COMMENTARY:

Thinking About More

by Fred Cederholm
Who has the money to absorb the market losses, buy at inflated prices, goose the markets, and create the illusion that “happy days” are returning? Well, THAT is exactly what Uncle $ugar has done for the banks with QE1 and QE2!

I’ve been thinking about “more.” Actually I’ve been thinking about 2011, our government, the markets, the weather/ natural phenomenon, the economy, pop culture, consumerism, and events. Well folks, we got thru another year and I can say I am sorry it is over. This was my first full gift year (after my touches with “immortality” in the summer of 2009) I feel much better, but my walking and doing stairs still need much, much, much more work. By golly, I am still here and I am still not satisfied. Don’t get me wrong, the calamities I had predicted did not happen in 2010. I am not the permanent MUPZ (a family word used to describe a cantankerously negative older person --- this comes from the German side of my ancestry) that I project in way too many of my columns.

You see 2010 gave me a lot to TH*NK about. We enjoyed another successful election and will be experiencing a significant turnover in January 2011 when those newly elected take office. We can thank the almighty GOD for the peaceful transition that occurs in the USA after what are “relatively” peaceful campaigns. The critical thing to watch is how our governments will function at all levels. Will they publicly acknowledge our problems? (I mean really acknowledge them and not just pay them lip service in the photo ops?) Will they make hard choices to curb runaway government spending? Will they eliminate programs? Will they initiate change via “carrots” instead of “sticks”? Will they truly revise our tax laws? Will hundreds of thousands of loopholes finally be closed? Will they acknowledge that our government has been THE problem and not THE solution? I am only guardedly optimistic...

We have seen an unexplainable rise in all the equity markets within the past few months. The stock averages closed almost at 52 week highs! On the surface such rises suggest a recovery. But... were the numbers legitimate or were they manipulated? The “down and then up” patterns defy rational explanation. I mean... after a day long downward trend, somehow there was usually a rally in that last half hour of trading that wiped out the losses for the day. Why the sudden exuberance in the last minutes of trading after a trading day of downs? This makes me very suspicious. Placing a few strategically selected BUYS before closings can “juice” the markets. The question is who has the money to absorb the losses, buy at inflated prices, goose the markets, and create the illusion that “happy days” are returning? Well, THAT is exactly what Uncle $ugar has done for the banks with QE1 and QE2! Have they been doing the same self-destructive procedures in the equity markets? Time will tell.

2010 saw a number of records. More arctic ice disappeared indicating a rise in temperature. Yet, we saw one of the coolest summers on record in many of our home areas. We just got thru one of the coldest (and snowiest) Decembers since the governments have kept records. Then... by New Years, we got a heat wave and locally almost all the snow is gone. Many parts of the US got more rain in a few days than what is normal for six months. In Australia and Africa droughts persist. The jet stream which drives our climate has been as erratic as our stock markets. Such radical swings won’t change in 2011.

There were a record number of Earthquakes in 2010. There was a level of bank “failure” and takeovers not seen since the Savings and Loan debacle of the late 1980s and early 1990’s. Foreclosures and mortgages are in default at record breaking highs, yet interest rates for refinanced mortgages are at all time lows ( if you can get re-fi package) now. Property values have declined 25% to 40% across the country. You can now even buy a home in Beverly Hills, California 90210 for $501,000!!! (OK, it is a two bedroom, one bath place and not the former Aaron Spelling MEGA mansion; but it still has the zip code.) And, this reflects an offering price not seen in the “Hills of Beverly” since the 1960s.

We are now in place to “experience” the second TV season of colossal “new blockbuster hits” (which thus far not one person has seen). There will more “new” doctor shows, more “new” lawyer shows, more “new” police shows, and a few new dysfunctional families with “gay neighbor couples and their adopted Chinese daughter” sitcoms. Writers, producers, and directors continue in some creativity time warp/ void. We also have an onslaught of movies coming at us in early 2011 --- superhero flicks, alien flicks, disaster flicks, “fat guy” leading male flicks, and more remakes of ye olde blockbusters from the past. Just where in the HELL is the creativity in all of this? Please don’t remake “Gone with the Wind” with Angelina Jolie as Scarlett, George Clooney as Rhett, and Queen Latifah as Mammy!

We need some new kind of killer application product to be invented here and manufactured here to create jobs, and help our wallowing economy in 2011. 2010 saw the further proliferation of flat plasma high definition TVs in a shocking majority of homes. We saw smart phones (which had more “intelligence” than their “contracted owner/users”) proliferate. I am waiting for a phone app that does laundry. I see people using these expensive toys while the walk, while they drive, while they shop, while they dine, and even while they line up at the urinals. (I cannot attest to the use in the “stalls!)

Using 2010 to predict what we shall experience in 2011 gives me only miniscule hope for any major turn around(s) in 2011. I can predict we shall see events that are monumental, events that are troubling, and events that will shake our very core institutions. There will be changes, but will they go far enough as to make any long term difference. To quote one of my favorite Presidents, Dwight Eisenhower: “the situation is hopeless... but not serious...”

I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.


Copyright 2010 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved. Fred Cederholm is a CPA/CFE, a forensic accountant, and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A., M.A. and M.A.S.). He can be reached at asklet@rochelle.net.



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This story was published on January 5, 2011.