Loser's Guide to Life
According to the NY Times, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke shared the the awful, awful news about the US economy with just a few important people in Washington, the handful of people who can be trusted with this business:
WASHINGTON — It was a room full of people who rarely hold their tongues. But as the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, laid out the potentially devastating ramifications of the financial crisis before congressional leaders on Thursday night, there was a stunned silence at first.
Senators Schumer and Dodd were unable to talk about it later without resorting to metaphor and all kinds of clever-dick financial talk, but what they must have heard was probably something like: “The arse has fallen out of it; all hands abandon ship”, or words to that effect.
“You have the credit lines in America, which are the lifeblood of the economy, frozen.” Mr. Schumer said. “That hasn’t happened before. It’s a brave new world. You are in uncharted territory, but the one thing you do know is you can’t leave them frozen or the economy will just head south at a rapid rate.”
What's uncharted about being broke? It does happen. It's no fun, having to make up all these excuses to the landlord while trying to get your stuff out, but it's no “brave new world”. Just leave town and change your name.
It sounds serious, of course, and, as the Chinese say, “When the rich go hungry, the poor starve”, but why is this so stunning? What were they expecting to hear? That their rich uncle died and left them a fortune? Or some magic beans? That there is some new way of being non-poor that does not involve having money? Believe me, I've looked into it, and it's like patents for perpetual motion machines: not worth the trouble investigating unless some fundamental laws of the universe change.
I used to watch CNN every morning before work, and there would always be these ads for mysterious financial groupings, bragging about how much money they had and how secure it was, and (I think) encouraging me, the viewer, to come in and “plan” my future. I couldn't really tell, because there were just tableaus of people windsurfing or having a drink and enjoying the feeling of having a lot of money while their kids played on the beach.
Then CNN would return with crucial news about the markets, as if that meant anything. It's like hearing some wino talk about the wine list at L' Arpège. (A tasting will run you about 130 euros; very reasonable).
So what's next? Well, from TPM, John McCain says people's health is the next frontier:
“Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.”
Labels: Inexplicable Astonishments