From a small northwestern observatory…

Finance and economics generally focused on real estate

3/13/09 — “All the lights are on….”

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I’ve been traveling this week, and actually surprised to be in the office today — I was supposed to be in court today testifying in a case. Fortunately, the case went quicker than we’d planned, and I get an “extra” day in my schedule. It’s sunny outside, with mild temperatures. Naturally, that means I’m sitting at my desk. Oh well….

But anyway, I have to share this semi-boring story with you from my travels this week. It’s 100% true, only with the name of the city and the “offending” corporation blotted out. I found it fairly humorous. You may find it terribly boring, but I thought it was emblematic of the current investment malaise.

I was in a major central-time-zone city, far away from Wall Street. I flew in late Sunday night, and checked into a hotel which I’ve frequented in the past. I’d never paid attention to it in the past, but next door to the hotel is an art museum, and next door to IT is a fairly blank, open field of perhaps 4 – 6 acres or so. As I drove past the field late at night, I couldn’t help but notice that there were some odd looking light fixtures out in the field all turned on. The fixtures themselves were fairly decorative, but they were positioned as if they were supposed to illuminate something else — but there was nothing else in the field besides the lights.

The next day, I had a few minutes to kill and went for a walk. Across the street is the very massive, multi-building headquarters for a very major mutual fund company. Full disclosure here — until mid-2008, this mutual fund company had a tidy sum of Ms. K’s money invested. They still have her money, it’s just about 1/3 less than it was a year ago. Anyway, the field, as it turns out, is the “Mutual Fund Company Sculpture Garden”, a part of the art museum paid for by the folks across the street as a gesture of good citizenship.

But… ahem…. where’s the sculpture? The lights are all there, but the supposed sculpture pieces which are to be illuminated by said lights are all gone. What’s even more galling (where’s Al Gore when you need him…), the lights were on at night even though there was nothing there to illuminate.

Seriously. A mutual fund sculpture garden, fully illuminated, with no sculptures. If that’s not emblematic of the current investment world, I don’t know what is.

Written by johnkilpatrick

March 13, 2009 at 12:55 pm

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