Bailout bill fails, the economy is crumbling and we just gotta do what we do.

So I watched CNN all day yesterday waiting for the vote on the bailout bill, but I noticed that even though I don’t have any money to really lose (just the hope that they may not notice how much debt I have) I still felt stressed out. I also realized that when rich people lose money, it is a national crisis. But poor folk have trouble making ends meet every single day. Where is our news coverage?
The thing with money stress, for most of us, it is always there. So why this panic and media frenzy? Because the Dow Jones dropped? Or because we need to sensationalize everything and create fake scenarios to see how our to be presidents will react? Now, I am not saying that the financial crisis isn’t real. Giving out money that doesn’t exist will lead to problems. But this has problem didn’t happen over night. As Naomi Klein would suggest,

[R]ight-wing governments use the shock generated by disasters or other crises to push through unpopular free-market policies when the population isn’t in a position to oppose such programs.

via Chronicle Herald.
So instead of taking a jab at some shoddy economic analysis (which it seems like a lot of people are doing), I thought I would give you all a chance to share your thoughts on the economic crisis. I realized after watching the news all day I started to feel really panicked and started revisiting all my bills and stressing out about money. I also realized the spending on the war in Iraq is almost as much as the amount that is needed for the bailout.
Talk to me.


UPDATE: Listen to Naomi Klein explain the “shock doctrine.”

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33 Comments

  1. have.at.it
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Well. The reason for the panic is that the financial crisis has locked up the financial markets. Translation: banks and investment companies, mortgage companies and so on have no money to lend out because their cashflow has ceased. It’s all very complicated and has to do with leveraging and derivatives and a lot of really unreasonable decisions made by i-bankers and investment trusts and many other people. So what does it mean for us?
    It doesn’t just mean that Bluffington McMoneybags can’t get a loan to go buy a new yacht. It means that students can’t get loans, middle and lower class folks can’t finance a home purchase,everyone’s credit limit gets lowered, and on and on. This is one that will affect poor people the worst of all, because they are often the most dependent on the extension of credit to make major purchases and life decisions. We’re bailing out the banks and investment houses, which we should never had had to do, but it’s important to remember that we’re not just bailing out the investment banks — we’re saving our own asses as well, because this country is irretrievably dependent on credit.

  2. BROWN TRASH PUNK!
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    i have no sympathy for rich people losing their money. boo-hoo.
    i am an american and we Americans deserve all this hell because we’ve inflicted so much crap on the world. we need to stop being so goddamned selfish, materialistic, lazy and stupid. It’s time for a wake-up call. oh, and let me remind you, half of our nation voted for Bush TWICE. So yeah, we deserve it (even me).
    part of me feels scared and anxious about the whole economic collapse, but we’re gonna live through it.
    (and I don’t have a credit card… I think we need to stop our credit addiction)

  3. melponeme_k
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    The big money men will never hurt for money.
    They just don’t want to use their money to stop this crisis. They would rather let the US taxpayer shoulder their debt while they keep the profits.
    The crisis was not created by us but the money hogs who had to destroy the New Deal, deregulate and run wild. So now they have and they expect us to pick up their tab.
    NO! Let them go under.
    This blog tells it like it is:
    http://elainemeinelsupkis.typepad.com/money_matters/

  4. Little Mermaid
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    My only hope is that this horrible economic crisis will wake people up and convince them to vote for Obama this year. The Republicans have caused the majority of this mess, so this may very well be what is needed to ensure a Democratic victory this year.

  5. Jess
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    There are several things have.at.it says that are right, but the reason I am happy the bailout vote failed is that there are two ways to recapitalize the system (which is the problem, ultimately).
    One is to basically put money into the financial institutions. That can help, but ultimately it will only buy you time if the structural issues aren’t dealt with.
    The second is to approach it from the bottom — for instance, instead of buying derivative securities (which are backed by no real assets) and hoping that eventually they can be traded, we could basically buy up all the outstanding mortgages that are in arrears right now. (Or, for even less money, give everybody X% of their outstanding loan).
    This does a couple of things. It keeps the derivative securities based on failing mortgages afloat. These securities were basically constructed to allow investors to make bets on the direction of the mortgage market. Buying out a chunk of that debt means the models (which were wrong) are once again valid, at least for a while. Then you can trade those securities at something like their original prices.
    The second thing is it keeps people in their houses, and frees up a chunk of money they can spend on other stuff, stimulating the economy.
    A third effect is the government possibly owning a lot of real assets. Unlike a derivative a house (or even a bond) has some real value. If you can’t sell your house immediately it doesn’t become worthless and a bondholder gets paid by liquidating real assets if that turns out to be necessary.
    The debt securities that Paulson wants to buy aren’t like that– if you can’t find a buyer the price goes to zero. If the government were to buy them we would be paying for an asset that is by definition without any value and all that would have to happen would be for the institutions to just not buy them back after how ever many years. Then we’d be out $700 billion, millions lose their homes and we are back to square one.
    This solution was tried, by the way, in the 1930s, and it worked rather well, In that case the government essentially bought up a lot of houses. Eventually they got sold at some percentage of their value, because they were a real asset people could live in.
    Or there’s the Swedish solution — just nationalize the banks. Worked for them.

  6. MsM
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    I have no idea how risky the failing of the bail-out bill is. What I do think is that sitting down to think out a more thought-out financial strategy, with actual input from people who are specialists in the field, cannot possibly be a bad thing in the long term.
    Also, I hope this will actually lead to a thorough discussion about the fundamentals of free-market economy, and the way all Western countries embrace it as absolute gospel and the be-all, end-all solution to all ills, and whether its principles are actually sound enough in the current global economy.
    But I’m not holding my breath for either of these things.

  7. MsM
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    think out a thought-out strategy? LOL. Ahem. I should preview.

  8. Kristen
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Arggg….this is frustrating the shit out of me.
    LOOK…THIS BAIL OUT IS NOT ABOUT SAVING RICH PEOPLE.
    Rich people will eat.
    If credit doesn’t loosen the working and middle classes may not.
    Companies use credit to pay expenses. If they can’t get credit, they have to decrease production and that means LAYOFFS.
    Many working class and middle class Americans are going to lose their jobs if we don’t fix this situation.

  9. Zvebab Ghobar
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Um, so a massive attempt to nationalize $700 billion (or more) of bad debt is pushing through “free market policies”?
    In what universe?

  10. MelissaL
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    I agree with Have.it.all and would like to add- one of the biggest issues as I can see it is that home prices are seriously inflated, which means loans are inflated AND the worst of it- most middle class families have equity only in their homes.
    I’m for a plan that levels out mortgage interest rates, bails out home owners first and stabilizes the housing market- THEN a nationalization of a lot of these bad loans ala AGI. I’m for socialism here, the right kinds of regulation and a reality check for EVERYONE. I think eliminating the Bush Tax cuts will help pay for things. I think people need to understand that our play-now-pay-later philosophy is really not healthy. I say this as a bad offender, too, so it’s no lecture, it’s just reality.

  11. MelissaL
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    You know, what Jess said while I was typing :)
    Plus, let’s face it- the government fed up again. Pelosi never should have let it go to vote without knowing the outcome. We should never have let Bush bully us into rushing. If we’d said “this is going to take negotiation, thought, and yes, a bit of time but we are sure a consensus can be reached within 15 days” the markets wouldn’t have freaked and reacted like they had. The biggest problem I have with all of this crap is the way our “free market” works- based on FEELINGS, hunches and overreactions to situations. It’s gambling at it’s most intellectual and it’s scary when you think about it.

  12. Cunnus777
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    That guy thinks that just because he acts like he’s so emotional about this his point will appear to be right.

  13. wax_ghost
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    I just hope I can actually find a job after I graduate in December.

  14. RevolutionarilySpeaking
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    My rather shaky source for my logic
    Okay, I hope my linky worked. If this person’s logic is correct, 54 million Americans have outstanding home mortgages. 700 billion / 54 million = just about 13k per homeowner. 13k?
    What would you fricken do if someone paid 13 k on your mortgage? For my mother, not including her property taxes, 13k would be about 8 mortgage payments. If for 8 months she didn’t have to make mortgage payments, she could put that 13k toward home improvements (landscaping, remodeling the second bathroom, etc), which would increase the value of her house. I didn’t even take into account the interest she wouldn’t have to pay on that 13k (my mom’s credit was poor when she bought the house, so it was financed at 8%). She could use that 13k to pay off almost all of what we owe on all the cars that have loans (there are five of us). That would save a ton of interest, too. She could use the 13k to not have to take out loans for her education or my education for one semester, thereby again saving a ton of interest. Do you see the impact that 13k could have on this one family? This is how the bailout should be played.
    Second of all, one commenter said this country is obsessed with credit. I have to say that credit is the only thing that keeps people who live paycheck to paycheck afloat. I had to work full time from when I was 16 to help support my family and decided to be home schooled. I got so behind in school that I had to take off this entire Summer from work to finish and work on my college applications. Due to this and several other unfortunate circumstances, I have to take a gap year which I will use to volunteer. If I didn’t have my good credit (which means several large limits on my cards, esp for an 18 y/o) I wouldn’t have my cell phone, be able to pay my home school tuition, put gas in my car, pay for my birth control, etc.
    Just saying – the mortgage crisis is hitting women twice as hard as men.

  15. Thomas
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Jess says some smart things above. There are other ways to do this. “Let it burn,” however, is only a good idea if one thinks that throwing us into a depression with 25% unemployment is a necessary step to socialist revolution. That is not my position.
    I hate corporate America, and I hate them for the damage they have done. But this is not just about them. This is about whether small businesses all over America have to lay people off. This is about whether the lumber mill, the dry cleaner and the pizza place have to cut a few people because the bank tightens their loans. There are lots of ways to loosen the credit supply — subsidizing those institutions that did not go hog wild on mortgage derivatives, for example. But we ought to do something.
    Ultimately, there is not escaping the downturn. The American middle class has made less and less almost my entire life as wealth has stratified upwards, and the middle-class lifestyle has been sustained only by massive borrowing. That’s over, and the consumer sector (70% of the American economy) will shrink. How much I don’t know. That could lead, as I said some time ago on Feministe, to a Japan-style lost decade (not just my view; Stephen Roach, former Morgan Stanley chief economist and now head of MS Asia, has said that). This will be a lot of pain for a lot of people. I just don’t want it to be any worse for the average American than it has to be.

  16. ideagrrrl
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I also spent yesterday panicking about money – though I have none and my partner and I are $100K in debt. But I am more pissed. Pissed because we are not poor – together my spouse and I earned an above average family income. I don’t regret some of our debt, which is tied to my going back to school to earn a Ph.D. (and like wax ghost, I hope I’ll be able to find a job when I’m finished in May!) and our adopting our daughter four years ago. What I can’t understand is how it could get to the point where every single bill (from water to gas/electricity), groceries, and gas and go up while our (collective “our”) wages remain the same. I don’t know about the rest of you, but a lot of my family’s debt is because we had to use credit cards for basic things like groceries and childcare (“luckily,” my daughter’s pre-school takes credit).
    The sick irony in all of this is that while we struggle to make ends meet, many of the banks who were supposed to be bailed out (and, let’s face it, they *will* get bailed out somehow) will continue to get rich off the interest of our credit cards while we (taxpayers) foot the bill (or some of it – assuming that the gov’t makes some of the money back after they re-sell what they purchase – I’m skeptical, though).
    The sad thing is my situation isn’t even that bad – I have a roof over my head and food in my refrigerator, a spouse with a job and a string of adjunct teaching gigs to get me through May. What about single moms, poor families, disabled individuals, etc., etc., etc. I’d gladly continue to put groceries on a credit card if $700 billion was going to make their lives better.
    F*ck these corporations!

  17. kazmira
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    To respond to Samhita’s question about why the struggles of the poor don’t get the same ‘national crisis’ news coverage as the fall of Wall Street, I think it’s important to recognize that those aren’t two separate crises, at all. So many working- and middle-class Americans have depended on these enormous companies for credit and mortgages, and the companies on them for profits, because wages (or ‘real wages’, adjusted for inflation) have not gone up in two decades, while the cost of living definitely has. Meaning, the dollar of the average American wage worker went farther in the 1970′s than it does today. So, it’s amazing that ‘free-market’ conservatives, like the conservative guest in the Bill Maher clip above, actually blame an American dependency on credit for this whole shit show. If anything, the ‘free market’ (whatever that means, since the Bush administration has spent a TON on regulatory legislation), has benefited most of all from this dependency, in that companies are able to cut costs by both shipping manual and service labor overseas, and keeping wages for jobs left behind stagnant. Workers then make up the difference by putting their homes and livelihoods entirely on credit, which also benefits big companies. But, as much as it sounds like it, this isn’t a ‘big guy screws the little guy’ problem. The big guys are just taking advantage of the way capitalism as a system has come to function and the behaviors and modes of exchange it allows and encourages. Although thankfully/hopefully, it’s turning out not to be such a sustainable monster, or at least this form of it.

  18. ideagrrrl
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Yes kazmira! Maybe this is the time for all of us to learn how to live differently – I’m ready for capitalism as we know it to fall and have us (real people, not corporate money mongers) re-imagine something different. Ok, I’m dreaming, I know…

  19. MachineGhost
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    It’s a good thing the power-grabbing bailout plan failed as it wouldn’t have resolved the credit crisis anyway (it is not a liquidity crisis, have.at.it). Apparantly almost half of the idiots in Congress don’t understand how to read a balance sheet of a financial company.
    Before writedown:
    Good Assets: $95
    Questionable Assets: $5
    TOTAL ASSETS: $100
    Liabilities to Customers: $80
    Debt to Bondholders: $17
    Shareholder Equity: $3
    TOTAL LIABILITIES AND SHAREHOLDER EQUITY: $100
    Notice how the cushion of debt is sufficient to protect customers from losses even in the worst bankruptcy.
    After writedown:
    Good Assets: $95
    Questionable Assets: $2
    TOTAL ASSETS: $97
    Liabilities to Customers: $80
    Debt to Bondholders: $17
    Shareholder Equity: $0
    TOTAL LIABILITIES AND SHAREHOLDER EQUITY: $97
    Once the shareholder equity is gone, a “run on the bank” ensures and the bankruptcy process is then necessary to get at the bondholder debt.
    After bailout plan:
    Good Assets: $95
    Cash Proceeds from Sale of Questionable Assets to Treasury: $2
    TOTAL ASSETS: $97
    Liabilities to Customers: $80
    Debt to Bondholders: $17
    Shareholder Equity: $0
    TOTAL LIABILITIES AND SHAREHOLDER EQUITY: $97
    What the bailout plan wanted to do is forestall the bankruptcy process and protect the profits of the executives, directors, beneficial owners and bondholders. Talk about spoiled. Thus, the bailout plan would have done absolutely nothing to protect against eventual failure. Given that the taxpayer would have a position on the liability side in the shareholder equity on future profits but be below the bondholders under the revised bailout plan, they would still be screwed over.
    In contrast to previous banking failues where the institutions were liquidated, put into receivership or recapitalized with special bonds by the FDIC (Wachivoa comes to mind as a recent example) or even Buffett getting preferred shares paying 9% interest in Morgan Stanley (which has a safer mix of assets and is converting to operate under regular banking regulations), this really is a power-grab for government by upper class, elitist ex-investment bankers such as Paulson to socialize the losses and privatize the profits of Wall Street.
    However, all the armchair economists waxing poetic of late should note this bailout plan is the end-game of numerous government interventions that started with Freddie and Fannie circa 1940′s. One exception that could be made was overturning the Seagall-Glass Act circa 1999 which gave investment banks the freedom to operate outside the regulations that regular banks labor under. Blaming the so-called “free market” for the whole enchilada is just fashionable political ideaology and self-delusion, not fact.
    If Naomi Klein wasn’t narrow minded on this topic, she would have said:
    “Left-wing and Right-wing governments use the shock generated by disasters or other crises to push through unpopular interventionist policies when the population isn’t in a position to oppose such programs.”

  20. Danyell
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    I just wrote a whole blog post about this. Is it ok if I just link it here?
    http://personalgenius.blogspot.com/2008/09/poor-little-rich-boys.html
    I don’t want to be just a self-promoter, but I think it summarizes all I have to say on the subject.

  21. callie
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    “So why this panic and media frenzy? Because the Dow Jones dropped?”
    Yes. It dropped 7% in a day. That means that the value of American companies is falling drastically, which is bad for everyone who is employed by an American company.
    The credit crunch is a disaster for average and poor Americans, but it means we can’t borrow except at incredibly high rates.
    It’s frustrating to me to see some liberals/progressives insist that no matter how far the market tumbles, this is all about saving fat cats. When banks go broke, those that depend on banks– ie, us– get hurt.

  22. Victorianox
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    This is all about our unhealthy obsession with GROWTH. The key socio-economic paradigm has been that growing populations and economies (read consumption) are positive developments. Growth becomes a cancer when the ecological carrying capacity is passed.
    Americans have of course bought into the free market ideology of liberal economics unquestionably as a whole, yet predictably lack the courage to stick to their principles when the going gets tough.
    Markets will in fact correct absurd housing prices and growth based on artificial (i.e. credit) wealth. Of course neither the wealthy nor middle class want to take responsibility for their preceding actions. “Main street” is full of selfish fools who paid hundreds of thousands of dollars over the justifiable value of their home and now cannot afford them and the banks are full of people who made grossly, foreseeably irresponsible loans.
    I personally oppose free markets for critical sectors from the start and feel housing sales in particular should be strictly regulated. Sensible regulation would for example ban speculation on homes which drives up prices and is a moral crime in my view against families who just want a place to live. Requiring an income-to-price threshold would help keep people from pursuing resources outside their limits.
    But is you choose to live by free markets you must die by free markets, because otherwise you will just poison society as a whole with inflation and increased government debt. Unless house prices collapse to justifiable levels, young people like me will be barred from home ownership in many areas for a decade or more. A tiny ass house in Seattle can cost $300,000 easily. That’s nuts.
    That is how this bailout will in turn rape the poor, because stocks are really the only inflation-resilient investment. Poor and in turn middle class people can expect real earnings to decline if not plummet. 10% inflation is never matched by 10% wage hikes.

  23. ideagrrrl
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Right on Victorianox!

  24. T-Monster
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m scared.

  25. Ephemeral
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    While I am not a macro economic expert, I believe this crisis was precipitated by so called moral hazard in the financialsector (they got greedy and stupid).
    When this happened a decade ago in Asia the US fed reserve, along with the IMF and other leading economists all said the same thing, they (Asia) need to weather the storm to ensure fiscal and banking reform that will prevent the same thing from happening in a few years time and make the system stronger and more effective in the long run.
    I think the same is true now for the US (and other impacted countries and sectors), even though a serious recession..or more likely depression if we are honest…will suck (and impact many other countries such Canada where I live).
    This will make things hard for many of us. However, the system needs to adjust and find a workable and sustainable business model. This will only happen if all parts of the chain are forced to adjust and know they can’t run to their local Government for bail outs.
    Banks and credit companies must lend smarter (particularly the nasty slimy ones that purposely lend to high risk people to position them into debt situations to generate a revenue stream of interest and penalty charges). I can’t speak to other people’s experiences but I am always surprised when I talk to my bank and they want to lend me more money because according to them I don’t need to spend money on things like food and clothing therefore I should borrow more money to by a new X, Y or Z, or maybe take that much deserved vacation which I will then have to kill myself to pay for, pus interest.
    Industry must also invest more judiciously to ensure productivity an competitiveness, and consumers (you and me) must live at a level that is sustainable (if you are living on credit cards, LOCs, or other credit tools all the time then you can’t sustain your life style…it sucks…but that is the truth).

  26. Lisa
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Being for the bailout is an uncomfortable position to take, but one I take because I feel it’s necessary. It’s easy to oversimplify the economic situation and present it as a scenario of the government bailing out large corporations while the little guy suffers unassisted. But these companies aren’t their own isolated entities. They are deeply intertwined with the U.S. economy in a way that impacts everyone. The collapse of these large institutions would put a large obstacle in the way of anyone trying to get loans of any sort, including home loans and student loans. While sub-prime lending is dangerous and exploitative, good loans are very important. For example, The vast majority of wealth in the middle class is gained through home equity and the inheritance of that wealth (often through parental assistance with a first down payment), so this could deal a huge blow to the lower and middle class by hampering their ability to accumulate wealth. Additionally, if these large banks collapse, their assets will be sold off at rock bottom prices. Foreign investors can scoop up huge percentages of shares in American banks which means more money leaving the United States. Although it is not a bank, this was the reason for the original AIG bailout. Last year they were at $70 a share and they bottomed out around $1.25. The bailout gives time for controlled sales.
    BUT THERE IS STILL BLAME TO BE PLACED. My whole argument for support of the bailout is due to the fact that these companies are so entangled in the well-being of the U.S. and it’s people. But for decades we’ve pushed to deregulate these companies in the name of “free market” and it was this deregulation that allowed low standards in lending that are largely responsible for our current crisis. On other companies, deregulation works reasonably well. If the company makes bad policies and goes under, some people will lose their jobs but ultimately a competitor will rise to fill its place. But for financial institutions it’s different. If the consequences of a collapse means devastating consequences for the American people, the government has an obligation to consider what is best for its people first and foremost. This means imposing protective regulations. For years, people making this exact argument has been labeled ‘communists’ and brushed off as hating capitalism. But we stand at the brink of using 700 billion dollars of tax-payer money to take government ownership of majority shares in many of these businesses. What’s worse, to impose regulations or actually own the corporations? I’d consider the latter to be considerably more “commie.”
    An important thing to note is that one person/administration/event did not cause the financial crisis. I believe the severity can be attributed to deregulation that started in the Reagan era, but the economy is a very complex creature. There are plenty of things that got us where we are today. The liquidated capital of the dot-com bust that led to huge housing investments, the current high oil prices, and war spending to name a few. A book could be written about the various factors and it would still be just the tip of the iceberg. I’m also not an economist so if anyone has anything to add or argue with my points, I’m very open to it. But I ask everyone not to simplify things to much. While the government is in the pockets of corporate interests so often, don’t underestimate how dependent you may be on these very companies. So for now I begrudgingly accept the bailout as necessary to protect the people but only while expressing my disgust that we weren’t protected from the get-go.
    (Wow, this is way longer than I meant it to be)

  27. j.
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I can really only speak anecdotally and from personal perspective on the country’s financial situation. While I agree that the media and politicians milk crises for all they’re worth, and then some, I do see this as a true crisis.
    One direct effect that the current panic-inducing messages have is that consumer spending on goods and services has dropped and will continue to do so for some time, even residually after the panic button ceases to be pressed. What does this mean? As an example, my partner and I had intended to purchase a second new car in the coming months; however, with the country’s financial future uncertain and, thus, our own financial picture, we are tightening up the spending and will not purchase that new car anytime soon. You can be sure this scenario is happening in nearly every household around the U.S. As consumer spending decreases, so will profits, obviously, and with that wages will decrease and unemployment will increase. Yahoo news ran reports recently stating that in August, spending remained flat. September’s stats have improved only marginally.
    Another point I’d like to touch on, anecdotally as I mentioned above, is that I am a Benefits Portfolio Manager for a company with 1300 employees in 5 states. In this position, among several other responsibilities, I administrate our 401(k) plan. Although investments are responsibly managed by our brokers, we have lost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars just in the past few weeks. This paints a terrible picture, especially for those who are nearing retirement, as their 401(k)s won’t have the time to rebound, assuming a rebound occurs at some future date. Additionally, the number of requests for loans and withdrawals against individual 401(k) accounts has definitely and sharply increased within the past couple months. This, in my opinion, is a significant indicator of the impact the financial crisis is having on your average working folks.
    So, what’s my point? It is that poor and middle-class people ARE being impacted by the whole thing, not just the rich.
    j.

  28. aghast
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Some observations (and I’m not an economist, so others may correct me):
    1) The Swedish solution to this mess was not quite nationalization. The government contacted all major banks involved in the crisis and gave them a choice: either clean up their own messes, or face nationalization. Some of the larger banks actually took the hint and managed to refinance, getting away from national control.
    Given these conditions and the fact that financiers in this country see nationalism as “socialism,” maybe this plan would work here. It would certainly put the impetus on the banks and other firms to come up with independent solutions.
    2) The most unpalatable part of the bailout plan is that it looks like a “blank check;” a flow of money to free up liquidity in the banks in exchange for the bad loans and resulting securities. This is why issues such as preventing bonuses to executives whose firms get this money and having some oversight have surfaced.
    I think the real issue is: is a funds-for-securities scheme sufficient to solve the problem? Can we trust the few people involved to use the funds wisely?
    3) A real issue in this mess is whether or not taxpayers will receive any funds back after the bailout. To do this, the securities would eventually have to be sold by the new holders (the Fed and the Treasury) — and there is little information out there as to how this would happen. I would very much like to know.
    4) If Americans were encouraged to save instead of spend, the credit crunch would not be as bad as it is. This is the truth, folks; it’s not just the fault of financial firms. Everyone is dependent on credit, and we have no choice at this moment but to get it rolling again. Perhaps a shift in thinking towards saving will happen after this mess is dealt with.

  29. Alice
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    On a personal level, I know what I’m going to do: start buying American stocks. The economy has always recovered, and the cheapest stocks get is after a panic like this. Buy when everyone is selling, and vice versa.
    On a more macroeconomic level, I subscribe to the Austrian school of economic thought, and I’d suggest this to anyone who wants to get to know that position.

  30. ldshw
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    I had the pleasure of attending a Naomi Klein lecture in Halifax, Nova Scotia this weekend and the woman just radiates intelligence and rational-thinking. Not many right-wing economists agree with her shock-doctrine theories, but hearing them straight from her during such a significant time of crisis leaves little doubt. I highly suggest to anyone interested in the vulnerability of the current world economy that they read up on Naomi Klein’s theories. Shock is partly due to the unknown, and the more people know about what they are dealing with, the less likely they are to subscribe to ideas that aren’t necessarily in their best interest. She suggested during the lecture I attended that she didn’t think the U.S. House of Representatives would pass the bill, despite the overwhelming opinion that they would. She claims this is because the House seems to realize the way they Bush administration capitalizes on fear and crisis to force unfavorable decisions. Americans should be thankful that the House stood up against the bully this time.

  31. JRH
    Posted October 1, 2008 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    I have to wonder, what would Valerie Solanas say about this? I’m guessing she might laugh with me on this one. The economy is falling. Good. Maybe we’ll fix something.

  32. Zane Y
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 4:14 am | Permalink

    The crumbling economy resulted to a lot of families experiencing credit card debts. There are a number of strategies that can be employed by debt-strapped families to reduce or eliminate their liabilities. It must be realized, however, that debt is generally created over time, and therefore will only be eliminated over time. In order to permanently change their financial situation, individuals must change their attitudes concerning money. Debt consolidation could be for you. Debt consolidation is for when you have too many bills and the payments on your personal loans and other debts are getting to be too much. Debt consolidation brings all of these bills under one payment umbrella, and lowers the interest rate, and therefore payments. If you feel like you’re drowning, and you have too many bills, then looking into debt consolidation is a far better choice than struggling paycheck to paycheck and worrying about short term loans to fill the gaps.

  33. susanb
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    i wonder if this economy will ever come back. This is so sad to see. i hope we see and upswing in the near furture.
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