The only way not to think about money is to have a great deal of it.
-- Edith Wharton (1862 - 1937)
It is difficult for most of us to believe that we now may be looking over the precipice.
A series of Doom and Gloom pieces published here were somewhat unpleasant – but now there is the real prospect of a very serious drop brought on and also perpetuated by a deflationary spiral. If you’re out of work in the Hamptons and you’ve been trying to figure out what to do next, there is no surprise about what’s out there. What was unthinkable before now seems possible.
Rentals are off, jobs are difficult to find, and home sales are few and far between and the blame game is now beginning in earnest. When in doubt, indict someone.
The press is not immune and the bloodletting in that industry is just beginning. Newspapers are filing Ch. 11 at an alarming speed. Suffolk Life was one of the first local publications to go after the Improper Hamptonian bit the bullet. More will follow. It has little to do with newsworthiness. The problem is lack of advertising. Businesses that typically advertise, which are failing, hasten the demise of publications -- and then there is the readership move to the Internet. Hamptons.com and 27 East, for example, have had some success -- but that does not sell newspapers. Regardless of the merits of those publications, people have stopped buying newspapers, stopped subscribing, and will not pay for Internet access. It’s a deadly combination for publishing since reporters and office staff still needs to get paid. This week the venerable Rocky Mountain News ceased publishing,
The New York Times faces a possible Chapter 11 and most newspapers operate in the red.
To make matters worse, it has been open season on journalists. In Russia they shoot them, in Somalia they murder them, in Iran they arrest them, in Suffolk they terrorize and indict them.
The 401K that was supposed to allow boomers to retire in style are now worth 50-70% less than they did a year ago. And, the Buy and Hold crowd is thinning out. Enrollment has dropped at private schools. Real Estate prices are dropping in the Hamptons and in Manhattan and are expected to arrive at a point that is at least 50% below what they were a year and a half ago. There are some who predict that drops of 90% in value are possible if we truly hit the panic phase in the stock market and deflation accelerates. That’s possible. Not likely, but possible. This era of deflation may take all of ’09, ’10 and ’11 to play out. Not a pretty picture.
If that happens, none of us are safe from the financial devastation that will ensue. Social unrest will follow as it already has in the Eastern block countries.
Right now, newspapers and websites dwell upon salacious stories of fraud, murders, disasters and mayhem. Law enforcement personnel, like prime time players in old episodes of Law and Order, are busy trying to find someone to blame. Meanwhile, Wall Street continues to hand out bonuses for having papered the world with securitized debt that was worthless before it was packaged.
If they ever find out where the money went at Town Hall in Southampton, people might wonder if it really was all of those New Yorkers who are responsible for the mess after all. The Feds are at least looking to find out where the money went.