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There's No Place Like Home!

We're Off to See the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz!

Who hasn't seen The Wizard of Oz? This American classic 'make believe' has been an international staple in most children's diets for generations. The tale features the trials and tribulations of a naïve young girl named Dorothy and her dog Toto. Has it ever occurred to anyone that similarities exist between Dorothy and her dog Toto with Jane and Joe Six-Pack? After all, both are easy to talk to, even more easily led astray, quick to make friends and most importantly gullible.

The Jamaican Jerk - Off, or Just Cool Running, Man?

Is it not true that Jane and Joe Six-Pack have wandered far from home, lured deep into the wilderness of inflated realty values and excessive mortgage debt by larcenous low interest rates? It sure sounds familiar to me. Are there not increasingly dark storm clouds forming overhead now??? - or like Dorothy, are Jane and Joe too preoccupied with consumerism to notice the approaching inclement weather? Now, I ask, where have Jane and Joe taken refuge? Just like art imitates life as Dorothy and Toto, they have taken shelter, or at very least shall we say 'false peace of mind' in a house. The very vehicle they are going to ride all the way to this land of make believe is none other than the traditional family home. Quite a concept, isn't it? -- with all the blue sky azure allure of superfluous home equity and the encouragement to tap into it, provided to them by the Grand Wizard, Al Greenspan, and their friendly neighborhood GSE. Yes, aided by the powerful elixir of cheap credit, consumers seem intent on riding their homes all the way to Emerald City. But I digress.

"US house prices have had the largest one year increase since the 1970's. Second quarter of 03 to second quarter of 04 - 9.36 % annualized. For the most recent quarter - 8.83 % annualized."

Rocket Man Used to Be a Weather Forecaster!

As most of you may be aware, the trip to the Land of Oz begins when some bad weather spins up, spawning a tornado, which ultimately leads to a bump on Dorothy's head [Thank goodness, it wasn't a Hurricane, and she had drowned, we'd have no storyline!]. The resulting concussion or dream casts Dorothy and her Black Pooch on an imaginary journey into the heavens [ehhh, Blue Skies] in a house, yes, I said a HOUSE. Who would have ever figured that houses had such magical mystic, yet mysterious, powers? If this isn't a case of Hollywood impersonating reality, please pinch me to see if I am comatose. We all know Pigs can Fly!

I've Seen That Movie, Too - I've Heard that Song Before?

As I recollect my own fond memories of the movie, remembering Dorothy and Toto looking out the window of their 'flying house' as it spiraled up through a funnel cloud, I think I also see the Sugar Plum Fairy and Tinkerbell! From the window they could see their nasty, dog-hating, bike- riding neighbor transform herself into the broomstick riding Wicked Witch of the West. If you look really closely and take away the broom for a moment, you might even detect a snick of similarity, in and about the eyes and nose, with Franklin Delano Raines. Could they be related -- even blood cousins? Perhaps Mr. Raines has a broom or two in his closet, or perhaps a skeleton, too? I'll bet a magical broom would come in handy at year's end, when your favorite candy [Fannie Mae] sweeps all the dirty [Magical Mystery Tour] numbers under the rug. No, this isn't purely stream of consciousness like Falkner... you forgot the skeleton(s), didn't you?

"Fannie Mae paid a net $25.1 billion on derivatives transactions in under four years -- nearly all of which may represent losses that cannot be recouped, in turn depressing future earnings."

Now that's what I call Chump Change!

The King Must Die, or the Die is Cast? Lunch at Ruby Tuesday's!

In the movie, when Dorothy and Toto arrive in Munchkin Ville, Oz, the house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East [the one with the ruby slippers]. If you pay close attention, you might notice her legs are somewhat similar in shape, in and about the ankles, to those of our beloved John Snow - with his ruby nose. But no one dies early in this story [writer's liberty - after all, this is my story]. You will have to wait until the very end when everyone wakes up and realizes they are still in Kansas. Then everyone gets it - all at once. Then they all hop in an SUV and go to Ruby Tuesday's for lunch, since all the Schlotzky's Deli's closed!

Perfect Harmony, or Just a Deceptive Cadence?

Just like Dorothy, Jane and Joe Six-Pack have friends that offer moral support and accompany them on their journey. There is a truly brainless one they never elected to accompany them, but he came along for the ride anyway -- always cheer leading, saying the economy is strong, seeming to be his biggest concern not wanting to get fired [the proverbial ax]. Then there's another one, ole Rusty, with more metal in his chest than a buried treasure - but twice as hard to find. The third is a reluctant warrior - his growl more feared than his teeth or bite. Together, this fearsome group of adventurers set off on a magical journey [aka Magical Mystery Tour] to seek out the only person in the world with all the answers to all their worldly problems - for an endless supply of cheap and easy money.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, or Abby Road?

The adventuresome group was told to follow a special road, which would lead them to the exalted Wizard [known inside the Beltway, ehhh Abby Road, as the Grand Vizier]. It was paved with gold bricks and was sometimes referred to as 'the yellow brick road.' As to how the road got paved with gold bricks, I'll have to digress for a minute or two. You see, the Wizard, ehhh Grand Vizier, and Witch of the East used to be the custodians of all the gold in the Land of Oz. They had so much of, in fact, that it would barely fit into the vault [ehhh Fortus Knoxus]. Then came the day when paper currency was first printed in Oz. They printed so much of it, and it deteriorated so quickly, there would have to be some place to put it all. They soon figured that they would dishoard all of their vault gold from the Fed, Emerald City, and Fortus Knoxus and pave the main street throughout the land in gold, seeing as how it was a permanent store of value and was indestructible. Of course, as our weary adventurers clambered up the approach to the Emerald City they bade "Good- Bye" to the yellow brick road and approached the Vizier's palace, ehhh Federal Re$erve.

Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy, or Commander Cody & the Lost Planet Airmen?

Oz was ruled from The Fed, Emerald City, with an iron fist by the omnipotent Vizierial Imperial Wizard (Easy Al). From his perch [throne] behind a curtain he consulted from time to time [or whenever he saw fit] with governors from other Fed districts -- like Fed Munchkin Ville. Historically, this lot stuck to their knittin' and managed little more than the financial affairs of the Lollipop Guild. But, with the arrival of a beleaguered and debt strapped Jane and Joe Six-Pack, a newer and more adventurous course needed to be charted. Together, they conspired, lied, pushed and pulled levers, misdirected and otherwise cajoled Dorothy and her friends into 'stealing' the broomstick of Wicked Witch of the West. The problem with retrieving the witch's broomstick - she lives in an impregnable fortress, a bastion, a bastille that no mortal [especially independent auditors] has ever been - a bloomin' fortress [Helms Deep] guarded by 5 trillion artificial flying 'derivatives' monsters [just like Fannie Mae]. Ooops, I am getting ahead of myself!

Candle In The Wind, or the Answer, My Friend, is Blowin' in the Wind?

Clearly our heroes needed a plan, Stan, to find one sure of fifty ways to enter the fortress. They started with blueprints for the fortress - looking for its Achilles' heel. The architecture was impressive. The walls were all three feet thick and the fortress was tall - 26 stories. It was built beside the sea and was surrounded by water on two sides and just one pier. The third side had steep mountains as a backdrop and the fourth was guarded by the menacing 5 trillion derivatives monsters. Getting into the fortress was going to be a truly 'daunting task" to say the least! This is what we call a local micro market real estate problem! The solution, as it turned out, our compadres in theft [Pay attention! - stealing the broomstick!] came upon quite by accident. As it turns out, the Imperial Vizierial Wizard back at Fed Emerald City had an emergency Friends of Munchkins committee [FOMC] meeting in which they all decided to precipitously raise short term interest rates. With house prices in Munchkin Ville more than doubling in the past 5 years, they were left with no other choice. You see, the derivatives monsters were so highly allergic to sharply rising rates, that they literally started 'blowing up' if the winds of fate shifted their direction. The Wicked Witch of the West had completely failed to take the derivatives monsters weaknesses [allergies] into consideration when designing the defenses for the fortress. Guess that's what happens when you learn to ride a bicycle before a broom! The result would be utter devastation -- a complete and utter mess [dark foreshadows of what's likely to soon come back in Kansas, perhaps?]!

Madman Across The Water, Hands Across the Zeider Zee, and the Yellow Submarine

So there they were, the adventurers standing before the still imposing fortress of the Witch of the West. They drew closer. After a closer examination of the foundation of the fortress, they quickly discovered that it was made of sand. YES, I SAID SAND. The Blessed Black Pooch had tried to bury a bone he had found along the way, and he threw sand in everyone's eyes burying the bone at the SE bastion, aka turret [Ivory Tower]! Complete systemic collapse was only a matter of time - in the end all that was required was a good flushing Raines - and it had been threateningly cloudy all day with the weather reports from the SEC our entourage had been receiving on their Palm Pilots. It wasn't long before the brainless one felt a few drops -- he immediately dived for cover behind a mature burning bush, the genus species having originally come from County Kerry in the Emerald Isle, Eire to you. Ole Rusty's chest soon seized up, but no one could find him in his undisclosed location at Iron Mountain. The reluctant warrior stood in the rain with his oil can at the ready, frantically squirting oil everywhere. The whole situation was getting very slippery. That left Jane and Joe Six-Pack, alone, watching the colossus of a fortress with a foundation made of sand collapsing under its own weight. In a storyline [world] like this, one in which no one wants to finish their role [live], Jane and Joe quickly realized that they had very few real friends. The Yellow Submarine had already left the pier. And certainly, Elvis had already left the building [fortress] before the collapse for another gig just the other side of Munchkin Ville!

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, or Your Cheatin' Heart?

All that was left to do was to retrieve the broomstick of the Witch of the West from the rubble, which was conveniently located atop the collapsed mound of sand, and return it [theft] to the omnipotent Imperial Vizierial Wizard in the Emerald City. As they returned to Emerald City, they couldn't help but notice that the former yellow brick road was no longer paved with gold [nor good intentions as they crossed the River Styx]. Jane and Joe looked at each other in amazement and asked a passer-by with a wheelbarrow full of freshly printed money on just one side, what had happened to the beautiful golden road? The passer-by informed them that many trucks [mostly Mitsubishi's, that used to make airplanes back in '41] showed up late one night. Seems like a whole swarm of former airplane engineers who got Zeroed in their jobs, loaded all the gold and disappeared - it was rumored that they caught the last train to Clarksville just west of Munchkin Ville for the coast, for a slow boat to China, since none of 'em had tickets for the Elvis concert.

"In the 1970's a very courageous gentleman named Edward Durrell claimed that substantially all of the US Gold Reserve being stored at Ft. Knox was gone. Only 1,000 tonnes or so of the 8,500 tonnes supposedly being stored there remained."

Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, or My Immortal?

Upon reaching the Imperial Vizierial Wizard's palace [Fed Reserve, Emerald City], Jane and Joe were astonished to see that the palace's shimmer was gone. Was it all a complete lie? On the front door was a placard with instructions that read:

"To return to reality, tap your heels together three times whilst saying with each click of your mouse, "There's no place like home." BUT BEEEEEE CAREFUL!!! That's what I did and my palace was repossessed when I couldn't afford my new payments on my adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). Seems like some Jack Leg realty appraiser buried me in my ARM loan - Gee, Whiz! I only wanted 150%! Since I never was a good Imperial Vizierial Wizard -- I've gone fly fishing somewhere over the rainbow. If you really need to find me, try calling Rocky Mountain High Information on your cell phone. I'll keep my cell phone on vibrate, but don't fax me... it'll scare the fish!"

- Your Immortal Pal,

§ Easy Al


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