Thursday, November 13, 2008

Recession? Depression? How Will the Story End?

The last few days have been extremely busy, but that alone does not explain my neglect of my blog. Once the election was over and I had said all that was on my mind about Proposition 8, anything else that I could write about here began to feel pretty trite. I will certainly continue posting here as often as I can muster up a meaningful topic, but now that I have met my NaBloPoMo goal for October, I am once again going to try to focus on quality and content rather than just getting a daily post up on my site.

To that end, I'm going to address something today that has really been weighing on me heavily, and has, I am certain, been on everyone else's mind. Just how low can we go? Every time I hear a fresh report that the stock market has taken another big dive, I cringe as I imagine several thousand more dollars hemorrhaging out of our nest egg. The most difficult thing about this, is all of the unknowns. How much longer will this go on? Will I be able to find a new job? Will Steve be able to hang onto his? How much worse will it get, and when it does start to get better, will it improve so slowly that our kids will still be feeling the effects when they try to get jobs? Nothing that I have gone through in the past has prepared me to really deal with all of this.

When I was in high school, a social studies teacher assigned my class the task of finding and interviewing someone who lived through the Great Depression. I chose to visit my great Aunt Betty in the retirement home where she lived so I could listen to her story. That I remember nothing of what she told me speaks volumes. Had I any inkling at that time that I myself could face similar circumstances as an adult, I think her words might have sliced through the never-may-care attitude of youth, and have stayed with me. Which makes me wonder, what stories will we tell our grandchildren about 2008 and the great financial crisis thereof?

Here are a couple of very sobering excerpts from the Wikipedia page on the Great Depression:

"The Great Depression was not a sudden total collapse. The stock market turned upward in early 1930, returning to early 1929 levels by April, though still almost 30 percent below the peak of September 1929.

"...consumers, many of whom had suffered severe losses in the stock market the previous year, cut back their expenditures by ten percent..."

"In early 1930, credit was ample and available at low rates, but people were reluctant to add new debt by borrowing. By May 1930, auto sales had declined to below the levels of 1928. Prices in general began to decline, but wages held steady in 1930, then began to drop in 1931.""

Does any of this sound familiar? Nobody can say for certain whether or not we are headed for the next Great Depression, but our economic outlook is undoubtedly the worst it has been at any time since the depression finally came to an end.

The other day, I asked Steve, if he could imagine what it would be like to wake up each morning being Barack Obama, now that he is to be our next president. I believe that many of the tears of joy around the world came from the hope that this man could begin to change the course that the worldwide economy is currently on. To get up each morning, knowing that the entire world is counting on him and his advisers to make the right decisions must be very sobering. One man and one country cannot make all of the changes that need to be made, and forward progress will be slow, but my greatest hope is that President Obama rises to the challenge and gives me a story with a happy ending for my grandchildren.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not at all certain that I was very successful in talking you down yesterday but I do know this. As long as there are people like you and your sisters in this country, it will survive and thrive. Obama couldn't have a better support system. Hang in there and have faith in yourself.