The ‘lalalalalalalalalala’ Effect

Browsing through digg this morning I notice an article titled 9 ways you can take advantage of this “terrible” economy.It’s currently riding high in the digg popularity stakes with just shy of 1000 diggs.

It is, I think, a great example of what I choose to call The lalalalalalalalalala Effect – named after the sound one must make to avoid hearing the truth. The Truth About The Economy, in this case.

And that Truth is in scant evidence here. Way #1 is Buy foreclosures and invest in real estate. The phrase Don’t Catch a Falling Knife comes to mind here, but aside from trader platitudes, the fundamentals are horrible. The banks don’t want all the foreclosed homes and in their haste to offload them they are causing a accellerating race to the bottom. From Minyanville:

In Michigan, Fannie Mae couldn’t unload a three-bedroom house for $6,900 at a foreclosure sale, forcing a price cut to $5,000. The house sold for $110,000 three years ago.

Such sales add to the downward pressure on surrounding properties’ prices in what may already be a depressed area – and it comes from a federal agency that’s intended to backstop the housing industry in tough times. In extreme cases, this could lead to blight and a continued downward spiral in prices.

#2, #3, #4 and #5 are basically all in the same vien, based on the idea that we have hit bottom, so any purchase/investment/takeover will be profitable. The basic problem here is that the author, and many of the commenters do not actually believe that there is a recession occuring. The lalalalalalalalalala Effect. I quote from #6: Learn (probably the only worthy point, as anyone can see, that investment in education has the most positive effect on commanding a higher wage):

How big of a role the media plays in driving up fuel prices and striking fear in the public about their finances.

So Phil Gramm, economic advisor to John McCain, recently opined:

You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession,” he said, noting that growth has held up at about 1 percent despite all the publicity over losing jobs to India, China, illegal immigration, housing and credit problems and record oil prices. “We may have a recession; we haven’t had one yet.

We have our own suggestions on how to cure a ‘mental recession’ but, as they say, you can’t cure the disease until you admit there is a problem.

Mark OByrne

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