vendredi, septembre 19, 2008

My daughter and I were at the Exton Square Mall tonight. She wanted jeans. Both of us wanted some earrings to show off our newly pierced ears. After finding the jeans in one of the ubiqitous shops aimed at teenagers, we walked by a jewelry store on the lower level. Red signs had been pasted to the glass: Going out of Business! Forty-Sixty percent off!

One woman, the manager, looked over some forms. Another, her face tired, waited on us. Walking past the amethysts and the emeralds, S saw a lovely critine pair of earring barely within our price range. As the salesperson rang up our jewelry, I asked her why the store was closing. The chain had gone bankrupt, she told us.

Times are tough, I said. The other woman agreed, adding that she was aware of a couple of the other mall stores that would be gone by Christmas. It's been slow the last two holiday seasons, she said. Meanwhile, managers of those enormous banks get millions of dollars in severance. Won't you get severance? asked the saleswoman. No, my superiors will, she said, but I'm a peon.

Whitehall Co., it says on the box.

Jewelers since 1895.

As I walked away with S, I wondered where they, and many others in the mall tonight, would find new places to work. We are so fast to bail out the men and women at the top of heap-but what will become of the middle-aged saleswoman who needs to pay the mortage or see a doctor?

Are there no poorhouses?

mercredi, septembre 17, 2008

Banking on nuns

Biden and Pelosi are quoting Aquinas and Augustine.

Obama is using phone banks staffed by nuns to reach Catholics, who are very important swing voters.

What is the net net of all this?

Once again, (see link) the Democrats are finding new ways to screw up when courting Catholic voters.

It seems doubtful that phone banks staffed by nuns or medieval theologians can really make a difference.

The reporter visited Scranton (Joe Biden's hometown) and found out that many of the Catholics who supported Hillary Clinton are now trending towards McCain. McCain has been cosying up to Catholic bishops-the one in Scranton has denied Joe Biden communion because of his pro-choice stance.

A few things worth thinking about....

Why do politicians of a certain age feel the apparent obligation to embrace Democrat orthodoxy on the abortion issue? Bob Casey Jr doesn't, and he's our governor, in case they haven't noticed.

Why have the Democrats done so little to move the ball past the abortion swamp? Republicans and Democrats can agree that we ought to provide support for unwed mothers-so why isn't this happening?

Why can't this party allow for some real diversity on the abortion issue?

And why would white blue-collar Dems vote for the pro-choice Hillary and not for the pro-choice Obama? I think the pollsters got it right when he says that race has something to do with it.

I don't think Aquinas or Augustine would be really thrilled to be used to advocate for the Democrats (or the Republicans)-but what do I know?

lundi, septembre 15, 2008

Are there free marketeers in foxholes?

Apparently few knew for certain until this morning whether Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson would let Lehman Brothers (started in 1850) fail, or whether he would back an arrangement to salvage the venerable firm by putting the Federal government's credit behind it. Paulson's decision was probably a wise one. Who knows what other shoe may drop?

Merrill Lynch got sold-which is fortunate for many of its employees. As many as 30,000 Lehman employees will probably be jobless.

As Business Week's Dean Foust commented on NPR today, this may be the end of deregulation. Or, if it's not the finale, it might be quite a while before someone dares to advocate for it in the face of this global financial crisis.

When a securities firm goes bankrupt here, markets tremble on Europe and Asia. We can't afford to venture this close to the cliff. Right now Treasury is doing crisis management-the time for regulations will have to come.

As to whether they will extend into other industries, time will tell. But, as one friend said to me today, after the market fell 4.4 percent, we haven't floored yet. It's a new ballgame-and we still aren't sure which players will be left when this game is finished.