen to my son, Frick, recite dismal statistics and disturbing headlines. I am ensconced in my personal castle like millions of other Americans who listened to the doom and gloom predictions and bought into the less-than-honest e-mails forwarded by well-meaning friends and acquaintances. We put the brakes on anything and everything, waiting for better economic times.

 

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Econ 102 – So, You’re Not Rich Anymore?

Our financial calamity is beyond disastrous.  For those who have lost their jobs, it’s a tragedy.  Many have watched their retirement plans decimated by the collapse of Wall Street.  The number of consumer bankruptcies is skyrocketing.  Homeowners who have had faith that it’s the only rock solid investment of their lifetimes have discovered not even home ownership is a safe haven from the storm.  Those that haven’t lost their homes have watched as values plummeted taking their equity with them.

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Econ 102 – A Primer on Stocks, Collusion and Wall Street

I learned another one of life’s great economics lessons first hand, in the trenches, school of hard knocks.  Nearly five years after doing my master’s work in chemical engineering, I was part of a research team that was traveling the west coast. My math skills were still strong and with some relatively trivial mental calculations, I could determine the odds of pretty much any routine sequence of random events.  So when I discovered that in Bellingham, Washington, there were such things as “card rooms”, I thought it might not only be an interesting way to pass an evening, it would be a way to make some money in the process.

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Econ 101 – Michael’s Law

It is said the only thing worse than the forecast of an amateur economist is the forecast of a professional economist.  If that is true, I feel better talking about economics because I’m clearly an amateur.  Despite the best efforts of Dr. Allen Mandelstam, my economics professor at Michigan State, I have yet to be nominated for the Nobel Prize.  In fact, I still have most of my economic policy recommendations rejected by my wife, Lisa.  But I trudge onward into the storm.

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What Lies Beneath – Our Financial Mess

What lies are beneath the murky, churning, polluted waters of our current scum of an economic pond?  To find the source of the nuclear waste that has insidiously seeped into our financial wetlands turning them into tarry oozing badlands, we need a well-compensated expert diver.  This someone must be willing to don a hazmat wetsuit, gloves, hood, boots and full-face diving mask, intentionally jump in the water and hope the suit doesn’t turn to goo on impact, then begin a long, laborious grid search to locate and map the layered barrels of legally dumped toxic waste encouraged by the housing bubble and lax regulatory oversight.

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