Want to Understand What's Really Happening
To the Economy? This Fellow Explains it Well
'What we are witnessing may be the greatest destruction of financial wealth that the world has ever seen -- paper losses measured in the trillions of dollars. Corporate wealth. Oil wealth. Real estate wealth. Bank wealth. Private-equity wealth. Hedge fund wealth. Pension wealth. It's a painful reminder that, when you strip away all the complexity and trappings from the magnificent new global infrastructure, finance is still a confidence game -- and once the confidence goes, there's no telling when the selling will stop. But more than psychology is involved here. What is really going on, at the most fundamental level, is that the United States is in the process of being forced by its foreign creditors to begin living within its means.'
--From an article today on the scramble to clean up the Category 4 financial storm, by the Washington Post's uniquely brilliant columnist Steven Pearlstein, who is following and explaining the unfolding crisis better than anyone I've seen anywhere. He's a pro at cutting through the macroeconomic complexity to describe what's really happening and why. In this online chat earlier in the week, he also delivered a moral rebuke to Wall Street (we think it carries considerably more moral authority than similar rebukes delivered by presidential candidates who've taken millions of dollars from their handy new targets of abuse): "Wall Street doesn't care a fig about Main Street or the economy -- it really doesn't. And it doesn't really expect the rest of us to help them because it is so arrogant it never contemplates the fact that we might need to. Wall Streeters live in a self-contained bubble, and they see any government involvement simply in terms of market dynamics, not in terms of the impact on real people or the real economy." He'll be online again today fielding questions at 11 a.m. eastern time. You might consider sending a question his way.