Willie Sutton a legend from when my parents were children once explained that he robbed banks because “that’s where the money is.” He meant I am sure, paper with portraits of Presidents on it that you could fold up and put in your pocket.
Meanwhile and maybe the bleeding has been staunched, as of ‘close of business’ this past Tuesday, the New York Stock Exchange had ‘lost’ three trillion dollars of I-don’t-actually-know-what. Value? Triple-S Green Stamps? Perhaps that’s what has happened but what I don’t understand, with my apologies to the “other” Willie, if the value ‘lost’ was real or a paper chase.
I have trouble with our checkbook and get a lot of get-well cards from my bank as a result of many of those troubles so I’m not the guy who can tell you if we should worry about a run on the banks or getting a line for a dinner setting at the soup kitchen. Am I, too, too big to fail or too small to matter?
I ‘follow’ stock reports as part of newscasts but only notionally. ‘A company’s stock did something somewhere and this other thing happened.’ As a guy who’s hoping to stop showing up for work in the not too distant future in order to retire and live from my pension and investments (I stopped working a very long time, unless you are my boss reading this, in which case I have no idea how that sentence fragment got into this line of typing), I am just dumber than a bag of rocks on the stock market and how (and why) what it does affects me.
I’m pretty sure stocks and bonds are a better investment than scratch-off lottery tickets, but I cannot tell you why that is. I’m not looking forward to collecting discarded bottles and cans to redeem for their deposit in order to supplement my retirement income but I watch the fiscal machinations on the world’s stock markets the way I visit libraries filled with books written in a language I don’t speak.
I’m conflicted between paper money and paper cuts. Somewhere there is a blaze burning and someone is feeding the flames. If we follow the smoke, do we find our future or someone else’s past?