Oct 292008

The media are lathering us all up to the prespective of a great depression, matched only by 1929. Obama is just hanging in on page 4, and only because some deranged young idiot was supposedly plotting to assassinate him. As for McCain and Palin, they’ve completely dissapeared from the news radar, at least here in Switzerland.

I never cease to be amazed at how short peoples’ memory is. The stock market has gone through innumerable crises, the 1973-1974 wiped 45% off the DOW,  black Monday (1987) took 22.6% off the DOW and the .COM bubble in 2000 cost speculators (and others) about $5 trillion. The world’s banks employees, motivated by bonuses that bear no relation to their true added value have been playing the market for years and now we are at the day of reckoning. And so what? We’ve lived through them before, we’ll live through this one again, and in 3 years the autumn-2008 meltdown will be no more than a page on Wikipedia, like the others.

But. And there is a “but” this time round. The previous disasters were accompanied by liberal doses of “well, take your medecine”. This time it’s very different. Governments suddenly made billions available to ailing banks and in the same breath announced that money for all other causes was short. Here in Switzerland, where UBS was bailed to the tune of 68’000’000’000 CHF (about the same number of dollars), the minimum interest rate on pension funds was slashed simultaneously.

Let us take a step back. In 1974 (and 1987, and 2000), we were fed the same crap. In 2006-2007, everyone was back to worshipping the incredible economy.

Will we never learn?