Visions of doom -- or glory?

“It’s Our Money” began a few months ago as a way to get people even a little bit interested in the city budget.  We chose our name as a reminder of why it’s important…as in “Yo! It’s our !@#($#%&* money!”

Fast forward a few months, and we’re all talking about ‘mortgage backed derivatives and parsing every sentence from the Treasury secretary.

 Thanks to the national economic crisis,  the “it’s our money” pronouncement has never been more relevant, as we all prepare to kiss $700 billion goodbye without being able to read the fine print.

That’s why until further notice, we’ll be focused primarily on the national economic crisis, especially as it relates to the city. Here are some good blogs we’re reading:

  • Eschaton -  Local blogger Duncan Black combines political commentary with economic analysis.
  • Calculated Risk – A former corporate executive gives his take on financial news.
  • Beat the Press – Dean Baker comments on media coverage of economic issues.
  • Grasping Reality with Both Hands – Berkley Professor Brad DeLong comments on economics and public policy.

Meanwhile, despite my many conversations this week with smart economists from around the country, I wish someone would explain:

  • How an entire complex economy can collapse in a matter of days, as Bush is suggesting if the Paulson Plan doesn’t get resolved?
  • Are we talking about the collapse of the economy or the collapse of Wall Street? If only wall street collapsed, how much of the actual economy, which still includes productive workers producing things, goes away?  I know that credit is the grease that keeps the economy moving, and that’s what Wall Street has provided, but wouldn’t new credit markets naturally open up to replace the old ones?
  • If we are this close to Armageddon, why do we still have to see ads for new cars, Axe aftershave, and trailers for “Choke?”
  • And what does Armageddon actually look like? Does it happen overnight? Do we all wake up without jobs?  With no banks?  And if there are no banks, does that mean I no longer pay my mortgage? If I don’t need money to pay the mortgage, and the cereal in my cupboard lasts as long as I think it will, why do I need a job anyway?

Which leads me to the big question: is Bush painting a picture of disaster because the actual alternative -- a culture that is not based on over-caffeinated consumerism but slower people living quieter lives with only the basics to keep them happy -- what he’s really trying to avoid?  There could be many upsides to an economic meltdown; maybe they just don’t want us to know about them.

What’s your worst fear picture of Armageddon?