Buddy, can you spare a trillion?
"Curiouser and curiouser!" cried Alice.
-- From Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, circa 1865.
Unless you have just emerged from a lengthy stint in a bomb shelter -- by the way, the Cuban missile crisis is over; Khrushchev blinked, but Castro is still in power -- you know that Wall Street is in Big Trouble and that congress has decided it must Do Something About It.
Let's see. Put Congress in charge fixing a mess that is mind-bogglingly complex? Isn't that sort of like turning a bunch of hyperactive kindergartners loose in a room that has vats of finger paint and telling them they had best not get any paint on their clothes, their hair or the floor?
I don't comprehend much of what goes on in the rabbit hole of High Finance. For instance, who are Freddie and Fanny and why did we have to bail them out? Are they even married? And I had never even heard of the Lehman Brothers until they got a certain painful body part caught in the fiduciary wringer!
No matter how this humongous fiscal kerfluffle shakes out, I can't shake the feeling that some wealthy folks will be even wealthier by the time it's over. This sentiment is succinctly summarized by the Ghetto Law of Distribution: Them that gots gets.
As I understand it, the monetary crisis began when a bunch of people began to believe that they could live in houses made of credit cards. Like all such houses, things came tumbling down at the first breath of an ill wind. Big surprise.
This, in turn, caused a ripple of failure to rush toward Wall Street, gaining both size and momentum until it became a tsunami. Banks with too many ultra-risky loans in their portfolios quickly discovered that staying afloat while holding said loans was like trying to swim with an anvil under one arm.
Certainly these are distressful times for many. Which make me almost hate to mention this, but the truth is, things are actually pretty good out here in the boondocks.
Last summer, commodity prices blasted through a psychological glass ceiling and didn't stop until they reached low earth orbit. Corn and soybean prices have since fallen to the point where they are merely stratospheric.
I don't pretend to know what caused this price spike. Some say it's due to crops being used for ethanol production, to which I say: good! In fact, let's see if we can divert even more of our petrodollars from the Middle East to the Midwest.
Whatever the cause, the current boom is having an explosive effect in the agricultural arena.
During conversations with farm implement dealers, the complaint I hear most regards the long wait for new machinery. There is no lack of demand for big-ticket items, even though the price tag of a new combine or tractor is roughly equivalent to the GDP of Luxembourg.
Land prices have also been affected. Some very curious rumors about land values are currently circulating.
The problem is my set point. I am old enough to recall when gasoline was 25 cents a gallon. Nowadays, a quarter would buy you permission to sniff the end of the nozzle -- but only if you paid first.