Thursday, October 23, 2008

Greenspan calls the economic crisis a 'tsunami'; Me? Y2K--for real, this time!

Remember Y2K? Many tech types among us commanded a pretty penny working 'round the clock (with takeout food from all the best places!) to forestall the event (or at least attempt to mitigate the effect of unknown unknowns that might occur when the new millennium arrived. With all those computers expecting 19XX dates, NOT 20XX dates, heaven only knew what catastrophes awaited us, given our our globally interconnected systems. Survivalists were stocking water, canned goods and sterno fuel and hunkering down in their bunkers in the hills, fortified by the four G's: God, Guns, Gold and Groceries to ride out the storm and defend themselves against marauding urban types looking for food.

Thankfully, precious little happened when 1999 became 2000, and definitely nothing apocalyptic. Visions of dollar signs danced in their sleep-deprived heads as techies emerged unscathed and well-fed from server rooms across the country on the morning of January 1, 2000. two thousand zero zero party over--oops--outta time!--Prince For those who relocated to safe havens or stockpiled survival items, well, they could have a leg up on the rest of us, if the apocalypse is now.

The good thing about the economic crisis (yes, there is at least one) is that I've learned so much more --in real time-- than I did yawning away in Econ 101 decades ago in Douglass Hall. I not only can name economists besides Alan Greenspan, (who came this close to admitting to some culpability for the crisis during testimony on the Hill today,) Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell, I actually have favorites, none for making it plain, describing the calamity and its fallout in a way that even I can understand it:
Newly-minted Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman is professor a Princeton, a columnist for the New York Times and frequent guest on the Lehrer News Hour, and countless other tv and radio shows. The man seems tireless and fearless. He's known for telling us how he really feels. Yesterday on The Diane Rehm show, he said the end of 2009 is a "wildly early date" to think this crisis is gonna be over. Paul Krugman makes no bones about the fact that he's scared. I was absolutely titillated when, seemingly hours after I'd seen Evan Thomas of Newsweek, rolled his eyes and dismissively cast Krugman as Cassandra, "long predicting doom and gloom" on Charlie Rose, I think, that Krugman was named a Nobel Laureate. HAH! HAH!

Another favorite is "Georgetown Law professor , economist and author, Emma Coleman Jordan Check the learned prof out on Bill Moyers Journal where, among other things, she graciously refutes the oft-refuted notion the right was trying to seed at few weejs ago, that this crisis was catalyzed by the Community Reinvestment Act and providing loans to unqualified minorities.

The more I know about Nassim Taleb, the more I like him too. Author of The Black Swan, the Impact of the Highly Improbable, he too has a reputation as a doomsayer (or soothsayer, depending on your perspective. He says he wouldn't let Ben Bernanke drive his car, let alone be responsible for a $700 billion bailout!

So, don't listen to me, listen to some of these folks. The sky actually seems to be falling. Even Home Depot reported that sales of safes have seen double digit growth in the last two weeks. Better beat the run on Costco...

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