Stimulus Inspired Reality Shows

All that remains for the Stimulus Package to be put into motion is the president’s signature, and this will most likely happen on Monday. I have to wonder what brand of pen he’ll use to sign this historic document. It better not be a Mont Blanc from Germany or some other off shore brand. It wouldn’t set a good example for the president to violate the “Buy American” clause…

What will be the first project to get funding and how long will it take for that project to start? I really think we should be excited about this. Maybe we should launch a series of new reality shows. We could call one “The Contender,” and spend time with various contractors as they get ready to bid the job. Once the bids are closed and the contract awarded we could have a show and call it “Survivor focusing on the contractor or construction firm landing the job. The show could interview the contractor and use some of the hiring techniques that were taught on “The Apprentice.” For the contractors who bid the job and didn’t win, there could be another show called “Lost.” It would focus on what they are doing until the next job comes up for bid.

There could be a special series focusing on the Biggest Loser.” It would look at all the efforts and energies put into bidding the job and conclude with an analysis of why this contractor overbid by such a large margin.

Once the floodgate is opened and the money starts flowing we could have yet another series called the Amazing Race and watch contractors scramble to beat out their competition for “shovel-ready” jobs in The Real World.”

Of course there could be another show that focuses on the different skill sets among the various contractors bidding these jobs. It could be called America’s Got Talent.” When this is all over and the economy is back to normal the contractor whose project came in the greatest percentage under budget, ahead of schedule, and hired the greatest number of workers, would appear on a show called American Idol.”

The truth is, we as a country need this Stimulus Package to work and shock the economy back into growth. This brings to mind another possible show, Extreme Makeover,” which will focus on the radical changes that can and will result from this Stimulus Package.

The last show is one that will be needed if this bill is going to work. We will watch Big Brotheroversee the administration and control the disbursement of these funds. We don’t need $40 million projects that hire four people. We need the type of projects that will put the greatest number of people back to work.

A couple of years ago I sat in on an economic forecast seminar – and I’m sorry I don’t remember who the speaker was but I do remember that he was with the National Association of Home Builders – when one of the speakers said that it would be 2011 before the housing market was back. At the time, everyone thought he was way off base, but history has shown that he was right on target.

Since I’ve spent so much time on TV shows I thought I’d bring one to your attention in case you missed it.

CNBC is airing House of Cards,” an original CNBC documentary reported by award-winning correspondent David Faber.

CNBC’s Faber shows how a financial “house of cards” was slowly built following the 9/11 attacks. As the U.S. government tried to revive the slowing economy by continuously dropping interest rates, families jumped at the opportunity to refinance their mortgages. Faber introduces viewers to mortgage lenders like Daniel Sadek who severely reduced borrowers’ credit requirements while earning personal profits of $5 million a month.

Banker Michael Francis tells Faber that no matter how risky the package, during the peak of the lending frenzy, any mortgage-backed security could find a home on Wall Street. It began to consume risky mortgages and turn them into products that could be sold to foreign investors as well.

Exploring just how far the effect of the credit crisis extended, Faber travels to Narvik, Norway, a town far above the Arctic Circle, that was convinced it could solve its budget problems by investing in Wall Street. Mayor Karen Kuvaas and Narvik’s other town leaders hoped to become “great heroes” by reaping the income from financial ventures they believed were safe.

Faber also speaks with Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan who defends decisions he made that critics say laid the groundwork for the crisis. Greenspan admits that even he did not understand the details of the more complex securities on the market.

Also, in a rare interview, Faber speaks with one of the few savvy investors who bet against the mortgage-backed security fever – Dallas’ Kyle Bass, whose hedge fund soared 600% in just eighteen months.

CNBC’s “House of Cards” will re-air on Sunday, February 15th at 9pm ET and Monday, February 16th at 8am, 8pm and 12am ET.

Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope you were able to spend the day with loved ones and that you had the opportunity to exchange tender moments and create unforgettable memories. It is treasured memories that carry us through life’s troubled times and give us the momentum to go forward.

Greg Sitek

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