Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Jungle Out There

Unlike 9/11, the current disaster is coming to us, not with a bang, but a series of whimpers, a slow rollout of economic devastation--lost jobs and homes, business failures and, most of all, an almost primitive fear of the future.

“Everyone is cutting prices, people, capital spending and all kinds of expenses," an economist tells the New York Times today. "It is almost a herd instinct.”

Even the herds are not immune, as some of the nation's great zoos, short of funds, are firing animals. "State budget cuts," CNN reports, "mean many zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens will lose crucial state funding for their exhibits...Zoo officials say some collections with 'short life cycles' will not be replaced when they die, and other animals could be sent to other zoos or wildlife sanctuaries."

At this point, even bad news is somewhat reassuring if it isn't as bad as expected. The decline in gross domestic product, at a 3.8 percent annual rate, fell short of the 5 to 6 percent that most economists had expected for the fourth quarter.

But the explanation is not cheering: Consumption collapsed so quickly that a plethora of unsold goods in inventory are being counted as part of the nation’s output.

Unless our leaders in Congress, who are meeting the crisis by rattling their cages in disarray, get their act together soon, we may all be looking for sanctuaries.

1 comment:

Mike said...

The September calamity that sparked all this is clearly due to lack of regulation. Neo-con economics has failed, just as neo-cons' foreign policies have led to much grief for the United States.

Mr. Paulson, look straight into the camera and say it: "My name is Henry Paulson, I have an Ivy League education and I was treasury secretary, and I am NOT smarter than a Keynesian."

Now, all the other Bush neo-cons must follow suit.