Toward your question, yes, I got the shares. At the time I made the phone call, I didn't have sufficient funds in the account to buy shares, and if I did I still would not want the shares because I had other things in mind that I wanted to do. At the time of expiration, a week or so later, I could have funds available depending on other ongoing trades (such as shares of my stocks being assigned away -- with my usual response that I buy them back on the first dip, then sell more Calls). As it turned out, there was sufficient cash in the account at expiration, but my intention was to use that money elsewhere. The stock that was assigned to me was BRCM. That was OK, but I preferred options-only trades for that one. So, I sold OTM Calls on that and dumped it that way at their expiration.
My main concern which prompted me to make the phone call was that I didn't want them to use margin to pay for the shares assigned to me. I don't want to use margin for anything, ever. I was initially pretty pissed off, then I decided that perhaps they misunderstood me or perhaps they do it differently depending on the account cash situation. I don't like to blame people for things that happen to me, so I decided that I should have been more specific when I called. Instead of complaining, I'll just accept it as a lesson. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
I wouldn't conclude that housing prices aren't moving up anymore. That's very regional, and it's very seasonal. Most of the country is having a very bad winter. Housing is usually sluggish during the winter, and it's going to be a lot more so this year. On an annual basis, the national average single-family housing price during the crisis was the first time since data on that has been collected that prices declined (I'm pretty sure that's what I heard and/or read). Maybe it was the first time since the 1800s, whatever. Regionally there have been many declines -- I now, I experienced a couple -- but not nationally.
I think cash will be freed up as a result of interest rate increases, not wage increases on a per-person basis. Why rate increases? It will be more profitable for banks to loan. Those rate increases will happen slowly as the Fed loosens up slowly, and as the economy improves slowly.
Have you been watching the Ultimate Factories series on CNBC? I have. It's very interesting. If you haven't seen that program, you should look up the schedule. They just started a new series, or it's going to be any day soon. That spread of technology is one very good reason why wage growth is sluggish. It's why our citizens need to get more education if they want to find jobs. Another reason for slow wage growth, at least in technology, is that we still allow work visas. That was a practice that was started during the years when there was a shortage of high-tech workers, and for some reason that program has not been halted (at least the last time I checked with some foreign friends that I have as a result of that program). The people that come into the country as a result of that program are virtual slaves. Don't take that wrong, they get paid well. But a lot of the money they earn is sent back home to their families. The reason I call them slaves is that to work here they must have a corporate sponsor and remain employed at all times. That adds additional costs to a company so many of them don't want to do that. Added to that: anybody on that program who looses his job must find another job within 30 days or they have to leave the country. That's the slave-prisoner aspect of it. Does it take jobs away from citizens? You bet, and almost all are high-paying jobs.
There is no requirement to increase margins to increase economic growth. Economic growth can come about through increases in economic activity. Economic activity is the amount of money multiplied by the velocity of money. Money is cash and credit. Money can be that which is already here, or which comes here from outside the country. I think the last I read, 2015 will be the year when this country starts exporting natural gas in very large quantities. That will decrease imports and increase exports -- a double benefit to cash flow, and it will also create a lot of new jobs just for that new export business.