Friday, August 17, 2007

It bothers me that many analysts are blaming borrowers for the recent stock market "correction." I am not a stock market analyst, but my limited understanding of the situation goes something like this:

-- Too many people took out risky mortgages to buy real estate.

-- They can't make their payments,

-- Their mortgages are going into foreclosure,

-- Everyone who has invested in the market is hurting because of it.

Many infer that if the risky mortgages were not taken out in the first place, we wouldn't be in this mess. The reality is much more complicated. As a reasonably intelligent person, I cannot begin to explain how confused I am when I think about buying a house. I rent now, and one day I do hope to own. But the process is rather daunting.

Facing incredible pressure to buy, I can easily see that many would sign up for mortgages simply because "it's the thing to do." And I am not talking about risky mortgages... I am simply talking about mortgages that were probably too rich for the buyer. A few years back, it was so easy to get money, and much more than one probably could afford, that everyone "was doing it." To quote Mr. Greenspan from a different context, the whole process is suffering from "irrational exuberance."

I am not an economist, but I wouldn't be surprised if things got worse before they got better. Debt is en vogue. Just look at how much the United States is borrowing. And sooner or later, it's going to catch up to all of us.

For now, I am keeping all my cash. In fact, I might buy gold.

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