If anyone is wondering about headline proclaiming the “end of Europe” or something equally dramatic, the following article provides some perspective:
The thought to bury my money in the garden did cross my mind...
I noticed this inflammatory headline in the Daily Mail.
“It's not just us! Germany and France are on brink of recession too as euro crisis crushes their economies
...0.6 per cent contraction in the final three months of 2012 “
What words would they use to describe a real drop?
I found this sentence in the following linked article in Time:
“Being able to eat out, at least once in a while, has for at least three or four generations, been part of the birthright of most Americans.”
My memory of eating out as a child (which resides somewhere in that “three or four generations”) was a Easter restaurant visit, paid for by me grandmother (I think). I did not feel disadvantaged, because we ate very well at home. Restaurants were like trips to Europe: people with money did that. Eating out was not seen as a birthright, merely something others did. I recall my first visit to McDonald’s (in Hartford, Connecticut), which replaced sandwiches made by my mother on trips to visit relatives in the South. My father’s dream was to own a restaurant, which I understood only later in life, and at which he failed. I still have not grasped his disappointment...or my mother’s. But, at least he tried. Now, I enjoy restaurant meals, to the point of having tried the best in the world and top addresses in many countries around the world.
I recall the advent of Friendly’s to my town, because I was already a regular patron of any and all other outlets within driving distance. In the beginining, I enjoyed only ice cream; food came laterI introduced my children to the chain; our first stop after landing (if on the East coast) from Germany was a stop at one of their franchise. My daughter still yearns for an orange sherbet cooler. At home, I try to replicate the kind of cheeseburger they “invented”: a grilled cheese sandwich, pulled apart, with the hamburger added. It’s okay, but can never be the same. I miss the Fribble, which started out as the Awful Awful, until Friendly’s was sued for stealing the name: the treat remained the same, proving that an Awful Awful by any other name is just the same. I have found memories of trips to Friendly’s in my mother’s tiny car. I will sorely miss visiting Friendly’s on my next trip (if I ever overcome my aversion to US airports).
Of all the changes that have occurred in the country of my birth, the demise of Friendly’s might be the saddest. I was unhappy about the sale to Hershey, because they bastardize many of the traditional favorites, but going out of business is a shocking blow.
I am a fine example of “penny wise and pound foolish”.
I hate to pay for parking. I will go to any necessary means to avoid spending even a few cents.
I re-use paper and plastic bags. I use a cloth bag to buy bread, avoiding the offer of a paper bag. I use the same bag for grocery shopping, which I have used for years.
I am happy with left-overs...and left-overs of left-overs. I hate to throw away food. My family criticizes me for ignoring dates on packages. I’m still alive, so they must be unnecessarily cautious.
My cellar (as well as other parts of the house) are crammed with items, which I refuse to discard. They might be useful...someday. I have stuff from the past forty years. Their time might still come...
I buy most of my clothes on sale. Why pay more? Men’s fashion rarely changes. And, when it does, it changes back in a few years. That’s why tie width and lapel width gets wider and then narrower over time. What else can designers do? So, I keep my ties and wait for fashionability to return.
I could be much worse, if I did not have a family to criticize me and urge me to spend money. There is often a struggle with my conscience, which demands frugality vs. dear ones urging me toward profligacy.
Then, I turn around and fly first class, stay in the best hotels, and enjoy meals at leading restaurants. I must be schizophrenic...or worse. I could be...normal....
The poor Germans, still suffering from starting and losing a war...
Italy and, to a lesser degree, spain were liabilities for Hitler. Now, a worthless army of yesteryear has been replaced by a failing economy in each country. Germans are being forced to pay high taxes and work for more years (than folks in those countries, to name just two)...which might be considered continued war reparations.
The recent bailout of bungled economies and banks in Europe is a fine example of the saying “it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission”. Many lived a nice life on borrowed money...and now get more...from folks that have been industrious and thrifty...and stupid.
This is summed up in one Daily Mail Headline:
“Italy claims second victory over Germany in 24 hours
after Euro leaders hammer out bail-out deal against Merkel's wishes’”
_ I don’t know what is wrong with these people. I don’t know what these people see. I don’t know what these people read. (In reality, I do.)
I’m talking about anyone that deals with or writes about finance. One day, I read about markets advancing/gaining/choose your verb, caused by optimism about the Greek economy. The next day, I read about markets falling/slipping/tumbling/pick your noun. Why? Because of uncertainty about the Greek economy is a prominent topic.
After all this time, I am certain of a few things. First, all this turmoil/headline writing is driven by people trying to make money through trading. Brokers earn money each time something is bought or sold. If people can be convinced to trade an asset, some broker will make a buck. I do not recall much from my MBA program, but I do remember one sentence from a book on the stock market: “the biggest boat at the yacht club belong to stock brokers”. Of course, this is a euphemism and the book was written before politicians changed the rules in the 80s and 90s to unlevel the playing field and make it easier for greed to thrive.
After making a lot of money selling Greek bonds, the same people are now trying to make money from the chaos that they created. It’s a great racket, if you are on the inside or pulling the strings.
_ It says: Sale.
Citizens of the United States will not understand the significance of this four-letter word, because one never goes very long or far without spotting one in the Land of the Mall and the Home of Credit Card Debt.
Germany, on the other hand, is different (duh!). In the past, clearance sales were permitted only two times per year: winter close-out, starting at the end of January, and summer close-out in July. There was an obscure clause permitting businesses to have a going-out-of-business sale, which was abused by Persian carpet sellers and other shady characters. These people would open a shop, run it for a few months, go out of business, and move down the street to a new location.
Anyways, that’s not the story here. Regulations regarding sales have been loosening slowly. They are still restricted to seasonal close-outs, but the times have become elastic, and more exceptions have been invented. Some stores start early with close-outs by writing to “valued” customers; advertising is not allowed. Many put price tags with red numbers in the window. Savvy shoppers know to look for these signs.
This year, sales have started to sprout up already weeks before Christmas, which is a long way from the traditional February window. Retailers must be in trouble and want to lure reluctant shoppers into spending money. Or they have been following the economic news and believe that times are tough.
Of course, I do not pity the high-end retailers. Even if they knock 40 to 50% off their exorbitant prices, they will still make money. Once again, the middle and the bottom of the retail pyramid could suffer, if shoppers stay home or cut back. Christmas should be a time of excess, and words, such as Sale or Save, should never be uttered or heard.
That said, I bought a present today, the price of which was marked down. Not unlike every other year, I had been watching for the first signs of creeping bargains...
_(The liberal variety)
There are two sides to every story, unless you happen to be involved...and then there is only one side.
_ I have discovered a group of people greedier and more stupid (take your pick) than the folks in Greece.
Each must have something of a self-destructive nature, which unfortunately might spoil everything for the rest of us (while bankers, investors, and rating agencies make money off the mess).
The preferred journalistic metaphor for fluctuations in exchange rates is roller coaster. Changes in the value of the euro and the dollar resemble more a teeter totter.
Depending upon one’s point of view, one goes up and the other goes down. But, they do not merely go up or down, the media insist that a one-cent change require “soar” or “plummet” in the headline.
I cannot help but believe that these fluctuations have nothing to do with economic factors or anything real, for that matter. The changes happen too frequently. They must be caused by computers trading back and forth with one another using stop-loss programs. Each trade earns a small amount for someone (multiplied by millions), scares average citizen, and forces headline writers to re-use worn verbs.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.