Russell's Blog

New. Improved. Stays crunchy in milk.

On calling the end of the financial crisis

Posted by Russell on October 14, 2008 at 9:46 p.m.
I was wondering how we'll know when the credit crisis is over, and I thought I'd share my gloomyness with you, dear readers.

The Big Money people invested vast amounts of capital in malls and condominiums, and now they have to come to terms with the fact that these things are not productive assets. All of that capital was blown on green lawns and shiny baubles, instead of invested in equipment and training. Now the capital is gone, with nothing to show for it but a bunch of luxury stucco boxes in the desert with no schools, no jobs and no water rights.

You'll know we're near the end of it when they start bulldozing abandoned subdivisions and planned communities. That's the reality of the situation; we built too much housing, we built housing of the wrong type, at the wrong size and scale, with the wrong materials and the wrong technologies, and we built it in the wrong places. Until Americans face that reality, the financial system will stay broken. But once the bulldozers get to work, you can be pretty sure that the reckoning is underway, and the stock prices you see are close to honest.

The metric for recovery that I'm keeping in my head is this; when it becomes profitable in Southern California to buy up a bunch of crappy houses, tear them down, plant some orange trees, and sell the oranges, then we're good.

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