Ben Stein's Diary

Destination Sandpoint

It's that time of year again, as Goldman Sachs toys with the market.

By 6.22.12

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Thursday
Wifey and I arrived in Sandpoint at about 9 PM last night after the usual grueling trip up -- fly to Seattle, change planes to a tiny little commuter, rent a car, drive 2 hours to get here. We went right to Trinity Restaurant at the Edgewater, watched the lovers dining on the terrace, ate our meals, and checked into our condo.

It was all in order except that neither the XM radio nor the movie channels on the cable work. Standard problems. XM is a super product but it has many flaws in delivering itself. As to cable, well, it’s cable.

This morning I was startled to see that the stock market had suffered a large loss. The main reasons seemed to be that the traders figured they could make money by selling rather than buying. That is always the real reason.

But the stated reasons were silly. A slowdown in manufacturing was one reason but everyone had seen that coming. Hiring was not bad. Home sales were down but that jumps all over the place, Big banks were having their ratings cut. That has also been in the works forever. Traders are supposed to sell on the rumor and buy on the news when it’s bad news. Wha’ hoppen?

The real news is that Goldman Sachs, a huge investment bank, says it’s time to short the S & P. But, wait… a couple of weeks ago they said a strong recovery was in the offing. And their chief investment guru, Abby Joseph Cohen, recently said stocks were the only thing to own. So, what made GS change their minds? The Eurozone crisis is not new. Fragility in the whole western world is not new. The looming slowdown in China is not new. What’s new? Someone at a trading post at GS said they could make a lot of money if the firm issued a pessimistic warning and in the meantime Goldman had gone short in a big way. Maybe, just conceivably, that’s it. No, no. I must be wrong. A reputable firm like Goldman Sachs? Use their prestige to make money trading? That surely could never happen.

If you believe that could happen, what kind of swine are you? Don’t you trust Goldman Sachs?

Silly question.

Meanwhile, why the heck are we not recovering? Well, let’s try this....

1.) The foolish idea of firing government workers in droves during a slowdown;

2.) Paying workers to stay unemployed;

3.) Environmental rulings which do nothing to reduce global pollution but do keep American workers from being employed, such as killing the Keystone Pipeline and protecting some little lizard in West Texas which keeps oil production down and keeps people from working;

4.) Proposing staggering tax increases during a slowdown by insisting that the Bush tax cuts lapse imminently instead of having highly selective taxes being slowly phased in;

5.) Standing idly by as the Eurozone goes into crisis instead of jumping in to right the European ship as we did after World War II (by monetary measures that cost the taxpayer nothing but save American jobs);

Well, it’s all discouraging. I don’t understand President Obama here. He is campaigning like the star campaigner he is. But he also has a job: He is President, and he has some responsibilities for helping a nation in trouble. I am not sure he quite gets this. He’s a great talker, but not that sharp on doing.

Well, enough on this.

I did a lot of editing of my next book, then went for a bike ride through the park. As always, there were many happy young people. I passed a knot of young people and a boy of about 14 said to his friends, “There’s that rich guy.”

HA! If they only knew how wrong they were… I met my pal, Tim Farmin, and we went out for a ride on my boat. There was a powerful chop on the lake and parking at Bottle Bay was tricky. But we did it and Tim, as usual, saved me from wrecking my boat.

Many friendly faces greeted us at Bottle Bay. It was old times again. Except that the stock market was down 251 points and I am worried. Wait! That is old times. I am always worried sick about something. That’s who I am.

Back in Sandpoint, people waved at me and welcomed me back to town. I love this place. The friendly people are even cooler than the immense lake.

Wifey and I had take-out spaghetti and tomato sauce. It was okay, but only okay.

Tomorrow is her birthday. I am certain that difficult days lie ahead. The economic situation terrifies me. We are both getting old and health is a constant issue. We have gone through a hellish year so far. But I am married to the absolutely finest human on this earth, the kindest, smartest, most beautiful, most forgiving, most appreciative soul God ever made. I am married to a saint. I am a wretched sinner, but I am married to a saint. Yes, a literal saint. From heaven. The best that humans can be. Better than human. So, I will probably be poorer and certainly older, but I am the most fortunate of men to wake up in America married to a goddess.

I AM MARRIED TO THE BEST PERSON ON THE PLANET. 

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.