The most exciting thing I have to report is the planned mini-reunion get-together Saturday, September 14th at Tuttle's, starting at 5:00 pm. If you missed this informal gathering last September, you missed a great night! The nice thing about meeting at Tuttle's, in addition to having our own private room in the back, is that we also can take advantage of the public bar and restaurant, which, by the way, serves wonderful Walleye sandwiches. Those of you who will be in the area around that time, please head on over to Tuttle's - you will be glad you did!
Other ways to stay in touch with classmates are through our website, www.hopkinshigh62.com, or Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/188901251151017/ .
We welcome contributions to this newsletter from everyone, so if you have information you want to relay, something you want to say, or a column you want to write, please let us know. You can email us at HHS62@outlook.com. We are hoping to have bimonthly mailings, but may send out additional notices when necessary.
I want to thank Cheryl, Marlene, Wayne, Dick, Mary and Jerry for their contributions to this newsletter.
Cover pic: Burwell School, Mrs. Envil's Kindergarten Class
A Note from Cheryl Walsh Bellville, and Congratulations to her!
I mentioned in our last graduation booklet that I'd worked in children's publishing while I was doing commercial photography. I wrote and/or photo-illustrated fourteen non-fiction books for young readers. Sometimes the publisher suggested the topic, or paired me up with a manuscript that needed an illustrator. More often, the subject was something I was personally interested in, such as farming with horses, ranching, veterinary medicine, etc. It was very enjoyable work.
Last fall, my co-author on the last two books approached the Minnesota Historical Society Press about republishing Powwow Summer. This book documents an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) family from Red Lake, MN. I am very happy to report that they agreed to make it part of their 2013 book list and will publish it this September. They are dropping the price to make it more affordable to the target audience of Native children and schools.
Cheryl Walsh Bellville Photography
I am reminding all those from the magnificent class of 1962 of our gathering coming up.
Saturday, September 14th, 2013 from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm we are 'gathering' at TUTTLE'S in Hopkins to just say hi, mingle, talk, bowl or whatever!
Hope to see you there!
If you are planning to attend, the reunion committtee would appreciate knowing this, so they can plan refreshments accordingly. Please email Judy Pierskalla Skorheim,
Margo's Dream by Marlene Iverson Frankson
Till the River Runs Dry
That is the title of John Freivald's book about Margo Mogush, his wife. I was priviledged to attend a gathering of Margo and John's friends at a book signing at The Marsh in Lake Minnetonka on July 17th. My reason for attending was to put a closure on my relationship with Margo. Margo and I were in band together, Girl Scouts (all the way to Cadet standing, and had many sleep-overs together with other friends. Margo was also my bridesmaid when I married Tom in 1965. I lost track of Margo over the years, and was so sad to hear of her death.
Margo , as you will remember, was "extremely tall " and "always felt like an ugly duckling and had a poor physical image of herself". We both were shy and unsure of ourselves, especially when it came to "boys'. I remember that she went to a finishing school in downtown Minneapolis, which helped her to become more confident about her height and self-image. She was a very good drummer and piano player. She also had a winning smile and a great laugh.
Margo had one failed marriage, and was not happy or fulfilled in her job ( she worked at Biosearch when she decided to quit and go abroad). The reason for her trip was she felt "that other people were controlling her life" and she needed to "be in complete control and without restraints".
Till the River Runs Dry is the story of Margo's adventures in Asia. It is simply amazing to read of all the places she visited and all of her adventures. She climbed Ayers Rock in Australia! She also, in the end, suffered many medical issues, the last being cancer, which took her life. Do purchase the book and read about one of your classmates whom you probably didn't know very well. John has done an amazing job and I was so priviledged to meet him and share a little bit about Margo and me. The picture to the right is of Margo as a bridesmaid in my wedding in 1965.
PERSPECTIVES...by Dick Rippe
LOOKING FOR INSIGHT INTO THE RECENT FINANCIAL CRISIS AND RECESSION? HERE’S A SUGGESTION
Occasionally I am asked by a friend or client to recommend a book or article on some economic topic. Recently, most of the requests have centered on what to read about the financial crisis and the severe recession which followed in 2008-2009. The topic remains important today because, while a recovery has unfolded, the increase in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been the slowest in the post World War II period, and there are still more than 20 million Americans who are either unemployed, working part time when they want full time work, or have stopped looking for work—a very high number by historical standards and a very serious problem. Of course, some progress has been made, as the official unemployment rate has decreased from 10.0% to 7.4% as of July, and stock prices hit new all time highs. But these developments are small consolation to those who remain unemployed.
Read Alan Blinder’s New Book
I have just finished a good book that discusses how we got into this mess and what has been/is being done about it: Alan Blinder’s After The Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, The Response, and The Work Ahead (The Penguin Press, 2013). The title of the book comes from Chuck Prince, who as Chairman of Citigroup famously said: “When the music stops…things will be complicated. But as long as the music is playing, you’ve got to get up and dance. We’re still dancing.” Blinder is eminently qualified to write such a book: He is a professor of economics at Princeton, former Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and a former member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. He is a liberal Democrat but, for the most part, keeps his political leanings out of the discussion. And, unlike many economists, he writes very well, and is even self-deprecating in an amusing way.
This is a non-technical book, but it should not be mistaken for a beach novel. However, where some economic concepts are needed in the discussion, Blinder provides clear, English-language (i.e., non-mathematical) explanations. The book is pretty long (476 pages), but there are parts—such as the discussion of how the regulatory matters are being handled in Chapters 11 and 12— that can be skimmed or skipped entirely, unless you have a particular interest in them or unless you are a masochist!
Causes of the Crisis
Blinder argues that the economy was hit by a “perfect storm”. It brought us close to a global financial meltdown which, in turn, produced a severe recession; many believe, myself included, that we were close—much too close for comfort—to a second Great Depression. He identifies seven key conditions that contributed to this perfect storm:
He describes in some detail the role each of these played in the crisis.
Inflated asset prices (especially houses);
Excessive leverage (borrowing) throughout the economy;
Lax financial regulation;
Disgraceful banking practices, especially in subprime mortgage lending;
A crazy quilt of securities and derivatives built with subprime mortgages;
Abysmal performance of the statistical rating agencies;
Perverse compensation systems in financial institutions that created incentives to “go for broke.”
I agree with Blinder that all of these elements were important parts of the problem. But I would have added to the list a mindset that overtook much of the country: Namely, that house prices were only going to go up and that an owner/investor could not lose money. After all, houses had gone up in value in most regions for many years. Stories abound of people who quit their regular jobs and turned to real estate investing full time, usually with large amounts of borrowed money. Brokers and lenders were only too willing to facilitate these purchases because of the fees and commissions they generated, and the mortgages (often subprime) ended up in the mortgage backed securities (MBS) that were the foundation of many of the dodgy instruments financial institutions created.
There is a particularly frightening chapter—at least it conjures up frightening memories for me—that chronicles the parade of major financial institutions as they failed or nearly failed: Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch (taken over by BankAmerica), Citigroup, Wachovia, Washington Mutual, Reserve Primary Fund (the oldest money market fund), Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG. The whole financial system was in danger of seizing up, (Chapter 6: The Panic of 2008).
The Policy Response
Although there were many false starts and setbacks along the way, the U.S. government moved quickly to deal with the clear and present danger. One response from the Bush and Obama Administrations, acting with Congress, was the passage and implementation of the controversial Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). It provided $700 billion, ostensibly to purchase securities that were at risk of default and hence could not be sold to other investors at almost any price. But before the program was set up, the Treasury Department changed the plan and, instead, put funds into banks via purchases of preferred stock. Although much maligned for various reasons (e.g., it was labeled by some as a “bailout for Wall Street”), the program worked quite well and eventually cost the taxpayers almost nothing—as the government sold much of the preferred stock at a profit.
Other help came in the form of a bill designed to stimulate the economy—the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)—that boosted demand via spending increases and tax cuts. Also the FDIC instituted its Temporary Loan Guarantee program that reassured investors so that banks and other financial institutions could regain access to credit markets.
Finally, there was probably the most important response of all from the Federal Reserve. When private sector banks get into trouble, the central bank (for the U.S., the Fed) is supposed to come to the rescue as the lender of last resort. And this time the Fed did so dramatically by introducing a veritable alphabet soup of new lending facilities. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who had carefully studied what happened in the Great Depression, was determined to act decisively to provide assistance. Nobel Prize winning economist Robert Solow has referred to Bernanke as the Captain Kirk of central banking: He loaned (money) where no man had loaned before! In addition the Federal Reserve cut its monetary policy rate essentially to zero and, when that was not enough, they bought massive amounts of government bonds and MBS to stimulate the economy through a reduction in long-term interest rates.
Blinder’s main criticism of the government response is that much more needed to be done to help homeowners who were becoming delinquent or were defaulting on their mortgages. There have been efforts to deal with this problem, but they have been small-bore and grossly inadequate. Another criticism I would add is that in light of the severity of the problem, a larger stimulus program (i.e., larger than ARRA’s $787 billion) should have been enacted, if the political roadblocks could have been overcome.
Blinder’s overall assessment of the policy response: “It worked! Not perfectly, of course. But…the financial system healed faster than most observers expected…And the economy’s contraction, though deep and horribly costly, turned out to be both less severe and shorter than many people had feared.” In general, I agree with Blinder, but, nevertheless, there is more work to be done.
What’s Still Ahead?
Although we have made some progress and have avoided the worst of the possible outcomes, there is unfinished business. Here are some of the items on Blinder’s agenda for the country.
More should be done to deal with the mortgage problems many households face.
At some future dates the Fed first will reduce and then stop the extraordinary policy actions it has taken. As this review is being written, financial markets are already reflecting worry about such a change; stock prices have had a significant correction, and bond rates are up sharply. Investors now expect that an initial step may come in September, but they are uncertain about its magnitude and any follow through.
On the fiscal (budget) front, Blinder states the problem and his recommendation this way: “… (T) he outline of a solution is so clear: We need modest fiscal stimulus today coupled with massive deficit reduction for the future. Some of that will take the form of higher taxes—sorry, Republicans. Most of it will be lower spending—sorry, Democrats.” I think his suggested outline is right, but I don’t see how today’s political realities will allow us to get there.
There is much more that could be written about Blinder’s book and about the economic and financial situation today, along with the outlook for the future. But this review is already too long! The subjects covered here are important but controversial, to say the least. If you have the time and interest, regardless of your current view on many of these issues, or if you just want to learn more about what happened, why, and what is still on the agenda, I believe Blinder’s book will provide valuable food for thought.
Book Review by Mary Zakariasen McLeod
Boomerang by Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis can write about any subject and make it accessible, and even highly entertaining, to the average reader: Moneyball, The Big Short, and Blindside, to name a few. In Boomerang, he takes us on a trip through several European countries and explains how the U.S. financial bubble blew across the ocean to banks only too willing to catch it and get carried away with it. Many of these foreign banks, based on the unique national personality traits of their particular country, caused an economic flu even more serious and longer-lasting than our own. His stories are surprising, informative, and most of all, laugh-out-loud funny.
And this from Jerry Anderson, who forwarded it to me:
The Question: DO YOU LIKE GETTING OLDER?
I can hit the golf ball any way I can and laugh if it goes in the lake. Them's the breaks. I'm just happy I can still hit that golf ball.
As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend.
I have seen too many dear friends leave this world, too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.
Whose business is it, if I choose to read, or play on the computer, until 4 AM, or sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 50, 60 & 70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love, I will.
I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves, with abandon, if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old.
I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And, I eventually remember the important things.
Sure, over the years, my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break, when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But, broken hearts are what give us strength, and understanding, and compassion. A heart never broken, is pristine, and sterile, and will never know the joy of being imperfect.
I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face.
So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.
As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong.
So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it).
Thankfully, none to report.
Newsletter Editor: Karen Stenback