Monday, September 29, 2008

The Good News About Today's
Stock Market Crash

There's been plenty of doom and gloom because of how the stock market reacted to the defeat of the bailout bill. Its supporters call it a buyback, not a bailout. Those same people say we're not in a recession, we're in a reception.

But you don't have to be delusional to see the silver lining in today's seemingly bad economic news. First, if Wall Street stops becoming a place of unbridled excess, it could have a positive domino effect. Young brokers wouldn't be able to afford the seemingly endless supply of ridiculously overpriced condos in Manhattan, so those prices will come down.

In today's New York Times, David Carr writes about a guy who worked in mortgage sales, who told his story on "This American Life".

We ordered three, four bottles of Cristal at $1,000 per bottle,” he said on the broadcast, recalling a night when he had a table at Marquee, a nightclub in Manhattan. “They bring it out, you know they’re walking through the crowd, they’re holding the bottles over their heads. There’re firecrackers, sparklers. You know, the little cocktail waitresses,” he said. “You know so you order three or four bottles of those and they’re walking through the crowd and everyone’s like: Whoa, who’re the cool guys? We were the cool guys.

It's a good thing that they won't be the cool guys anymore. Maybe teachers will be.
Or community organizers. Now that would piss off the Republicans.

They could do a remake of the film "Wall Street", the 80's hit that depicted Michael Douglas talking into a "cellphone" that was the size of Rhode Island. Rhode Island probably got better reception. They could call it "Main Street", and instead of a stock broker, the star would be a sociology professor from Brooklyn College. In "Main Street", instead of everyone getting MBA's so they can make a fortune on Wall Street, college graduates aspire to teach at a city university. Instead of selling sub-prime mortgages to unsuspecting homeowners, the stars of "Main Street" fight unbridled development and push for affordable housing. And since greed has been replaced by serving people's needs, those teachers and community organizers will actually be able to find a home that they can afford.

As this day draws to a close, here's hoping that good things will indeed come out of this. At least, our cellphones are already a lot smaller than the one Michael Douglas had.

Tonight marks the beginning of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Whether you observe the holiday or not, I wish you a happy, healthy and sweet New Year.

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