The Day the Dollar Died (Part II)
II. American Hangover
Filed under: The Day The Dollar Died Series
by John Galt
November 19, 2009
The party is about to end. Let’s take another look to see what the hangover from the party might just look like……..
“Ah, Lincoln Avenue exit, Thank You Lord for getting me home!” an exhausted driver named Mike exhaled as he saw the ramp approach. Had had just over a half tank of fuel and could keep the rig running during the icy nights in Minnesota but was more aggravated after today’s events that no one in his office would answer the phone or the Qualcomm communications he had sent. Mike spent seven hours to get fuel in Fargo as the tanks were empty and the last tanker truck the Petro would send did not arrive until three hours ago. As a result, Mike sent a nasty message to his dispatcher about ice, cold and where it needed to be located up his dispatcher’s torso in Atlanta. Here it was six o’clock in the morning on I-94 and the roads were packed with truckers as usual but the CB radio screeching with chattering rumors about bank failures and economic collapse. “Good thing I have The Highway channel on my Sirius” he thought to himself as he cruised home to some classic Johnny Cash.
As he started down shifting on to the ramp he noticed that at just after 6 a.m. one of his neighbors, Deputy Monckton was at the bottom of the ramp with his lights flashing and flares across the bottom of the ramp. Mike rolled to a stop and cranked the window down and asked “Hi Jack! What the heck has you out here freezing your tail off this early in the morning?” The Deputy unsnapped the cover from his parka over his face, took a sip of coffee and then spit out some chew to reply, “Mike, you are not going to believe this, I’ve been ordered to close this exit. Locals are the only ones allowed in for the next ten days per the Sheriff and Mayor Hilldegest. We’re supposed to turn everyone away here and off the old Highway 52 and 210 exits. I hope you’re going home, there’s some wild stories circulating out there!” Mike grabbed a huge gulp of coffee and wiped the over flow off his now frozen beard in the negative 21 degree temps to tell the Deputy “I’m going home and locking and loading. I’ve got a about a third of a load of pork from IBP to deliver tomorrow in Duluth, but now, we might just need it here. Call me if you need my help on the patrols, I’m locking this sucker up.” The deputy said “thanks” gave a half-hearted salute and moved his car to let Mike through. Little did Mike know that the little town of Fergus Falls would get very, very busy before the week was over.
Meanwhile, back in Hampton, Georgia….
February 22, 2010 0315 A.M. ET
Tom finally had the joy of handing a clerk $72.00 to pay for 30 bucks worth of toilet paper and a bunch of canned goods. Amazingly when Tom arrived home a half hour later his wife greeted him at the door. “Well, was it worth it getting all that toilet paper?” Sandy asked. As Tom looked uncomfortably at his lovely wife of twenty years, he started to speak when she interrupted and said “uh, I don’t see any of this magic toilet paper? Where is it sparky?” Tom looked down as he set the first load of bags of canned food down and a full two cases of Saltine crackers and started the story, “Well, uh, honey, you see there was this guy in the parking lot and uh, well, you see, he uh, well, gave me $10 a package for toilet paper I paid $5.99 per package for! He’s such an idiot!!!!” Sandy was not impressed. She said in a stern and disgusted voice “And if we run out because the stores are closed, will you let me use all that money you just earned to wipe my butt?”
“Uh” was all Tom said as he looked down and meandered back to the car for another bag full of canned veggies and Ravioli in the middle of the night.
February 23, 2010 1:41 A.M.
Crap, I forgot to turn off the computer. Look at all the emails and nasty messages. Maybe it is just a bad dream or the bourbon but I swear that even at this time of night the “Day After” as the media was calling it seemed like it was prime time as thousands of people were on my favorite message boards, many pleading for help about their investments or what to do to survive. After finishing up my business in the bathroom, I figured I might as well turn on the idiot box and see if the mainstream had figured out just how severe this historical event was or if our morons who helped make this mess had the nerve to utter any statements from Geneva yet.
As I flipped through I wondered if slugs like Cramer and Kudlow would ever show their face on television again. I had managed to convince the wife that I needed at least three televisions but that didn’t fly so two would have to do along with a split screen on my monitor as I used when I formerly day traded. She was wonderfully tolerant but knew that I had a clue this might be happening so understood and enjoyed a bottle of wine with me as we talked on the patio before retiring for the evening. Unfortunately my office beckoned and when I saw the insanity on my screen my head almost exploded.
There it was, live at eight minutes until 2 a.m. a repeat of a special “Fast Money” segment on Bubblevision proclaiming and pushing the “Best Stocks to Buy” when the market re-opened next week. The best stocks to buy? These morons are acting as if this was just eating some bad undercooked chicken from a local Chinese choke and puke and once you purge it, you can chow down some more, just add more soy sauce! At 2 a.m. the mood returned to my more somber dark outlook as the Bloomberg network began live coverage from Switzerland and their attitude was 180 degrees from the propagandists on other channels.
The interview they had with the Swiss Finance Minister Merz was pretty much to the point. He looked into the camera and sternly proclaimed “We will not sacrifice Europe nor our economy to save America and their illogical banking structure. We will issue a statement tonight after President Obama speaks at 6 o’clock Geneva time.” I figured that might give me time to squeeze in eighteen holes and enhance my hangover if I could get back to sleep but that would mean convincing my boss to tee off at 7:30 a.m. instead of 9:30.
05:09 A.M. ET
The snooze button felt good but sleep was not an option. I left my wife’s warmth and comfort to sleep on the guest bed and kept the television volume on low just in case the EAS decided to activate because the ChiComs got sick and tired of the excuses from Obama and Bernanke in Geneva. Of course my paranoid self got the best of me and made me get up, shave, shower and listen intently to the local station which broadcasts the Bloomberg Radio Network exclusively in the early morning. What was unusual about this mornings program, as I smelled the coffee cranking up from my automatic Mr. Coffee (Dunkin Donuts, fresh ground if you’re curious) was the appearance of the morning team of Tom and Ken a full two hours plus before they normally come on the air. Bloomberg “Surveillance” was on at 5 a.m. and that meant either big news was breaking or there was some serious concern on the behalf of the big money crowd. The first interview they had was with a New York City Councilman who worriedly professed that the longer the markets were closed and the more dangerous the projected actions, the worse the city would be hit. I found that interesting because locally, nothing much of anything beyond the international fiasco was really going on. The bank closings and gas stations running out of gas was just taken in stride by the masses and that’s why I was hurriedly shaving and then putting toilet paper on the fresh cut when Tom Keene said that the projected Dow opening if it were to open today was down thirty percent if it were allowed to trade according to some experts.
06:00 A.M. ET
As I finished my shower the sounds of Bloomberg Radio faded as I turned it down to turn up Bloomberg television and hear the big announcement from the new President of the EU Van Rumpoy state the following:
“The United States Dollar in its current form is no longer an acceptable medium for a reserve currency or international trade with members of the European Union. We have expressed our policy on this matter to the other world leaders and President Obama at the morning meeting. The resolution of the matter will be completed soon and the announcement of our final policy decision will be enunciated at 6 o’clock European Central Time.”
Stunned, I reached for the half full glass of now somewhat warm wine and chugged it. While the sheeple as I affectionately nicknamed them might have slept through this announcement, it was Armageddon for our country. Screw it. I’m going to play golf one more time before it hits the fan. This is absurd.
06:25 A.M. ET
The ‘DING’ on my toaster oven went off faithfully with my last ‘Everything’ bagel and the cream cheese tasted extra rich this morning. It was almost if enjoying life without work was better but instead of retirement it was more of a resigned “now what” attitude. As I walked back into my home office with my bagel on my plate, the beautiful wife was awake and asking what my plan was. I reminded her that there was no work today so go back to bed but she insisted on going into her office, I guessed to answer phones that were not going to ring and hoping someone would help her figure out what was next for her state contracts. I told her that I’m playing golf with my boss so I have my excuse for playing hookie from reality. Just as she was going to reply in a rather rude outburst I asked her to be quiet as Prime Minister Brown from the UK began to speak:
“Fellow citizens of the world, America and the United Kingdom have long enjoyed a special relationship. The matters being discussed within the halls of this meeting in Geneva will not benefit the citizens of the crown nor the free world. The United Kingdom has elected to depart this meeting and recognize the United States Dollar as the primary reserve currency for trading purposes and we fully expect and accept that the Americans will make good on all debts past and present that are owed to our nation as we too shall be strong and persevere in the face of this unwarranted attack on our sovereignty. The crown and eagle shall stand together, alone if we must. We will not abandon the ally which helped us survive World War Two and the Cold War. Thus the meetings here in Geneva, from the perspective of the United Kingdom and our financial agencies, are now concluded. Effective at midnight tonight, the United Kingdom shall withdraw from our participation in and investments of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Good day and God Save the Queen.”
06:37 A.M. ET
I walked into my bathroom and got quite ill to my stomach.
07:oo A.M. ET
As I tossed my golf bag into the back of my pick up truck the cell phone rang and of course it was my boss. He said that he had lined us up at the country club but only for 9 holes because he wanted to see what President Obama and the rest of the G20 said at noon today. After signing in and the usual pleasantries, we headed out to the practice green to attempt to warm up a bit. Thankfully, it was a nice Florida morning where global warming had cooled the tee off temp to a robust 49 degrees and as I tried to find my stroke I muttered under my breath an obscenity (or four) about Al Gore’s family tree and dumped a little Irish Whiskey into my coffee to warm it up.
We walked to the first tee from our golf cart and the Marshal said cheerfully “Have a good time gentlemen, it may not matter tomorrow!” With that I figured it was time to fire up a Diamond Crown #7 and enjoy the scent of a Pyramid Maduro as my golf game was not going to be so hot today. My boss said jokingly “I’ll take one on the second hole if you have one, I’ll be out of business soon anyways” and as he chuckled proceeded to hit a nice drive about two hundred and seventy yards down the right side of the fairway. I reached into my bag and handed him my last cigar and told him to enjoy today because tomorrow was going to really suck. He replied, “Yup. As soon as the courts open, I’m filing Chapter Seven.”
That made for a nice shank about seventy yards behind his ball and in the tall grass leaving me a mountain to climb. But the best part was getting away from the Marshal who was acting as a starter today to work off tips (of course we gave him $10) as now we could talk and drink like Kamikazes on their final mission. The truth about our local situation was about to come out.
09:17 A.M. ET
The Par 5 sixth hole was a monster today with the tees set back in the dew laden grass some 547 yards from the pin. The inhalation of my cigar helped but adding a cocktail to the mix did not hurt. My boss, a normally reserved sixty three year old self-made millionaire was chugging drinks like a mad man and telling all. He told me how the local banks were all insolvent criminal enterprises, as if I did not know that already. He told me that fifty percent of the commercial real estate was already delinquent or ready to be foreclosed upon. He even told me that half of the private jets at our Sarasota airport would be repossessed if any damned fool would buy them for 30 cents on the dollar! As he hit his second shot off the fairway, I took a swig straight up. The hangover I had this morning was nothing compared to what was coming for America.
11:00 A.M. ET
The approach to the 9th hole was one of both a glazed over look of relief and horror as we knew that once were settled down to watch President Obama’s speech at noon, our lives and our nation would change forever. My boss laughed as I birdied the hole, giving me a scorching score of 49 on the front nine and he finished up to whip me by ten strokes yet again. Knowing full well that our relationship as employer and employee was practically over, I looked at him half serious and said “You know if you actually gave me a fair schedule for time off, I would hit the ball as well as you do.” He let out a huge belly laugh and said that he was buying the first round and not to worry, he was giving every employee one month’s salary on Thursday with the cash he had on hand and more when the banks opened to insure everyone survived before he filed for bankruptcy.
“Dear God” I thought to myself. He’s either fleeing the nation or ending it all. The local news was chocked full of reported and rumored suicides around our community as of yet the names were unconfirmed this morning. The blaring of sirens out to Longboat Key and helicopters flying to our local hospital disturbed the normally quiet winter evening, yet it seemed surreal to everyone who lived in our community. The bartender at the country club looked us in the eye and asked “Are you staying for the big one?” My boss, being the the guy with the attitude now of “whatever” replied, “You mean they are showing a repeat of the Bucs game today again?” The bartender laughed and replied, “No, you know, President Obama and the bankers are going to screw all of us retirees in forty-five minutes! We don’t matter any more, so we figure we’re toast.”
My boss, saddened, looked at him and handed him a $100 bill to my astonishment and said “Old man, this may not be worth anything today, tomorrow or ever again, but take it for what it is worth now. A thank you for helping our nation make it this far.”
I started to get a little misty eyed at that point.
11:55 A.M. ET
CNBC interrupted with news that a WalMart Super Center was in the midst of a riot as it was closed due to running out of stock on the north side of Lexington, KY. As footage rolled in, the scroll said “6 dead, 15 injured” and just as the reporter was getting ready to speak….
11:59 A.M. ET
Attention all broadcast, cable and satellite outlets, this special emergency broadcast from Geneva, Switzerland and the President of the United States begins in 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5………..