Mysterious things of ’08

Published 8:16 pm Tuesday, December 30, 2008

There have been some mysterious happenings and explanation for some the events of 2008. Some of them I have a feeling will continue in 2009.

One is the price of gasoline. It’s skyrocketed and then it dropped like a rocket out of fuel.

The explanation has been supply and demand. Whatever.

Now some are bemoaning the fact that gasoline prices are cheaper in surrounding cities than here in Bainbridge. It’s a common complaint and one where supply and demand seems to be the only explanation since the terminal is here and logic would dictate that gas prices would be cheaper here than say Donalsonville or Cairo.

Well, my Uncle Joe was a capitalist of the truest sense.

I remember we were driving north on Interstate 95 years ago when he needed to fill up. He started comparing prices. At one exit, the price was cheaper than at the next one or two exists.

Boy, he whipped that baby blue Cadillac with the white leather seats around, drove the extra 10 to 20 miles to get gas one or two cents cheaper a gallon.

Capitalism was at work here because he bought his supply from those who didn’t demand more than the guy down the road.

Maybe we can test his theory here now.

Drive the extra 10 or 20 miles out of town to buy the cheaper gas, and see if the supply in Bainbridge gets to where the demand falls. Will the prices follow suit?

Head in sand

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox said in a Washington Post interview that he was proud of his restrained approach to the financial crisis, and he admitted his agency failed to detect the largest Ponzi scheme in history, the alleged $50 billion fraud by Bernard Madoff.

“What we have done in this current turmoil is stay calm, which has been our greatest contribution—not being impulsive, not changing the rules willy-nilly, but going through a very professional and orderly process that takes into account unintended consequences and gives ample notice to market participants,” Cox told the newspaper in a story published Christmas Eve.

The sand pile must be huge where he has stuck his head in. And from his self patting-on-the-back comments, he must have had his head so far deep that the other end shined brightly.

Cox is a former congressman from California when he became chairman in 2005 and he plans to step down early next year before his full five-year term expires.

Good riddance.

Maybe the next chairman will read the SEC’s mission statement: “The mission of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation.”

Unfair credit card rules

The Federal Reserve, Treasury and Congress are all proposing new rules to prohibit “unfair or deceptive credit card practices.”

Among those practices are arbitrary interest-rate increases and double-cycle billing.

The regulations—some which are proposed by legislation through Congress and others proposed by regulation through the Treasury Department—proposes to force card companies to give advance notice of interest rate increases and allow borrowers to reject them, crack down on excessive fees and other safeguards for consumers.

The regulations won’t take effect until the summer of 2010.

If you were a minute late on a payment, didn’t the credit card companies hike your interest rate or charge you a hefty late fee?

If they are unfair, how come it’s taking almost 18 months to take effect?

One mystery solved

There was one mystery during the Christmas holidays that was relatively solved.

My mother-in-law made this huge red-velvet cake that she happened to have left out during an afternoon when she was watching our seven-month-old Lab puppy, Misti, while Elaine went to do an errand.

Upon Elaine’s return, the 11-by-12-inch cake was gone, including the Saran wrap.

Misti, which is short for mischievous, left no evidence that there was a cake—until she decided to rock with me on my chair (excuse me, her chair that I just happened to be in at the time).

Up it came—very red with a piece of Saran wrap—on the living room floor (thank goodness for tile).

Mystery solved.

However, I bet she was saying to herself, “Let them eat cake.”