Friday, October 17, 2008

Where Are All The People Going to Buy Their Crap?

Another big retailer is about to liquidate itself and close up shop for good:
Mervyns' announcement marks the latest retail obituary and represents yet another blow to the nation's malls, which are grappling with increasing vacancy rates in a deteriorating economic environment. On Tuesday, specialty retailer Linens 'n Things, which filed for bankruptcy protection in May, announced it will begin liquidation sales at its stores as early as this week after failing to find a buyer that wanted to operate the company.

[...]

The big problem with Mervyns, a 59-year-old chain, was that it had been squeezed between high-end department stores and discounters like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Before its bankruptcy filing, Mervyns had been shuttering stores and leaving states such as Oregon and Washington since 2005, after a consortium of private equity players including Sun Capital Partners Inc. bought Mervyns from Target Corp. for $1.2 billion.

In April, Mervyns appointed Goodman, who had been president and general manager of the Dockers brand - a key supplier to Mervyns - as president and chief executive. But the chain's heavy concentration in California has made a turnaround harder.

Last month, Mervyns sued the private equity firms involved in the leveraged buyout of the chain from Target, alleging the deal stripped the retailer of its real estate assets, forcing it into bankruptcy.

Mervyns said in the suit that the investment group, which included Cerberus Capital Management and Sun Capital Management, bought Mervyns in 2004, acquired its real estate and leased it back to the company at substantially increased rates. Mervyns says the increased rent was used to finance the buyout.
I cannot be certain if it was the economy or if it was your typical boneheaded business decisions. Seeing big retailers go out of business isn't new, but what's different during this economic downturn is the speed at which they are collapsing before even attempting to stay open through the Christmas retail season. I suspect quite a few store chains are going to disappear in 2009, especially music and book stores, as well as specialty retailers.

Wal-Mart is here to stay, sir. Get your Slim Jims and your Mr. Pibb whilst you can. Your bad is my good--when all of the good stores are gone, there will be nothing left but the low end and the very high end, where I will be, purchasing binoculars so that I can see your fat ass coming from six miles away.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Money Without Any Value

Sad to see this kind of money wasted--it sure would have made a useful tax cut:
A former Iraqi official estimated yesterday that more than $13 billion meant for reconstruction projects in Iraq was wasted or stolen through elaborate fraud schemes.

Salam Adhoob, a former chief investigator for Iraq's Commission on Public Integrity, told the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, an arm of the Democratic caucus, that an Iraqi auditing bureau "could not properly account for" the money.

While many of the projects audited "were not needed -- and many were never built," he said, "this very real fact remains: Billions of American dollars that paid for these projects are now gone."
Well, the money isn't "gone." The money paid for goods and services, bombs and killings, death and destruction, you see. The money is floating through the vast cesspool of the Iraqi economy, spreading throughout the region. It's being used to buy more bombs, more guns, more vicious horror. It is changing hands, buying allegiances, and doing whatever ill-gotten gains do--it's drying up and disappearing.

Go ahead and try this on for size--steal fifty dollars from someone. Spend it. Hope they don't find out about it. If you get caught, don't blame me. I suggest this as a scenario in order to teach you something, and you're entirely on your own and I disavow you because you should not steal fifty dollars just because some old man on a fabulous blog told you to do so.

What have you really accomplished? Well, your fifty dollars bought things for you, and now you have things you didn't earn. Good for you--what are they worth? What can you do with them? Is there any pride in having them? Did you buy food for a starving family or did you buy yourself crap? How do you know the value of anything when you don't know the value of hard work?

Ethics. Don't even try applying them without a license.