Well, the Large Hadron Collider has already broken down, but a blackhole opened up on our planet this week anyway!
As new media-savvy, well-equipped, and omnisciently hip as the new robber-barons may be, apparently none of them are down with the Wu: protect ya neck, for fuck sake. They didn't, and evidently the world as we knew it ended not in September 2001, but in September 2008.
Appropriating the words of Eddie Izzard, "It's the cutting edge of politics in a very, extraordinarily boring way." No one I know (or at least care about) changed their plans this week: groceries were bought, laundry was done, Columbo reruns were watched, even as financiers wept on Canary Wharf or quietly shat themselves behind Rockefeller Plaza.
But never has there been as theoretically exciting & confused a time in my life. Suddenly, my bickering over the insignificance of that 3.3% GDP bump is hardly dogmatic contrarianism. Small-gov't enthusiasts, who very recently equated taxation with "confiscation at gunpoint," swiftly adopted an oddly zen-like, self-nullifying stance towards their tax dollars. There's an astounding amount of invigorating chatter about not only the pragmatic positives of public ownership, but also the fundamental inviability of neoliberalism. And as "deregulation" entered the breakfast-talk lexicon of America, Obama jumped back into the lead.
At the very least, America's unimpeachable economic power is a thing of the past. Central banks dumped near-unprecedented sums of cash in a bid to build domestic stability, which may kick-start a feeding frenzy upon the American market by foreign entities. Around Deutsche-way, for example, the chairman of insurance giant Allianz (flush from its recent sale of Dresdner Bank) was quoted last week as saying, "From what I see of some of our competitors in the US, this is not a bad time to look at the US market." With the recent merger of its four biggest banks into a mere two - with assets among them topping €3.3 trillion - the world's No. 3 economy has players positioned to place Germany higher upon the economic podium. European bank champ Alessandro Profumo, for one, welcomed the news: "A market with fewer competitors is more profitable."
Of course, nevermind that Profumo was ignoring the 9,000 pink-slips passed out during the Commerzbank-Dresdner merger, a universally-puffing CPI, and that his fellow Italians pay the steepest bank fees in Europe - he said the above before the financial shitstorm. We've all seen now what happens when all the eggs are in one basket (or, rather, the eggs are on layaway with extortive API and have already been promised to several other baskets at the same time).
An ironic postscript to this week's dramatic developments: the most expensive condo in Canada just went on the market, for a handsome $30 million (yes, that's CDN, but if you've checked the exchange rates, the Yankees can't pay that price in pocket change anymore). A common criticism of late-stage capitalism is that it engenders inequity; to be sure, the wealth gap has been growing (an average top 1% household is worth 190 times a median household) as fast as social mobility has been slowing. As the in media explodum bubble swelled over the past decade, the growing number of occupants of said bubble greeted these critiques with a shrug and a wag of the middle finger. Now that their portfolios have been flushed and their penthouse dreams all towering infernos, maybe we can stop pretending poverty is a personal shortcoming, eh?