Saturday, October 31, 2009
There are times to look on the bright side. This is not one of those times.
Optimism destroyed the finances of folks in the aftermath of the LAST credit bubble blow-up (commonly referred to as "The Great Depression"). While it appears that TOTAL credit is indeed expanding, the total credit available to buy goods and services appears to be contracting.
What's that mean? That the value of the US$ against the goods and services it can buy in Topeka, Kansas will actually go UP, irrespective of how the US$ trades against the other major currencies (for a while, anyway). By extension, this also means that Oil will probably go down in price, the U.S. equity markets will fall, and even Gold and Silver will become cheaper in US$ terms. It hurts me to say this, but for Americans living and spending in America the US$ is probably a better place to be at this moment than the alternatives - Real Estate, precious metals, equities, corporate bonds, etc... (notice I left out Treasury paper).
Why? Because, the banks are in no position to lend, and people are in no condition to borrow. While the government is most certainly monetizing the debt, and this will certainly have an effect eventually, particularly when the baby boomers start to draw benefits, said monetization is definitely being overwhelmed by credit contraction in the commercial economy at this moment in time, and that will likely be the case for the next couple of years.
I reserve the right to change my views if something changes in the data, but what I am getting at is that there will be a double dip recession in a quarter or 2, a nasty double dip at that, with all its concomitant effects on employment, housing prices, energy consumption, stock prices, bond defaults, etc...
How much worse could it get? A great deal worse, I am starting to believe. I read with interest the government's GDP report. I must say that I am in agreement with Mike Shedlock on this issue: that the government stimulus programs only succeeded in moving demand UP BY A QUARTER OR TWO. So when we get out to the time that the government borrowed the demand FROM, it won't be there. Now, multiply that by the FACT that the commercial Real Estate mortgage default wave has not hit yet, and the FACT that the banks have not cleaned up ANY of the toxic loans on their books (that the TARP was originally intended for), and the FACT that consumers are going to continue to de-leverage (pay off debt and/or save money), and I cannot be convinced that things are not going to get a whole lot worse for the markets and the employment prospects of people not currently employed by the government.
And, no, I have not changed my mind on the long term for Gold and Silver... but I have been at this for a long time. People sell what they have to sell, or what's left that has any value, in order to raise cash to pay bills, margin calls, etc... I am going to hold my bullion, but I am not going to buy paper Gold or Gold shares until they get beat up. As the Mad Scientist likes to say, "when you should be buying you won't want to", because you will be too afraid. My bet is people are going to be so scared they are going to "soil their boots" as it runs down their legs.
Look, I could be wrong. Maybe the assets on the bank's balance sheets aren't drek. Maybe the consumer will come out swinging this holiday shopping season. Maybe employment will pick up with the next new new technology. But I doubt it. And don't go by the U.S. equity market. The market can go higher from here before it sh*t's the bed. They don't ring a bell at the top or the bottom.
If you have money, this is no time to part with it. There is no house you have to buy, no investment you just have to make. The time will come, because the U.S. administration seems intent on spending/devaluing us into prosperity - even though it has been tried dozens of times and failed each attempt. This ain't the moment for heros. It is time to survive.
This is coming from a long time US$ bear. This does not mean that the US$ cannot continue to fall against the Dollar Index - it could, but as I have said a zillion times before: Markets zig and zag, they don't zig and zig. Nothing moves in only one direction, and the US$ has been moving in only one direction for some time. Given the above scenario, I think the asset prices I mentioned are going to decline against the US$, and that is the only ratio that really matters.
If you buy my argument, then housing has not bottomed yet. In fact, it would mean that it has a ways to go - particularly in California, Florida, and Metropolitan New York. This is no time to be buying in one of these tax starved locals. Also, if you buy my argument, paying private college prices to wind up under or un-employed is about as appealing as the proverbial "turd in a punchbowl". Debt of ALL kinds, mortgage, auto, student, credit card... WHATEVER, is to be avoided at all costs, until the aggregate available collateral and earnings within the economy is sufficient to support the aggregate debt. When will that be? Years from now, as in 5 to 10 years. And by then we will be walking head first into the wipe out caused by the underfunded U.S. Something for Nothing programs - Medicare and Social Security.
The next 10 years you are likely to feel like you are riding a dragon, or you've got a tiger by the balls... and "anybody with fast hands can catch a tiger by the balls, but it takes a real hero to keep on squeezing". If you let go, you are going to lose everything anyway, so you might as well try to hold on, and figure it out.
Libertariananimal (at) gmail (dot) com
Posted by The Short Story Man at 5:38 PM
Friday, October 30, 2009
Yesterday's GDP report seemed to propel the Street's economists to fits of euphoria.
Don't believe it.
Take away "Cash for Clunckers" and the $8,000 housing tax credit and there was nothing to cheer about.
The government's stimulus is drawing to its inevitable close, and with it this nascent expansion. I own very little in equities (I couple of "Big Oil" names) and am mostly in mid range bonds (7-10 year). Yes, I know that bond yields are anemic, but right now I am more concerned with return OF my capital than I am with return ON my capital. I do not believe that the risk/reward ratio of the U.S. equity markets is very attractive.
This is a time to survive. The time to make money will come, and I believe it will come when the U.S.$ carry trade gets reversed.
I met with a friend of mine yesterday who is also a substantial investor in my fund and while we were talking he asked me what will be the catalyst for the carry trade to unwind. The fact is I cannot say with certainty. Perhaps it will come from the Fed or Treasury, perhaps it will come from another Central Bank desiring to stop the US$ slide. Perhaps it will come from an increase in market interest rates (a steepening of the yield curve). Any of the above, and several other unforeseeable inputs could be the spark. The REAL question is WHEN and from WHAT LEVEL. For that, we shall just have to wait and see... and hope we recognize. As I always tell my investors: If I knew for sure, what would I need you for? I have been noodling this for nearly a year, and I believe that this is the most likely outcome:
The US$ carry trade will end in less than 18 months, perhaps as soon as 6 - 9 months. The unwinding is going to be very painful most asset classes and very positive for the US$ - but only temporarily. This will be the time to exchange US$'s for hard assets. In the mean time, it is time to not lose money.
That does not mean that I am absolutely sure of anything, just that I think this outcome has the highest probability, and no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. If the data comes in contrary, I reserve the right to change direction on a dime.
libertariananimal at Gmail
Posted by The Short Story Man at 6:34 AM
Monday, October 26, 2009
Situation Normal, All F***ed Up.
The US$ is now everything in the world markets. The US interest rate policy has created the largest carry trade EVER (a "carry trade", if I can oversimplify, is when investors borrow currency in a nation with very low interest rates, and convert the low interest rate currency into other, higher interest paying currencies and/or markets). When these carry trade investors all clamor to convert back into US$'s, they are going to drive the US$ straight up - and everything else straight down. Or not. See, the US is doing its level best to destroy its currency and overwhelm the carry trade exit. The opportunity here is profound. My sense is to watch what the Anti-Christ, er.... Government Sachs, ugh.... I mean Goldman Sachs is doing. These guys dominate the world financial markets and they understand this situation better than your average bear (as in Yogi Bear, not a market "bear").
This is much more complicated than "buy Gold". Gold is not the only answer to the US$. Yes, Gold, Platinum, and Silver will always have some value, long after paper currencies have gone to the happy printing press in the sky, but they are not the end all and be all. You can't eat them, defend yourself with them, ride them, live in them, clothe yourself with them...
I have been a Gold Bull for some time, Silver too. I have a fair amount of bullion. I won't be adding to them at these prices. That does not mean that I am right, but that is how I am playing this. Gold looks stretched out to me. Nothing moves in a straight line. Not that I am looking for a bear market in precious metals, but I would need to see a stiff correction before I would add to precious metals.
Farm land, Hard Wood Timber tracts (not pine plantations but hardwoods like Oak, Maple, Hickory, etc... there is a big difference), livestock, warehouse space in close proximity to rail heads... you gotta think outside the box a little in this environment. I like selling out-of-the-money calls and puts in commodity markets, but that is only for people with a comfort with math and the discipline of a Kung Fu monk.
The key here is to store VALUE. You work hard, consume less than you earned, now what do you do with the stuff left over? How do make sure it holds its value in an era of $1.8 TRILLION budget deficits (oh, and just WAIT till the big bills start coming in for Medicare and Social Security)? What will hold value? Well, what held value in post WWII Japan and Germany? Certainly not their currencies. The guy who had a farm and livestock, or a functioning dental office, shoe repair shop, hair salon, massage parlor, etc... or precious metals, timber, a fishing boat, etc... This is just food for thought, I am not suggesting one more than the other as it all depends on you and your circumstances, but you get the idea. Right now, over 95% of the folks I know rely 100% on their respective currency. I think that that faith is misplaced.
Oh, and here's a quaint notion. Living in a fully paid for, easy to maintain, low property tax home.
Mexico is the 3rd largest Oil exporter to the U.S., after Canada and Saudi Arabia. In 2006, Mexico's production topped 3.25 million barrels per day ("bpd"). So far this year, Mexico has averaged 2.62 million, and during that 3 year period, Mexico's domestic consumption increased (then click on 1.1b). If there is so much Oil out there, how come nobody stepped up to fill Mexico's shoes - especially in an environment of $80 crude? Because it ain't there, it ain't gonna be there, and it this trend is going to accelerate rather briskly over the next 4 years or so.
While inventories of petroleum products are bulging in the U.S. at the moment, and at this pace it would take over 6 months and maybe a year to bring them down to where they were at this time last year, anything can happen the price of Oil. If you are going to trade it, I'd play the short term trend and be gone if I were wrong. Given the Iran thing, I would not be short. You never know, and that could ruin you.
California, that basket case of Silly Something For Nothing, has real unemployment of 21.9%, and headline unemployment of 12.2%. It gives me no satisfaction to watch working class people suffering because of the inability of the San Francisco City Hall Communists to understand the human condition. I can't say enough bad stuff to describe Pelosi, Feinstein, Boxer, Waxman and the rest of sh*t-for-brains people dominating that state's politics. Arnold? He's just an ineffective embarrassment, he didn't do California in. It took 30+ years of hard work by some really arrogant jackasses to accomplish this Chernobyl.
The funny thing is, I am sure there is some left wing California propaganda group working hard to place the blame on GWB.
Speaking of which... How come Obama gets a pass on Afghanistan? Never mind. We all know the deal here. But I can't help myself... OK, guys, you are now in charge... show us how its done.
I take it back. Spare me.
Libertariananimal at Gmail dot com
Posted by The Short Story Man at 6:38 PM
Friday, October 23, 2009
There is an old saying:
"When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging."
Regular commentator "Publius" suggested I read the recent posts at the archdruidreport. I did.
I recommend the blog highly. Greer strikes me as a somewhat Left of Center Libertarian willing to question the "conventional wisdom" of his side of the isle, and I applaud him - especially as I view myself as a Right of Center Libertarian willing to question HIS side of the isle, too.
I am as disgusted with the state of affairs here in America as Greer - but I BLAME the misguided notions of the Leftist political elite. A Nation does not become an honorable society by whining about being a victim, promoting abortion, spending without saving, failing to provide for the future, refusing to accept responsibility, and promoting a culture of "government will provide".
I watch in horror as Jag-Offs like Michael Moore lie and distort history to the delight of many, just as I watch in horror as elected officials betray their claim of "fiscal restraint" and "responsible government" only to spend like Liberal Democrats. That Barak Obama effectively won the Nobel Peace prize for being able to read a f&*^&ing teleprompter says a great deal about our sorry state of affairs.
Just boil down the argument between America's Left and Right. The Left wants the right of abortion and the right to seize other people's property to right the wrongs of an unfair world. The Right does not. The rest is just NOISE. Championing these ideas of the Left does not appear to do much for the improvement of the "human condition" or the fiber of our society - irrespective of how one might like to define those terms. A society that stands for the slaughter of the innocent, the confiscation of hard work, and the promotion of living beyond its means is unlikely to be remembered in history for anything positive - if you disagree, please, by all means, point out my error.
And here comes the Oil Import Crisis.
The Oil exporting nations are placing less and less oil on to ships to be sold around the world because their own internal consumption is increasing and their internal production is not. It is just simple arithmetic, and our society is unprepared for this unhappy outcome precisely because for 40 years we have promoted a culture of "something for nothing". I always love James Howard Kuntsler's vitriol directed against Disney World and Las Vegas. A nation wishing on a star at Disney, and believing that something can be had for nothing in Vegas is halfway through a sh*t sandwich - without noticing what's for dinner. But they will.
I will be the first to admit that I missed the U.S. equity market rally since March. We all knew there would be one, but not a one of us saw the strength of the rally. I think that that event is going to lure many into peril. People are back buying U.S. equities for the worst reason imaginable - that there will be a greater fool willing to pay more. Not for earnings, or dividends, or sales growth - but because the US$ is falling, and it appears that (monetary) inflation is driving equity prices. Maybe for now, but I doubt for long. Retail has outperformed Energy in the U.S. equity market. The market seems to think we need more mall space than Oil wells. Go figure. My bet is that this is a temporary state of affairs, and you won't get any warning when the ship lists to the other side.
Oil imports into the U.S. are falling hard, and have been for nearly 3 years. To me, this is THE metric, and then there are all of the others. GM and Chrysler DIED, and Ford was knocking on heaven's door, the Airline industry is on the ropes, and housing hasn't got a prayer. This is all happening because the U.S. is MISSING nearly 3 million barrels of OIL per day that it had available to it as recently as 2006. Our response? To print money and give it away in an attempt to lift asset prices and expand debt. The world is recognizing our dilemma, and has taken it out on the US$. Eventually, the U.S. will raise rates, causing the US$ carry trade off of the table and that will likely be your last chance to reposition your savings. Or not. Maybe the US$ just continues to leak without reprieve. Either way, in 5 to 10 years (or less), dollars will likely be cheaper than match sticks. (Only a slight exaggeration.)
We are in a bad spot here. Yes, corporate interests back in the 1950's had something to do with it... but they were small change compared to the San Francisco City Hall sh*t heads now running the train set, and whose policies have doomed America - if we are LUCKY - to a very, very tough slog over the coming decades. And if we are not so lucky? A political crisis out a Steven King novel.
Way to go, San Fran! You guys fired the shot that heard 'round the world.
In the end, the Libertarians are going to win by default. Personal responsibility and enlightened self interest are going to rule the day once again, because the Oil simply will not be there to fund the Left anymore. And you thought the Left hated "Big Oil". The was the Left's propaganda machine talking. At the base of Left's political power is the money provided by the very people and industries the Left claims to despise. Oil dominates politics in EVERY country around the world. The U.S. is no exception. The only thing backing modern fiat, or paper currencies, is energy - primarily Oil.
As the energy supply declines, the value of money declines.
The political implications, permutations, and combinations are limitless.
Libertariananimal (at) gmail (d0t) com
Posted by The Short Story Man at 5:20 PM
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The posting has been light as I have been suffering with an "examination" by my industry regulator. I am in my 4th WEEK and I see a couple more weeks of torture.
Ah, but this is my last "examination" by these folks. I am withdrawing my membership. From now on I will run a hedge fund, they can keep the brokerage business. I simply cannot justify the expense and aggravation any more. Root canals are more fun.
Here, Oil is back above $80, the US$ is crashing, unemployment is near 10%, and I am not trading because I am making copies!!!! AGHAGHGAHAGHAGHGAHGHGHG!!!!!
But I digress.
Oil imports are CRASHING (petroleum imports into the U.S. are down 9.1% this year, after an 8%+ decline last year) along with the value of the US$. Those g-d d*mn doomers might be right yet. We have real unemployment of 17% and $80 Oil. Who'd a thunk it?! In fact, if it weren't for the 6.1% increase in domestic production we would REALLY be in the soup. Thank goodness for some level of a free market.
This is serious. I have spoken about the "Incredulity Response" in the past. That's when perfectly normal people walk down into a burning subway platform and asphyxiate because they just could not believe what their own eyes were seeing.
The U.S. equity markets have not gone ANYWHERE in Australian Dollars, and are up modestly from the bottom in Euro's and Canadian Dollars. The sad truth is that our government is trying to devalue itself to prosperity, and while there's always a first... its never been done before.
Let me cut to the chase. The U.S. economy cannot withstand $80 - $100 Oil. Either Oil comes in or the economy sh*t's the bed. Simple. Like. That. How do people in Detroit pay their heating oil bills this winter with 22% unemployment and $100 oil? (Even more unbelievably, I am citing NPR as a source. Good grief, what's next?)
Look for a massive double dip recession. Massive (or look for Oil prices to come in HARD). The U.S. economy is still utterly dependent upon Oil, and Oil DOMINATES our trade deficit. We all know that the US$ must seek a level that balances the current account deficit and our silly social program spending (and yes, I will admit, our outrageous military spending).
This is the SHOULDER PERIOD for Oil prices. Will they firm higher in the HEAD PERIOD? If they do, look out below.
Libertariananimal (at) gmail (d0t) com
Posted by The Short Story Man at 4:45 PM
Saturday, October 10, 2009
What next for Obama. A crown? But first, our quote of the day
"Wall Street controls our financial lives; the media manipulates our minds. These systems cannot be changed from within. There is no alternative. Without a revolution, these institutions will bankrupt the country, keep fighting failed wars, start new ones, and hold us in perpetual intellectual subjugation." - Gerald Celente, Trends Analysis CEO, Libertarian, and thinking person
Skip the following if you don't like my take on politics...
Well, I for one am dismayed at the Nobel Committee. Not that I don't think they are a bunch of communist, elitist filth - I do. I just get peptic when I think of how much blood has been shed by Americans only to be in the position of having other interests trying to manipulate our politics (not that we don't do the same thing... I am not any happier about that. You know what your mother used to say about "two wrongs). As many of you know, I like to point out stunningly FOS people - take pro-choice vegetarians for instance (just talk about FOS) - but can you get more FOS than the Nobel Prize for Obama? Jimmy Carter is a Nobel Peace Laureate, and I am no fan of the former President, but at least he was not pro-abortion. How can you be a pro-abortion Nobel Peace Laureate? Next we will have pro-death penalty Nobel Peace Laureates. Is there really a difference between bombs, IED's, Iran's gallows, Texas' execution chamber or an abortion doctor's scalpel? Either you stand for the sanctity of human life - or you do not.
How Liberal's split those hairs is beyond my comprehension.
Speaking of which... I heard something rather intelligent from someone capable of abstract, if politically incorrect, thought (disclosure: he is white, over 70, male, self made multi gazzilionaire, highly educated, married 40 + years with kids... successful people like this often piss people off).
He said something like this: "You know why many women HATE Sarah Palin? It wasn't because of her infamous interview, or her views on abortion. It was because she was married at a reasonable age, started her family young, had a bunch of kids without having to be peeing in a petri dish because she put off childbearing, and succeeded WILDLY at everything she set out to do, even though she was married with children. Even her book is a best seller. Women like Palin give the lie to the feminist's argument - and they hate her for it".
I am agnostic on Palin, but you do not have to be a Sarah Palin fan to see the logic of his opinion. Jealousy is a powerful emotion.
Libertariananimal at Gmail (dot) com
Posted by The Short Story Man at 7:39 PM
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
More on my series on stuff never mentioned in political campaigns but that are insidiously destroying people's hard work and family legacy (nothing exiting in the energy markets at the moment):
There are times in life when one is extremely vulnerable - particularly during a divorce or the death of a loved one - and at just these moments our legal system has devised ways and means of doing irreparable damage to your personal finances in an effort to gouge the living sh*t out of you in your hour of need.
Probate is the process of distributing a person's estate after death. It is also a fantastic opportunity for the system and its establishment dirt bags to get one last shot at your family's money.
While probate does not evoke the passions of divorce with all of the political angst associated with the latter, a little preparation goes a LONG way. Only 50% of marriages end in divorce... 100% of lives will end in death.
I am NOT a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. If you are your average Middle Class Millionaire ("MCM") you probably don't need a great deal of expensive and intimidating estate planning. You need to educate yourself on the process, you need a Revocable Trust, sometimes call a "Living Trust", (you can get the forms at many Legal Forms web sites for about $20) and then you need to move your assets INTO the trust (just go to your bank or broker, they know what to do and its free). Upon your demise, your assets will go to your beneficiaries WITHOUT going through the very expensive and time consuming Probate process.
The statutory probate fees can be VERY excessive (as a percentage of your estate) if you employ leverage (debt). You see, the statutory percentage is of the GROSS estate, not the net. For example, let' say you have $3 million assets and $2 million of debt. The probate fee might be 3% to 7 % of the the $3 million gross, not $1 million net. So let's go with the 7%. Probate fees of $210,000 for net assets distributable to your heirs of $1 million is a 21% death tax. Is that what you worked so hard for? Don't let this happen.
If you are over 60 years old, I would certainly recommend that SOME of your assets be held in some sort of FIXED (not variable) annuity. (BTW, I am not a paid shill for the insurance industry a la Ben Stein and his association with the Variable Industry. I don't even have a valid insurance license at the moment as I have let it lapse.) Wall Street spends a great deal of time and money trying to disparage these insurance products in the press. I want to share with you my own experience. I have put millions of client's $$ in these over the years, and I have NEVER heard one of them say that they wish that the annuity check they receive every month like clock work would stop coming and they would have been better off in the stock market. EVER. Especially as they get older. The last thing you need when you are getting on in years is the opportunity to screw up badly. Opening the envelope for the monthly check is not a decision that ends in tears. When you are 60, you are healthy and thinking clearly - this is not always the case 20 years hence, but there will always be some sc*m bag willing sell to an 80 year old person something they really don't need.
The other cool thing about annuities is that they bypass the probate process entirely (provided that it is not a "Life Only" annuity) and upon your death the insurance company will distribute directly to your stated beneficiaries.
If you have a complicated estate, by all means seek out an attorney. I am fortunate in that I have a buddy of mine that I barter services with. I handle his financial stuff and he helps me with my legal stuff. But for your average MCM, I think a visit to Barnes & Noble or the local public library and a couple hours of reading and researching on the Web should be sufficient for you to feel comfortable going to a site like Legal Zoom and buying the Living Trust form and doing it yourself. I actually bought one of these and brought it to my attorney friend who said "nothing wrong with this", and we doctored it from there.
These are REAL issues facing regular folks that most just don't think about and you are never going to hear about in a political campaign. The entrenched special interests have too much at stake for these things to see the light of day, and the folks that usually raise the alarm on government abuse issues just aren't that interested in divorce and probate reform, but these are the issues most likely to take a bite out of your behind. So you are on your own.
Posted by The Short Story Man at 4:03 AM
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Nothing to do with energy, but EVERYTHING to do with your personal finances (a bad decision here will make the Energy Crisis seem like a sneeze in the middle of the Divorce Swine Flu).
"The Marriage/Divorce Industrial Complex." (The term was coined by yours truly in this forum.) I am not an attorney, but I have done quite a bit of financial advisory and trust and estate work over the years.
So you want to get married... or your child wants to get married. I could start with asking what's your definition of marriage, or question your knowledge on the history of marriage, or more to be more pointed - family law... but I will assume that either you or your child is in love! and everything is right with the world...
Before getting married, have you read the family/marriage/divorce laws of the state you plan to reside in? Have you made contingencies for understanding the laws of states you might live in the future? Of course not! People in the throws of love are not thinking clearly - they are suffering from a benign psychosis from which they will eventually become cured. (And marriage is THE cure.)
We all read the papers. We all watch with incredulity as people like Paul McCartney spend more time in divorce court than they spent married only to end up paying $100 million for the "mistake" of falling in love (we all get the circulated emails detailing the "dollars per tryst" McCartney et al paid out and how much better a deal Elliot Spitzer got).
Unfortunately, the lesson learned here is often not to be more careful, but... "Wow, if I marry a wealthy person I can score a big payday!" Sorry, I was being P.C... the truth is that that is the lesson 99.9% of the time.
But what if you have nothing? OK. Will that always be the case? Have you considered the impact and temptation of your success on your future spouse? Money has destroyed many a marriage and home. Every monied target of divorce is surprised when this hits them - right between the eyes - after a decade or 2 of killing themselves to provide for their family. They come home one day to a process server, and a sentence of YEARS dealing with the opposing divorce attorney, forensic accountants, consultants, judges... $Kaching! For this examination before trial... $ Kaching! for that hearing... $Kaching! "I'm a lawyer, and you need a forensic accountant"... The cash register just keeps ringing for these blood sucking scum - all at the expense of YOUR CHILDREN!
(I always ask my wealthy clients a few "set-up" questions when discussing this very tough subject: "So, you are going to be the bread winner? Congrats. Big responsibility. What are your spouse's responsibilities? Oh, you are going to have a full time nanny and a cleaning person? Great! It is good to be the king. I see why your betrothed is marrying you... now tell me again... Why are you marrying them?" Then I get a bunch of "nice", "wonderful", "caring", etc... Then I gently remind them that "in marriage/family law there is NO REQUIREMENT for a spouse to continue being any of those those niceties"... "but there is plenty of Law requiring you to continue to be the provider both during AND after the marriage". You should see the look on their face at that moment... Especially when I point out that "in Florida the non working spouse can take up a passionate relationship with their personal trainer, and that you will be required to fund that relationship both during AND after your marriage". They frequently leave the meeting hating me - and always the spouse hates me. But the deed is done, and I send them off to the lawyer for their pre-nup. Marriage is business, and if you are to survive this business financially you need to think out 5, 10, 20 years.)
But let us forget the Super Rich. What about the average, Middle Class Millionaire ("MCM")? More than half of these self-made folks will come home one day after killing themselves to provide for their family for 10, 20 or 30 years, only to find their spouse has joined some "support group" that is absolutely, positively intent on destroying your family, or the spouse has developed a substance abuse problem, or the spouse has decided that just don't fill their emotional needs anymore, or has fallen in love with the mail man, or you are just plain sick of each other... (I'd like to spend more time on the politicization or Oprahization of marriage... but suffice it to say that there are political groups and agendas that are doing their absolute best to destroy your marriage and break up your family - they need the money and the political support.)
Enter the Pre-Nuptial agreement. Here's where the history lesson comes in. In the early part of the 20th Century married women had little protection in Family Law. Too, they had limited educational and vocational opportunities (not so today - more than half of college graduates are women). Then women got organized and the pendulum swung HARD the other way, after all there are no "Men's advocates" (just count how many men's magazines there are - now count how many women's magazines. Men should read these before they get married). For a couple of decades women DESTROYED men in divorce court. Just wiped the floor with them. This was supported by the local judiciary and legal community for one simple reason - MONEY $$$$$$$$!!!!!!!
What a source of revenue for a lawyers in a nation with 10X THE NUMBER OF LAWYERS PER CAPITA AS JAPAN, the other big industrial economy, and what a source of political contributions (from the lawyers to the judges. Most local judges are ELECTED, and guess who contributes FAR AND AWAY the vast majority of their campaign contributions? Bingo! The local divorce lawyers.)! It was a "marriage"/rip off made in heaven.
Oh, but markets HATE a vacuum. People started to put off marriage, or not marry at all. Then came the Pre-Nuptial agreement.
40% of people (read MEN. There are dozens of "Bride" type magazines, but have you ever heard of "Groom" magazine? NAFC ) under the age of 40 are not getting married at all, and half of those that marry now do so with an agreement detailing the outcome should the marriage fail, including short circuiting the lesser spouse (in terms of assets or earnings power) from brow-beating the other with onerous legal fees. Seems the people voted with their feet to short circuit what they saw as an grossly unfair disservice of the legal system. What a country! 27 states have enacted the Uniform Pre-Nuptial Agreement Act as controlling law, and every state allows them.
I am not an attorney. Exactly what goes into your pre-nup is between you, your spouse, and your lawyers. But have an agreement. Keep the marriage/divorce industrial complex out of your children's education fund, your daughter's wedding fund, out of your bedroom and your legacy. Help these people to find honorable employment elsewhere by starving them out. Believe me, they deserve it. They would happily take the food right out of your children's mouth. In the scheme of things, they are only 1 or 2 steps below child molester.
Sorry, that one got away from me. They are only 1 step below child molester, not 2 steps...
The various states could easily fix this mess by simply requiring that before a marriage license can be issued a notarized, bona fide pre-nuptial agreement is filed in the county of residence, and by agreeing to be governed the Uniform Pre-Marital Agreement Act... But don't count on that coming to pass. There are just too many special interest groups that profit both financially and politically by the destruction of your family.
Our society desperately needs family units at its base, and EVERYTHING within marriage/divorce law has given people every incentive to avoid marriage and has given the non-financial spouse of high earning or wealthy people EVERY reason to seek a divorce - and a pay day.
WTF is up with that?
Posted by The Short Story Man at 5:04 AM
Friday, October 2, 2009
Ever hear that B.S. about pay disparity between men and women? Sure, we all have and we hear it all the time.
Did you know that there is a sentencing disparity between men and women when they commit the exact same crime?
Two school teachers in Florida both have a consensual sexual relationship with 16 year old students. The male teacher gets 5 to 10 years. The female teacher? 5 months. (BTW 5 months in each case would have been more than enough to get the point across.)
A woman (Caylee Anthony) murders her own daughter. Does the State seek the death penalty? Nope. Another guys kills a man that was sleeping with his wife... So... The State seeks the death penalty. Of course! Does this make any sense to you? (Disclosure: I am vehemently opposed to the death penalty, murder (I am funny that way), and abortion... )
The wife of the Fort Lauderdale police chief got, get ready for this - 9 MONTHS - for shooting a gun at her husband... not once, but 3 times! Two shots fired while she chased him across their yard! Never mind that firing a gun during the commission of a crime is supposed to be a 30 year mandatory sentence here in the Sunshine State; never mind that those 2 shots could have killed one of my kids as they drove by.
How many years do you think that a white 48 year old MALE, say me, for instance, would get in PRISON - not some county jail - but don't drop the soap PRISON... for firing a gun at my wife? Wanna bet its more than 10 years? What's up with 9 months? We have people in prison here for 30 years for POINTING a gun at someone during the commission of a robbery (OK with me), but this lady gets 9 months for trying to kill her husband?
I want to know where the outrage is in this case. Where are the women's groups that rail against domestic violence?
We have become a nation of victims - race, gender, height, weight, nationality, sexual orientation - and these "victims" now enjoy incredible advantage in marriage/divorce, criminal justice, job advancement, collage acceptance... so much for justice being blind.
For the most part our system sentences criminals to prison for far long, but not in this case.
I want to know what the heck is so special about this woman?
Oh, and about that pay disparity... just another fiction. But you will keep hearing it, because someone wants you to believe it.
Posted by The Short Story Man at 6:57 PM