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Look, to start, I'm already biased on this issue. Not that I've been objective ever before, but for some reason this time I feel compelled to make full disclosure.
I'm 57 and work about 10-15 days a year. Sugar Momma doesn't like it when I refer to myself as being "semi-retired". I just enjoy moving the border closer and closer to my current age. Mentally, I retired about 30 years ago, but in some form of transfigurative migration, I had left my soul behind as I dutifully trudged off to work-places past.
The big story on Tuesday was the goings on in the streets of Athens.
The cradle of democracy, a nation that arguably, per capita, has contributed more to mankind throughout civilization's history, is sadly in great turmoil. Or as they say in Greece, jdoiedu.
The economic and financial engines in Greece are a mess, but certainly not the only mess in the world. Protesters tossing Molotov cocktails, police firing tear gas, all while in the shadow of the great wonders of the world, are sad. In some other places those events may pass for national reconciliation day activites, but in the civilized world, people take notice.
The idea of significantly raising taxes, dropping social and government services and increasing the retirement age is a hard one to swallow, especially if, as a citizen, you blame external forces for your economic crisis.
Luckily Goldman Sachs has broad shoulders, because it really needs them these days.
I really don't have the motivation to look up the details, but Greek citizens can retire far younger than can the typical American.
And although many conservative pseudo-economists distort the American story and claim that 50% of US citizens pay no income taxes, the situation in Greece is pretty enticing, when it comes to being able to avoid tax payments.
All it really takes is the ability to lie. At least in the United States there is the dual requirement of being able to lie and getting away with it. That latter requirement is far from a given.
I do understand the need to raise revenues and decrease services, as a general strategy during difficult times. Unfortunately, it would take well-intentioned elected officials to feel and more importantly, act the same way in Washington. We're not fooling anybody if we think that's going to happen in our lifetime.
Well, at least in my lifetime.
But the retirement thing, that does bother me.
I actually have not been effected by the gradual increase in our own social security age eligibility, although my Sugar Momma is effected.
But besides the fact that I don't really want to work, there are some very pragmatic reasons why increasing the US retirement age may not be the way to go, at least not with the direction that the economy has been headed these past few years.
Unless you've been hiding away someplace for the past 20 years, certain jobs are disappearing from the United States. The jobs and industries that were created to replace those missing sectors of our economy are now disappearing, as well. I'm also now old enough to remember when unions were decried and criticized for acting like Chicken Little when suggesting that technology and automation would replace humans in the equation.
Nonsense, was the polite response to that uncanny ability to see into the future of the American workplace.
Have you seen the unemployment rate lately? Everyone seems to agree that number is under-stated due to the people that have simply given up even looking for employment.
It's hard to believe that anyone would actually give up on the search unless they were already within sight of retirement.
On a positive note, Zynga, the creator of Facebook's wildly popular Farmville is likely to announce its IPO today, with a suggested valuation of $15-20 billion. Morgan stanley is said to be the lead underwriter, but I think Goldman Sachs would be more up for the task. Based on its recent stock performance, Goldman could also be the leading supplier of organic fertilizer to Farmville Nation.
Fascinating, but with the exception of corn and marijuana, Zynga may turn out to be worth more than the value of any other US cash crop, based on 2005 data.
Not only will Farmville create virtual farming employment, but may singlehandedly save the American family PC farm.
Let's face it, physical labor and the service sector are honest endeavors, can both be very rewarding and honorable. But they may also be the only kind of productive work a portion of the population could ever be qualified to do.
But wait, aren't those the very jobs disappearing or being off-shored?
I'm not trying to be an elitist about this, but it goes back to the notion that even if you equally distributed all wealth to a population, within minutes there would be both millionaires and paupers.
As our population grows, albeit, it is now growing slowly, newly minted adults will need jobs. But where are those jobs coming from? Increasing the retirement age, coupled with decreasing standards of living simply dry up the exisitng pool of available jobs, as the now elderly won't even be able to afford to retire.
Of course, from an employer's short-term perspective, given the expense of a codger like employee pool and their attendant medical mneeds, a cheaper and healthier alternative may be irresitably beckoning toward them to fire the asses of those highly experienced leeches.
Disequilibrium in immigration, birth rates, death rates and retirement rates can have drastic effects on our society.
Instead of listening to annual summertime stories of how inner city youth are unable to find summer employment and how that bodes poorly for street crime statistics, lets transport that model to the entire country.
Take your choice. Marauding gangs of unemployed and disaffected youth or hobbling throngs of terminated geezers eating away at the fabric of American society, all clawing for the few jobs left in the United States.
So where will the job-seeking migration send Americans? It's not like the south or southwest are lgoing to be booming anytime soon. It's also not very likely that China will find itself with a shortage in its labor pool. Libya's burgeoning domain shortening industry is mostly run by an albino savant in a basement somewhere in Detroit, so that's not going to be the solution, either.
Right now we look at Greece. Not long ago we looked at Tunisia.Well educated, yet high unemployment.
That' a bad combination for civil rest.
I'm just trying to do my part as a citizen who cares about our youth's future livelihood and don't want to see generational warfare in the streets.
I'm more than happy to stay at home, especially on those days that I can make more money by just tapping a few keyboard entires.
Yesterday I sold a few more lots of Freeport McMoRan calls, although these were the end of the options cycle variety. I was also finally able to get good prices for shares of Google and Praxair, also end of the cycle kind of trades.
In my one moment of weakness, well, there are actually many, but the one that I'm willing to divulge, I sold some put options. If you read with any regularity, you know that I don't do that very often, even though I do have a short chapter in the Option to Profit book on the topic.
Last month I lost a little bit on Yahoo puts, but more than offset that with Harbin Energy and Sirius-XM Satelitte Radio puts.
Today, the briefly fallen angel was Spreadtrum Communications.
I'd never heard of them before, but the backdrop was that Muddy Waters, and no, that's not some sort of bluegrass singer, advised that they had taken a sizeable short position of this Chinese company.
What could go wrong with a Chinese company?
Muddy Waters has a recent track record of being able to panic stock prices of companies that they short. They also recently opened a set for Boz Scaggs.
So after a large plunge in Spreadtrum of about 30%, I sold $9 July puts, that were at the time $1.50 out of the money.
Like Harbin before it, Spreadtrum turned around on a dime, reversing the plunge.
It was just that kind of day. The kind I'd like to see everyday, to a point.
So I'm trying to do my part. I'm staying away from the employment market, despite Sugar Momma's recent exhortations.
What can I say. I'm just a patriot who doesn't want to see fellow citizens rioting in the streets.