by Mark Scheinbaum
American Reporter Correspondent
Boca Raton, Fla.
July 29, 2006
THE WAR ECONOMY AND OTHER TRENDS
ANGEL FIRE, N.M. -- Wall Street seems to like, or at least tolerate the intensification of war in the Middle East. So what ever happened to the old caveat "Wall Street hates uncertainty?"
Since all is fair in love and war, it is the very predictability of an eventual ceasefire, continued high oil prices, coalitions of terrorists who want Jews, Christians, and most Americans dead, and $380 billion for a war budget which needs to be fed once again by Congress, that stirs investors. In a bizarre or even perverted way, older traders and portfolio managers have seen this before and seen the world survive. Even post Sept. 11, 2001, the slow economic recovery proved that corporate earnings, retails sales, travel and housing-starts eventually keep going strong.
Are there other "trends" in the macro socio-political-economic view which could follow these same intuitive rules? Watching the summer tourists who are refusing to pay $3 per gallon and so gas stay away in droves from the usually popular ski and summer resort here in Angel Fire, I formulated these trends:
Fly or nothing: forget about driving five or six hours to see granny. A new generation of travelers will pay more to sit in a crowded airplane than sit in a car, especially with kids, and spend money on motels, McDonalds, and gasoline. Get there sooner and stay for fewer days.
Bi-lingual?: Two regional universities with satellite campuses in Northern New Mexico offer college-level or community (continuing) education classes for Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Spanish, each offered five days a week with a choice of three classes a day. You can study Spanish morning, noon, and evening. But Spanish will be to English what English is to most Europeans. It will be assumed that successful, educated college graduates will be fluent in both English and Spanish. Being "bi-lingual" will mean "tri-lingual" or better. The Dutch doctor speaks Dutch and English, but is probably fluent in German, French, Italian or Indonesian dialects. The educated American will be "dual" lingual in English and Spanish plus one more language.
The Mercenary Forces: Enjoy it now, because the days when a Halliburton truckdriver earning $87,000 per year in Iraq is guarded by a Marine Lance Cpl. earning $14,500 are coming to an end. Read slowly, because this is a difficult concept. You can't make stuff like this up. Of my 10 best friends, six have children of school age, and five have sons. Part of their personal, professional, financial, moral, ethical, and patriotic plan (with the full agreement or urging of their spouse) is to leave the United States of America for Canada or some other country if a draft is ever re-activated. Most have had parents and grandparents who served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces. None served themselves. They are Republicans and Democrats, but mostly Democrats. They feel that no disloyalty is involved in abandoning America. If they stumble across someone with family members in the military they are supportive, polite, and caring, and have the same look on their faces as someone forced to watch the legless panhandler rolling up to them. Those in the military will be paid, recruited, and traded by one service to another like professional ballplayers.
The Rebirth of Dividends: the historic ratio of one bad year to every four good years in the stock market will change. Doldrums will extend to a decade or more. Highs will be stupendous, and lows will be scary. The Exxons, Wal-Marts, Microsofts and similar Blue Chips will raise dividends so that those who "buy and hold" will get rewards greater than Certificates of Deposit or Treasury Bills just from stock dividends. Dividends will once again be a key retirement booster for "widows and orphans."
And finally, Prescription Cigarettes: As lawsuits are resolved or dismissed the remaining smokers will be treated like methanol patients. They will be told they have a disease which is also an addiction, and $15 per pack cigarettes are only available by prescription until the last cigarette smoker dies out. Cigar smokers such as yours truly won't need a prescription but cigar smoking will be banned in two key places: inside buildings and outside buildings.