worries

10 things I'm worried about

April 22, 2008: 9:47 AM ET

I woke up yesterday morning and found myself paralyzed. I lay in bed and couldn't move. I didn't even know what I was worried about, I was so worried. Eventually, I got myself up, shaved with trembling hands, and made my way to the office. I got to my desk and read the headlines. Then I really couldn't move.

 A steely hand wrapped its skeletal fingers around my windpipe and would not let go. "Eek," I said, since it was the only thing that would emerge from my ratcheted esophagus.

All day yesterday I sat here in a cold sweat. Now I figure, what the hey. I can't be like this forever. Perhaps if I articulate what's got me so freaky-deaky, it will pass. Or not. Either way, it'll be better than this emotional and professional rictus.

Here's my list:

  1. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I never really even knew how important Fannie and Freddie were, but their collapse, or even, like, if they got a cold, would possibly force the Federal Government to lose its credit rating. Think about that for a minute. No, on second thought, don't.
  2. The Bank of America: (BOA) Earnings were down. More losses are being reserved against. Deeply disquieting.
  3. Other banks. We all saw what happened to Bear Stearns (BS) in two or three days. Once the whispering campaign got started, their goose was cooked. Now every day I hear from the newspapers and the online writers and the bloggers and the guys getting soup across the street and nobody has a single thing to say except, "What's up with that billion/trillion/gazillion dollar bailout?!" How long before we all make it happen?
  4. Saturated fat: Up until recently, I was pretty much saturated with fat. Now I'm less saturated, but I'm not completely unsaturated yet and I get a sense that if I don't get there soon I may not have much longer to try. I got some ideas from Michael Pollan's excellent book, In Defense of Food, which basically says we should "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." It's sort of working, except I'm still working out whether vodka can be considered a food. What do you think?
  5. Global warming: I don't worry about it as much as I used to, because I have replaced 20% of my concern in this area with anxiety about Freddie and Fannie. I only have just so much capacity to freak out and then even I run out of resources.
  6. Google (GOOG): I feel a little bit better now that their earnings were so impressive. But consider. If Google stops being the outer skin of the balloon, what else do we have to be inflated about? Things that have sort of gone by the wayside as a source of hysteria include: alternative energy sources, recombinant DNA therapy, cloning, robots, nanotech. We all need something to believe in, future-wise. What's that gonna be?
  7. Ben Bernanke: What's he do for fun? What's it like to be Ben? When you have a glass of wine at a party and Maria Bartiromo says, "How ya doin'?" do you have to think, "What will the impact be of my statement to Maria here, when all I'm really trying to do is get a smile out of her?"
  8. China: Forget all the dubious stuff now under scrutiny from the nation, its army, arms dealers and toothpaste and heparin manufacturers. How about the reaction of the Chinese themselves to people and organizations that express opposition or even mild criticism of their various ventures? Boycotts! Censure! No more business for you! Sure, that's their right, but a worldwide economic war between China and its allies and everybody else would be something to keep us all up at night.
  9. The dollar: I can say no more.
  10. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac again. The article raises the specter of a trillion dollar buyout, which might drive the credit rating of our nation itself down a notch or even two. The pundits in the posting do say that such a thing is unlikely. But if it's so unlikely, why mention it? Why scare everybody? When one knows the power of even the slightest negative wind to move markets and crash enormous battleships of enterprise? Why bring it up? Why put a headline on it? Why publish it at the top of the page?

You know what? When bad stuff happens, let me know. Until then, I'm going to try to remember some things: It's spring. We're alive. And bonds are still doing okay. I think.

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