September 24th, 2008
Roadblocks and Interference
As Congress meets today and tomorrow to grill the principals before Friday’s vote on the $700 billion “emergency” Wall Street bailout plan (which has been in the works for months but strategically dumped on us all as an “emergency”), oil companies have instituted “rolling shortages” all over the Southeast. Some areas have been out of gas for more than a week and a half, and the situation is not expected to ease until Monday at the latest. Some gas – a single tanker at a time – is being delivered to stations along the Interstates and is being strictly rationed unless it’s diesel, one station per county.
State police are managing the gas lines to prevent violence, which did break out last week in the Nashville, Tennessee area when people started cutting in line. Food prices are rising so fast the stock boys at the grocery stores can’t mark up the goods fast enough, and the specter of looming fuel shortages for winter heat – or price increases that will force people to do without – is beginning to look very scary.
Bailout or no bailout – and despite the launch of FBI investigations of Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, Lehman Brothers and AIG – the United States may well be fully in the clutches of major economic depression before winter even hits. Whether or not that translates to global recession isn’t much of an issue to regular people, as we here in our own homes wonder how we will survive. This post and several following posts in a new series will take a look at the steps citizens should take as soon as possible to ensure their families will make it through the next 6 months. If depression goes on longer than that, additional strategies will be necessary, some already compiled as series in this blog and available under the “Our Most Popular” header on the left side of the page.Alternative economics, Alternatives, Bank Failures, Economic Depression, Energy, Fuel, Government Bailouts, Inflation, Surviving | Comment (1)
September 22nd, 2008
Watching Treasury’s Paulson on Meet the Press Sunday made me sick. That pitiful, pleading look, the bizarre non-logic, the reversion to fear, fear, fear… the guy’s a cheap crook in an expensive suit and no, the whole world isn’t going to self-detonate if we let the greedheads take their lumps for being so damned greedy. Let ‘em fail.
Meanwhile, I’ve a fine plan to salvage the housing market as well as the business and jobs outlook. Instead of giving up to $3 trillion dollars (the price goes up hourly) to the crooks who got us into this mess, why not give every citizen $3,000 dollars? They’ll catch up on their mortgages, then FHA (the receiver for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) can refinance at lower rates and more realistic selling prices. Voila! the mortgage market is no longer “bad debt.” And if we’ve got an extra couple of trillion laying around to spend on these greedheads, why don’t we spend it on something useful – like universal health care?
That price tag is less than a third of the price tag the Fed, Treasury or Wall Street has come up with to bail themselves out of the hole they dug, and it would completely solve the asset valuation problem for regular Americans who don’t earn $5 million a year. And it lets the Wall Street failures fail. They earned it, they deserve it. Screw ‘em. The rest of us will be fine with our dividend.Alternatives, Bank Failures, Economic Depression, Government Bailouts, Housing | Comment (0)
September 15th, 2008
Retirement Accts. Decimated, Layoffs Coming
Well, it was a tough weekend. After insurance giant AIG hinted that it might be heading for bankruptcy, investment bank Lehman Bros. went ahead and filed Chapter 11. Merrill Lynch grabbed at a $50 billion takeover from Bank of America, which is already regretting its takeover of the nation’s largest mortgage lender [Countrywide]. Stocks fell worldwide on Monday even after intervention from the Fed promising eased restrictions on emergency funds.
It’s not difficult to find gloom and doom on Wall Street today over how many jobs in the financial sector are going to be lost. Worse, that concern will in fact translate into a whole lot more jobs lost out in the real world where you and I live. Factories will be closed, inability to finance durable goods orders will exacerbate the problems, and GM is about to go under too. It ain’t even close to over yet, folks. If all you lose is your home, you’ll be among the lucky ones.
I’ll be posting more good information on stretching leftover dollars for those real people being harmed by all this, maybe even have something to say about the fact that there’s no gas in my region right now at all, leaving nothing to ration. Or tell you how I fare on my plan to sell my now-useless diesel ‘vintage’ Mercedes so I can buy a horse (have plenty of grass and kudzu). But in the meantime, best advice – if you’ve got gas – is to head directly to your regional farmer’s market and buy as much rice, other grains, fresh veggies and fruits as you can possibly afford. I’ll talk a bit about how to preserve it through the winter too, since it’s not really that hard.
I will also start posting information about growing some of your own food, even in the winter. There will be lots of links to great sources for information on these strategies too, so please stay tuned. The best advice I can give to people who end up here after searching something on Google because they’re just now joining our Shoestring Budget ranks, is…
All you really have to do is survive. The future is the future, it’ll bring its own problems and opportunities. Right now you just need to “ride it out” in one piece (and all of a piece family-wise). Money’s just paper at this end of real life, you CAN learn to make do on much less of it. And who knows? Once you’re out the other end of the tunnel, you might even find that you can live a much happier, fulfilled and truly shared life without all that much of it. It’s a good lesson to learn. It puts things in perspective, something this modern world could use more of.
Lehman Brothers collapse stuns global markets
Lehman Files for Bankruptcy, Merrill Sold, AIG Seeks Cash
Wall St.’s Turmoil Sends Stocks Reeling
Credit Crunch: How to Survive the Recession
20 Ways to Live on Almost Nothing
Uninsured? More Ways to Survive
September 8th, 2008
That’s what Angry Bear says about the government bailout of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, announced on Sunday, September 7. It will cost the American taxpayers tens of billions of dollars we don’t have. Why? Because more than 1.3 trillion dollars’ worth of those mortgage bonds are held by foreign countries, primarily China, Japan, the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg and Belgium, and they want to know if their holdings are any good.
Now, you might be struck by some of those listed ‘foreigners’. Cayman Islands? Luxembourg? Belgium? Well known for hosting questionably legal accounts for some questionable characters, I suspect we’d find a lot of Americans on those lists. Americans don’t count as “foreigners.” Unfortunately, we’d also find a lot of Russian front companies and Middle Eastern Sheiks as well.
We’ve once again been robbed blind by wanton corporate and individual greed, and we are expected once again to bail out the wealthy speculators whose greed led to the failures.
Predictions for what happens now aren’t pretty. The dollar will plunge, inflation will zoom, regular Americans will have an even more difficult time keeping up. While the richest 1% will have their taxes cut and get their bad investments paid off so they can go speculate on other nifty things like food and water.
So buckle up, fellow shoestring budget enthusiasts! We’re going to get our chance to put all our alternative survival strategies to work. If we do it right, what will arise from the ashes of the late, once-great American economy might be strong enough to last awhile.
Links:Economic Depression, Government Bailouts, Housing, Income Inequality, Inflation, Surviving | Comment (0)
September 3rd, 2008
While those of us in the less-than 95th percentile of the American income scale celebrated a long Labor Day weekend with family and friends, the 2008 Presidential race heated up, took a bizarre turn, and looks more like a “North Country”-like sit-com every day. The New York Times published some Labor Day editorials that are as remarkably honest as they are politically timely in this era of double-digit inflation for basics like food and fuel, the mortgage crisis tossing millions of families out on the streets, and ever-faster distancing between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ that can positively cause major depression if you think too much about it.
Why? Because things are getting worse, not better. Our shoestring budgets can no longer be thought of a a temporary condition, but something we’ll have to work with all our lives. This is what op-ed contributor Dalton Conley commented on Tuesday in his opinion piece, Rich Man’s Burden.Economic Prognostication, Education, Holidays, Income Inequality, Inflation, Politics | Comment (0)