Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dropping the Dollar to Hell

I'm no economist or even a business major, but take this into consideration: In April of 2002, the newly-monikered Mrs. Shambles and I traveled to the beautiful, charming country of Ireland. This is soon after the Irish punt was (reluctantly) surrendered to the new-fangled Euro. Trade between the dollar and the euro was similar to the Canadian dollar at the time: $0.89 would get you €1. Good stuff. Later that year - around November - they hit dead even ($1 = €1). Today, we saw a new record in that one-way see-saw: $1 will get you € 0.72.

Is this because the € is way cooler than the $? Well, not entirely; the article linked above cited the wonderful world of subprime lending! For those of you unaware of this practice, it basically allows those who have questionable credit to get a loan - usually a home loan - at a reasonable rate.

That's great! What a service!

Woah, hold on kids. It's not that noble. Here's the rub: While the first year or two of blissful home ownership may be manageable, the fine print jumps monthly payments soon after and keeps the raises coming. In many cases, the home owners can no longer afford the home and must sell or spiral into bankruptcy and surrender their houses. Foreclosure is at epidemic levels, sometimes decimating entire neighborhoods and lowering property values across the board. Hence the drop in the dollar.

True, people who cannot truly afford a house should not buy one. If they try, they should have a serious and complete understanding of the terms of the loan. But many don't. And the money-hungry banking industry is, in part, to blame. This is beyond capitalism in the way that pimping hos is beyond selling services. It's greed; it's money gluttony; it's shitting where you eat. But if all the springs are tainted with feces, the only way to stay alive is to drink poop water.

The interesting aspect to drinking poop water is that the poopers are not only polluting the landscape, but sinning as well.

I am not an economist, banker, or religious zealot, but I am aware of a word that does not get brought up enough: USURY. Usury (you-sa-ree), in old testament meaning, is charging interest. It is a sin. And no one seems to mind. My favorite quote:
He lends at usury and takes excessive interest. Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he will surely be put to death and his blood will be on his own head.
- Ezekiel 18:13
Lending at usury means lending with a fee - taking an extra, heavy interest payment is a compounding of the betrayal and results in what Ezekiel calls, well, death.

How many of our banking magnates claim a Judeo-Christian life? How many of our local, state, and federal representatives claim a Judeo-Christian life while throwing us under the bus of corporate breaks and lenient laws? May the money lining their pockets burn out their eyes in the hell they have earned!

Sorry, was that too much? You're right. Usury at this point in our timeline has been relegated to "eh, not so bad." Why? Well, sure, God's Word was written about how it is a sin, but you've got to dumb it down a bit for the modern world, even if you keep every other word in the Bible as sacred and refuse to change interpretations when it comes to sex or contraception.

Even the Vatican has a bank.

But less cynicism: The good news is that the 17.80 I spent 5 years ago to purchase the €20 note I kept has now turned into a potential $27.78. That's a 56% increase in value. Oh, I should've invested in the €. Then again, I also should've invested in Chiquita when it was $0.10 a share (that'd be turning $100 into $18K at today's close).

Wah, wah, wah.


Anonymous said...

I have been saying for years that you can't be a Good Christian and a Good Capitalist at the same time.

But since I seem to be the only one who is commenting on this, no one has got the message.

Marc McDonald said...

The dollar is definitely headed for a meltdown. Even Warren Buffett has said that Americans are turning into a society of "sharecroppers." The only reason the dollar hasn't collapsed thus far is that the central banks of Japan and China have been furiously buying up dollars in a desperate bid to prevent dollar decline. But it's unsustainable--as the American current account deficit continues to soar into the stratosphere.

Marc McDonald