Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The end of the road, or is it?

My bank is about to change hands, officially, and I've learned it may not be a moment too soon. I've been with HSBC since not long after coming up to Buffalo; they are, apparently, one of the largest purchasers in the world of derivatives, right after JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs. Their exposure to these junk bits of paper is a paltry $4.2 trillion ($4,200,000,000,000.00) compared to the top four's $215 trillion. Meaning these 5 banks are on the hook for more than three times what the entire world's economy is worth. It's really quite insane...but suddenly I can understand why governments have been throwing cash at these criminals; if they didn't, the world's economy would collapse and chaos would ensue.

See here for more details.

This is the kind of stuff that makes you want to lock your door, break out a bottle of wine and drink yourself into oblivion while seated before a raging fire and nibbling on filet mignon with a baked potato as you casually read a damn fine book, in order to forget it all.

If I was to do that, I'd have burgundy and make the potatoes au gratin with asparagus shoots, a light salad, and chocolate cake for dessert. I had that at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, once, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Nor did I need a full meal for the next three days, I was so stuffed. As for my book, I'm thinking I'll re-read "War and Peace". It so fits the times.

So now what? I got no exposure to any of this, myself; I cashed out my 401K to try and make it on my own just as the economy tanked, so it's all gone. And I'm locked into helping my youngest brother keep a roof over his head in San Antonio, so can't save any, really. I can barely make ends meet.

So what do I do?

Simple, I let Jake and Vinnie and Brendan tell me their stores and write them down and ignore the fact that the 1% have probably set civilization on a collision course with a new dark age.

It's funny what things like this make you wonder, however. For example, contemplating what might have happened had Reagan been killed by John Wayne Henley in 1981 takes me in two directions -- it might have been better, because Bush was not as enamored of Ronnie's "Voodoo Economics" and deregulation. Plus he was not the salesman Reagan was so could not have pulled off half the crap Reagan got away with.

Meaning he might have lasted only one term, because Mondale was a strong candidate against someone like Bush. And had that happened, we'd have kept the regulations in place that would have prevented this run up to catastrophe, especially after the Savings and Loan debacle in Arizona in the mid-80s.

BUT...another possibility is, we'd still have the Soviet Union, because Ronnie's salesmanship got the country back on the militarization path, forcing the Kremlin to do the same and bankrupting their government, thus bringing about the collapse of the iron curtain. Mondale wouldn't have done that; he's a butter before guns kind of guy. The Russians might also have been more willing to test the boundaries of American might and brought us closer to another war, especially since they weren't doing so well in Afghanistan and knew the US was arming the Taliban.

It's an interesting game to play. I did one scenario where Hitler was assassinated and WW2 wound up being ten times worse, with Germany, Austria, Italy, and Yugoslavia becoming satellites of the Soviets, with Greece being forced back into the arms of the Turks for protection.

Of course, what this means is there's no such thing as 20/20 hindsight. You never know how life will turn out if you go left instead of right. Guess that's the fun of it all.


Writer said...

Half way through your post I was just going to comment that I was now hungry. Well, actually, I still am.

We are where we are meant to be, Donna Noble, but we can only hope to make it better. Somehow.

Writer said...

Oo oo, but you could take your money and put it into a smaller, locally owned bank too. :)

JamTheCat said...

I'm actually winding up in a local bank -- First Niagara. The one drawback is, I travel all over the country and need access to ATMs that aren't going to charge me $5 just to get some money out. I had that with Chase, but they're in an even worse financial situation than HSBC. So...I guess I'll go back to the whole Traveler's Checks deal so I don't carry too much actual cash on me.

And I think I'm havin' that filet this weekend.