Not a Perfect Storm

Well, yesterday’s weather wasn’t as bad as expected.  In the morning I brushed and scraped two inches of snow off my car, but this time the doors weren’t frozen shut, and I had no trouble driving it to work.  Moreover, by mid-day all the snow I could see had melted.  Now in the 40s with light rain, it’s cold enough to keep us indoors most of the time, but no worse than what we experienced in Florida.

Here’s a Scandinavian commercial for Statoil, one of their gas stations, which shows the extra steps involved with winter driving.  You see a guy scraping ice off a car, wiping his runny nose, trying to stay warm, getting the ice off the wiper blades, and falling down at least once.  Very familiar, I do all those things every winter!  Then he uses one of those electronic keys, and the lights go on — not on the car he was cleaning, but on the car next to it, meaning he has been working on someone else’s car all along.

(In case you’re wondering about the text, the English version of this commercial offered free coffee with a fill-up.)

On the radio I also got a reminder that yesterday was the anniversary of the great blizzard of 1993, the “storm of the century.”  I remember it well, because it affected the entire eastern United States.  I was in Florida at the time, and while we didn’t get the snow, both the temperature and the wind speeds were in the 50s.  I was a phone agent at Ticketmaster then, and I had to work for just about all of that day, because Orlando was taking calls that normally go to out-of-state offices (even the Atlanta office was snowed in).  Now I have just read that 270 were killed by the blizzard in other states, seven of them in Kentucky, and Kentucky got 22-30 inches of snow, instead of the usual 4-6 inches during our worst winter storms.

I also mentioned previously that the workplace was caught up in post-season college basketball excitement.  Yesterday it calmed down, presumably because UK didn’t do as well.  LSU beat the University of Kentucky, 67-58.  That eliminates UK’s prospects in the Southeastern Tournament, but as a consolation prize of sorts, the Wildcats haven’t been eliminated completely; they still have a chance in the NIT Conference.

On the other hand, for the economy, it has been a “perfect storm.”  Yesterday I read an article which stated that over the last eighteen months, as much as 45 percent of the world’s wealth has been simply wiped out.  Like I said before, such statements make me wonder how much of that wealth was real, and how much of it only existed on paper or in databases, since over the past 75 years we have gone from the gold standard to a credit-based economy.  For example, I understand there is no money left in the Social Security trust fund, just a lot of IOUs, since the federal government has taken from it to curb the deficit elsewhere.

45 percent of world’s wealth destroyed:  Blackstone CEO

The good news is that after a ten-month bear market, the stock market has gone up for the past four days in a row.  While it’s too early to say if the worst days of the recession are finally behind us,  I’m going to watch and hope that they are; you’ll probably do the same, too.

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