Changing Times

The markets continued with their same mode of operation yesterday, by first dropping sharply and then climbing back to erase most of the losses. It’s been the same story as there was every reason for the major indexes to tank; except they didn’t.

Higher interest rates, falling durable-goods orders and even a 5% drop in Shanghai stocks could not keep this market down. As I said yesterday, we’ll have to wait and see for the next directional clue.

Reader Robert sent in this interesting piece written by D. Jones, reflecting on the changing times that are upon us:

Frugal McDougall, A Rhyme For Our Times

by D. Jones

Frugal McDougall worked very hard,
Bought things with cash and not credit cards,
And when it came to the things that he bought,
Things that he needed were all that he sought.

Once he was sure that his bills were all paid,
The money left over was carefully saved.
You see in the future he hoped to retire
And knew very well what that would require.

His neighbors were foolish and laden with greed.
They focused on wants instead of on needs.
They went out to dinner about every night.
When you’re middle class that’s one of your rights.

When they got their paychecks they spent every dime.
Having money left over would have been a crime.
Their credit was pushed to its uppermost limit,
When it came to debt they were very deep in it.

When Frugal McDougall would try to explain
The value of saving they all called him names,
So he wouldn’t bother most of the time.
He said it was something like ‘pearls before swine’

Meanwhile the neighbors got credit card offers,
Promising money to fill up their coffers.
Consumed by their greed they filled out every one,
With barely a thought as to what they had done.

And when the cards came they all ran about
Foolishly spending till they were maxed out.
A pool for the yard, perhaps some new skis.
They spent money like it was growing on trees.

Some even went on a cruise to the Med,
Where they all laid around looking tanned and well fed.
No thought was given to how they would pay,
For surely a bill would be coming their way.

In complete disbelief McDougall looked on.
He knew very well that they had it all wrong.
And the foolish idea that was shared by them all
Was that happiness was now on sale at the mall.

He’d been chastened so often he now bit his lip,
For fear if he didn’t he’d let something slip.
His neighbors would learn of his total disdain
For the way that their money was thrown down the drain.

Instead he would focus on his quiet life,
With his quiet children and his quiet wife.
In their simple way their needs were all met,
And their simple life was quite free of debt.

Then one day his neighbor came home joyously
In a gigantic brand new s. u. v.
Frugal McDougall just stood there and gawked,
Confused and bewildered and totally shocked.

He knew that his neighbor made twelve bucks and hour
And shouldn’t have this kind of purchasing power.
And when asked how he paid for this monstrosity
The neighbor replied, “with my home equity.”

The debt didn’t matter, the man was a dunce,
Whose only concern had been “how much a month.”
The neighborhood pondered what he had just said
And one by one light bulbs came on in their heads.

Then sure enough the very next day,
New cars appeared in every driveway.
McDougall now cautioned that they should take heed,
All this debt served no legitimate need,

Instead they were putting their futures at risk.
The response they delivered was angry and brisk.
Frugal McDougall was called a big fool,
And other mean names that were equally cruel.

“We are all rich,” they boldly declared
As Frugal McDougall stood there and stared.
“Our homes are all worth more than twice what we paid!
The good life is ours and should not be delayed!”

But Frugal McDougall refused to be goaded
And as he expected the debt bomb exploded.
The neighborhood values were starting to fall,
Faster and faster effecting them all.

Then as his neighbor stood looking distressed,
The new s. u. v. was being repossessed.
Soon all around, the neighborhood toys,
The ones that had recently brought so much joy,

Were all repossessed or put up for sale.
The pleasures they brought had grown a bit stale.
Purse strings were tightened as jobs were now lost.
It seems the free money came at a steep cost.

Banks were collapsing as everyone bailed
From upside down houses and lifestyles that failed.
All of the debt that could not be repaid,
Was now wreaking havoc that would not be stayed.

Government bailouts now came on the scene
As political leaders were all very keen
To keep credit flowing and money being spent,
So trillions of dollars were foolishly lent,

In a desperate attempt to keep prices high,
A fact that they won’t even try to deny.
These actions were more than a little perverse,
For adding more debt only made the mess worse.

This of course left them with one thing to do.
They needed more sources of tax revenue,
So small businesses that were already hurting
Were saddled with costly additional burdens.

Many scaled back hoping they could prevail
But quite a few more of them now simply failed.
So many neighbors were now out of work,
They turned on McDougall and called him a jerk!

The papers had all said that he was to blame,
Though none had specifically called him by name.
In a foolish attempt to curry some favor
It seems that they now blamed the problem on savers.

They said “greedy savers are hording their cash
And collectively made the economy crash.”
His penchant for saving was very well known.
Poor McDougall’s cover was thoroughly blown.

“Tax him,” folks cried as they all shook their fists
“And tax him some more if he tries to resist!
He has more money than he’ll ever need,”
They cried in a horrid expression of greed.

Poor Frugal McDougall was truly confused,
Saddened, frustrated and now feeling used.
He’d tried to warn people of what lay ahead,
But they didn’t listen and blamed him instead.

The country can never be restored to health,
As long as we’re exporting all of our wealth.
Closing our factories, exporting our jobs
Turning the people into angry mobs

And all of this spending with no end in sight
Is the most direct cause of our national plight!
How did this happen, where did it begin?
This foolish game’s left us no way to win.

Now the brave politicians all deny fault
As the nations economy grinds to a halt
Is this the end of the U.S. of A?
Will McDougall’s country now fade away?

He doesn’t know and he really can’t tell,
But from where he’s standing it doesn’t look well.

About Ulli Niemann

Ulli Niemann is the publisher of "The ETF Bully" and is a Registered Investment Advisor. Learn more
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