Things fell apart, the center was barely holding today in the financial markets as oil went past $145 a barrel and the stocks of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae plunged by over 20 percent followed by late news of what could be the largest bank failure in history, sending most Americans home for a weekend of stiff drinks, pain killers and antacids.
If past experience holds, markets should open Monday sharply down for a while and then start to recover as bargain hunters and steel-nerved investors move to cash in on the panic, followed by a Tuesday aftershock and the beginning of a return to normal later in the week.
But past experience may not hold. What's gripping Americans now may be more than the credit crunch and housing crisis, more than inflation fueled by gas price spikes exacerbated by an endless Mideast war, more than the unchecked greed of speculators and hedge funds.
What may be going on is not what Phil Gramm densely called a "mental recession" but much more than that--a cumulative public breakdown of confidence, a social depression from seven years of Bushonomics trashing of the economy, the environment and the safety nets of all but the richest Americans.
With six months to go, we may be seeing the last spasms of damage to a government controlled by people dedicated to destroying every scrap of security it was designed to provide.