Aug 15, 2007

The Housing Bubble Deflates

Well, first there was a slow leak in the tire and you kept filling it up every day, but when you walk out in the morning the front tire is flat. Luckily you have a can of that rapid fix-er-up aerosol, and you inflate the tire enough to get around to the gas station, then drive it down to your car mechanic, and lo and behold, there is a nail in the tire. So they pull it out and plug the leak and you are driving again.

No, it's not like that. It's not like the kid's balloon popped by a cigarette in the carnival scene in
Strangers on a Train. Nope. You can't make analogies. The housing bubble is complicated, and if you want a really good, close observation of the mess, check out "Housing Bubble 101: Sub-primal Scream," by Joseph L. Elkhorne. It's a very good piece. It doesn't pull any punches and it gives you a big picture as to how we all--well, not all of us--will be affected by the mess.

The ones who will not be affected are the ones who have the wherewithal to move their fortunes into gold bullion or foreign investments, or just sit on their cash in a Swiss bank account. In other words, some of the people who have been making a fortune off the housing bubble while it was growing and growing. Years ago, I used to say "everything is everything." (Thomas Pynchon? Kurt Vonnegut?) I know it wasn't my own, that's for sure, but it certainly helped--like Vonnegut's other refrain, "So it goes"--when I thought of the connections: the pension funds invested in the mortgage backed securities, the drop off in sales at home improvement stores and the layoffs, which in turn feed into the inability to pay the mortgage. "So it goes."

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