FISCAL FALLOUT: Surviving The Times

This was a tumultuous week in US and global capital markets, with the investment banking industry taking major blows with the fall of Lehman Brothers and the weakness of Morgan Stanley.With three of the five investment banking pillars crumbling (the above two along with Bear Sterns) the remaining two, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan were left with questions of whether they were strong enough to support this market.The calamity is so powerful that it forced the presidential candidates to switch from rhetoric to actually having to confront what is probably the most relevant issue in this election.The fundamentals of the US economy are not strong presently, and the arguments of Senator McCain to the contrary, once delusional, now border on laughable. On the other side, Senator Obama’s generalities will be forced into implicitness as voters are now in need of answers rather than hope.Along with the investment banking sector, AIG the world’s largest insurer, began to cave under the pressure of its mortgage backed security holdings, and required a very expensive bailout.  Stocks yo-yo’d all week on the NYSE: down 504 points, up 141, down 449, up again.  And then the cherry on top, Washington Mutual, the largest Savings & Loan bank in the U.S. was putting itself up for sale. Wachovia and Morgan Stanley sought to merge and bolster each other.The United States was not alone in its misery as the Russians halted trading on their exchange to mitigate the carnage and Tokyo’s NIKKEI took a bloodbath.  With government bailouts and all of this news flying left and right, you may be wondering what it means to you.  Well my friends, poor people don’t care, because they aren’t paying for anything anyway.  Rich people don’t really have to care that much unless they have very foolish representation.  That leaves the brunt of these bailouts and fallouts on the backs of the middle class.In the economy nothing exists in a vacuum and your 401k, or any retirement plan is affected by violence in the markets as they are generally managed by people who have your money exposed to the market in mutual funds.  Depending on your fund objectives you could have been exposed to certain amounts of risk, especially if your funds are holding large amounts of real estate related stocks and REITS. Consider yourself blessed by your gods if you have a position in gold or other precious commodities, as a flight to quality (investing in things that retain value and are not as exposed to negative conditions) sent gold up $70 an ounce, including a one day bounce of 11% which was the biggest single day rise ever.On a human level if you’re a bar owner in the financial district, your happy hours are decidedly less packed, if populated at all.  If you are a diner in the area, the loss of 10,000 bodies can’t be good for business.  Ditto for taxi and limo services.  If you live in a place like Charlotte, a secondary financial city, you may be facing job market competition from migrating New Yorkers.As a Hip-Hop citizen, no one is probably directing these warnings to you.  We are certainly a consumption driven culture.  I’m warning you now. Park that Hummer. Save your money. If you have the power to change the investment direction of your funds then you should seriously look at funds that focus on preservation of capital and metals.  Do your home work, but don’t stand there blind while your retirement erodes.You shouldn’t really worry about the money you have in banks.  They are insured by the FDIC up to $100,000 per account.  If you have more than that amount in one account then you should spread that out. Remove it intelligently.  If you remove a ton of money at once it sends red flags, and if you remove it in recurring intervals you give the appearance of money laundering. Be mindful that in times like this they don’t want runs on the banks, so you may not be able to move large money with ease.On the other hand this may be the opportunity to get into the market as it has fallen roughly 75-80% of its October 2007 value.  Be careful because while the market has been trading in a range, we don’t actually know where the bottom is.  You’re not smarter than the market.  No one is.  Don’t be a cowboy.The Great Depression set the table and forged the steel that formed the “greatest generation.” As American youth, and global citizens this is our opportunity to take the lead in this ongoing fiscal crisis and make an indelible mark on our world and modern history.We are a culture ahead of the curve  technology wise, and uniquely positioned to come out of this stronger than ever and focused on the issues that face us today, including the global economic crisis, global warming, growing military activity, and the energy crisis.Educate yourselves. Do not wait for the wolves to knock. Get involved politically on local, municipal, state, and national levels.  People are making decisions concerning our lives, and they won’t even be around to see the consequences.  We will be.  So will our children.  Hold them accountable to you and yours. Be progressive. We have an election in less than two months and there are over 7 million Black people who could be registered to vote but aren’t. Get off your asses and into the booth. Good day and good luck.

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