The Long View 2007-07-25: Depression, Revision, Imperative

Corona-chan puts stocks on sale

Corona-chan puts stocks on sale

With today’s coronavirus-inspired stock market plunge, we can look back at the last big market downturn via John’s blog post on the very first glimmerings of the housing bubble popping.

Depression, Revision, Imperative

It has been less than 20 years since the last time a really big real-estate bubble burst, but that seems to be long enough to make such an event seem like an unprecedented catastrophe, or so we may judge from the recent roiling of the markets:

"We are experiencing home-price depreciation almost like never before, with the exception of the Great Depression," said Countrywide Financial Corp. Chief Executive Officer Angelo Mozilo, noting that half of American cities are experiencing declines in home prices, which are making it hard or impossible for consumers to refinance unpayable loans or sell their homes to get out from under the debt..

News like this has had a bad effect on the stock market, among other things:

The Dow's drop, less than a week after hitting 14,000 for the first time, was the biggest since a 242-point plunge on March 13 when the markets were shaken by worries about spreading subprime problems. The worries particularly have shaken confidence among foreign investors, sending the dollar to consecutive record lows against the euro and 26-year lows against the British pound.

The reverberations are being felt as far away as New Zealand, where markets fell yesterday out of concern that the widening housing collapse is undermining the U.S. economy.

Actually, one might reasonably expect a sell-off on the Dow after it reaches an all-time high, but that's another story. What no one seems to have mentioned is that there is another international aspect to the current real-estate downturn: to a degree that probably is unprecedented, the buildings that now cannot find buyers were built by cheap foreign labor, much of it illegal. I notice this especially with renovations of old housing. Projects that no one in his right mind would have attempted if labor costs had been reasonable look attractive if the workers are non-unionized and paid off the books. At any rate, the projects look attractive for a while.

* * *

Back on July 20, I suggested that one of the major points of contention in the Latin Mass revival would be the question of whether the old Mass should use the new lectionary, the scripture readings that are read to the congregation even at a Latin Mass. The English text of Benedict XVI's motu proprio provided by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops seemed to positively invite such an innovation, and at least one parish, in California, had already determined to take advantage of the option. Well, maybe not:

The Tridentine Mass recently approved by Bishop Tod Brown of the Diocese of Orange for St. Mary’s By the Sea in Huntington Beach will not use readings from the new lectionary as its pastor, Fr. Martin Tran, indicated it would. ...[A] July 20 memorandum from Lesa Truxaw, director of the diocese’s Office for Worship, said readings in diocesan celebrations of the Tridentine Mass would not come from the new lectionary. ...The memorandum indicated that Brown’s original judgment permitting the use of the new lectionary was "based on the unofficial English translation sent to all bishops by Pope Benedict XVI" before the Motu Proprio’s July 7 release. "The translation has since been revised," continued the memorandum.

To be fair, maybe the Bishop's Conference did not produce the translation in question. You would think that someone who works for the Conference would have noticed the problem, however. These are the guys who are supposed to translate the Novus Ordo into English.

* * *

Her Voice: On the evening of July 25, my phone rang and I answered it. "Hello," said a not-at-all-recorded sounding voice, "this is Hillary Clinton. If you would like me to become president, please press 1." It took a moment for me to realize that this was not a crank call; I did nothing. The voice continued: "The day that I am elected, our daughters, our mothers, and our grandmothers will walk down the street a little taller. Please press 1." The patter continued, so eventually I did press 1. The voice said, "Good. You can help us in one of three ways. If you can donate money to my campaign, please press 1. If you would like to volunteer to work on my campaign, please press 2. If you support me but cannot help now, please press 3." Again, the patter continued, pausing occasionally to urge me to press a button. I hung up.

This is not just the oddest political call I have ever received; it is the oddest telemarketing call I have ever received.

It's a mistake on several levels. Senator Clinton is at her least likeable when she speaks in the imperative mood.

Copyright © 2007 by John J. Reilly

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