Tuesday, September 30, 2008

taxing times

Here I sit to write up another blog knowing all too well I’m merely procrastinating…

I really have to get on with doing up my tax.

I have to sort the papers, write down the figures onto designated downloadable forms, and send the lot down to my accountancy firm, EntArt.

I still have a little time remaining yet I find my easiest habit is simply to procrastinate until the very last moment. That’s how I always used to study and do assignments too…and pass with flying, sometimes tattered, colours.

I don’t know why I dread tax-time so much. I’m a small bean in a hard world, I don’t have too many complexities with it, it’s just that it delves into stuff I’d rather leave be. It is the past, gone, finished, numbers, figures, even if I am owed a few pittances. Filling in tax details is undoubtedly the most boring exercise I undertake each year. I suppose it’s because I feel the people behind all of this are a bunch of bastards who I want nothing to do with and I want them to have nothing to do with my financial-not affairs. This year they owe me. So I’ll just do it. And when I get around to it finally – there is always ‘tomorrow’ I keep telling myself – it’ll be alright as always.

For the past month or so I awake in the morning eager to see hear or read the daily news headlines. I’m amazed and a little transfixed by this high-speed ferris-wheel of our wildly-fluctuating share market and crude oil prices. A decade ago oil sat around $10-$20US per barrel and the market was doing its easy climb prior to accelerating with the dotcom boom. Over the past month the whole thing has been a daily zig-zag of extreme proportion, one day stocks are riding to the sun, the next day (today, for example) they flunk into hellpit by dropping on average 9%. The price of Crude Oil does not seem to want to take the laid-back approach either. Mixed with increasing worldly topographical & atmospheric variations due to what is apparently, undoubtedly, accelerated climate change, and we march hesitatingly into an era of uncharted ground. Let’s hope it is to be a “soft landing” as it is often said.

It’s a familiar newspaper image, the man either inside or outside the tally room hanging his head in his hands, as if his head has suddenly weighed the moon. I don’t understand it. What do people expect?? I can only recall Bob Dylan and his song ‘4th time around’ from the towering Blonde on Blonde album, where he sings with that mocking heaving style that was indicative of his singing back then…

“everybody must give something back for something they get”

Bob is right. Only thing is, we’ve been accustomed – seduced - to believe the share market will spiral onwards and upwards into a glorious infinity, into a heavenly dreamworld where sunshine, houses, condos, boats and cars remain eternally offset by soaring share-values. That is the dream of course. The reality, so simple it makes you weep, is that what goes up….we know the rest.

Practically it is sad for those who are about to retire. Their nest egg will merely be that, a nest egg, and not a golden one at that either. And for all of us investors who go for “ethics” and “sustainability”, which I do, these are merely noble-sounding words that unfortunately hold no truck to the ravages of the Dow getting ripped and slashed to the tune of trillions, as it did today.

What’s happened?? The great depression that followed on from the October stock market crash on 1929 was not caused by lack of produce, or lack of labour. These were in abundance. It was caused by lack of money. Money suddenly disappeared because its value had inflated far and away beyond its real worth via the evils of rampant credit and speculation. Real wages were falling throughout the late 20’s as speculation and credit conversely reached manic heights. In a more modern context, this roughly is what’s happened throughout the devilish naughties. One of the differences now, compared to 20’s & 30’s, is that the American fed are keen to prop up the economy with liquidity, funds, cash. This rears the possibility of the sickeningly ugly head of hyperinflation stalking our streets and skyways. At the advent of the stock market crash in 1929 banks and governments went into defensive mode. Liquidity dried up. The bottom literally fell out. The place went flat broke.

…it’s so horrifically stupid when you look at it. Paper value. Paperdebt. Astronomical figures and astronomical divides between the wealthy and those who have (had) zilcho. Money should have been a simple barter, a medium of exchange to benefit and help provide for all. But no, the money market is mere mayhem beyond any reasonable cognition for sane, reasonable and kind, giving people. And you get the feeling no-one, absolutely NO-ONE on this planet, our planet, ie economists & politicians, really know what to do to contain this monster, this Frankenstein generated by obsessive, robotic greed. Today’s events have numbed authorities and so-called leading figures into quivering ashen-faced rubber-duckies.

It appears as though we (or they) have swallowed the last remaining cocktails of a great party that perhaps has carried on a bit too long. In 1929 the bottom fell out. It’s happening now. And it will trickle throughout the economy. In a worst case scenario the “trickle” will be a tsunami.
Like I said…I just hope it’s a soft landing. Taxing times indeed.


The Knitting Songbird said...

This was a f***ing great read, man...so true, so true...I like how Brother Ray put it too:

My mother told me
'Fore she passed away
Said son when I'm gone
Don't forget to pray

'Cause there'll be hard times
Lord those hard times
Who knows better than I?

Well I soon found out
Just what she meant
When I had to pawn my clothes
Just to pay the rent

Talkin' 'bout hard times
Lord those hard times
Who knows better than I?

I had a woman
Who was always around
But when I lost my money
She put me down

Talkin' 'bout hard times
Hard times
Yeah, yeah, who knows better than I?

Lord, one of these days
There'll be no more sorrow
When I pass away

And no more hard times
No more hard times
Yeah, yeah, who knows better than I?

Take care dear friend,

ross b said...

Hey Mary, thanks for the lyrics ~ nothing better than Brother Ray in times such as these! And that is one of the most moving songs ever written.

One thing to reiterate.. when money that is made through high profits via rises in shares and other forms of capital gain infiltrate the wider economy you're almost creating a false economy where those with wealth play and those without struggle and toil and the gap between income brackets widen. Inevitably the bottom falls out as real productivity is not keeping pace with the capital gains made on the markets. The danger of course is that credit margins have widened in the process. When these contract of course lending institutions go bust as we are seeing now, primarily in the US. The further danger is that these will create a feedback loop hence a domino effect.

So much more to it. Trade deficits for one. .....just keep reading the headlines and hope for a soft landing is all I can say, and enjoy life.


ross b said...

finally, nine days after having written this post...i've posted my tax!!! wot a trial!!!

and the international stocks have sunk further too. ??


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