When I was a teenager I remember seeing these guys wandering around Manchester city center with sandwich boards on their backs that said, “The end of the world is nigh!”
I was a little puzzled about this kind of behavior but wrote it off quickly in the way teenagers do when something more interesting comes along.
These soothsayers of doom must be dancing the proverbial jig (no easy feat in those sandwich boards) at the current economic crisis that has landed on all of our doorsteps.
However, I am beginning to get a little narked at the whole thing. For the past few years here in Israel we have seen runaway property values, overpriced rent, politicians caught in sleazy money scams and then we read that part of the money crisis world-wide or at least in the US was due to fiscal malfeasance beyond the banks simply lending way more money than is believable. In a nutshell runaway, rampant greed.
The real question though is never how did we get here (looking back is often akin to looking down from a really high place) but when you hear all these doom-smiths, nay-sayers and purveyors of the worst case scenario; what do they want?
Some of these folks genuinely believe that this is where we are and it is only going to get worse. These good people are trying to caution us to tighten our belts, make sure we don’t over extend and batten down the hatches. However, some of these people stand to make a huge killing from this panic.
In a climate of uncertainty when people are ridding themselves of stock as it plummets others are snapping that stock up gambling that as bad as it is in the short term it will get better when they and others like them calm things down. Or simply rubbing their hands gleefully and waiting to snap up all the foreclosed properties they expect to see out there.
Maybe this is incredibly cynical to view the world this way. Maybe the world has reached a point where history does not have a precedent for us to look at and say, “oh yes, this is just like in the year xyz .. so we should do this”. Maybe the economists have no prior models to explain what is going on now.
Perhaps too many butterflies flew into too many weather systems over the past few years and Chaos Theory is in full effect.
However in all this where are the financial giants of the world trying to calm things and restore some semblance of confidence? To date I have only heard of Lev Leviev in Israel making this effort.
If and when this crisis reaches our shores will it be inevitable or the self fulfilling prophesy of all the interminable pessimists who so undermined market confidence with their prophesies of doom that the avoidable happened anyway.
If this was a Bond movie then lurking in the background would be a Nehru suited, bald uber-villain with henchmen and a hidden base; secretly manipulating world markets to make his billions and Bond would in his inimitable fashion, with panache and style save us all.
Perhaps, what we need to do though to save ourselves is not submit to the rampant greed that caused all this.