When Sums Don’t Add Up, by Elayne Riggs

Elayne Riggs

Elayne Riggs is the creator of the popular blog Pen-Elayne on the Web. She was a founding member of Friends of Lulu, an organization dedicated to increasing the involvement of girls and women in comics, as readers and creators. She is married to inker Robin Riggs, with whom she shares two cats, and has odd love/hate relationship with Hillary Clinton.

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6 Responses

  1. Elayne Riggs says:

    Long term? Vas is los “long term” of which you speak? Hey bucko, get with the program, we’re a culture of immediate self-gratification now! And now! And now again!

    I almost did a shout-out to you, Vin, about the order of the speculeech craze in the ’90s, as I remembered you worked for a card mogul then did ComicFest, but the way the column flowed I wound up not talking about the chronology of it all. Good job, too, then I might have had to use Chronos instead of the Calculator as my illustration.

    • Tommy Raiko says:

      "Long term? Vas is los "long term" of which you speak? Hey bucko, get with the program, we're a culture of immediate self-gratification now! And now! And now again!"Ah, I know what you mean. And yet, let's not be so cynical as to think that everybody in this culture demands immediate gratification for everything in their life they want gratified. Or at least, let us be hopeful enough to think that folks can, where appropriate, be turned from their self-gratification penchants. There are certainly investors who do recognize a long-term horizon, whether it's a worker saving for retirement, or an infant's parent saving for college…And, really, it was retirement-savers who I was thinking about earlier. This article talks about 50 million workers participating in 401(k)-like plans, and 46 million in IRAs. Many of those millions are surely close to retirement, needing to access those funds soon, and facing some tough decisions. But also, many of those millions are surely still decades away from retirement; for people who have that much time, it'd be a pity indeed if the current financial crisis causes them to flee the stock market for other kinds of investments that aren't going to meet their needs.

  2. Tommy Raiko says:

    I don't want to make light of the current financial crisis, how it's affecting everyone from Wall Street to Main Street (as the newscasters say,) but specifically to the notion that "selling short" on investments is odious, I'll just comment that were it not for short-selling, the climax to TRADING PLACES wouldn't have worked, and that's one of my favorite movies…Less facetiously, I'll say that there's been some good coverage as to how exactly this current financial crisis arose (This American Life's piece at http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.asp… comes to mind.) It behooves us all to understand, as well as we can, what happened here, if only so that we can keep our elected representatives accountable and suggest cogent reform.

  3. Vinnie Bartilucci says:

    Any time an item becomes a Hot Collectable, and people are buying the item for anything other than its actual purpose (comics for reading, oil for powering devices, houses for living in), you run the risk of the price far outstripping the value. And all it takes is one person saying "Hey, if this really worth all that much?" for it all to collapse like Spidey's webs after an hour.The Housing Crisis can be blamed greatly (tho not exclusively) on people buying houses for short-term investment. Not "buy the house, wait 40 years for the price to rise and sell it so you can retire", but "Buy the house, wait for the price to rise in six months and sell it to somone else who will also try to sell it in six months". That can't last. It's a massive pyramid scheme. When kept within reasonable limits (possibly the most controversial words of this entire post), the system works. But far too many people got involved who didn't appreciate that, or didn't want to wait, the system was changed to aim more towards short-term profits, as opposed to long-term gains. Stocks, real estate, etc, these are all designed to be LONG-term investments. It's the EXACT same thing that created the first Crash. People were getting into the stock market and making massive amounts of money, not off the value of the companies they were investing in, but from the people who came in behind them. They were writing popular songs about the Stock Market. And then sombody hesitated for a second, and it all fell apart, like that Visa check card commercial where one guy tries to pay with cash (the phillistine) and the smooth consumer machine all collapses.They doped the racehorse, watched it win ten races in a row, and acted surprised when it dropped dead. I can't lay the blame at the feet of the investment banks, just like I can't lay the blame at the feet of the publishers for the 90's comics glut. Both were replying to what the market demanded. Marvel could have easily said they weren't going to do any more four-cover bagged with a card editions, but everyone was making money, so why stop? Jim Shooter tried to stop Valiant from doing their chromium cover million-copy print run of Bloodshot #1, and got squeezed out of his own company. The banks could have said no, but nobody forced the public to get mortgages they couldn't afford. It's the same argument as Big Macs, really – as convincing the advertising is, the burgers are not being distributed at gunpoint. It's not a popular argument, but nonetheless true.The fault lies not in the NorthStars, but in ourselves.

    • Tommy Raiko says:

      "Stocks, real estate, etc, these are all designed to be LONG-term investments."This is a really good point, and one worth emphasizing.As traumatic as the current financial situation is, it would be a huge shame if it caused people to pull out of the stock market for their legitimate long-term needs. Because even with the fluctuations of the past few weeks and months, these sorts of investments are remain the best bet for building wealth over the long term (as in years-and-years long-term.)

  4. Alan Coil says:

    And it was all so predictable. I'm not even involved in financing, and I could see that there was a problem.Savings & loan deregulation.Energy deregulation.Airline deregulation.Investment deregulation.All followed by huge busts. And a lot of criminal activity.Those deregulations were there for a reason. We allowed our leadership to forget the past, now we are doomed to repeat the past. People under 50 better watch how they spend their money from now on. People under 40 had best kiss goodbye any thoughts of seeing Social Security money, as I think SS is the next thing to be deregulated.