Systemic Shock Is Here

Currier & Ives print on economic bubbles, 1875.

Tonight’s reading:

Princeton Economist Krugman: Bailout 2.0 by this weekend or else:

“… it will be very alarming if this weekend rolls by without a credible announcement of a new financial rescue plan, involving not just the United States but all the major players.…the only things anyone wants to buy right now are Treasury bills and bottled water…  You may think that things can’t get any worse — but they can, and if nothing is done in the next few days, they will.

NYU Economics Prof Nouriel Roubini presents a grim assessment on his blog tonight:

“The US and advanced economies’ financial system is now headed towards a near-term systemic financial meltdown .. [this] crisis was caused by the largest leveraged asset bubble and credit bubble in the history of humanity..”

Even with aggressive coordination we could see near-term bank or market closures and otherwise fitful times.  I reiterate my advice that you each seriously consider a personal or family contingency plan for a potential four-alarm banking emergency.  This may seem unlikely – but it’s no longer out of bounds in pleasant conversation.  We discussed this very delicate issue in a bit more length here, and I’m hoping to write a little more about it in the next couple of days.

Sorry it’s been a little bleak around here lately.

European Perspective

Some national sides of euro coins

It’s interesting to watch Europe grapple with the global finance fiasco.  Until today I had not given a lot of thought to the much more complex policy environment they face with regard to the Euro.  They have a single currency, yet no single government body nor bank to manage associated monetary policy.  So, “internally” coordinated responses are nearly impossible.  Milton Friedman once said the Euro was unlikely to survive its first recession.  This will be another interesting dynamic to watch.

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Breadlines and Battlecries

Scoble Blames You

Valleywag picked up a FriendFeed discussion between a few of us yesterday regarding the bailout bill within which Scoble blames “people like [me]” for the coming “breadlines”.  It rings a little hollow considering where I’ve been on all this and where he’s been (i.e. nowhere), but it brings a much more important issue to the fore.

To the thread in particular, I realize how acerbic my tone can be when discussing such things and try to be cognizant of that every time I write.  Sometimes my frustration – the result of a bit too much anguish about our national slumber – gets the best of me.  But Americans sat mostly silent as international and domestic crimes were perpetrated in their names and their economy was wrecked – choosing to glide along as if they had far more important things to think about.

Robert is right to describe the financial mess as the result of our collective idiocy.  The bill for one or two generations of stupidity has now come due and our remaining credit cards have been declined.  And for the moment, the social media characters participating in the specific tendril of web masturbation that is Robert’s “what to do” post have come up substantially empty.  So, I’ll see what I can come up with.

Continue reading Breadlines and Battlecries