it wasn’t over when the germans bombed pearl harbor


I would like credit for something. Yes, this makes me a whiny affirmation vampire with unresolved mommy issues and bizarrely unappealing narcissistic tendencies, but it also makes me write this blog, so CONSIDER YOURSELF LUCKY, readers! Anyway, I’d like to share with you an email I wrote to Tessa last month:

On Mar 4, 2009, at 4:32 PM, Ian Williams wrote:

Perhaps if I wear the Oktoberfest Bar Wench costume and YOU wear the Boba Fett space tights, we wouldn’t end up getting tangled on th-


OOPS. Disregard that. I meant to share THIS email instead:

On Mar 7, 2009, at 11:11 PM, Ian Williams wrote:

I think we should talk about buying some stocks. I’m feeling bullish. I figure it’s like this: if you believe America is done, then we’ve got bigger problems and money won’t be worth anything and we’ll grow corn and pumpkins… but if you figure we will rebound as we have done every time since the 1780s, then anyone who buys around now will be pleased with themselves…

I have spoken.


Now, fair readers, I would like to show you a graph:


Yes, yes, yes, I realize that this is still a very small slice of time, and the Dow could fall off a cliff today, and a fuckin’ meteor could crash into Six Flags Over Georgia, but if you’d listened to me and had some nads, you’d be up a LOT.

Consider at the time – March 7 – there were irresponsibly inane articles like this bandying words like “apocalypse” about, written by hand-wringers with little sense of what the word really means. I decided I was really sick of people whacking off to their End Times Porn, and wanted to call their bluff: either America is over, or it isn’t.

And if it isn’t, then parts of it are going fairly cheap right now. I say this knowing full well we’re probably not out of the economic doghouse by any means, and believe me, I still know how to grow and can vegetables if I goddamn have to.

But never underestimate the oft-overlooked power of anger and boredom – because once America gets bored and angry with the doomsayers of the economy, it means America is no longer in the grips of madness. It will start trading its fight-or-flight hormones for some rational discourse and the entrepreneurial fancy of The Big Idea.

Go Heels.

0 thoughts on “it wasn’t over when the germans bombed pearl harbor

  1. CM

    You are not the only one saying to buy now, when stocks are low. But I think it’s disingenuous to link our personal financial decisions to a desire to help our country. Let’s face it, you are buying stocks to increase your personal wealth, not for an altruistic reason. It’s not bad, it’s just honest.

  2. wottop

    Sure, send it to Tessa. What about your loyal readers? Maybe you could have written it for all of us?
    BTW – While you are in the soothsaying mood, how’s about a line on the game tomorrow?

  3. Ehren

    I think that millions of Americans bought Federal Bonds during World War 2, mostly to help the country. That’s how they were marketed.
    It seems, at best, rude to assume you know what Ian’s motivations are better than he himself does, unless you just philosophically disbelieve in altruism, and that all acts of kindness or civic virtue are actually just selfish acts aimed at improving our own status.

  4. Steve Williams

    My pessimism has led Ian to accuse me of apocalypse fetishism, and there’s truth in that.
    But I’m not ashamed to say: I still think things will get a lot worse before they get significantly better. I listen to the News Hour each night give the (largely imaginary) reason for the Dow’s latest move, and lately they’ve been saying “bank rescue this” and “GM hard line that.” I’m certain that kind of instantaneous response to strategic policies is meaningless, especially when measured by such a useless index. (Those policies are political anyway. They won’t have the stated effects.)
    I think right now each of us should focus on our own immediate situation and the circumstances of a few nearby people we care about. Family, neighbors, community. We are powerless to affect any wide outcome, so we should just act responsibly while the powerful criminals at the top rearrange the deck chairs to suit their new reality. No doubt they’ll carve out some new tolerable equilibrium for the masses.
    Long term, we need to think about how to transfer some of that power to people with humanistic motives. Power concentrated in large, psychotic organizations cannot create a just society.

  5. Piglet

    CENT ONE: I think that graph of yours is the “sucker rally” of this recession. I predict the Dow will get close to 9000 by mid May and then drop for the rest of the year and be close to 4000. The smart thing to do is sell something real soon before the bigger drop.
    And THEN buy blue chip commodity and energy stocks at the bottom. Because after THAT drop, Ian, you’ll be right and we’ll begin actual recovery.
    This is what I do instead of NCAA picking.
    CENT TWO: I’m not with Ian out of patriotism, but out of risk tolerance and knowledge. Good investors only buy what they understand, and I understand basic American stocks, bonds, buying and holding and divident yields. I do not know international stocks, not the names of companies, what they do, nor the political situation or how likely Russia, China, India or any third world/developing nations are to suddenly nationalize a sector. I’d be dumb to invest in those countries. My international investments are limited to a couple of international mutual funds. I also don’t play around with short sales, futures, or commodities for the same reasons. My understanding is the majority of amateur investors who try those things are overwhelmingly likely to get burned in competition with the very few who professionally trade in those things all the time. If you’ve done a lot of study of those areas, your mileage may vary.

  6. Caroline

    End Times Porn – fabulous. So true.
    Our media scares me. When we finally get together for that drink, Ian, I will tell you about this woman I met who works for a major news network. If people like this are in charge of our news, well, we’re EFFED.

  7. josie

    Funny. I told my husband, that same Saturday, that we needed to take all of our money out of stocks, funds, etc, and park it in a cash vehicle within our various plans — In an effort to take control and stop sticking our heads in the sand.
    I was planning on making it happen that Monday the market first took an upswing. Never got around to it (cuz I was busy trying to earn a living), and by the end of the week it was our family joke.
    So, the lesson is….if you want to get rich, follow Ian’s financial crystal ball. Do not, under any circumstances, take advice from me.

  8. Kevin_In_Philadlephia

    Ian, you are right to call the bluff. I bought Citibank at $1.03/share (the low a couple days earlier was $.97), and sold half at $3.14. I made the money back and then some, and I’ll be holding on to the other 500 shares for when things do, as expected and as always, recover.
    I also bought GE at $8.80, GM preferred shares at $2.70, and a couple of speculative things, 250 shares for each. Basically, I’m betting on America.

  9. CM

    @Ehren –
    You’re right; I wasn’t making an assumption about Ian, but about people in general…I would think that buying stocks would be partially due to wanting to make money, not just helping the country, in most cases.

  10. CM

    Kevin – It’s not, but I just find it hard to believe that when people invest in stocks, they are doing it primarily to help the country. I do believe people are good at heart, but not THAT good!

  11. Kevin_In_Philadlephia

    CM – I see where you are coming from with that. I’d like to think I am doing a bit of both.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *