Warnings in December 2008

It’s hard to believe that almost a month has gone by since the U.S. Presidential election. A few friends and I got up in the morning to watch it and as the states turned blue, we got excited. I remember nine years ago when taxi drivers used to joke about Clinton’s extracurricular affairs. These days, they don’t joke about anyone anymore. A traffic cop the other day even shook his head at me noting that the economy in the U.S. was in a bad state…like it was my fault or something. How does this crisis affect him, or how much does it really affect any of us? Yes, the dollar is down, not to mention the Euro and the Pound. That does affect many of us, but really, how much? Were we just living in some sort of a lucrative dream world where we were getting things for next to nothing all these years? Is the current state of things where it should be? That traffic cop does not see his job threatened and he isn’t going to get a pay cut. Why does he really care about the situation in the U.S.? Why exactly were we so excited on that early November morning? The stock market didn’t do a U-turn the next day. Nobody got a pay raise the next week. Then again, maybe it’s not about the money. Had the economy in the U.S. been better, maybe the traffic cop would see happier people on the street despite him never seeing any sort of fiscal bonus from a strong economy and maybe he wouldn’t. It’s going to take more than an economic utopia to improve traffic here.

Despite the fact that the markets did not completely recuperate on November 5th, it’s still heartening to have a President-elect who can motivate so many people with his speeches. For those of us who did take a monetary hit, so what if we have to work a little harder to make our cash? People will get more creative, and banks will learn how to keep their books a bit more reasonably and, hopefully, responsibly. U.S Automakers will start making vehicles that don’t guzzle gasoline (here’s to hoping). So what if, on Christmas day, there will be fewer things under the tree? Is the idea of having a nice dinner with family and friends not enough? Maybe that trip to Thailand might be a bit shorter than originally planned. Not a big deal, you get tanned quickly enough already. Though there will have to be some adjustments made, people who work hard will get through it all. Now isn’t the time to start laying off workers. It’s time to start thinking about how to make it work. Didn’t the Enron scandal work in favor of more corporate accountability and a more regulated stock exchange? (It did right?) Didn’t we work through the SARS epidemic when it came? Even if the dollar goes down to 5RMB, isn’t the workforce here still more cost effective than they are overseas? Then again, I guess you could just sit this one out and wait for your part of the US $700 billion to trickle down (because we know how well that’s worked in the past). Until then, have a good holiday.

By Tim Hoerle