What a last two weeks of extremes: Wall Street & Mortgage Mess to a symbol of America’s dark days and accomplishment.

I just happen to look up at the ticker when I was in Times Square about a week or so ago (8/17) after a quick subway train ride up from Wall Street. Then shortly after, the following message in the picture below showed and I quickly took a shot of it. This was on Friday after the Fed injected another round of Billions into the market. These photos pretty much sums up the market over the last couple weeks.

After arriving home at 2:30AM Wednesday last week I had but a few hours of shut eye and then promptly drove all the way to Idaho. On the way back home this past weekend I felt the urge to take it slow and go HWY 2 and visit the Grand Coulee Dam and then onward to the North Cascades Highway via the beautiful Methow Valley and Okanogan countryside. I told my kids that one of the trips this summer had to include some historical background for a bit of education. The Grand Coulee Dam was it.

Well, during the visit I came away absolutely awestruck. We all went upstairs to the visitors center Theater and watched a 50 minute documentary on why the Grand Coulee Dam was built: It was part of the New Deal by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to put people back to work after the devastation created by the Stock Market Crash of October, 1929. The documentary spent several minutes discussing, with actual 1929 footage of the floor in a frenzy at the NYSE, the events leading to the New Deal by FDR and subsequent Federal backing of building the Grand Coulee Dam.

While only a handful of people were in the Theater, I noticed an old couple sitting two rows down from us and I could not help but notice they were knodding there heads up and down (presumably in agreement with what was being said) and from side to side (presumably in agreement and disbelief that they or people they knew went through that period) during some intense footage of the desperation across America.

During the documentary I could not help but think, my gosh, I was at ground zero (Wall Street) just a few days ago where it all began, and then to see this monumental icon of American engineering, ingenuity, brutal work and symbol of both the dark days of America and at the same time the symbol of what is great about this country. Some of the quotes in the documentary by the financial elite are eerily similar to what we hear today about the economy and health of the banking system. There was even mention of how the FDIC was created back then to guarantee deposits and thus reduce the possibility of there ever being a run on banks.

The Grand Coulee Dam took many years to build and 12 Million Cubic Yards of concrete. It produces the most electrical power in North America and it currently is the largest concrete structure in America and the third largest Hydroelectic plant on earth. Excavation began in 1933 and it was essentially complete in 1941. Subsequent upgrades and pumping stations followed and now irrigates roughly a half million acres of farmland in what is today the Columbia Basin. It is a must see if you ever get a chance.

Photo of the Grand Coulee Dam (a mile long) this past Saturday. A symbol of both the dark and bright periods in American history. Sorry this post too long, but I hope some find the symbolism, as I did, very educational.

  

About S-Crow

"S-Crow" (Tim Kane) is co-owner (with spouse Lynlee, LPO-Designated escrow Officer) of Legacy Escrow Service, Inc., an authentic independent escrow firm closing residential purchase/sale and refinance transactions.

22 comments:

  1. 1
    Matthew says:

    Gound zero truly is an awe inspiring sight to behold in person.

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  2. 2
    nathan says:

    When I was in college one of my semester-long assignments was to interview someone from a previous generation and compare their oral history to the history written in the textbooks. I interviewed my grandfather, the youngest son of a West Virginia coal mining family. He was just of age to enter the mines himself when the Depression struck, closing the only source of employment in that region.

    He joined the CCC at 15, where he learned surveying skills. When WWII arrived, the Army recruited him to map trajectories, which kept him off the front lines and taught him cartography. Upon returning to the US, he joined the USGS and traveled the country mapping some of the most wild areas of the continent. I have a bit of a map fetish myself, and always scan a quadrangle map for his name.

    When I moved to Washington State, he told me that I must visit the Grand Coulee Dam, as in all his travels, he never had the opportunity. I wish he could see it. As geography geek myself, I know he’d be fascinated by the contrast between the desert and Lake Roosevelt and the tremendous effect the project has had on the Columbia Basin.

    As a freshman, two things about this story struck me. First, the job with the CCC, which he described as, “moving a bunch of golly rocks around all day,” began a slow process of acquiring more refined skills, which eventually led to a life-long career doing something he enjoyed.

    Second, to this day, he is a man who never uses credit. He’s never even had a gas card. If he can’t afford it, he goes without. My great uncle explained that as the youngest, it was my grandfather’s responsibility to pick up the food from the welfare office, and he would run through the back alleys to avoid the embarrassment of being seen. This is a town where the entire population was on welfare. His basement is stocked with about a year’s worth of canned fruits and vegetables from his garden, which he still tends.

    The Depression was an incredibly humbling lesson he’s never forgotten.

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  3. 3
    S-Crow says:

    Nathan, fantastic story.

    The parallels of being on Wall Street, being in the housing business with all the stuff going down and then learning of the reasons for the Grand C. Dam being built had me thinking “could it happen again?”

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  4. 4

    THE CORPORATE ELITE’S BRAINLESS AND DESTRUCTIVE [ILLEGAL TOO] OVERPOPULATION LOWERING AMERICAN WAGES CAUSED THIS SUBPRIME MORTGAGE MESS

    See the proof in Arizona, coming to a your town too:

    http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/0826sanctionsimpact08260.html

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  5. 5

    MORE ON THE SUBPRIME MESS IN AMERICA

    Read these blogs from all opinions, not much support for status quo, no not at all:

    http://www.steinreport.com/archives/010700.html#comments

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  6. 6

    OF COURSE, GOOD OLD DR. ROUBINI SUMS UP THE GENERAL SUBPRIME MESS FAR BETTER THAN ANYONE I KNOW ON MSM

    See his 27 August 2007 letter:

    http://www.rgemonitor.com/blog/roubini/212479/

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  7. 7
    brian says:

    Dr. Roubini is now in the bailout camp along with Bill Gross. Its starting to look like the people who saved and didn’t recklessly get $1.5m I/O loans and default on first payment are looking pretty stupid. The great mass of fools who bought into this are going to demand the rest of us taxpayers give them their American dream house for free, and it will probably work.

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  8. 8
    rose-colored-coolaid says:

    brian,

    Don’t worry about a bailout. Does anyone even know what a working bailout would look like? Lowering the FED rate to 5% isn’t a bailout, but it will help psychology. And I’m convinced that’s all the likes of Gross and Roubini and Cramer really want. They want psychology strengthening so they can get out of their positions over the next 3 months.

    So that’s your bailout. The rich get to hand the bags off to someone else.

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  9. 9
    Joel says:

    *Preliminary estimates for 2005 are based on the 2004-05 payroll data compiled by the state Employment Security Department and the state total personal income data published by BEA.

    Data from 2004-05 is not 7 years old unless you’re from the future. The next time you tell someone to read the fine print, you might want to read it yourself first.

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  10. 10
    Joel says:

    Whoops wrong post.

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  11. 11
    brian says:

    rose-colored-coolaid,

    I am not so sure. I realize they just want to help their own positions, especially Gross, but it is obvious from Cramer that they know they need to push it as a form of populism rather than bail out the bankers. This would both the scumbag banks and their borrowers while screwing everyone who had not bought in the last 5 years. But they will be able to frame the argument such that being against it means you want precious children to be homeless and elderly people to die in the snow. The bankers know a bailout only for them in politically untenable, so the next best thing is a bailout for themselves with a little kickback to the fools.

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  12. 12
    TJ_98370 says:

    Great post S-Crow,

    I am visiting the great metropolis of Pullman once again. Maybe we will swing by the dam on the way back.

    I have had opportunities to converse with relatives who were around during the great depression. These were people who would carefully save rubber bands and shoelaces because they really had lived the “waste not, want not” philosophy out of necessity. I believe most of us in this country today do not know what REAL poverty is really like – things like not being able to afford shoes, or not knowing where your next meal is coming from. My grandfather went from being a successful construction business co-owner to selling pots & pans door to door to support his family during the depression. Many of us in this country take a lot for granted these days.

    (preach mode off)

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  13. 13

    I’M NOT SURE ABOUT ROUBINI PUSHING FOR A BAILOUT OF THE RICH

    You may be right, but he writes his opinions pragmatically without conclusion, giving alternatives to the subprime mess. He may fear something as bad as a Great Depression, if something isn’t done. He’s always been clearly predicting a real estate bubble and potential hard landing [like us]; even when the rest of MSM thought he was nuts and/or wished he was nuts.

    He was the old economic advisor for Clinton, so may have the new world order masses in front of the American Middle Class’ future [when did that become a Democratic platform?].

    I do like Roubini’s detailed insights on the current subprime mess and he offers all sides on his blog.

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  14. 14
    Bellingham REnter says:

    Does anyone live in the Bellingham area?

    If this doesn’t make you laugh, I don’t know what will. I keep cracking up over the “parking for 4″. It looks like a miniature barbie doll house.

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  15. 15
    TJ_98370 says:

    Test

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  16. 16

    S-Crow,
    what a great post. Our family just missed your family at the dam by a few days. We drove back from Lake Roosevelt on Friday and were hoping to stay the night at Grand Coulee. It was packed and we had no reservations. We stayed over in Wenatchee instead.

    The dam is amazing. I have not been to Ground Zero, yet.

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  17. 17
    S-Crow says:

    TJ- yes, if you get a chance, go by the dam. I saw it when I was a small child, but I appreciated it so much more this time. And if you do go, please take the time to see the documentary in the Theater at the visitors center. It will blow you away. It had more impact on me probably because I was at Wall Street a few days earlier where the unraveling of our economy and subsequent Depression got it’s legs and the impetus for moving forward with the dam was realized. I enjoy history.

    I’ve also encouraged the small staff at our office to take the market in for all it’s worth because they are witnessing history unfold in the real estate & mortgage markets. I felt it important for them understand the mechanics behind our business and what makes it ebb and flow.

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  18. 18
    SeattleHotty says:

    Another article naming Seattle as “special”:
    http://tinyurl.com/32ka83 but admitting to falling prices elsewhere.

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  19. 19
    rose-colored-coolaid says:

    brian,

    I think we are both writing the same thing. I agree they are using populist arguments to fight for a bailout. My only contention is that a bailout will never help you or me or homeowners in foreclosure (except accidentally). The big names know who they are fighting for and it is themselves.

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  20. 20
    Nude says:

    Yes, it could happen again. Some would argue that it is happening now, including me. What the history books rarely point out is that for all the money spent on public projects like this dam and others, it didn’t change a thing in the economy. The CCC was great for a few people, but didn’t help the majority. None of the “New Deal” programs that were spawned during that era did anything to turn the country around. On 12/6/41 we were still in a Depression and only the massive war spending and eventual victory ended it, as we were the only country with an undamaged manfacturing base.

    We may end up in another global depression. But please don’t look to the government to fix it again. These massive works are a tribute to man’s ability and a testament to government impotence.

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  21. 21
    Greenthum says:

    S-Crow:

    I was visiting Grand Coulee Dam this past Saturday as well. We got there Friday evening and stayed at one of the local motels. The laser light show at the dam that evening was amazing! We toured the dam on Saturday.
    Grand Coulee is truly a wonder and shows what hard working Americans can accomplish when the going gets tough.

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  22. 22
    Matt_in_TX says:

    Don’t miss the advertisement below the Times Square ticker: “19000 sf available, including Ground Level”.

    My uncle worked 30 years at the dam and retired to a trailer a couple of miles below it in the canyon. I just don’t see that kind of faith in a job well done today.

    In the past, government spending built this massive piece of infrastructure that is still a critical component of the regional economy. Today’s government prefers to help people buy and sell bloated assets back and forth.

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