it's the economy, stupid

March 7, 2008
Ah, the economy.

I'm nervous by nature, and so frankly was a bit surprised at how well 2005 and 2006 seemed to go, economically-speaking. Now it looks like the chickens are coming home to roost.

I know some of this is a side effect of my general financial good fortune and lack of family to support, but sometimes I have trouble deeply understanding how as a country we have a negative savings rate. I don't think this is an international phenomenon; it's us.

What is it about us? A screwed up job market that tends to be bottom- and top-heavy? A culture so addled with materialism that people make an endless series of dumb purchasing decisions? As my Libertarian friends would probably argue, too darn much taxation?

But spending seems to be what our economy is based on! Is it some giant shell game? I remember listening to public radio when I was sick, some commentator who kind of contradicted herself without blinking an eye, on the one hand saying this downturn was going to be rough because consumers can't spend their way out of it, on the other hand chastising Americans for spending this way to begin with.

For a lot of us it all comes down to employment. If your job situation stays good you should be more less OK. If not, it's going to be a scary struggle. But even if you're in the first category, man, it's tough not to let this stuff dominate your thinking and outlook in general.

Heh, maybe working for a European company will help. I wouldn't count on it, I've been burnt by that kind of thinking before, thinking that being sheltered under the Thomson umbrella would help my subsidiary muddle through, but it turns out when you work for one part of a giant company and your part is doing pretty well, they may still look to economize on your part just to help out the other sections.

Woo, ramble-heavy posts as of late!