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Billionaire Default

Turns out none of us are immune from the treacherous economy. Even Dallas billionaire financier Tom Hicks’s holding company has defaulted on $525 million in loans.

Hicks Sports Group, which owns the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Stars, defaulted on a $350 million bank term loan, a $100 million second-lien loan and a $75 million revolving credit facility, FINalternatives said.

Hicks who made his billions in leveraged buyouts (LBO) Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst (now HM Capital Partners), is now losing it at the peril of excess leverage.

The Hicks group is now seeking some leeway in talks with its lenders. “We’re optimistic that a satisfactory resolution will come together in the next couple of weeks with our lenders’ cooperation,” Hicks said by phone Friday morning. “The important thing is that none of this impacts either team or the fan experience at either venue. We’re prepared to fund the operations of both clubs for the next 12 months while we continue to seek additional investors.”

How We Roll

A study by the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business found that the “denomination effect” is indeed real. It turns out that carrying larger bills mitigates overpaying. So be sure you ask for a hundee instead of five $20’s.

This research will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Consumer Research. This follows prior research finding that consumers spend more when using credit cards instead of cash.

Needed: A Psychic Stimulus Package

Following is an interesting and relevant blog post from Tim Sanders, one of the most influential and engaging speakers i have met.

What this country needs is a psychic stimulus package.

The current focus is only part of the solution. The “system” that the government is trying to fix is comprised of a set of rules, regulations and transactions that make up the banking system and central economy. The government’s stimulus package pours adrenalin into the system, along with a few sparks, and waits for a beating heart.

Meanwhile, the individuals crumble as they conduct their in-house run on the piggy bank. They break open 401(k)s, and then stuff the cash into a mattress. They turn in their car and buy a bus pass. They cancel the family vacations, new fall clothes and their church tithe.

Each act of prudence on their part reinforces the gravity of the situation. The shopkeepers that served them see the till getting skinnier every day. They start to layoff the newbie’s and non-relatives. The newly unemployed turn in their cars, put off any new things like clothes and the downward spiral deepens by a factor of one family.

Eventually, all of our creativity is poured into shrinking the flow of pennies out the door. If things are really as bad as the news-folk are telling you, this is only going to stave off your bankruptcy by weeks. You think you are rearranging your finances to survive the storm. I think you are rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

The politics of scarcity haven’t served us well, and the nonstop fear-sell has worn us down to a spiritual nub. For the first time in our lives, we truly have to have faith to do anything: spend, lend, invest or replenish. With each passing day, the dread inside us drains energy until, at some point; we just glaze over and adopt a new mantra: whatever.

Meanwhile, scarcity spreads from stuff to success. Jazz idols (Etta James) and blockbuster writers (Stephen King) lash out at young successful competitors in the new world of “there’s not enough to go around.”

While this example comes from the entertainment pages, you likely see this at work as the employee of the month is slagged at the break room table by forlorn office mates who’ve lost their ability to share a little success. Eventually, scarcity will spread to our concept of time as we are asked to do twice as much with half the help. We’ll go from hustling to frantic scrambling as we feel like we are sinking in the sands-of-no time. We’ll cancel meetings, special dinners, Saturdays with the kids and the summer getaway. Checking email at the dinner table, we’ll resent our employers (who put food on the dinner table) and sink further down into the spiral of helpless self-doubt.

At some point, this psychosis will snake its way into every company, city and church—until the entire nation is embroiled in personal competitions for all remaining scraps: Jobs, profits, friends, awards, lover and time. It will be dog-eat-dog.

I get that our evolution is more environmental than genetic as I again point to the need for a psychic solution to our crisis of scarcity think. Person by person, or family by family, we need an injection of confidence and daring-do back into the collective consciousness of this nation. We need to spread the message of abundance: that we can find enough to go around. To really stimulate the economy, we need to restore their ability to trust and dream. We must help people find a better perch or perspective, one that gives them the confidence to declare “there’s enough to go around”, even when the manna has not fallen on their yards (yet). We need to promote a new way of thinking.  Currently the gurus of personal finance promote a new way of acting. But that’s not addressing the root of the issue.

We’ve got to react to the outside world from a different starting point: “If we are willing to work, adapt and trust each together, I believe there’s enough to go around.” Please join this conversation by hitting the “Reply” button and telling me how you promote this paradigm shift. I’m especially interested in your personal stories of how scarcity has impacted your life, or the life of someone you know. I’m really interested in your stories of how people are rising up like a Phoenix from the ashes, and inspiring you to believe in abundance.

Layoff, the Game

Using a simple casual game paradigm to comment on the current state of the US financial crisis, both friends and strangers face tough times in an unstable economy. Part dark humor, part grim portent, in the game players play from the side of management needing to cut jobs, and match types of workers in groups in order to lay the workers off and increase workforce efficiency.


Who Said There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch?

Did you hear about the restaurant in New York City that is offering up a free three-course meal to victims of Bernie Madoff? Anything on the menu too, not a pre-packaged arrangement.

Nino’s 208 is an upscale Italian restaurant located just blocks from Madoff’s office. All you need to do is show proof of victimization.

Nino Selimaj, owner, said he has sympathy for these people because he was in a similar situation in 2000, losing all of his money in stock market.

Deleveraging the U.S. Economy

The Chinese government, the biggest buyer of U.S. debt, expressed concern about American deficits and its impact on U.S. Treasury obligations – a budget that will raise the national deficit to nearly $2 trillion dollars. That’s $2,000,000,000,000.

Bernanke views this intervention strategy as critical and necessary to avert a deeper downturn. But as you know, spending money you don’t have can come with it some dire consequences.

This economic jump start strategy of spending America out of this downturn will need to be repaid one day, hopefully from economic growth and fiscal restraint. But deficits generally spawn higher inflation, higher interest rates and a weaker economy.