Monday, September 29, 2008


Raise your hand if you remember the opening scene, a long gray hallway in a Los Angeles hotel, in the Pink Floyd movie “The Wall!” Remember the cleaning woman switching on a vacuum cleaner and then goes about her business, while inside one of the hotel rooms, “Pink” (Bob Geldof), oblivious to the outside distractions, sits listlessly staring at a television. The flickering, blue-black images resolve into historical footage from World War II, and Pink sees his father killed at the Battle of Anzio.

Well, there are hallways, mostly in hotels, that often remind me of that opening scene. This past week, in a hallway in the building where Smith Barney is housed in Knoxville, I again had that sort of “de’ja’vu feeling” when I rounded a corner and started down the hall to a conference room. There, along the walls, were those half-moon lights, simultaneously spraying light toward the ceiling and diffusing light toward the hall floor, lining the corridor just like in the movie.

In my head I could hear the conversational sounds coming from that TV set in the movie, the sound of the dive-bomber as it released its payload, the vacuum cleaner purring, and the tap, tap, tapping on the hotel door the cleaning lady made as she fumbled her key-ring for the master key.

Some movie scenes, especially those with great sound tracks, are burned into my brain forever, and this is one of my favorites.

The conference room reminded me of nothing in “The Wall”, but out in the hallway, I heard the click as someone started up a vacuum. It was almost surreal, but only to me…the old “Sixties Kind of Man!”

Two other concerned mutual fund investors and I were greeted by our “money men,” Doug Whitman and Scott Rhea (Rhea Whitman Group). We all exchanged pleasantries, then Doug handed us our box lunch (ham sandwich, a fruit assortment, two chocolate cookies, and a cold bottle of water), and we sat down around a long typical conference room table lined by comfortable gray leather chairs.

The topic of the day was “Market Volatility and the Long-Term Investor”. Many people have naturally called the group asking questions related to the recent market fluctuations, the housing market, bank failures, and the “bailout!”

So what does this have to do with Pink Floyd and a “long gray hallway”? Nothing I suppose, just a way of getting to tell you about Scott’s reassuring talk Wednesday, and then a way of wrapping up the tale. His words and graphics really did put my mind at ease.

Back in 2005, I rolled my 401K, managed by Department of Energy, over to a mutual fund package managed today by Scott and Doug’s group, who are a part of Smith Barney and ultimately the Citigroup, Inc. They believe, as I do, that you must “wait out the storm”, and trust that your portfolio will have cumulative growth over time.

This is but one downturn of the market – there have been many, and there will be others. However, the history of the market proves out that the end result will be growth of a properly invested and diversified portfolio.

In fact, the best time to invest (any amount) in the market is when you are at the bottom of a “Bear Market”. Are we there? Only time will tell. But buying shares while costs are low can only mean the cumulative value of those shares will eventually increase!

So, while we walk down this “long gray hallway” of uncertainty, let us have faith in America, and believe that the odds are in the favor of the long-term investor – the bulls! Now is not the time to pull out and give up. Now is the time to buy and/or hold!


Michele said...

You know, I know I've seen that movie probably a zillion times and still can't remember it! *L* Must be a sign of the times!

catscratch said...

Amen, brother.

Jose said...

We just had our quarterly meeting at work and the owners words were exactly the same, this will pass and things will get better is what he said while assuring us that our 401K moneys are OK and most importantly our jobs. I know there have already been to many "casualties" as many continue to lose their jobs. I thank God for mine.

Suldog said...

As Mark Twain once observed (I paraphrase): The time to bet on something is when everybody else is betting against it.

Scott from Oregon said...


As I ruffle through old vids of market "gurus" giving advice on TV, the thing that strikes me is the optimism of all of those who got THIS SO WRONG.

From Paulson and Bernanke downward, the optimistic advice givers either lied through their teeth, or never saw this coming.

On the other hand, those that were screaming wolf and being laughed at for their pessimism and doomsday predictions can also be seen to have called this EXACTLY RIGHT.

What people aren't expalining well is how much "phony wealth" is piled, in the form of derivitives, on top of the mortgage mess.

The reason Paulson wants to try and bailout this mess, is because he knows that if it is truly exposed as the great ponzi sham that it was, the wealth will simply disappear, as it is "declared" wealth, and not real wealth.

The best thing to have happen is to have the market collapse, and have everything reset to true wealth and real market values. This will be like pulling off a band-aid quickly.

What they are doing now is trying to put a band-aid on a band-aid over an infected wound.

The bailout is an effort to hide the fact that the big boys "made up" the value of derivitives, sold them off, pocketed a fortune, and are now being exposed.

America was founded and made great by the honesty and hard work of Americans. We created things, invented things, saved money and lived a good life. We've been living on the heroin of easy credit since Clinton's days, and the piper is here for it money now.

Call your reps and demand they not bail out Wall street.

Let the big banks fail. It will help smaller banks thrive. It will remove the incentive of Americans to buy everything on credit and not produce anything. It will make economies local and save on resources and reduce pollution. Ma and Pops stores will have a fighting chance against highly leveraged corporations who ruined neighborhoods.

Yaddy yaddy...

Debbie said...

There's really nothing to do but wait this out. If you pull out what money you have invested now, it will be such a small portion of what you HAD before this drop. And what are you going to do with you money then? Stick it under the bed?

We all have to buckle our belts, watch our pennies, and hope for the best. Unfortunately Congress doesn't see the need to tighten their belts because it's not their money.

Right Truth

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Denise went to some meeting on the main campus and came back telling me that in stead of being able to retire in five years she's now looking at something like fifteen. Bummer. I don't know the details. I'm still hoping that I can cut back to teaching just a few classes by the time I turn 65. I told her we just need to win the lottery. Simple.

Mushy said...

She'll be fine as long as she don't pull out or sell off. Same thing happened back in '98 to my 401, but in 5 years it was back and all the cheap shares I bough monthly when the market was low zoomed up! I retired early!

Buy and hold.

Mushy said...

The further the low market as an opportunity, Citi Group viewed Wachovia as opportunity today!

Since Citi also owns Smith Barney, I feel much better about my portfolio!

david mcmahon said...

The same long hallway entraps most people at some time.

pat houseworth said...

We are on the economic version of the long gray hallway in this country.

Then I look over in the right sidebar, and I see the UT "We suck big time" Now, that is funny....I think Fat Phil isn't long for the job.

David Sullivan said...

Dude, I almost had a flashback!!!

Sandi McBride said...

Having been a Pink Floyd fan for so long that I indoctrinated my older son (who thinks he discovered them) and The Wall is my absolute favorite. This post was so "Pink" that I felt I was walking down that hall with you. As for America, I have every confidence in the American people, they'll pull us out of this mess as they've us out of other messes. When all the screaming and shouting is over, it's the American people who will be left standing.
I almost forgot, I'm here via David

Carol said...

Congrats on David's award!

Scary scary times. Very 'right on' post!

Mushy said...

Thanks Sandi and Carol for the're always welcome.


Jennybean said...

Long grey hallway indeed!

Maybe some Pink Floyd would help out our current situation.

At least we would feel better!

Mushy said...

You make a good point...grey is British, but gray is American!

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

l'm with suldog and David....we all feel it at one time or another...

endeavour to perservre' (josey wales)LOL

Becky said...

Stocks are like real estate, very few people make money off the short-term gain -- it's meant for the long haul. I just feel bad for the people that have 401ks that devalued who were expecting to pul their money out in the next year or so.