19 September 2008

Inimitable Moments

Last Saturday night, as the storm clouds gathered on the horizon and I lit a Montecristo No. 2 cigar, I was seized by a mild panic. Should a full-fledged economic crisis ensue, I thought, I might experience a disruption in the supply of quality cigars. Serious times call for serious measures, so I decided to ration my existing collection.

A week later, I can only smile. As you know, I am employed in the financial services sector; I run my own firm. I deal with hedge funds, HNWs, and property developers. The economic crisis in which the government and banks have plunged the country represents years of greed, corruption, and incompetence. It does not take a Wall Street quant to figure out how it happened. The signs were there for all to see. There were those of us who saw it coming and planned accordingly.

Almost two years ago I started trimming my real estate holdings in anticipation of a downturn. Unlike many local real estate professionals I know, who behaved as if they would live forever. It amuses me to watch these arrogant young pricks--many with Ivy League MBAs--come begging for money. Just a few years ago they were snapping up interest-only, 'no doc' loans in order to make a quick buck 'flipping' properties. They bought villas in Newport Beach, diamonds and face-lifts for their wives, expensive motor cars, private jets, mistresses, etc. The money has now dried up and they are hurting.

The chaps I do business with on the East Coast are hurting too. They are property developers and have over-extended themselves in a massive way. These old boys, with years of experience and business success behind them, are telling me they have not seen conditions like these in 40 years.

As I light another Montecristo No. 2 and pour a glass of chardonnay, taking care not to spill a drop on my Gucci loafers, I think of them. But only for a second or two. It would be unseemly to gloat. Self-satisfaction is such an ugly trait. I may be contemptuous and mocking; but smug, never.


v. Braun. said...

Yeah, whatever- it may be hard for you to imagine but there actually exist people who are even more hardcore, who don't care about such economic games of chance at all; people who are satisfied with a bowl of rice and their art.

Maybe some guys lost their petty material wealth now, maybe in a couple of years your own business may falter as well- so what? It's good that you still got your cigars, cause just in case: you could also eat them- they're quite nourishing, you *punk*. ;)

I give America maybe another 100-150 years at the most...'twas a nice lil experiment while it lasted..exclusively for you my friend cause I very much appreciate your aesthetic judgment and your poetic streak: rec. reading for hard times: the daodejing and the vigyan bhairav tantra...

All the best, Jerome & K.rshna + Dionysos.

p.s. am enjoying your blog.

initials CG said...

Your tailor just sighed with relief!

Anonymous said...

Well, the elephant in the room, that nobody wants to talk about, is the fact that, plain and simple, over-extending oneself in personal or business financial matters, has become the norm. Some rode the wave too long, and got burned. Taxpayers shouldn't be bailing anyone out. It would be unAmerican to discuss such ethos, which go against capitalism and greed. The truth is the truth.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Glad to hear you're thriving in the current climate.

I was always a No. 4 man. I may have to expand my horizons.

Toad said...

Look closely, but with improved exchange rates, the puros are priced the same as the Dominicans.

Anonymous said...

Great blog! As a realtor in the DC area I kept warning everyone that this real estate market couldn't keep going. Everyone just pooh-pooh'd me or laughed. "This is DC - regardless of how bad the economy gets, we're always safe - government jobs, military, politics, blah, blah, blah." Well guess what - everybody here is singin' the blues just like the rest of the country.
Ha! Maybe this blonde isn't so dumb after all.