Pink Flamingo

As I heard my wife open our front door one morning over the weekend I heeded her emotional outburst. You never know what kind of havoc or mischief people choose to inflict on your property in the middle of the night. Surprises have run from being “toilet papered” to much less innocent pranks. The last thing I wanted to do in the middle of NFL playoff weekend was clean up some pranksters mess. To her surprise, (and mine) we had a flock of beautiful plastic pink flamingos sticking out of our lawn.

After the initial astonishment wore down we found a gift package nearby. We had been “Flocked” by our local private school and were recipients of a very creative fundraising campaign. The gift bag provided instructions on how to proceed with our contribution and when the flock could be picked up. We had the opportunity to provide the location of someone else who might appreciate waking up to the Flamingo Campaign.

In today’s economy I am sure paying for private education is a serious budget concern for many households. I am pretty sure the costs of private elementary or high school have risen along with college tuition in spite of the financial meltdown the country recently experienced. It is obviously also more difficult for today’s private schools to fund extracurricular activities. This creates the need for potentially seeking more in the way of donations or contributions and fosters the creativity involved in this process. Needless to say, this “flocking” made an impression on both of us and trumped the normal fundraising campaigns I have either witnessed or been actively involved in.

Continuing on the need of revenue themes, the financial media is continually mentioning the municipal bond market lately. Analyst’s expectations range from a municipal meltdown initiating another credit crisis to others indicating the great buying potential. It seems most city, county, and state organizations are in need of more revenue and finding it extremely difficult to raise taxes causing further strain on pocketbooks. Any hint of a backstop bailout for the states by the Federal Reserve would seriously negatively impact the dollar and definitely create some type of asset market chaos. Just the fact everybody is weighing in on the potential problem makes me wonder if the meltdown will come, as it just seems too obvious. Remember, when everybody is pounding the table on one particular theme in the investment world it usually forecasts the opposite, (sooner or later). We have to grow our way out of our debt problem and if pro growth agendas are not being emphasized or implemented than we will not receive a large boost from tax revenues. I believe the Federal Reserve has backed themselves into a very precarious, (if not outright dangerous) corner.

As I write this on Wednesday Jan. 19th the market appears very tired. Recent earnings from tech giants IBM and Apple beat estimates and yet currently the NASDAQ is down approximately 1%. This might be the start of the correction I have been worried about. Of course, with the Federal Reserve continuing to act as a liquidity backstop it will be interesting to see if institutions continue “to buy the dips” as we have seen throughout this cyclical bull rally. Maybe the Federal Reserve and our Political Leaders need to start thinking outside the box, just like the creative fundraising campaign alluded to earlier. Temporary Pink Flamingos on your lawn will be much better received than something postmarked from the Internal Revenue Service, unless you might be expecting a refund.

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