In trying to keep up with the news in the financial markets this week, the reader may conclude that the End Times are near. What follows is a roundup of stories and quotes (accompanied by many parenthetical remarks), though I can barely focus on the computer screen right now after losing my eyesight reading the particularly blinding gold-on-black Bloomberg.com website over the past few days:
• A Selection of Quotes on the End Times
"What we are witnessing may be the greatest destruction of financial wealth that the world has ever seen -- paper losses measured in the trillions of dollars."
- Steven Pearlstein, Washington Post, "How to Clean Up a Category 4 Financial Storm," September 18, 2008. MSNBC
"We’re witnessing the passing of more than a venerable firm. We’re seeing the death of a culture."
-Roger Cohen, "The King Is Dead," New York Times, September 17, 2008. NYT
"It's a world in which the Chinese state, if it co-ordinated the investments of its cash-rich institutions, could end up owning more-or-less the entire financial system of the US and the UK."
- Robert Peston, "New World Order, September 18, 2008. BBC News
"The panic in world credit markets reached historic intensity on Wednesday, prompting a flight to safety of the kind not seen since the second world war."
- Krishna Guha in Washington, Michael Mackenzie in New York and Gillian Tett in London, "Panic grips credit markets," September 17 2008 18:23 | Last updated: September 18 2008 00:01. Financial Times
• Most Embarrassing Consequence of the Credit Crisis for English Soccer Fans Hmmm...Manchester United's sponsors are AIG, with the big bold letters splashed across their jerseys. See Telegraph.co.uk
• The Bloombergian Vision: After Wall Street, a New Atlantis
The Mayor's remarks from a few days ago, quoted in a NYT City Room item, caught my attention:
"Taking lessons from the city’s history, the administration has tried for the last several years to reduce its dependency away from Wall Street, which provides 9 percent of the city’s tax revenues and 23 percent of its wages.
Specifically, the administration had tried to strengthen film, fashion, education, higher education, biosciences, health care and the arts. He noted that New York City and the United States in general is less dependent on the financial services sector than its main rival, London and Great Britain."
(Take that, ye olde countrie! Or, sorry, take that back. The Mayor spoke these words before Barclays bought Lehman's investment banking and capital credit markets and the New York headquarters, and thereby, perhaps saving the 10,000 jobs here. Thank you very much, friends across the pond.)
Hail the new Atlantis! Our popular mayor, Mike Bloomberg, rightly speaks of the services and industries on which New York should depend in the shadow of the financial crisis. Though Bloomberg separates "film" from "the arts" in his list (I think of film as an art form, but I know what's in his mind here - large film productions bring in more revenue than the casual art happening arranged by friends, except when many are financed by Wall Street firms, well, we'll figure that out later), I'm with him on supporting an economy of artists, professors and doctors. This sounds ideal for New York 2.0 - artists creating new artworks, preferably about the bio-tech industry and other artists, all attended by fashionably-dressed doctors (artists can become sickly), interpreted by the higher educators (among whom fashion is hopeless), and then exported to the world. The "Warhol economy" will prevail. Perhaps, the first step should be for the Federal Bank to step in and buy Julian Schnabel's condominium (Corcoran).
In sum, as we like to say here, it could be worse. See also "NY economy may not suffer as badly as thought" by The Associated Press. September 18, 2008.
Image above by Walking Off the Big Apple from September 5, 2008, a day the market dropped only 344.65 points.