“WARNING: Your investment may go up as well as down!” and other signs that you’re in a financial crisis

Warren Buffet – no relation to the Pina Colada-swilling Jimmy – has been widely quoted in recent days giving his latest advice for the market. In short, what with everyone being fearful, he’s recommending that people be greedy. Take the long term view, he says, and the US stock market (and, based on his logic, most other stock markets) look like excellent value.

It seems that the value of investments may actually rise. To those of us for whom the period since February 2007 marks the bulk of our market exposure, this came as something of a shock. Not only this, it seems the Financial Regulator has found a clause in its Terms of Reference indicating that, to regulate financial organizations, it’s allowed find things out about them and so is going to employ people to do just that.

Given these twin bombshells, the pressure is surely mounting for the Financial Regulator to change the blurb that they give to their oversee-ees (digression: how many actual English words have the same letter more than two times in a row?) to put in at the end of their ads, to something along the following lines:

XYZ Bank is regulated by the Financial Regulator. No, honestly, we mean it this time. We’ve actually got people on the inside and everything.

Warning – your investment may go up as well as down. Past shocking performance is no guide to actual positive returns in the future.

Some other thoughts on how you know you’re in a financial crisis:

  • References to today’s losses of x billion euro on the stock exchange are the equivalent of the weather. You try your best to pay attention but it all sounds so similar that you just can’t help but switch off.
  • You’re shocked to get through an entire edition of Morning Ireland/Prime Time/Six-One News without one reference to ‘more news from the stock markets’ (as happened on Friday 17th, honest!)
  • Casual conversation in the pub may actually include a discussion of the liquidity and solvency of Icelandic banks. (Pre-post-Celtic Tiger references to Iceland’s economy would surely have just been a reference to some amazing off-the-plans property deal north of Dalvik.)
  • Every ad for your money – and have you noticed that there are an awful lot of them about at the moment? – makes absolutely no reference to average annual return year-to-date or even over the past 5 or 10 years.
  • Jokes not heard since 2001 are being reeled out. (Prime example: “Q: What’s the quickest way to become a millionaire? A: Lose your billionaire status.” Chortle.)
  • There is great demand for punters who even half sound like they know what they’re talking about when it comes to (a) what’s happened Japan since 1990, (b) the Great Depression or (c) the ability to Google Sweden’s early-1990s financial crisis.

Personally, I’m gambling it’ll only be a matter of time before someone wants a pundit on the Long Depression of the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s. That’s right… it spanned three decades! And when they do, then… BAM… I’ll make my move.

(Right after this guy.)

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Brother, Can You Bail-out my Bank? (1931 revisited!)

Every crisis creates its own artistic genius – take for example Picasso, or the Credit Crunch Blues. Mere mortals mightn’t move in quite the same league, but we can try. So, with sincere apologies for the butchering of Jay Gorney’s lovely music and the usurpation of Yip Harburg’s original lyrics, Weird Al, this one’s for you!

Brother, Can You Bail-out my Bank, lyrics by Ronan Lyons, music by Jay Gorney (1931)

Once I built a hedge fund, I made it fly, made it rise all the time.
Once I built a hedge fund; now it’s gone. Trichet, can you bail-out my bank?
Once I bought a bank share, at the top, lent a mortgage, sub-prime;
Once I bought a bank share, watched it tank. Paulson, can you bail-out my bank?

Once in red braces, gee we looked swell,
Full of that Ghekko Doodly Dum,
Half a trillion bills went slogging through, Hell,
And I hit the NYSE gong!

Say, don’t you remember, they called it wrong; it was to go up all the time.
Why don’t you remember, before it sank? Darling, can you bail-out my bank?

Once in red braces, gee we looked swell,
Full of that Ghekko Doodly Dum,
Half a trillion bills went slogging through by the bell,
And I was the kid with the gong!

Say, don’t you remember, they called it wrong; it was to go up all the time.
Why don’t you remember, before it sank? Sucker, can you bail-out my bank?

(Next stop a recording studio!)