Dean Clough

June 20, 2022

Portico Darwin: Your Recession Guide!


Flag of Ukraine.jpg

It was quite a weekend.  After sending the lovely artist Jennifer Michaels and her studly beau - let's call him Doctor Hope - on their way after a great Thursday night visit, we moved on to Andre Aurich's 65th birthday party, held in Tiburon on Saturday.  It can be rough there - I almost got hit by 6 different Range Rovers ("L" models, each) - but in the end, it was a perfect celebration.  With some very interesting guests . . . here's one:


But I digress from today's topic, which is not being quite as rich as I was.  And if you knew the story behind the photo above, you'd understand that I'm not the only one.  

Because remember way back when?  Like January?  When the Dow was over 36,000?  You can't swing an executed seditionist without hearing "The Sky is Falling", "Inflation Shatters Expectations", or, on Fox News, "Biden Wants to Take Your Money and Then Groom Your Child". 

Seriously:  the economic news is grim and seems to get more grim by the moment. 

To that, I say:  whatever.

Because I am going to Jinxy Cat the shit out of this and say it right here.  Folks, relax:  we're looking at a normal recession, and for that I'm happy.

Why the optimism?  Get comfy with this chart:


Dot-Com Crash + 9/11 (2000 - 2002)
Jeez, if you were an adult back then, it looked like it was all over.  The nirvanic promise of Webvan and Friendster evaporated, and then the Saudis hit us hard on 9/11 - harder than we'd been hit since Pearl Harbor.  I specifically remember saying "Well, if they set off a dirty-bomb and take out Chicago, that's going be a problem." 

OK - we do have the evil Putin shaking his nuclear rattle, but he's not going to be pushing any buttons any time soon.  But:  yours truly was laid-off after 9/11.  "When your neighbor gets laid off, it's a downturn.  When you get laid off, it's a severe recession."

At its nadir - when we were also illegally invading Iraq, and committing a whole bunch of war crimes as a nation - the Dow went down to 8,341.  And:  this was before the Internet had really become the engine it would become.  Things seemed pretty dark in 2002 and 2003; but we kept shopping per W's leadership and everything was just fine.

Financial Crisis (2008)
This will always be vivid for me, because we left for Iberia for a 3 week vacation in early September of 2008.  As I often do, I made a big point of reading zero news of any kind for the duration of the trip.  But on the flight home, I will never forget spreading myself into my plush international front-of-plane seat, and being handed an International Herald Tribune (remember that?) by a flight attendant.  The very first news I had seen in 3 weeks read:  "McCain Suspends Campaign to Address Crisis".  Crisis?  What crisis?  In 3 short weeks:


I mean:  wow.  There's a reason it was called "The Financial Crisis", which was followed by "The Great Recession".  As we know now, we were very, very close to the ATM's not working.  The Dow hit a low of 8,776 in early 2009.  I don't think many of us really understand the systemic risk we had at the time.

But we bailed out the banks, left individuals to fend for themselves as only America can, and everything was just fine.

Global Pandemic (2020)
JFC, this financial collapse ended so quickly, the market didn't even stay down long enough to register on the chart above! 

But do you remember late March of 2020?  I do.  That was when the world's economy was literally closing for business, and no one - and I mean absolutely fucking no one - had any idea how low the markets could go.  I literally moved a fair bit of our retirement out of our beloved Vanguard VTHRX and into cash, because I knew we could always just move to Tupper Lake with a few hundred thousand and be OK.  But the fact is, I did it:  I was literally concerned enough about the global economy that I moved a lot of our savings to a money market fund.  It was super scary!

But then . . . hey, there's nothing that few trillion in stimulus can't fix.  Inflation?  That's yesterday's problem - and everything was just fine

The Bubble Bursts (2022)
Well, that was fun, until it wasn't.  I remember in September of 2020 we had number X in our savings.  In late 2021, after a year of what can only be described as profligate travel, we had more money, number Y.   Now, we're back at number X - but why worry?  For the record, the Dow is almost exactly what it was right before the pandemic.

Everything will be just fine.  Right?

I say yes.  To me, this feels like a "regular" recession, one driven by soaring inflation (too much stimulus, pandemic supply chain meltdowns, and corporate greed) and the resulting (and necessary) rise in interest rates.  But isn't that OK?  Or at least better than anthrax scares, massive bank bailouts, and a global virus that had no cure? 

(I also believe the markets will skyrocket when Trump and his co-conspirators are indicted.  And then everything will be more than just fine.)

For you baseball fans out there.

Sandy Koufax statue unveiling ceremony a time of gratitude - Los Angeles Times (

Sandy Koufax Statue Reveal at Dodger Stadium

And thank God Jay Howling doesn't read this blog.  This AMAZING set of articles is a fine compliment to my riff on Jack Welch.

How Private Equity Looted America – Mother Jones

Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.

I have never really understood why he is as respected as he is.  But no matter, because there can be no better choice for today's KLUF.  Here is Randy Newman and "It's Money That Matters".   

And because it is so appropriate, I will deviate from the norm here and include this song's lyrics.  

Of all of the people that I used to know
Most never adjusted to the great big world
I see them lurking in book stores
Working for the public radio
Carrying their babies around in a sack on their back
Moving careful and slow
It's money that matters
Hear what I say
It's money that matters
In the U.S.A.
All of these people are much brighter than I
In any fair system they would flourish and thrive
But they barely survive
They eke out a living, they barely survive
When I was a young boy, maybe thirteen
I took a hard look around me and asked what does it mean?
So I talked to my father, he didn't know
And I talked to my friend, he didn't know
And I talked to my brother, he didn't know
And I talked to everybody that I knew
It's money that matters
Now you know that it's true
It's money that matters
Whatever you do
Then I talked to a man, lived up on the county line
I was washing his car with a friend of mine
He was a little fat guy in a red jumpsuit
I said, "That's looks kind of funny"
He said, "I know it does too"
"But I got a great big house on the hill here
Great big blonde wife inside it
Great big pool in my backyard
Another great big pool beside it
Sonny, it's money that matters
Hear what I say
It's money that matters
In the U.S.A."
It's money that matters
Now you know that it's true
It's money that matters
Whatever you do

Oh.  Is this why he's so revered?

About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.