under new management

Breakfast with Barack


The rumor is that we’ll be under new management later today – and by us, I mean the USA.
I’m sure, like most people, I’ll be watching breathlessly as Joe Biden becomes the first vice-president from Delaware.  It should be a historic moment.  Something else might be happening with the presidency, too.

I suffered from a bad service outage with my hosting provider over the weekend and I spent a lot of time worrying about that rather than writing posts. This is to be expected – I wonder if I have any natural inclination to write if I let something like that distract me, but so be it.  I’m sorry about the interruption, though.

I’ve lost something like 50% of my net value over the last year or so. It’s not a pleasant thought.  It makes you feel like an idiot.  I used to be angry that a relative of mine spent a ton of money on a nice gold watch rather than “saving” his money by investing, but you know what?  I’ve got 50% depreciated stocks, and he has a nice gold watch.  I know that the conventional wisdom was to save, save, invest, invest, but the recent downturn has taught us if you fail, you win (AIG) and if you keep hammering away at a losing proposition, you lose (GM).  I don’t know what the calculation is, but I’m sure it’s going to take me a decade or more of 10% returns to get back to where my net worth was in 2007.  It’s not a pleasant thought for an-almost-forty-year-old, much less someone who is nearing retirement.

Maybe everything will be different now. If rhetoric is matched by action, it will be.  If stasis rules (which I expect), nothing will change.  But in any case we can all be comforted by one thought (forgive me for a moment of weepy patriotism):  today, we’ll see the latest beautiful moment in the experiment that seemed like a radical, impossible dream 232 years ago… the idea that a nation could have an election and peacefully move from one ideology to another with nothing more than a burst of confetti and a few speeches.  I was amazed when it happened in 2000, and 1992, and 1980, and 1976… as far back as I remember.  People who hated (let’s be honest) what the incoming resident of the White House stood for, politically, calmly stepped aside and allowed them to take the reigns of power.

So let’s hope the new management can right our economy and our military and our environment and…a million other things. It’s a long list and doubtless many of these items won’t be addressed in four years, or eight.  But as an American I’m as hopeful as I’ve been in a while, and whether that hope is warranted or not I don’t want it to be disappointed.  Good luck, President Obama.  You’re going to need it.  I hope you get it – for your sake, for ours, for mine.  For everyone.

photo credit: jurvetson

9 comments

  • 50% is quite a drop.

    If you haven't already done so then you should read Four Pillars of Investing – Bernstein will make you feel happy that your portfolio dropped 50% and wishing it had dropped more. 🙂

    With your investment time horizon (in terms of how long you will live – not just when you will retire) this drop is quite possibly the best thing that could have happened.

  • You scared me. I thought you sold Brip Blap. 😛

  • Not to make you feel worse, but if he bought his gold watch at the right time, it could have appreciated in value!
    50% stinks, but you'll get it back!
    I plan on watching the inauguration too, I think it will be exciting.

  • Milton Griffin

    Being a child of the 50″s when I ask my dad about the stock market his comment was: If you want to make a small fortune in the stock market start out with a big one. So for the last 47 years I have bought and sold antique cars and trucks as a part time hobby. Full time job was a toolmaker in a machine shop. The profit from the hobby was invested in cd's, and bonds. Their return meant very little to me, because my profit from the hobby averaged 10-40 % return on my investment. And yes today I have the gold watch, and it's a Rolex. So sometimes it pays to think out of the box. I certainly hope you recover what you have lost.

  • You're off to a good start. Market tanked another 300+ points. Worst drop on any inaugauration day. Obama plans on putting in regulations on Wall St. Plan on more dropping and loss of money.

    Enjoy your retirement. Obama has a new plan for that also.

    • @alice: It's not a good sign, that I'll grant you – although I don't think it's directly related, since much of the bad news related to Citigroup poisoned the financial sector today independent of the inauguration. Then again, I could be wrong. We'll see – Obama's got a good shot at being either the best or the worst president we've seen in a century.

  • i am hopeful that we will see clearer skies ahead. but as obama said in his speech, this isn't just his (and his adminstration's job), it's *our* job. i think we all need to step up and make some positive changes, instead of sitting back and waiting to say “i told you” when the dream pops.
    i'm disappointed when i see how much value my investments have lost, but what can you do? i never expected i could time the markets. at least i have other things i know i'm doing right (saving, etc).

  • i am hopeful that we will see clearer skies ahead. but as obama said in his speech, this isn't just his (and his adminstration's job), it's *our* job. i think we all need to step up and make some positive changes, instead of sitting back and waiting to say “i told you” when the dream pops.
    i'm disappointed when i see how much value my investments have lost, but what can you do? i never expected i could time the markets. at least i have other things i know i'm doing right (saving, etc).