Believe it or not, good ol' J. S. Bach wrote a little heavy duty music that fits our day.
When times are hard we are supposed to find solace in art that lifts the spirits, like the feelgood films of 1930s Hollywood or the shameless abandon of 1970s disco. But if you've seen your Icesave account melt away and the price of your house fall through the floor, you might want to listen to a recording of Bach's short, rarely performed Cantata 168, a setting of passages on the parable of the unjust steward from Corinthians and the Gospel of Luke. It won't bring you much solace – at least not until the closing chorus of consolation – but you will be able to feel and share the anger and the wrath, directed at bankers and accountants.The opening bass aria is a pungent, ardent attack on the money men of 1720s Weimar, around the words "Tue Rechnung! Donnerwort!" literally "Give an account of yourself, word of thunder", but sometimes translated as "Thine Accounting! Judgment Day!" The bass vents his spleen amid a swirl of music like a demented broker seeing all his screens turn red, who thrashes around before finally pledging to be a good steward who puts his trust in the lord.Before the tenor takes up his aria, a timely reminder that "Capital and interest must one day be settled", he tells us in the recitative how he shudders with horror when he realises that his "accounts are so full of faults". The bass, having secured his own salvation, now implores him "to look to your guarantor who does away with all your debts" – God, presumably, rather than Gordon Brown and the taxpayer – and praises those good stewards who "take care and do not forget to use Mammon prudently, to do good to the poor". A duet for soprano and alto promises the virtuous a "firm house … when the earth's goods turn to dust", before the closing chorale's celebration of God's "joyful spirit".[More]
If that fails to cheer you, consider this way-too-late investment advice.
If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in Delta Airlines one year ago,you would have $49.00 today. If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in AIG one year ago, you would have $33.00 today. If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in Lehman Brothers one year ago, you would have $0.00 today.
But if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drunk all the beer, then turned in the aluminum cans for recycling refund, you would receive $214.00.
Based on the above, the best current investment plan is to drink heavily and recycle. It is called the 401-Keg. [More]
In fact, I think I'm going to make a small investment right now.