Oh my. Oh my. Today I put two and two together and came up with WALL STREET PWND ME TOO.
Until just now, I assumed that my own meager personal finances had not been affected all that much by that big ole Wall Street bust of Autumn 2008.
How wrong I was.
The Divorce of November 2008 was mutually calculated to keep everything about the house OUT of the settlement (which worked a little bit more to my advantage than I thought it would, precisely because of what was happening with the market). When the settlement check finally reached me in February 2009, there was, of course, the obligatory 4 percent Federal tax deducted ~ but then, instead of the usual earnings from the pension fund's stock/bond investments (which were expected and earned by the retirees in all previous years), another $560.75 was deducted under the heading "Gain/Loss" ~ which nobody could explain.
I wanted to hash it over with the actual pension company ("ICMA-RC"), but the only telephone I was able to afford during those months was a cellphone kindly lent to me by my brother-in-law ~ and I had already racked up an ungodly number of minutes on it with that damned pension company (whose home base was, ironically, Washington DC). "Putting callers on almost-perpetual hold" seemed to be their favorite tactic.
So, after asking different people here and there, and then even Googling for relevant info, I gave up and figured I would save the puzzle for whoever would have the delightful job of doing my taxes.
That delightful job ended up being handled by an AARP volunteer in the local senior center a couple of weeks ago. Even that fella had a hard time figuring it out. Poor guy spent more time than he had to, running back and forth to another room, talking on the phone, etc. while Stephy sat in the corner playing a jolly game of Pokémon Silver on her DS.
Finally, the conclusion he tried to explain to me didn't quite "take" in my mind (because my mind is "that way" with abstract concepts)... but eventually a lightbulb went on upstairs, and I suggested, "In other words, you're saying 'I lost it in the stock market'...?"
He sighed and said, "Exactly! In a second-hand kind of way, yes, you did!"
I didn't waste any more of his time, but wondered what the eff ICMA-RC had to do with Wall Street. Yeah, I do not understand financial crap.
Numbers + christine = mess.
Anyway, fast-forward to today, and I'm watching Brian Williams on NBC News, speaking with investigative correspondent Lisa Myers, who is explaining about Goldman-Sachs and the hedge fund company Paulson & Co. Together these two created a package of risky sub-prime mortgages that was DESIGNED to fail... they intentionally chose the worst mortgages and put them in a virtual "bucket." Goldman-Sachs helped the hedge fund bet against the sub-prime market. This "bucket" of bad investments were then labeled by Goldman-Sachs as a good investment, and they sold the supposedly good investment to others, telling them the hedge fund had also invested in them ~~ NOT telling the other investors that the hedge fund had helped pick the worst mortgages, and was actually betting AGAINST the "bucket."
When the bucket failed, investors lost over a billion dollars.
The hedge fund MADE a billion dollars.
Goldman made $15 million in fees.
Anyway, Brian Williams then spoke with Dylan Ratigan, who gave me the shocker: those investors who were getting hit were the PENSION FUND MANAGERS for (among others) civil service workers. I (and the ex) are/were city employees!
Ratigan said "our retirees are paying the price today" for what Goldman and Paulson did in 2008.
So ~~ in conclusion, Goldman and Paulson technically STOLE that $560.75 from me, out of my settlement.
Sanks a yot, you rich douchebags. Maybe it was a spit in the bucket to you, but I badly needed and could have used that money.
If misdeeds that go around do eventually come around, add my measly $560.75 worth of sharp kicks to the goldplated nuts of Goldman, Paulson, et al.