Making it Through a Recession

Ten tips to make it through without selling one of your kids

By Ned Klutzman

Ben Bernanke is pro-whiteyThis week, the Federal Reserve Board released its quarterly 04 541T report, always highly anticipated by investors, home owners, businessmen, and other white people. In an accompanying news conference, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke downplayed some of the more negative aspects of the report. “Yes, we are in the first phase of a recession. A horrible, horrible recession. Some will lose their jobs. Some will lose their houses. Some will lose their families, or even their lives. But I assure you, I will continue to do very, very well. Like ridiculously well. I’ve never used the same cufflinks twice, and I never will. Bacteria.”

Fire danceNot the most uplifting report. Consumer confidence plummeted when Mexican President Felipe Calderón offered to loan the U.S. “a few mil, just for a little while. A month, max.” It was later noted that mil is the Spanish word for “thousand” and he was referring to pesos. Still, President Bush accepted the offer, saying “This is $17.67 more that we had yesterday. This might save a soldier’s life in Iraq. Or at the very least, buy ‘em a decent lunch. We keep those bastards poor on purpose.” By the end of his press conference, the president had lit the bills on fire in some sort of ritualistic African tribal dance, and dropped most of the change into a vintage Ms. Pac-Man machine.

Insiders are jittery. Greg McBride, senior financial analyst with Bankrate.com, put it this way: “Doesn’t anyone have some fucking coffee in this whole fucking building? Sweet fucking Christ, I can’t even sign my name right now. You can’t just go cold turkey!”

If these guys are screwed, what can Joe Losing-My-Mortgage do? Here are ten tips to help you stay afloat when the Armageddon comes:

1. Sell one of your kids

“When it comes to cooking, cleaning, and plain-old sexual favors, nothing beats a young girl.” - Tom GreeningHard times force you to ask the tough questions of yourself: how much is your child worth – not to you, to the market? What kind of an investment do you need to make in the short term to maximize potential value in a time of crisis? Traditionally, supply of young girls have has been higher in Asian markets, driving the price down. A strong boy, or a supple one, might fetch a good sum from a foreign investor looking for an heir, a workhorse, or a sophisticated plaything. But Tom Greening, CEO of Greening Swaphouse, makes the opposite case pretty well: “We live in a much more open world nowadays, but when it comes to cooking, cleaning, and plain-old sexual favors, nothing beats a young girl. Their base value never changes, regardless of market fluctuations or the day’s tastes.” But remember, sentimental value aside, raising a child to take care of you later was the original (and still best) social security. So make sure you invest some of the windfall in a long-term mutual fund or Roth IRA.

2. Two words: life insurance

When murdering someone for the insurance money, timing is everything. Steve Phillips, president of the New Jersey State Bar Association, notes that “15 months seems to be the credibility low water mark. A policy that terminates any sooner is of course more cost-effective, but also raises unsavory legal questions of the beneficiaries.” Put another way, motive becomes obvious. Assets can be tied up during protracted proceedings, and they don’t always earn interest – two big no-no’s in this market. Many experts are urging insurance fraud as the cornerstone of a diverse strategy. But, Phillips warns, “beware of the overhead. Costs can run very high for quality work and an airtight alibi. Compare plans and providers, take the time to explore all of your options. And remember that a cheap, diy plan can work – but again, timing is everything.

3. Buy more crack than you can smoke

Esperts say to stock up for a big hit laterThe commodities market will eventually be affected by the subprime mortgage crisis, but certain staples are always needed, and crack will never get stale. Sales of crack, like all drugs, actually tend to improve during periods of economic hardship. All of the trendlines predict a big future, as the potential consumer base is almost unlimited and there’s currently lots of room for expansion. And market liquidity is promising, too; Rashawn Q., a pusher from Queens, NY, says you can get it anywhere and sell it just as fast, in a pinch. The crack market is like eBay without the Internet. This can actually turn into a regular revenue stream, or you can stock up for a big hit later.

4. Sell another kid

Unloading the little ones is generally easier, as buyers always have potential and flexibility on their mind. So you’ll clearly want to start with the youngest non-nursing child. (Unless the wife is for sale, too.) But costs rise with age, and while you may not get top dollar for your teenager, avoiding dental and tuition costs can keep you in the black. Not to mention the food!

5. When screwed, screw back

The number of children you can birth and sell is limited only by your fertility rate. Obviously, in vitro fertilization and other hi-tech methods are money sinkholes. But for the virile, sex has never been so lucrative. Unless it’s with a recently-purchased child. Suzanna Horhol, a homemaker and loyal reader from Plano, TX, shared this tip via e-mail: “Ladies, you’re going to have to take it out and go to town your own sometimes. Don’t leave it to him, he’ll be spanking in the shower all day.” Every sperm may not be sacred, but they’re all assets.

6. Extortion/kidnapping

Oldies but goodies, these never go out of style. Appropriate targeting and plausible deniability are everything: you’ll never get a dime out of the overly scrupulous, or the kids selling Peanut M&M’s on the subway. Likewise, if someone sees you and your investment together on the night of the disappearance, your portfolio looks bleak. But even if everything goes right, payouts vary widely – remember, the recession is hitting everyone.

7. Organ harvesting

Education is really the key to outliving an economic dip. The more you know, the more versatile you can be and that makes you invaluable in whatever profession you pursue. Your local community college may be offering biology courses right now. (Of course, be prepared to ask the right questions.) This might be the best tip I have, because the market is perpetually in short supply of living organs, and nobody can afford to stop to ask questions. Armed with some basic knowledge, crude implements, and the will to succeed, this is one cash cow that will never stop mooing. Unless you cut out its tongue.

8. Do more with less

Tightening your belt can be painful, but that’s half the fun. If you run your household budget, be sure to squeeze every dime out of the people you live with before considering your own spending. Now is a good time to teach your children about the importance of savings, and what better way to do that than by letting them absorb the brunt of the budgetary cutbacks? But remember that utilizing neglected revenue streams, no matter how small, can add up to big help. Hit the “take-a-penny” tray at your local convenience store twice a day, minimum, and the March of Dimes jar when the tray is empty. Charge an entry fee when your spouse’s friends visit your home. Buy your condoms in bulk. Move to an unsafe neighborhood. Stop shaving, reading, or keep and eat your food at room temperature. Stick your thumb up the dog’s ass.

9. Write columns about money

Nowadays, everyone’s an expert and credentials are easily fabricated. Hell, you don’t even have to deliver what you promise! Blow me, suckers!

Ned Klutzman is the Ned Klutzman Distinguished Professor of Economics or Something at Harvard University. Or Something.

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