Sorry, Will, to pull a change of seasons on you, but right before the 4th of July it really looks like this is going to be the summer of our discontent.
So many depressing factors are piling up one on top of another with the cumulative result of deflating people’s spirit. Indeed, it’s so palpable that you can hear the air going out of the balloon. That is never a pretty sound; nor is it a pretty sight.
There don’t seem to be very many places for people to turn to get respite from the onslaught of bad financial news. As I write this, the stock market was entering bear market territory, down some 20% from its high in the fall of last year. This is true not only in the U.S. but in countries around the world (you know, those places where investing added the piquancy of diversification to your portfolio).
If you want to know how bad things are for some of the best-known brands in this country, take a look at General Motors, an icon of American capitalism if there ever was one. The recent market cap of GM was in the vicinity of $6 billion, the equivalent of pocket change for the new crop of Russian billionaires.
There’s also scant consolation for those of a more conservative bent because fixed instruments are returning peanuts. This is a tough time for those people who have just retired or are thinking about retiring in the near future. (I can imagine that many of this latter group may be having second thoughts about leaving the workplace when they intended to.)
Which, of course, brings us to the bad news emanating from the job market. Layoffs here, layoffs there–it’s like snow made of pink slips.
So, not only are prices screaming out of control for the basics of food and energy, but the job market is shrinking at the same time. Is it any wonder that I’m starting to hear Martha and the Vandellas’ “Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide,” as background music for this summer that has just begun.