Last week’s abrupt, pants-changing drop in the stock market was the worst in quite some time. Many market watchers were led by this rather startling development to get a little bit introspective about their careers, asking themselves “Did I make the right choice in making a career out of the volatile world of international finance?” and “I wonder if they’re hiring down at the Chik-Fil-A?”
While it’s difficult to pull too much information from a largely one-day event, there are many financial lessons to be learned from it.
The Year of the Pig Blows: The biggest cause of the stock market tumble has been identified by a reaction to the Chinese stock market, which unexpectedly dropped around nine percent in one day. This caused markets in Europe, Asia, and the United States to drop by significant percentages. It was unexpected because 1) news of a troubled Chinese economy tends to travel fast, what with there being about a billion Chinese and one of them is bound to let it slip, and 2) no one was really aware there was a stock market in the People’s Glorious Socialist Celestial Empire. The worst part is that the instability in the Chinese market makes all the furniture and clothing sold at Wal-Mart to double in price.
Alan Greenspan Takes a Leak: Actually, that’s pretty much it. Alan Greenspan is about 200 years old and hasn’t been chairman of the Federal Reserve for something like a decade now, yet when he toasts an English muffin instead of his usual bagel for breakfast Wall Street could build a house out of the bricks they find in their underwear the next morning. And did you know he was married to that blonde chick on NBC? Man, those octogenarian Friedmanians get all the hot ukha, don’t they?
The Housing Market Sucks Donkey Crank: There was a time in which real estate prices were going through the roof—literally. Well, not so much so. But still. “House Flipping,” a concept which reached cottage industry status with the release of the best seller “House Flipping for Dummies.” House flipping was a concept that allowed investors to buy a house, wait for the pricing to quintuple in amount, then hold out for even more profits and pocket the difference. This seemed to be an excellent plan for those with sufficient capital, to the point where finance experts discovered that the enormous profits gained from house flipping was directly related to the number of shows on HGTV about house flipping. Alas, the market has slowed to a stop where those that were flipping houses are now flipping burgers. (Hey, cut me some slack. I’ve been saving that one up since last October.)
You Can’t Be Sirius: OK, fair cop. That little blurb is the exact same headline that is used to report this item in every single newspaper in every single city everywhere in the world, but it beats “Market Watchers Say Satellite Radio Suffers From Regulatory XMa.” (Yeah, sound it out, homeslice. That’s all the help you’re getting from me.) The news of the pending merger of the two major—as in, only—satellite radio networks has many people wondering whether it will be approved by the FCC. Against the merger are those that fear that a consolidation of the two networks will reduce competition in the marketplace. For the merger are those that believe there is plenty of competition for those listening to the radio during drive time, such as putting on lipstick, looking up pictures of Antonella Barba being quite unladylike on your PDA at stop lights, trying to clean spilled coffee off of your crotch with wadded up Burger King hamburger wrappers, and listening to the various benefits of listening to the creativity of the Roger and Buttman’s Radio Hock Clock Bam-a-Lam Live in the Afternoon Show with Petey Linguini the Midget Retard and Honey the Greasy Naked Sound Engineer and her Magnificent 38DDs.
One in a Million…Well, If You’re Lucky: With all this volatile activity in the financial markets, a lot of news has focused on the multi-state lotteries. One of the bigger jackpots to be awarded, the Mega Millions drawing on Tuesday night, was won by two very lucky yet-to-be-identified ticket-holders. Financial experts always complain about how lotteries, a hypocritical government program that is effectively a regressive tax on people who can’t do long division, as a bad investment and a worse retirement plan. The experts, of course, are more right than they could possibly imagine, and often site those things that are more likely to happen than win the jackpot (be eaten by a mountain lion, get struck by lightning, or getting adopted by Angelina Jolie). Yet one can’t feel a bit nostalgic looking at a stock certificate from Sinopec and wondering exactly what the odds are.