Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Q is for Questions

Q is for questions. Last week I was blissfully unplugged for a bit of off-season hiking and biking in Acadia National Park. A number of favorite trails and roads were washed out, but there were plenty of alternatives and it was so quiet, just about the only questions on my mind were, Why did the turkeys cross the road? (bold as you please, right in front of the car)...

Turkeys

... and, Where to chain up to have lunch? (this large granite boulder, shown with bike trunks for scale, came with a delightful ocean view and a fingerbowl garnished with dulse and sea lettuce). There were some fiber adventures, too (pix in next post). Ahhhh!

Fingerbowl rock

Back in the world of quotidian cares, Hurricane Hanna rained on New Jersey and Hurricane Ike devastated Cuba and the U.S. Gulf Coast, the twin credit and liquidity crises broke like the mother of all storms over Wall Street, and the Federal Reserve, "the banker of last resort," made the most radical market intervention in its history. Why? According to the Fed, to avert worse. However one may feel about high finance and moral hazard, when Wall Street sneezes, the world catches a cold – and this sneeze is potentially a Cat 4, maybe more, with global consequences across all pay grades.

Hurricane IkeAIG YTD

Not least among the consequences, the stakes in the November elections and the contrast between candidates have increased as well. Now the questions on my mind are the ones so elegantly posed by Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr.:
All of a sudden, the culture war seems entirely beside the point, an unaffordable luxury in a time of economic turmoil. What politicians actually believe about the economy, what fixes they propose, whether they side with the wealthy few or the hurting many – these become the stuff of elections, the reasons behind people's votes.

... Even cultural conservatives will start to notice that McCain's tax policies are geared toward the wealthy investing class and Obama's toward the paycheck crowd. Even the most ardent friends of business have begun to argue that a re-engagement with sensible regulation is essential to restoring capitalism's health. [Read more.]

(NB. The first presidential debate will be held Friday, September 26 at the University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS at 9 p.m. EDT. The topic will be domestic policy and the moderator will be Jim Lehrer.)

Here's another consequence, even closer to home: now there are questions about the risk of money market funds versus bank savings accounts, for only the second time ever. Mine are insured against bank failure, but (of course) not against securities default. I'm keeping an eye on 'em – and I'm voting my pocketbook come November 4. Howabout you?

Update: 9/17 NY Times article and links to statements of MM mutual fund managers.

9 comments:

Meredith said...

I really enjoyed your post today, Ina. Number 1-my husband and I have been to Acadia twice. The first time 22 years ago weeks before we got married and again about 6 years ago when he returned from a tour in Kuwait with the Air Force Reserves. Thoughts of a Maine lobster dinner helped get him through those 3 months in the desert. Bar Harbor and Acadia are beautiful. Thanks for the refresher. Number 2-It is so nice to read an intelligent discourse on politics and our economy. Thanks for that too.

Bezzie said...

Aye. Nothing like a good harem of turkeys to take the edge off biting economic times eh?

Kelli Simone said...

Yeah. This economy is scary and marks a definitive difference between the candidates and their proposed economic policies. I am afraid (and hopeful) to see what the next few months bring. ~ksp

Songbird said...

So glad you had a good visit to Maine!`

Jessica said...

Sounds like a fantastic getaway! I'm just a touch jealous. ;) Marking my calendar for the first debate. I'm very afraid of what this election might hold for this country...

Kim said...

I was wondering where you were. Glad it was somewhere wonderful. I lurve that granite boulder!!! I've been reading about these credit swap thingies that ocntributed to the financial meltdown and it's mind boggling. These so-called securities instruments were like bar-room wagers, just unreal made up crap. THE MAN was linign hsi pockets and now we're all paying the price.

CrazyFiberLady said...

Lovely pictures, glad you had a nice trip away. The financial storm and the importance of the race are definitely worrisome.

Daniele said...

Speaking of turkeys, Paul (my husband) once had one come up to his truck on the road and attack the bumper. Paul went to get out to chase the turkey away, and then thought better of it. The turkey was over three feet tall. He waited until the turkey gave up and went away. Obviously the turkey was having a bad day!! :)

Deborah said...

those turkeys? what a metaphor!