In business, it is not unusual for one company's problems to become another company’s opportunity. A recent article by the Associated Press indicated that more affluent customers are shopping at Wal-Mart as a result of the recession that is not yet a recession. The article also states that Wal-Mart is in a position to keep these customers when the economy improves. Well isn't that splendid. The nation's largest retailer is going to get even bigger. The biggest boot in American retailing is going to be stomping on more competitors so that you and I can survive a recession that was brought on by the greed of bankers, mortgage brokers, a whole host of other financial institutions, and individuals who either didn't read the fine print, or decided that they needed a house bigger than their paycheck could afford.
Wal-Mart is trying to get into the banking business, but so far has not been able to get legislation passed to enable it to do so. Wow, wouldn't that be something. If such legislation gets passed there go the neighborhood banks. But not to worry. Wal-Mart is seeking to take care of our every need. It has opened limited scope health clinics and has vision centers. Prenatal clinics, senior centers, and a host of other health and social services are likely soon to be added. The plans seems self-evident, Wal-Mart intends to take care of us from cradle to grave. George Orwell was right, but I don't think he imagined big business taking care of every aspect of our lives.
Wal-Mart is not the only business finding an opportunity in the current economic crisis. J.P. Morgan & Co. went shopping on Wall Street one day and managed to buy Bear Stearns at the bargain price of two dollars a share. (Later this price was raised to $10 a share). This was one hell of a great example of waiting for something to go on sale. Not only did J.P. Morgan get this fabulous sale price, but the federal government provided a $30 billion guarantee to J.P. Morgan for its self sacrificing behavior. It's always good to know that the federal government is watching out for the little people in this country and letting the market forces of the economy determine what happens to big business. The federal government has made over $100 billion available to large financial institutions to avoid an economic catastrophe. While this was necessary to prevent economic chaos, it would have been nice for these large financial institutions had more appropriate risk management controls in the first place.