Sunday, November 28, 2004

Is the Sky Falling?

Twice this week I heard prominent economists refer to an impending "economic Armageddon."

The first mention, which I caught via Boing Boing on Tuesday, was an article by Morgan Stanley's chief economist Stephen Roach. He says that conditions in the United States are aligned right now for economic disaster. In fact, he believe we have about a 90 percent chance of economic "Armageddon" and about a 60 percent of *delaying* it, but only a 10 percent chance of avoiding it all together.

The same day, driving home, I heard Paul Krugman on NPR saying that were the United States any other country, we'd be considered a banana republic at this point, but that the world's basically giving us the benefit of the doubt. He also said we're headed for "economic Armageddon," and he was quoted in a Reuters story last Monday entitled "Economic Crisis a Question of When, Not If."

Coincidence? Had Krugman read Roach's piece that day, too? Maybe these guys have been comparing notes.

Krugman is not exactly known as a friend of Bush, but I'm not aware of Roach's political leanings to tell whether his thoughts may be skewed by bias. But, you know, these guys are economists--economic forecasters--and when the weatherman says, "Storm," you're wise to pay attention even if he doesn't have a perfect batting average (if you'll pardon the mixed metaphors). And these guys are predicting a perfect storm.

And just look around. I mean, common sense tells you that if you had a loved one deeply in debt, who decided to get a credit card, which allowed them to spend more money they didn't have, you'd advise them against it, right? That's what our country's doing. And both Roach and Krugman outline plenty of other contributing factors, which portend a coming storm.

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