“It’s 5am. Wake up and look at the news.” It wasn’t the first time I’ve had a dream like that. Sure enough, MicroVision had just published a press release at 5am. I wasn’t very surprised. Okay, so maybe I’m a bit tuned into the market. The news was met with a short term spike that didn’t even exceed last week’s high, and then fell back. “How much credit card debt do you have?” That question came from a real person, and surprised me. Instead of being an intrusion, they had an intriguing proposal. They thought I might prefer paying interest to a friend instead of an institution. These are not normal events, which is appropriate, because life is no longer normal or ordinary. What comes next is probably abnormal or extraordinary or both.
Welcome to September 4, 2013, the day when many of us MVIS shareholders were watching for news from Sony and Samsung. Both companies were announcing new products. MicroVision has implied, or we have inferred, that five major companies will be announcing, or at least are working on, major products that will be announced within the next few quarters. We don’t know more, so we have to make up the rest. Not an ideal investment environment, but that’s where we stand. Waking up to such news would be a dream come true. Evidently my dream had a different idea. MicroVision’s press release wasn’t about a marvelous product launch. MicroVision’s press release was about “prototype” and “potential” and “evaluation” and “testing”. Yes, the news is associated with an unnamed “leading global Tier-One automotive supplier”; but, the investing community has seen so many similar MicroVision press releases that any exuberance quickly faded. The news actually is good, but with so many waffle words, pronouns, and ambiguities, there is nothing to evaluate.
The surprise from MicroVision may be the day they have quantifiable news, corroborated with a major customer’s product release, for something the public wants. We haven’t had that yet. Until then, we watch for product rumors and auspicious pronouncements. Did you hear the one about the iPhone 6? The iPhone6 may have “micromirror technology“, and may be released in December 2013. That sounds like MicroVision technology and timing that isn’t as good as the September 10th Apple event for what’s probably the iPhone 5C and 5S, which MVIS enthusiasts have discounted for some reason.
If Apple announces an i-anything with an Image by PicoP in every unit, then my portfolio may recover extraordinarily. Ordinarily, a recovery can be a return to the mean. MicroVision has the potential to take it to extraordinary levels. Then, withdrawing even a small slice will pay off my debts, and maybe even my entire mortgage. (One investor estimates MVIS’ worth as $1,200 – $1,500, and considers it to be conservative. My estimate is more modest, but $600 – $1,000 times a few hundred shares is enough to clear my mortage arrears, my mortgage principal, and even my credit card debt.)
Most of my friends and many people who only know me through this blog have offered innovative solutions to my mortgage and foreclosure situation. I may yet take advantage of one of those, though I don’t know which one yet. One surprise was learning that a buyer can’t rent my house back to me if they buy it as a short sale. A full price sale? Yes. A short sale? No. Someone probably abused the possibility and now thousands are denied that option. It is easy to focus on my mortgage issue because we are emotionally tied to our houses. Solve that issue and, even if there isn’t enough money for upkeep, at least there is undeniable shelter from the storms (one of which is coming in tomorrow.)
Asking about my credit card debt was a sign of insight. My credit card debt is only slightly less than my mortgage arrears, has a much higher interest rate, and is much less likely to be renegotiated or managed under state regulatory protections the way the mortgage is. Taking over the debt is far simpler too. My friend offered to loan me the money to pay off my balance, and then I’d owe them that much. The debt would still exist, but I could pay back at a much lower interest rate. I’d keep paying the debt down, a friend would get the money, they’d also get an interest rate above market, and many tensions would be eased – as long as I didn’t default on the loan.
The first surprise was the offer. Such things are normal. The second surprise was the realization that such things are abnormal. For folks with extra money, finding good interest income is difficult. For folks trying to get out of debt, finding low interest rates is difficult. The dividends offered by financial institutions are below historical norms. The interest rates charged by financial institutions are higher than is healthy. Take the financial institutions out of the story and find there’s a nice place to meet in the middle.
As much as the idea came as a surprise, I know others on the island who are stepping into either side of that role. Whidbey has its own branch of a Local Lending Network (and the only web site pointing to it has so much stuff on it that I can’t get it to load enough to verify the right link.) Look around. You may be surprised that some such network is in your neighborhood.
Be even more surprised, unless you’ve been following the progress of the Rolling Jubilee. Some extraordinary members of Occupy Wall Street noticed how major financial institutions buy up distressed debt at incredible discounts. They decided to do the same, and to do so with the debts of normal people. Evidently, $50 donated to them forgives $1,000 of debt. That’s surprising leverage. Another surprising aspect is that the movement is international. And surprisingly quiet. Maybe they’ve hit a roadblock. Maybe there’s no reason for them to buy advertising time. Maybe individuals will surprise the institutions and institute changes no official expects.
For more than a decade, I’ve been expecting MicroVision and MVIS to surprise me. The abnormally quiet response to their news about substantial (though incredibly vague) progress surprised me, but it or other news should lead to me comfortably paying off my debt, and if MVIS does well enough, then allowing me to help others pay off theirs whether through personal agreements, a local lending network, or a Rolling Jubilee. MicroVision’s success and me being debt-free may be abnormal and extraordinary – and would be a wonderful surprise.