Working Without Moving

The coronavirus has injected its bat poison into the stock market making it the worst week in the markets since 2008. This morning I flipped open my chromebook, put on my surgical mask and bought some equities. I did all this while in my bed and in my underwear. Humans will one day evolve to be legless.

For 4 hours I remained at my workstation watching the prices of stocks fluctuate while I deliberated whether to buy more. They say to never time the market but I just can’t see this panic ending this soon. A recent poll suggests 38% of beer drinking Americans would not buy Corona beer under any circumstances because of the coronavirus. In times of fear, people can become irrational. If more negative coronavirus news is released over the weekend the markets will tank again next week and people will stock up on Budweiser beer as a vaccine.

Could the governments be covering up the high likelihood of a worldwide disaster? Maybe. If there was cause for concern they wouldn’t tell us because panic is the last thing they want. If you have a face that only a mother could love there’s double reason to cover it.

If you are a betting person though you’d have to bet that this will be contained like it always has in the past. SARS, avian flu, ebola, swine flu were all resolved. When the rich are not immune to the dangers affecting the rest of us they’ll find a solution. They need us peons to contribute so that we can continue lining their pockets.

The S&P 500 is almost at a 15% decline from all-time highs. A 10% decline from the peak starts the correction territory. A 20% decline is bear market territory. A very serious bear market sees declines in the neighbourhood of 50%. If you’re not invested in the markets or don’t think you are then you’ll likely believe that the markets will continue to get trampled on.

Not only has the stock market always recovered from steep declines but it has always gone on to make new highs. Volatility and discomfort is not the same as risk even though it may feel like it. The landlord of the house across the street feels that the stock market is too risky yet he’s involved in a game that sees a 40% divorce rate. His most recent tenant also gave him the big shaft just a couple months ago.

If the stock market were to fail it would mean catastrophe for all. Job losses, pension evapouration, real estate prices plummeting with no demand for sales because no one has any income. Old people and babies will have to wear used diapers while children use dingy old socks as mittens in the winter. It will be the Great Apocalypse.

No one knows what the markets will do. If the virus is said to be contained and numbers of infections show a decline then the markets will likely stabilize to some degree. We’ll see what happens.

Bargaining Without Bargaining

I saw a sign. It said there was a yard sale. I love yard sales except when it’s a disappointing yard sale. One person’s trash is another’s treasure but usually it’s just trash.

I picked up an ashtray that I liked and asked how much. “$4,” he replied. I put it back down and didn’t say anything.

“Is that too much?” he asked.

“No it’s not,” I replied.

“It’s a fair price, I think. How much do you want to pay for it?”

I told him that I wasn’t sure and that I just didn’t want it that badly.

He continued on trying to talk up the ashtray while I browsed around. I picked up a Pillsbury Doughboy cookie jar and asked how much. It was $5. I put it back down.

“What do you want to pay?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I told him.

“Okay, how about $7 for both items?” he offered.

Okay, deal.

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Bad Tenants

Just before the end of the year I saw my neighbour loading or unloading used furniture in front of his home. “Moving out or is someone moving in?” I asked. He said he was moving out and that he’d “miss me.” He was one of the adult children living there with his parents and 2 brothers.

On January 1st I saw the landlord talking to the cops in front of the house. I was nosy so later that day when I saw him again I asked him what happened. He told me the house had been trashed and that the tenants had missed 2 months rent. Because the house had been trashed he was going to miss at least 1 more month of rent from the next renter. As a going away present the alleged bad tenant left his decrepit boat on the driveway sitting on car tires. It wasn’t a huge boat but it wasn’t a row boat either.

On New Year’s Eve I noticed teenagers assembling into the house. I knew they were taking advantage of an empty house to have a party but I didn’t know if they were doing it in secrecy or not. It’s possible the parents allowed it to happen. If you’re going to leave your shitty boat on someone’s driveway for them to discard then allowing your teenage son and his friends to have a house party wouldn’t be beneath you.

For the past month the landlord has been over there repairing and cleaning the house. In the last week he’s been cutting the boat up into pieces to bring to the city landfill. He told me he’s been trying to recoup some of his money but the process has been difficult. He surmises that the alleged bad tenants are professional bad tenants and that he was getting scammed from the beginning. During the interview process the ABTs said that they could not provide a reference because the last home they lived in was their own. One of the two cheques they gave him for the first two months of rent bounced.

The landlord has surprisingly had a sense of humour about this the whole time. He often laughs when reciting the tricks they pulled. He must be financially comfortable. A penniless landlord would be out for blood. It also sounded as if he may have felt some sympathy for this family because they stated their teenage child was autistic. I don’t even know if that was true but if you’re professional bad tenants then you’re probably experienced at working all the angles.

The list of deception does not end. For the entire time they were renting they had their utilities billed to the landlord’s name. The agreement was that they were supposed to set it up under their own name. “How’d they do that?” I asked. Apparently, the utilities get billed to the owner’s name by default. The ABTs didn’t notify him of this like they were supposed to and instead just paid the minimum payment so that the landlord would never get any phone calls or emails from the utility company. He was stuck with a $2000 bill. He’s since gone paperless.

I see some of the ABTs drive by now and again. Their weed dealer lives a few houses away. Must be hard to find another weed dealer. The landlord believes the ABTs have scammed the previous landlord and will likely do the same to their current one. I tried to play devil’s advocate but I can’t think of a reason why the ABTs may have had to do such a dirty number. Perhaps they thought it was unfair to be evicted for missing 2 months rent.

If I had to guess I would bet they just aren’t able to afford to be living in this city. Their rent was $2700 a month plus utilities for a 5 bedroom house. From what I gather only the parents were working. The adult children hung out like teenagers, walked their dog(no pets were allowed) and smoked weed. It never appeared to me they were ever going to or coming from a job. The teenage son steals “oxys” from his grandmother(I overheard him).

It might be awkward the next time the ABTs and I see each other. They’ll probably be thinking that I’m thinking, you forgot to take your shitty boat with you.