14,164 Minus 8,579 Equals?

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the New York Stock Exchange's all-time record high of 14,164. It was not a happy anniversary, however, as the Dow-Jones continued its frenzied plunge, losing another 679 points to fall to 8,579, a loss over the past year of 5,585 points, about 39% of the stocks' value. Even worse, it doesn't appear that the bottom has been reached, as stock markets around the world continue to plummet.

The equation in today's blog post title is more rhetorical than mathematical. The real question is how it will play out in the upcoming election. A lot of people who have lost small fortunes in the past few weeks are going to be very, very angry, and somebody is going to get the blame. They won't connect the dots and see the malfeasance of various Democrats like Chris Dodd and Barney Frank who enabled and exacerbated the housing crisis; they'll just say "Bush is in the White House, so it must be the Republicans' fault!"

I'm afraid that Barack Obama will benefit from the anger of the middle-class voter who has been watching his retirement funds evaporate faster than a puddle in Baghdad, despite the fact that the policies that Obama is likely to implement will probably make the situation worse, not better. In a panicky market, however, it's unlikely that the voters will be any more rational than the traders on Wall Street.

One thing's for sure: I wouldn't want to be one of those Wall Street wheeler-dealers when the Obama administration's Justice Department starts trying "economic criminals." And yes, I have already heard that term bandied about, albeit by Ralph Nader rather than any mainstream Democrat. However, if Obama is elected and brings his pals along with him (Secretary of Education William Ayers, anyone?), Nader will be a typical mainstream voice of that administration.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.