Economies and elections.

So I guess it’s no surprise, really, that the US stock market had a major meltdown yesterday. I mean, according to friends of mine who pay attention to this stuff, it’s been coming for a long time and was entirely predictable. Even to someone as economically-challenged as me, the whole subprime mortgage crisis which fueled this mess, seemed obviously set to happen from the get-go of “cheap” mortgages and no money down. And the fact that these investment companies, you know – the ones who encouraged impoverished people into homes they could not afford through shoddy lending policy, have suddenly spiraled into bankruptcy is (to be quite honest) pretty satisfying to watch. If only their failures didn’t screw the rest of us so bad at the same time.

I read an article today in the Globe and Mail about how this episode marks the end of conservative (unregulated) economics, at least for now. The last liberal economic cycle of course grew from the Great Depression and lasted until the 1970s. This economic turn, if not as deep as the Great Depression certainly gives some pause to examine the US government’s irresponsibility in allowing corporations to set their own rules for so long. In the end I suppose a few people make millions (or billions) but that handful at the top doesn’t possess enough votes to keep their own power in office, and most people in investment banking (even at the top of the corporate management chain) are cleaning out their desks today. On the precipice of an election. That can’t be good for the incumbent party who claim the government has no role in managing the economy. (Note that Bush and co. are trying to deflect everyone’s attention onto the hurricane damage in Texas today.)

So I’d like to believe that perhaps this collapse is the hopeful thing we’ve been waiting for, the one that exposes the Bush Republicans and their cronies (like Stephen Harper) for the dangerous buffoons that they are when it comes to managing the economic fortunes of their nations. If only. Despite the election predictions swirling out here my gut feeling is that those folks in the US and Canada who really feel this economic crisis (the ones already hanging onto their jobs by a thread, unable to fathom how to pay their home heating bill this winter) will stay home, alienated and scared, rather than turning out the vote against economic mayhem come election day. Or failing that, they will vote for independent candidates who are even further to the right and hate immigrants even more than McCain or Palin do.

I feel pretty lucky at times like this that my job is less tied to the contingencies of the market, and my partner is in the same boat – because if I worked in any sector that relied on spending right now I’d be feeling pretty nervous. On the other hand, a Conservative majority could put me out of work faster than you could say deregulation. Here’s to hoping that the era of conservative economics is over for now, and that this crisis demonstrates the need for regulation to protect us from the worst of greed’s excesses. If not, the robber barons will simply move behind the curtain for a brief period before unleashing their latest scam on the stock market (dot-com, real estate bubble, savings and loan – there have been at least a dozen since the 1980s), to the detriment of those who feel the real economic impact, the vast majority who make up society in the US.

We’re at another crossroads I suppose, but it still doesn’t seem like we will ever learn.

One Comment on “Economies and elections.

  1. i think this explains the situation quite well:

    These two guys are fucking hilarious. i can’t believe i’ve never heard of them before now.

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