I had to laugh the other day at the way the Market is behaving, but it wasn't a good laugh. It was one of those dark laughs, full of phlegm and bile, a laugh that dies in the back of your throat, turning before it fades away entirely into a short, sharp growl.
One day up. Two days up. Then down, down 150 or 200 points. It's like psychoanalysis. Two steps forward. One step back. Fear and greed. Greed and fear. All of it presided over by a gigantic Cloud of Unknowing, and in the center of that cloud the One Huge Question: Are we recovering? Or is we not? And whoa! Did you see those employment numbers? What a shock! Why are they still so BAD?
Yes, all the Investor Relations people will tell you what the great geniuses on the Street are worried about right now. Jobs, baby. All these people out there are unemployed, see? And a huge chunk of the employed are actually underemployed. And even among the gainfully, profitably employed, the sense of danger, of peril, of massive insecurity, is palpable. You can palpate it. And when you do, it comes up all soft and rotten. So people are saving their money instead of spending it. Which means our little recovery can't really get started, since consumer spending motors the entire economy as we know it. Is it any wonder Wall Street is worried? Why isn't somebody doing something about all that unemployment?
But wait a minute. Stop and listen. Right beneath all the paranoia, the worry, the pessimism about our economy, the shock and awe at what's become of all those jobs!... these very same guys are exhorting Corporate America to cut more of them, to keep costs low, no, lower, don't let them creep back! Do more with less! They love that whole doing more with less thing.
Companies that continue to cut jobs are rewarded with higher stock prices. Companies that create jobs for people run into a wall of ravening analysts. The System has figured out, in the last several years, how to get 100 people to do the job of 250. Woe unto the outfit that forgets that lesson. What's really amazing, stunning and grimly laughable, is that nobody on the Street seems to make the connection. They're the ones maintaining our unemployment stats. And at the same time seem to be truly dismayed by them. Sometimes stupid is worse than evil.
To get back, to get really back, we're going to have to start giving people jobs. Those that do will be walking straight into a huge, malevolent headwind generated by the machine that drives their value. Eventually, you've got to hope that we'll all remember how to do more with more. Until then, the first guys on the beach are likely to get slaughtered. And the recovery will remain an unconquered castle on a distant hill.
That sound you hear coming from Washington is the sound of every lawyer and lobbyist strapping on his or her battle gear and heading for the war zone.
Today President Obama signs the financial industry's nightmare into law. Huge hanks of the way Wall Street likes to do business will for the first time be regulated, certainly impairing every cowboy's ability to ride the range with his six-shooter and stallion, knocking MOREBing - Jul 21, 2010 12:03 PM ET
Before I begin this little recommendation, I would like to stress that I know nothing at all about the business issues involved in Ronald Tutor's aquisition of Miramax Films from Disney. My only interest in this matter is to pass along one of the most juicy examples of executive viciousness I've seen in quite some time.
We become used to veiled utterances from our statesmen, business people, and politicians. So it's rare and MOREBing - Jul 12, 2010 12:49 PM ET
1. Don't over-communicate. Just because people want to know what you're up to doesn't mean you have to satisfy them. Keep them guessing. They won't go away in the meantime.
2. Extend the time period when all you're doing is seriously analyzing the situation. It's a "process." Did anybody count the number of times LeBron used the phrase, "the process," or "this process," as in, "This process has been everything I MOREBing - Jul 9, 2010 10:36 AM ET
It was near 100 degrees in New York City yesterday. The asphalt was melting. The heat was a palpable presence you cut your way through as you made your sorry, soggy way down the street. The air was so thick you could eat it with a spoon, if it wasn't so toxic. And I couldn't have been happier to be here. After all, I could have been at the mogul MOREBing - Jul 8, 2010 10:53 AM ET
1. I went to Slovenia. There were other stops before and after, but the core of the thing was more than a week in Slovenia.
2. Answer questions about why we were going to Slovenia. Some people get it. They say, "Oh! Goin' off the grid, huh?" or "That's pretty, right?" And they are correct on both counts. Slovenia is off the grid, although I must say they do a better MOREBing - Jul 6, 2010 11:55 AM ET
There's an interesting psychological analysis of Rod Blagojevich in today's NY Times. In it lies a case study of which we should all be aware, with implications for each and every person who still has the privilege of going to a job each day and working for a person who, for better or worse, they call their boss.
For a long time, we have known certain things about the people we MOREBing - Dec 15, 2008 11:26 AM ET
A few years ago, I noticed that people, particularly very important people, had stopped going to the bathroom. Instead, they had "stepped away." This concept of "stepping away" grew in a very short time to include bagging the second half of the day entirely.Bing - Aug 22, 2008 10:18 AM ET
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