Updated on July 20, 2008
Economic Crisis Through Fresh Eyes
For those of you who don’t know in my daily life I am a business student. I have been fascinated by business and finance since I was young. In high school I became interested in real estate and even went so far as meeting agents to tour prospective investment properties. My university classes brought new questions to mind which I throughly researched through all the online avenues that I could find. Upon delving deeper in to the workings of our financial system it became clear to me that our system is in trouble.
The more I researched the more worried I have become. I am absolutely convinced that our financial system is teetering on the brink of disaster. But what does this have to do with travel? Well, upon arriving back home to the U.S. after nearly two months in Uruguay I have been able to see the situation through refreshed eyes.
While away I stayed away from my usual online stomping grounds. I wish I could say that I was doing it in order to get this new viewpoint upon returning, but in reality I just couldn’t take much more. The steady stream of bad news was very depressing.
I met quite a few Uruguayans who had a firm grip on the troubles facing the American system. It is embarrassing how many Americans know less about our own system than many people that I met did. It was quite surprising at first that so many people were so tuned is happening here in the U.S. I don’t think I quite knew what it meant to be/have been the superpower. It means that all eyes are on us. It also means that if our system falls apart so does much of the global economy.
Upon returning home I noticed a few things:
- More people now perceive that the U.S. economy is in serious trouble. Perception is huge factor in economics. There is really no way to separate how much perception effects the outcome from the opposite. Either way the heightening sense of uncertainty/negative certainty indicates to me that the brewing storm will not be a thundershower.
- Prices continued to rise. This one is no surprise at all. The prices for me were rising in Uruguay as well because of the softening exchange rate. I expected and found higher prices across the board. Gas is no where near its peak. I am sure glad I have a good bicycle.
- The banks are deepening trouble. I was not aware of the breakdown of IndyMac or the worsening troubles of FannieMae and FreddieMac. I recall hearing many supposedly well informed people early proclaiming that the Sub-Prime mortgage crisis would not spread. I didn’t really believe them back then, but I am sure many did.
- Many people seem to have started preparing for whatever the coming storm may bring. Whether it be with food, money, or hard to get items people seem to be storing up for whatever is to come. I can’t count the number of times I have heard references to preparing or stocking up in conversations since I got back.
Being able to see problems through fresh eyes is a great perk of travel. Whether it be viewing characteristics of your own culture or looking at major current events. In this case the fresh view didn’t reveal as much as it reaffirmed my opinion that the immediate future of the U.S. economy is grim. I could go on about the the economic situation far longer than any of you would care to read as blove can attest to. I urge you all to pay attention and listen to “goldilocks” predictions with a skeptical ear.