Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I found two things interesting this week. One was the timing of the release of President George W. Bush’s book Decision Points. For many reasons, it was understandably timed for release after the election. I am certain the revelations would not have affected the "Change at any Cost" election we just witnessed. But it would have been a little fun reminiscing during the election cycle about John McCain’s 2008 announcement that he was suspending his campaign to attend a White House meeting on the economy (somewhere around the time his money was stretching really thin because of his major mistake with public financing, if I remember right.) It turns out that President Bush had not even planned such a meeting and apparently learned about the upcoming necessity for one from McCain's announcement.

However, the specter of President George W. Bush wouldn’t have phased this election cycle. But it is honest good natured fun seeing the former President back on TV still with no context from the "History" that someday is to save his reputation. Even after a blockbuster rejection of the Democrats, President Bush still has quite a wait for historians and economists to be swayed by time and perspective. Meanwhile the wonderful mistakes and gaffs are back on TV like a new season of America's Funniest Home Videos. Reviews of the actual book seem to portray the former President as a bit down on himself.

Certainly, using appropriate timing, it will be a while before I can get around to reading the book, because I couldn't imagine buying it and supporting the former President financially. I don’t even want to check it out from a library for fear that someone would actually buy the thing if they couldn’t get hold of it fast enough to suit them. That being said, I’m actually looking forward to reading it with the same youthful fascination I had for President Nixon and the Watergate Scandal. Somehow in my later years, I am feeling more like my younger years. Nothing in politics is really too seriously disturbing to enjoy understanding at great depth after the fact. I knew every twist and turn of the Watergate saga when I was young.

I did get to look through an advance copy of Decision Points a couple of weeks ago and of course I immediately turned straight to the pictures like any well-read person would know to do. Perusing the pictures would lead anyone to wonder just where all these "presidential" looking photos came from? Either the media was actually biased, including Fox News, in presenting us with a silly looking President or the pictures selected in the book required a staff of hundreds who must have combed through millions of pictures taken by the White House photographer and elsewhere. The portrayals are really flattering to the guy. I have a whole new historical perspective on... photography.

The second thing that interested me this week was the timing of the Federal Reserve Board’s "QE2" on the day following the election. QE2 might otherwise be known as bailout 2. This apparently followed bailout version 1.5, or I must be losing track of the bailouts. QE2 formerly stood for the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2. This luxury cruise ship cost $80 MILLION in 1969, and unless I’m figuring this wrong, would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $450 BILLION today using inflation adjustment. The Fed’s "QE2" is $600 BILLION, even more room for deck chairs. But the Fed's "QE2" stands for Quantitative Easing 2. I’m sure there are equally understandable reasons why this QE2 thing was timed for the day after the election, because the Fed is basically nonpolitical in their attempts to make our lives better through monetary policy. Apparently, according to some article I read, there are "market watchers" (which would include me and even my Aunt Mina when she goes to the grocery store) who believe that the Fed will end up pumping in 1.2 TRILLION dollars to make this QE2 effective enough to extract us from this continuous disaster I like to call the Great Bush Recession. I'm guessing this figure might be accurate. Perhaps there will be QE2.1, etc. but I personally think as a market watcher that perhaps it might be more like QE3.1 that will need to hit the store shelves before we'll see the financial operating system stop blue screening so much. I'll ask Aunt Mina what she thinks the next time I talk to her.

As usual, I’ve written entirely too much already so I’ll summarize:

1) QE2 costs $600 billion which is no small sum even compared to the earlier bailouts, and may no doubt boost the economy so we can finally claw our way out of the Great Bush Recession.
2) President George W. Bush, the "decider in chief" who authored the "decision points" that led us to this endlessly endless recession, feels it’s safe to come out of the woodwork now and make a few million for his own bank account.
3) Very little press coverage accompanied QE2, and certainly very few articles explaining what we need to know: the relationship between how much money we MUST pump into the economy and how bad the recession actually must be to need all these money infusions. I guess President Bush feels safe because the media is happy to see him, so they don't have to report about important and ratings deficient stories. Timing again.
4) Inflation will inevitably follow all this QE stuff because we are, as my Dad might have put it, printing vast sums of money.
5) Inflation was really a mind blower between 1969 and 2010 as witnessed by the HMS Queen Elizabeth 2. Wait for the Fed's QE Vista and QE XP. If they are needed... I hate to think about the amount of inflation we will need to pay for it all since we have now abandoned taxes as a payment form.
6) We never get tired of tax cuts and vote for particularly "promising" politicians. We effectively pay these taxes through recessions, our 401k’s, bailouts, and inflation. What politicians giveth, reality taketh away. There actually is a fixed "quantity" of money to "ease" with and it comes from somewhere. And the future is closer than our children.
7) I'll be glad I won't be reading about the "changey thing" in my email anymore. I know this cute phrase will stop being emailed to me because voters who send this stuff didn't even care if some of the weirdest of the Tea Party members got in there. CHANGE was what they wanted, with very little logic applied. They now OWN the "changey thing." All this is sadly written tongue in cheek because the emailers never own up to anything despite their other emails on taking personal responsibility. Yep, I'll keep getting emails asking how the "changey thing" is going.
8) Finally, I went to the grocery store in the middle of writing this and sure enough, my wife is correct that I can make something political out of things as ordinary as salt shakers. Two songs played while I was running my collected loose change through one of those coin counting machines to receive an Amazon gift certificate to help pay for Christmas. The first song went: "Please Mister please, don’t play B17." With this post unfinished and in my head, I was still thinking about QE2 and President Bush. Please Mr. Boehner please, don't don't play the same damned tune again. And the second song in the Kroger's grocery store? Good Timin’ by Jimmy Jones. What are the chances? I couldn't believe my ears. I listened carefully to the lyrics over the noise of spinning coins so I could Google what song this was when I got back to a computer, or at least a computer whose function wasn't just to spin coins into little holes and issue gift certificates. Thus I hyphenated the original title of this post when I discovered the name of the song. But, I need to start summarizing a little earlier don't you think? This thing is ridiculously long. My timing is way off.
"Who in the world would've ever known
What Columbus could do
If Queen Isabella hadn't hocked her jewels
In fourteen ninety two"
- Good Timin’   (Ballard and Frederick)
Correction: I found not two but three things interesting this week. Well timed coincidences seem more like supernatural events to me. When the well timed coincidence is about "timing" itself, it gets really metaphysical.