Tag Archive: Economy


The New York Stock Exchange or NYSE began at 68 Wall Street under a buttonwood tree on May 17, 1792 with the signing of the Buttonwood Agreement by 24 stock brokers.  The signing of Buttonwood marked the birth of what would later become New York’s largest trading floor and exchange.  

By 1975 the NYSE had survived two world wars and the Great Depression.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), established as a measure of industrial sector performance, hovered around $800.  And Congress enacted new legislation governing the electronic collection and reporting of all NYSE stocks.  Implementation of this legislation marked the introduction of computers on the trading floor.  

In 1978 the NYSE implemented the ITS or Intermarket Trading System which used computers to connect the NYSE with other markets.  The intelligent technology behind the ITS spawned new markets including the NASDAQ in 1982, replacing the old “over the counter” or OTC market.  Today, computers are used for everything from automated trades to podcasts broadcast from the trade-floor.  People can now trade stock at four in the morning from the comfort of their own home.     

Not only do the computers provide valuable information, they also do some of the thinking for us and offer an “emotionless” and objective view of the market.  Today computers auto-generate one third of all trades.

As the DJIA began to fluctuate amid fears over the state of our economy, humans began to sell.  As people sold and stock prices came crashing down, the computers began buying, stock prices rose slightly, then fell again amid more worries.  While computers may have prevented a dramatic market crash (worse than the $777 loss two weeks ago), they may have also indirectly contributed to the overall losses. 

Could it be our system wasn’t designed to handle the enormous influx of real-time information disseminated by individual investors and the subsequent trading of stocks based on this information?  In other words, do computers aide in the crime of wide-spread market panic?

I said I would discuss the debate some more, but I’m short on time and the media has belabored every point I might make in full.  SO, instead, I wanted to highlight one of the very few positives of this financial crisis.  After going into our own financial crisis following cancer, we were forced to sell our house at a loss which we countered partially with the early withdraw of our 401K from Erick’s previous employer.  

At the time, I was uncertain of whether the decision to deposit this money into a low-interest savings account was a great idea and I was equally uncertain about the sale of our house at a loss.  However, today for the first time I’ve realized, withdrawing that money early this year was, sadly, one of the better financial decisions we’ve had to make in the last twelve months.   

Our savings account has done more to protect our money than the current poor-performing retirement plan even taking into account the fees and taxes we had to pay early on that money.

We had an offer in on the Poe House, but it was countered and we decided not to counter again.  This was sort of a last ditch effort to find a house in Charlotte.  It’s now time for a break while we collect our thoughts, spend some time back home in Michigan and determine our course.  I wish things were easier right now, but nothing is easy in this economy, so why bother feeling down about it?  I’m going to have to buy another copy of the Grapes of Wrath, since my own copy is buried in some warehouse back home.  We (us, our country) are nowhere near the edge of turmoil experienced by those who survived the Depression or are we?  Is it simply that our poor are better hidden in the shadows cast off corporate buildings?  

I’m researching an ancestor of mine (or piggybacking off the research of my step-father), McDonald Clarke- known by many as “The Mad Poet” and revered for his eccentricities and his innocence.  He often found himself poor and alone, but many, including the best poets of his day, marveled at his uncanny ability to smile in the face of cruelty, to find decency in anyone and to seek out the stars through a large hole in his attic-room roof, rather than suffer the misery of defeat of being poor.  In his poem, Humility, Clarke writes,

“Do you call me poor, you slugger? // Won’t Posterity let me hug her, // And won’t she hug me back again? // Isn’t my pen // The Sceptre of Eternity, to wave //  Over Earth’s grave?”

And we are by no means poor, but we feel the pinch and empathetically are suffering with the worst off for we know these are families not unlike our own.  And because we have had to worry at times in our own lives about from where our next meal might come.  

The beauty in these times is that they are less superficial.  Sincerity seems to flow in all art, music, from the pen.  These are times when we build strong foundations – not of brick and mortar, but of friendships that will lead us through the hard times.  

“By calling me poor, you slugger,

Psho!  Psho!

I’m sure I don’t feel so –

So I should think

From this hurricane of ink.”  -MC

 

Fueling the argument

I’m 29 years old. I purchased my first gallon of gas for around $0.79 at age 16. Ten years later, I was paying $2.49/gallon. Today, a gallon of gasoline (regular unleaded) is $4.18 at the pump; a 430% increase over my first gallon.

Some get mad at the price. They point fingers at oil companies making record profits or at President Bush (the worst president ever) and his oil buddies or they blame the war. And they (we) should be angry, but what really angers me is the feeling that we’ll allow this rise in prices to continue unabated until our country bursts at the seams with inflation. The oil companies have a hand in everything we do from driving to work to taking a much-needed, well-deserved vacation. We had a choice in the 1970s when we saw the first dramatic spike in oil, but we sat idling in the great parking-lots of centers of energy and policy. And we have the same choice today, but for some reason, the technologies are slow-moving. Why are hybrids still too costly for the lower middle class? What does it mean when in America, the cost of driving to work, does not warrant the job itself? And today there’s more at stake than just the price of gas, we must consider also the cost of driving. What impact will current and future technologies have on our environment and well-being? So I’m not just frustrated with big oil, I’m frustrated with us. We’re not the only country in the world importing oil, but we a great country on the fragile brink of economic collapse because of a severe lack of foresight.

I’m asking now for those readers who do not normally comment, to consider posting ideas for free-energy, education, the economy, etc. We don’t need to fuel the argument; we need to power a solution.

I’ve had the Mario theme song stuck in my head for the last week. I seem to whistle the tune whenever I’m doing something tedious like dishes or folding laundry which leads me to beleive it’s a song that is perfect twofold: 1) It never gets old and 2) It makes you happy.

In other news, my oncologist checked the lump near my jaw. He said it is odd at which point Erick interjected, “…but so is she.” If it gets bigger, he said we’ll have to have it biopsied, but since my last scan was clear, he asked me not to worry.

In other other news… We’ll be issuing a certified check today for $7000+ to sell our house in Northern Michigan and the closing documents will be arriving shortly to be signed and notarized. We did alright all things considered. It’s still hard letting go of a home we loved, but we’re doing well and moving forward and that’s what matters most.

I cried when the doctor asked me if I was under any stress at the moment. It felt good to cry. Maybe that’s why Mario Bros. has attached it’s happy theme-song to my brain this week.  I need it.