Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Summer of 2011

What will it be remembered for? I’m afraid that it will be remembered for the final revelation of all that is corrupt about us and in us. Bumper stickers and pale entreaties from people who can do much but do little more than talk will quietly run its course. Goldman Sachs cries foul and the SEC flounders with guppies chasing sharks as a corrupt government hides the massive decay in our banking system and our overall investment packages crumble like the sand castles that house them. The rich see the writing on the wall and abandon the stock market, Wall Street loses confidence and the general state of the economy is revealed for the ravaged condition it hides and we finally tip the scales.

The end? Hardly. It’s the beginning of a long, slow reconstruction. It is the day that America stops hiding behind its pomposity and decadence and gets down to the business of rebuilding this country. I have no doubt we will do just that. We have no worries of utter collapse and chaos – nor do we need to worry about some imminent invasion. As we go so goes the world. In some ways it is a sad epitaph but it is certainly no reflection on the great generations that built this country.

I remember the summer of 1963 when I was just 12 years old and Pope John XXIII died. That was huge to me and millions of Catholics who loved him as he brought us the Second Vatican Council and the beginning. His vision for the church maintained the dignity of the older generation’s piety, which I so loved as an altar boy and seminarian, but brought to the youth of the world a new evangelism. The population of the world was about half of what it is today at just over 3 billion and the United States had 189 million people. So when we said the world was smaller then, it was - smaller by size and by how far and just how much you could communicate with people further than a few miles away, never mind across the globe. The dreaded Dodgers beat the Yankees in just four games but our beloved Boston Celtics beat the newly California based L.A. Lakers. Late that same summer Martin Luther King Jr. marched on Washington and delivered his “I have a dream” speech.

On June 26th the President we all so loved, John F Kennedy, delivered his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech in West Berlin during a 4-day visit to West Germany. Later that year, but not much later, in November in the far west city of Dallas, our President was shot and killed…by a lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald, who despite buying his Italian made rifle through the mail, shot to kill three times from six hundred feet away and six stories up. I’m a really good a shot and I couldn’t do that with my rifle and it’s got a five hundred dollar scope. The Beatles swept America, Doris Day stole my heart, “It’s My Party” by Leslie Gore hit number one on my birthday, June 1st, and the summer ended with “My Boyfriend’s Back” by the Angels. I remember I had a crush on my babysitter – Denise Anazesky.

It was a great summer for horseback riding, sneaking into drive-in movies, swimming in the lake and the start of kissing girls. In reflection I guess we should have known the end was coming when it became unconstitutional and therefore against the law to say the Lord’s Prayer in school. Some people I know never lived to understand that…I have lived longer than I wish to see what the beginning of that meant in the way of losing our faith and our constitutional connection to God. I love my Lord and God…I love Jesus Christ and I know what that means and it doesn’t have anything to do with loving a guy who lived two thousand years ago – well, not in the way people who don’t love Him think. Anyway, 1963 was another summer in the endless days of glory post World War II.

I was born to a smaller world in a simpler America. In 1963 we were still an emerging power from World War II. We had converted 250 billion dollars in manufacturing assemblies of war into factories that produced refrigerators, cars, stereos and everything a rebuilding world needed. I was a young man during that summer when we were still trying to supply a consuming country and hungrier world. And, of course, I was a young man when that world hunger ran its course and America’s factories were all of sudden antiquated and Japan was beginning to dominate the market. I was a working man when America suddenly stopped competing and started hoarding, hating and mortgaging its future.

So I asked myself what it was like in the summer of 1869 when Goldman Sachs was founded. The population of the United States was only 38 million people, up 7 million from 1860 - mostly because of the influx of poor immigrants. But the population explosion corresponded with an economic boom not altogether like the boom of the 1990’s. Both booms were fueled largely by the government. Obviously the railroad boom f the 1860’s had significantly different consequences than the bust of the dot com. In 1869 a rail line from Sacramento, California crossed the Rockies and connected a rail line from Omaha, Nebraska at Promontory Point, Utah. This was the start of the Great Transcontinental Railway. The industrial revolution was underway; something historians mostly agree was one of the top ten events in the history of mankind.

Today I am standing on the edge of the end. Goldman Sachs was accused of fraud. Simply put, the SEC says they deliberately sold financial products (specifically bad mortgages) so that some people would profit and others would be left holding an empty bag. The government controls something like ninety percent of the banks and won’t divulge their business or the government’s business in the banks to the public. So, this thing with Goldman Sachs is either an anomaly or the tip of a very ugly iceberg. Which do you suppose it is?

I know it was a long time ago that this great society seemed to awake on the shores of the northeast but we were never anything more than what we are. The only color that matters is the color that profits the greater community. There are millions of people struggling on the fringe of our society (black – white - red - brown – grey – whatever) and just barely getting by with the help of thousands of good hearted and decent Americans. But there is a tidal wave coming and those on the fringe will not be able to get out of the way. Those people hanging on by their fingertips will be sucked under this great ugly end. We, the people, will be angry and outraged at all this screaming at one another - “how could such terrible avarice be tolerated for so long?” But, in the end, we will be so busy scooping water out of our own sinking dingy to do anything more than be aghast.

How I miss those misty hot summer days when a Coca Cola was a quarter and a Big Meal was when we all got together over Sunday dinner. I’m glad I have those memories though. I will need them soon. They will be much of what I and most Americans like myself will have little left of the great society. I feel sorry for those people who don’t have at least those memories. So here’s to the end my friend. At least the end of the way we have been living and the beginning of something altogether new. I’m not sure what it will look like in the next five years. but I can tell you this…if we don’t start learning to play together fairly and nicely it will get real ugly, real quick.

Frank Bosson, CEO The Bosson Group excerpt from his paper “I’m drowning…someone throw me a rock!”

Monday, April 19, 2010

Too Little Too Late

Too little to date?

So nobody can say I didn’t warn them…I have and will continue to do just that. The passage of what is being touted as healthcare reform in America is probably the most destructive policy ever introduced by our government any time in our history. Not only is the program itself a boondoggle but it’s a policy catastrophe waiting to be perpetrated on an American public that, I can only suspect, is by now like a drowning person resigned to their fate.

Not only is this healthcare reform a total debacle that will never see the light of day but it has totally consumed our seemingly detached President and Legislature from doing what we elected them to do in the first place – find jobs. Get America back to work Mr. Obama and then if you have time and you want to discuss health reform fine – start with your own house and give up smoking! Here’s a guy purportedly so understanding of the health care needs of Americans that he devotes nearly half his presidency to creating a Frankenstein bill (a bill made up so many different parts and pardons that it clearly is a grotesque mutilation of any really good idea that it might first have resembled ). But forget that for a moment. Is healthcare the number one concern of Americans today? NO! By an overwhelming majority, Americans are worried about JOBS!

Okay, that said. I have constantly warned you about the complete failure of our American markets by 2012. It is time to start setting some milestones. To be fair I can only predict far into the future and then I have to wait for those “event horizons” I keep going on about. The healthcare bill is not the domino that will cause the fall of all the others. Not so much by what it will impact, because like I said, this thing will never get out of the lab let alone be permitted to impact any population, at least by any responsible state legislature, but rather for what it failed to do – get America back to work. Like my daddy used to say the easiest way to get out of debt is to never get into it. That being said the next best thing from preventing a collapse of the country is not to spend more money but to make more money. And, no Mr. Obama, I don’t mean literally “make” more money as in print it. I mean “make” as in earn it.

Sadly, Washington is so consumed with this totally irrelevant black hole of idiocy that it has failed to note the country was gathering steam for a collapse in banking, markets and credit, the liked of which it has never seen before and will probably never recover enough to see again.

I am not going to bore you with the entire minutia because frankly there is simply too much to talk about in any one paper. The banks have been sitting on an investment from the treasury that was supposed to bail the country out, but banks are notoriously shortsighted. The fact is that they held on to the money until they inadvertently used it up – I am saying that the next brick to hit the glass will be the banks. The top investment banks will start crying ‘insolvent” in the summer of 2011 or as late as the fall of that same year. The persistent and totally underestimated joblessness will cause the next major shutter when consumer purchasing will cease. The final nail in the proverbial coffin will be the insolvency of the government after running up a four trillion dollar. For you bad on math if a million seconds ago was just 12 days and a billion seconds was only about 32 years then a trillion seconds ago was almost 32,000 years ago. Any of this sinking in? Well let me help you. If the United States could pay back this debt at a billion dollars a year it would take more time than it took for the universe to form. When I say a billion dollars a year in payback of course it would have to be surplus. But what if we don’t have a billion dollars a year in surplus income to pay this debt? Well, what would happen if you borrowed a million dollars and the loan shark came looking for you because you couldn’t come up with an extra $100,000 a year (that’s on top of all the income you need to survive that year)? You would find yourself between a rock and a hard place that is exactly where we will be when the clock strikes midnight and 2011 rolls over to 2012 – broke and with no hope of ever paying back a debt we should have never allowed ourselves to make.

Nobody knows for sure what will happen when this occurs. We’ve never been there before. We have been building up to it for decades but the piper has never come looking for his fee. He will. We won’t be able to pay and that’s just the beginning of a grim and disturbing disintegration of the American way of life. The infrastructure will crumble with failing bridges, highways and electric grids. The Internet will become slow and unresponsive and significantly more costly as government and business seek new revenues. Teachers, police, firemen and hospital workers will dwindle to below emergency levels. Crime will rise as will disease and finally, in the greatest irony of all, the voracious greed that marked the era of the baby boomer will catch up with them as they age (and age poorly) with no money for their care and a generation of their children who could care less (yes, even less than they did) the Baby Boomers will make a very messy fuss in their sad and dismal departure.

You may have heard that all the mega-stars of Hollywood have long ago found new digs in places like southern France and Tuscany. They can read the handwriting on the wall. They love the money we give them but frankly the neighborhood is a bit rundown for their tastes. Moving to more pristine views with less rubble and poor relatives hanging about is simply more comfortable. They have made peace with the fact that the money train may soon come to an end but they have enough stowed away to keep their chestnuts roasting for as long as they live…so what’s to worry about for Brad Pitt and Angie Jolie visiting with Clooney and Depp over a bottle of Chianti?

I know this harsh visit to reality will be troublesome for some and ridiculous to others but it is the reality nonetheless. I don’t know if there is anything to be done about this seemingly inevitable ending but, voting all those idiots out of Congress is a good start. Even if we can’t save ourselves we can put those thieves in the same sinking rowboat. However, I think Americans have suffered too much shell shock to rebound from the epic travesty of poor government and greedy corporations. I think we are just going to let the car roll off the cliff. I don’t know about you but when I go I want to go like my grandfather…in his sleep; not like the passengers in his car kicking and screaming.

So get ready for the banks to start folding in summer 2011.

Frank Bosson, CEO The Bosson Group excerpt from his paper “If you think it’s darkest before dawn…watch Congress pass a bill on a sunny spring day!”
For other papers including:
“If it looks like a duck…shoot it!”
“Knock...knock…whose there?”
“Billionaires and politicians are on your side…the side where you keep your wallet!”
“Didn’t I just ask you for the money?”
“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, run for your life!”
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