In October 1929, one of the worst days in modern American history took place. The crash of the New York Stock Exchange. Along with stocks plummeting, jobs all across the country took a serious dive for nearly a decade. That much they teach in history classes all through school. What they don’t teach is that it can happen again.
Those who remember the Dot Com bubble burst in the early 2000s remember how hard that sector took a hit. Again thousands of people were affected by the crash. Even in 2008, when the automotive industry was nearly crippled, it all bounced back, but what happens when the government refuses to step back in to save industries.
“George! Hey, George, where’s the stock information? The board is getting impatient waiting for the numbers,” the CFO returning from vacation, Henry Winger, says.
A tall, slender older middle-aged man with salt and pepper hair turns his head from the computer screen to face his colleague.
“Numbers are horrible; people are yanking their money from the bank along with investors cashing in while the markets are open.” But then, he answers in a shaky, raspy voice, “I don’t know what we’re going to do this time. I done talked to my sources in DC, and they’re not bailing us out this time.”
Henry’s expressions say it all, “How much are we talking that’s gone?”
“If the market doesn’t self-correct, then 1929 will look like a day at an amusement park. Morgan Stanley will go under in a matter of weeks at the longest.”
Henry’s eyes go wide, and he struggles to keep his mouth from dropping open, “How, just how in God’s green Earth did this happen?”
“All these start-ups in Silicon Valley failing to meet expectations. Phillips Securities, which we’ve loaned millions just to fell through. That was our largest account, and the owner there just vanished off the face of the planet.”
All Henry can do is stand there, but while he waits to figure out his next move, Mr. Morgan’s administrative assistant knocks and enters the office.
“Mr. Morgan, sir, Mr. Winger, the board has just arrived and are gathering in the conference room. Just thought you should like to know, sirs.” The skinny young brunette assistant says in a semi-calm tone.
“Thank you, Sherry, we’ll uh, we’ll be down there shortly.” Mr. Morgan replies, tapping his fingers on the desk.
He refreshes the screen to see more bad news come across the screen.
“Son of a bitch!” Mr. Morgan begins speed reading the latest news, “Student loan credit ratings are dropping in rating now. We own about thirty percent of that market too. What else could go wrong?” Mr. Morgan shouts at the screen.
The panic travels through the corporation that branches across the country begin to ransack their location, expecting immediate layoffs.
All eyes are set are New York and Washington DC. The Federal Reserve stands ready to step in when the federal government agrees to keep the markets from falling into utter chaos. However, the back and forth battle between each party keeps hope at bay. Companies are at the edge of financial collapse, and layoffs are growing by numbers never seen. Industries such as information technology, manufacturing, banking and loans, and the housing markets are affected the most by the economic downturns across Europe and Asia.
“Henry, we need to do something. We need to find a way to stop the bleeding. I don’t know if we can survive this time. My family has been in charge of this company since its inception. At times I am glad my son, Chase, decided to stay out of this business and leave it to his sister. But, oh hell, I haven’t heard from Naomi; I hope she’s okay.”
“Is she still backpacking through Europe with her friends?”
“Yeah, last I heard from her, they were in Spain. I’m thankful for that since it’s one of the only countries not been hit by this yet. Germany has been hit hard with riots. Russia is in civil unrest again. The entire United Kingdom has been fighting in the streets over Brexit, even as I’m telling you this. Lord have mercy; this isn’t looking good at all.” George says as his hands begin to shake.
Henry takes a seat as he listens to his boss go over more details of the people revolting against the Chinese government. Bloodshed is at a level not seen since the second world war. Then, Henry feels his phone vibrate and sees a text from his wife.
“Not good! Police officers are lining the streets along my block. People are threatening to riot and loot my neighborhood. George, how did this happen?”
“I wish I knew the answer on why but I don’t. It seems overproduction of goods and too many bad loans are the biggest issues. Student loans once again have proven to be a gamble. Millions of people just stopped paying, and banks stopped loaning these same people money, seeing them as high-risk. Credit ratings dropped overnight, and I’m guessing on this too. Without an influx of new money into the market, we have gone from a Bull market to a Bear market in the simple snap.” He snaps fingers just before Sherry returns to his office.
“Mr. Morgan, Mr. Winger, the board is still waiting. They paged me again to remind you that they need you both to go over the figures and propose a plan. Am I about to lose my job?”
George gets to his feet and buttons his suit jacket. He glares over at Sherry, trying to keep her calm.
“No, we will find a way out of this. We’ve seen worse than this, so relax and go back to work.” George lies through his teeth as sweat beads form along his forehead.
Sherry takes a deep breath, returns to her desk, and waits for both men to walk down the hallway to text her boyfriend. Her fears are confirmed when he returns her message that he just lost his job as a car salesman. Her legs begin to tremble as she sits there, afraid she’s not going to be able to pay rent and bills.
Down in the boardroom, both George and Henry take their places at the table. No one looks happy as they all have their laptops out and look to George for answers.
“Tell us that the Federal Reserve has a plan to help us stop the hemorrhaging of money we are losing by the minute.” One of the board members asks in a low growl.
“I am certain any moment now we will hear the results of the final vote from the House Approbations Committee. The government knows if they don’t pass an emergency bill, things will turn ugly overnight. So just relax, ladies and gentlemen; we are in good hands. You all, I’m sure, remember 2000 when we suffered some setbacks from pandas are cute dot com. You remember that bullshit website that tried to save panda habitats and all that jazz.” George reminds them, trying to ease the tension.
Down on the far end of the table, the head of Marketing doesn’t appear too thrilled, “Don’t compare that to today’s financial climate. This isn’t some dumbass fresh college graduates trying to be lazy. We are about to lose it all over these damn student loans that no one has paid in months. Do you know how much money that is that’s not being returned to this company?”
Henry pulls up his spreadsheet to punch in the numbers. “We are looking at billions per year not being paid. Minimum payments are coming in, but those who have gone into full default may quadruple in the coming weeks. We have enough in reserve to maintain us through the next two quarters. I’ll calculate it again once we wrap up here. I can have it to all of you within the next few days.”
The COO, a portly balding man with a bad combover, slams his hands on the table.
“No! No, sir! I am in charge of the day-to-day operations, and I doubt we have that long! Did you not keep up with things on your cruise? It has become unstable out there on the streets. People are losing their homes again. Kids are being left hungry at school because counties have lost millions in the blink of an eye from less tax revenue.”
“Look! Things seem bad at the moment, but we will survive. An influx of cash from the feds will see us through. It worked once; it will work again. We’ve lobbied and donated too much for too many in office not to get help. I assure you that we will be okay.” George tries to ensure the board flip on the American National News Network channel and keeps an eye on Washington DC’s headline.
Within the hour, the head of the House of Representatives comes out to hold a press conference.
“Ladies and gentlemen of America, as you all are aware, the eyes of the country have been once again locked to us here working and debating in DC as the meltdown continues around the globe. We here at home struggle to find the answers to turn the corner and recover the economy. I have the unfortunate duty to announce that we have no deal to assist several key companies and industries at this time. Until we pause for the seasonal recess, we will work with a member here in DC to compromise. To those expecting aid, keep holding on to hope as a deal could be reached at any time. The President has frozen prices to prevent any gouging. Inflation is at an all-time high, and wages are still in a suitable place to keep things flowing as best possible. Once we have more to share, I will return to the podium to pass on any news to you and the American public. Good day and God bless America.” The older woman takes the notes from her speech and walks away without taking any questions.
Inside the boardroom, the pressure mounts higher. George sits there, ready to lose his mind, along with the others leading Morgan Stanley. Nothing is said when the board members begin to push away from the table. They return to their offices as Henry and George continue to sit there and stare at the other.
“We’re fucked. I’m going to go back to my office and run the numbers with a few other accountants. Once I have it all, I will be back to discuss options with you. All we can do now is try to sell off these bad debts at pennies on the dollar. Save what we can and prepare to lay off thousands of people.” Henry says with a depressing tone.
George gets to his feet and follows Henry to the elevator, where they go their separate ways once Henry gets off on the forty-fifth floor. Henry takes his place three more flights up.
When he exits the elevator, he notices that Sherry has left her desk, waiting for him in the office.
“Sir, I know this is bad timing, but I need a raise. My boyfriend lost his job, and if I could make just a few more dollars on the hour, I could just make enough to keep us afloat until he finds another one.” She mentions with fear taking over her voice.
“I wish I could, but I don’t know what’s going to happen. The Federal Reserve can’t help us right now. I thought a deal was in place, but they didn’t reach it. If I could, I would; you’re well worth the raise but give me some time to see if I can figure out how to do that. If it’s even possible.”
Unwilling to take ‘no’ for an answer. Sherry offers to use seduction to get her way. She reaches out, taking George’s pants into her hands.
“If I have to earn it by any means, I will. I’m not too fond of doing it, but I’ll do ‘anything’ to make it. I won’t say a thing either about it. I need my job, and I need that raise; please take advantage of my offer to give it to me. Isn’t that how it worked back in your time?” Sherry says as desperation aches from her voice.
“No! You ever try this stunt again. You will be fired. I’ve never taken advantage of anyone, and I won’t allow you to degrade yourself. I’m married, and you’re in a relationship. Things may have been different thirty-forty years ago, but not now, and you are better than that. So get back to your desk before I tell you to go home for good.”
Now embarrassed and flushed in the face, Sherry takes off for her desk. She doesn’t bother to enter the office for some time. Even when Henry returns a few hours later, she doesn’t budge from her chair. He rushes into the office, shutting and locking the door with printouts in his hands.
“We’re fucked! I mean, everyone, we’ve done the numbers, and it is way worse than I thought. Even if we ditch the bad loans at ten cents on the dollar, we’re not going to recover enough to hold onto anything. We’ve been fully stretched as those loans to Phillips Security were managed through a third-party hedge fund. That hedge fund has been seized by the SEC. Now they’re on their way here to go through our records and interview those involved. Your name is on some of those documents. Your name was fudged to give them more than was reported. Someone committed fraud in your name, and now everyone is fucked in the ass with no lube!” Henry explains, showing things on the printouts.
George sits there, and it isn’t until there’s a knock at the door that Mrs. Morgan announces she’s waiting on the other side.
“Hey! Unlock this door! Did you forget that we have dinner reservations?”
Henry dips his head, shaking it at his colleague.
“Better enjoy it because soon either you’re shutting the doors completely, or you’re going to federal prison, or worse, both. Consider this my immediate resignation.” Henry tells George and walks away.
Mrs. Moran makes her way inside, and George gets up from the desk and meets her on the opposite side. They walk out like nothing is wrong. George escorts her to dinner at their favorite steakhouse in Manhattan then returns home.
Once they are home and settled in, George receives a call from one of the board members, “Did you hear the news? Henry was found dead a little bit ago. They said he took the keys from one of the maintenance crew and went up to the top of the building and jumped off.”
“Dear God, no! I can’t believe it….” George stops when he is interrupted when there’s a knock at his door.
“Mr. George Morgan?” a well-dressed young woman asks.
“It’s been a pleasure. You’ve been served. Have a good night, sir.” She stuffs an envelope into his jacket and walks away.
George stands there as a subpoena from the SEC requesting his presence in court with documents concerning several key deals and loans. Unable to keep his mind locked on the reality at hand, George shuts the door and drops the paperwork. Then, he heads to his study off from the right of the foyer and unlocks the desk.
A dark place in his mind takes control; George reaches down, pulling a snub-nose pistol. He checks the chamber and flips it back into place. Geroge cocks the hammer back and slowly proceeds to the bedroom. Locked in a haze, he creeps the door open to see his wife in her nightgown, turning down their bed.
“Hey honey, I thought I’d wear this for a little nightcap. I hope you’re ready for me to…” she pauses when she notices the gun.
“George, that isn’t funny drop the gun!” She screams as his arm raises in the air.
Unable to hear the pleas to drop the handgun. George lines the gun up and puts three bullets into his wife, shooting her in the chest once, the neck and stomach. Mrs. Morgan falls over on the bed and slips to the floor, gurgling and gasping for air. George stands there motionless with the gun still pointed where she was standing until she stops gasping and bleeds out on the blood-soaked floor.
Once he doesn’t hear her struggling to survive, George drops his mouth open and places the gun in his mouth. The tip of the chrome-plated pistol rests against the roof of his mouth, and within an instant, he pulls the trigger ending his life before his body hits the floor. Geroge Morgan always said he would rather die than ever be placed in prison, even at the expense of his family.