“We’re pretty creditworthy, and we can’t borrow. There is nothing to borrow. Long-term lenders are not lending. There is no bond issuance…Nobody trusts anybody.”
This quote is from an old issue of The New Yorker (Oct. 20, 2008; “The Talk of the Town” article Freeze!). A coworker of my husband’s gives us her old issues; and for reasons great and small, I’m just getting around to reading the ones from 2008.
I began with some issues from pre-election 2008. These were fun to read; but as I reached issues from the Autumn of 2008, the country’s sense of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and dread) was reawakened, albeit vicariously (and across the 3 intervening years’ time).
Remember those days? When fortunes were lost in one New York Stock Exchange trading day? When retirement savings were obliterated as the stock ticker showed nearly every equity down, down, and further down?
When I read this quote I recalled how pit-of-the-stomach scary these days were. Yes, there has been a “recovery” (of sorts), and people are beginning to move on. But this shock to the system has left a nagging sense of FUD that tints nearly all of our civic life: commerce, politics, education, immigration, even our interactions with each other near and far.
But we shouldn’t forget those days or the feelings they unleashed. If we forget, we will be tempted to behave as it It Could Never Happen Again.
Another quote from the article:
“After 9/11, it took people only six months to get stupid. This time, it will take ten years for people to become stupid again.”
What the author means by that (I think) is that we returned to business as usual about six months after 9/11. But after the economic collapse, it will take much longer for people to recover enough, to get “bored with doom and gloom,” and resume the economic ways — the business as usual — that contributed to the crash.
Lets hope that in the years that follow we make an effort to not become stupid again and thereby avert another entirely preventable economic crash.