Manufacturing & Technology and Real Estate & Retail

VIEWPOINT: A prayer for the housing market

June 2, 2008

Please, Chairman, forgive me, for I have sinned and I herewith repent. Please Chairman Bernanke, hear my prayers. Please give me only one more housing bubble and I will forever honor you with the restraint you desire. I have succumbed to the seven deadly sins of investing and I herewith vow never again to do so, so long as you let interest rates continue to fall. I have been weak in seven ways:

Hubris. Yes, it is true. I believed my homes were infallible, that home prices could only go up, and that I was better than Donald Trump. I lost all humility.

Exuberance. I should have listened to others, but this, too, is true: I rejoiced in my outrageous yearly gains in the value of my homes. I smiled and occasionally did cartwheels. For shame.

Consumption. I bought a boat. I must say no more.

Readings. I feel remorse now at my foolishness, but I admit here and now that, yes, I did read "Trump: The Art of the Deal," and I bought into many of those lofty statements. I became a believer, but now have learned.

Love thy losses. Oh, for such colossal shame. On this point, good Chairman, I did lose my head. I believed that value did not matter and bathed gleefully in the red ink of others. But now I see that losses are bad and value is good.

Envy. My head hangs even lower. Despite the outrageous fortune of past gains, I did in fact covet the other man's property. I had plenty, but still wanted more. Envy was my name.

Irrationality. This is the saddest of all. I believed, for a prolonged moment, that there was no risk in these high-flying properties. Risk has disappeared with rationality. Clearly, the devil had taken over my real estate agent and I, too, succumbed.

And you saw these deadly sins and sent messages from on high, which, at first, were not heeded. In truth, we sinned more. Please forgive us. But now, good sir, your message of restraint and conservatism has been received and the strongest lesson has been learned. And with your message came a 25-percent loss in my portfolio value, and I have suffered woefully at these slings and arrows and do now repent.

So, Chairman Bernanke, now that we have heard your message and learned these powerful teachings, I ask for only one more housing bubble. With hubris gone, I ask not for gains but only for further rate cuts and a chance to recoup some of my losses. Do I ask too much? I think not, as I have suffered so.

To wit, I will forever remain humble and rational and will not high-five my real estate agent with exuberance.



Ford is president of All State Manufacturing Co., a Terre Haute maker of food-service equipment, and a principal with Edison Strategies, a Missouri consulting firm.
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