Understanding the economy


The uninvited economic recession necessitates that modern man understand the dynamics of what was once considered “falling off a log.” I refer, of course, to the acquisition of a home mortgage, a leg up on the Ladder of Building Assets or, should you tire of metaphorical puns, placing your own roof over your head instead of someone else’s roof.

Once upon a time (if you check your calendar you will discover this was quite recently), in the Land of the American Dream, obtaining a mortgage loan was child’s play. One provided no documentation nor did one even have to attend a face-to-face meeting with the mortgage lender. In fact, it would have been technically impossible to meet with one’s mortgage lender because while there was one institution that provided the funds initially, it remained at risk on that paper for 2 nanoseconds during which time the institution added your mortgage to a twelve-foot high stack of other-people-whom-it-hasn’t-met mortgages, tied a ribbon around the stack, added on a percent or so for its trouble and sold the entire package to an unknown (and they’d like to keep it that way) group of newly-created career paths known as financial instrument packagers.

We all know that the world of High Finance is one of High Risk (and the reason one capitalizes the first letter). The danger when such men get together and create new financial “instruments” is that they will be considered a cabal, which is another way of saying Practitioners of the Financial Black Arts. So it should not surprise you to learn that your mortgage documents traveled to meet up with other mortgage documents via private train, under pseudonyms naturally, and all congregated in a non-descript building in a non-descript Mid-western city where they were packaged and privatized and then tranched and, well, no need to offend your sensibilities so close to dinner time with a detailed description of this financial abattoir.

My point being that in the time it took you to collect your new abode’s deed at the mortgage broker’s office, stop by the water fountain, and exit via the front door, your financial soul had been sliced and diced, filleted and splayed, skewered and pedigreed into twelve different financial persona and you didn’t feel a thing. You are now owned in unequal parts, each providing a different rate of return, by a minimum of 12 mortgage funds each consisting of many thousands of shareholders.

The fact is, when you walk down the street in most any affluent neighborhood, half of the people you pass own a piece of you. A small piece to be sure and without voting rights, yet still the entire confabulation feels unnerving and antithetical to the American Dream — to have fought wars for freedom and find yourself indentured again.