Tales of The Gilded Age

Tougher times ahead, say Canadian, U.S. bankers

More cheerful news on the economy:

OTTAWA — Canadian and U.S. central bankers warned of tougher times ahead on Tuesday as the slumping North American economies suddenly appeared more vulnerable to job loss, financial failures, inflation and weaker consumer spending.

Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney and U.S. Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke issued separate but equally blunt assessments, saying both their economies are combating rising inflationary pressures and slowing growth.

Remember though, President Bush assures us that the economy’s “fundamentals are sound.” Uh-huh. Tell that to this lady:

KING: We go now to Santa Barbara, California, Barbara Harvey. She used to live in a three-bedroom rented condo with garden and many amenities. Now, she lives in a parking lot. Before we talk with her, let’s take a look at the place she and her two golden retrievers call home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA HARVEY, LIVING IN SUV: This is my car, my CR-V, and it’s my home. And this has been home for four months, just around four months now. This is tight. It’s not like a beautiful three-bedroom condo that I used to live in. That was nice. That was spacey, lots of space in that. But we’re managing. And it’s not comfortable. But we’re still managing.

I’ll show you what I do. I start getting us ready for bed. This is — these are my clothes. That goes under there. Show you how we fit together in here, because it does work. Little tight, isn’t it, huh?

You’re such a — we don’t even need blankets tonight, do we? I’m very resourceful, I think, as far as keeping the dogs in here, and learning how to live out of a car. So, here we are. And here we’ll stay until life changes.

Life under the Bush economy isn’t too bad for some folks though:

A couple of years ago, the Wall Street Journal put together a representative outfit that a male hedge-funder would wear to work in Greenwich, Connecticut (the epicenter of the industry): shoes by Cole Haan, $365; trousers by Ermenegildo Zegna, $495; shirt by Armani, $315; messenger bag (no dorky briefcase!) by Tumi, $395. Total, not including underwear and socks: $1,570 — not all that much below $1,874, the average household’s annual expenditure on clothing in 2006. But that’s just for the hedge-fund rank and file; for the top guys, who take in a billion a year or more, it’s private jets and even personal submarines.

Ah yes, the wonders of neo-liberal “Voodoo Economics” don’t you know.

6 Replies to “Tales of The Gilded Age”

  1. I receive this magazine with my Globe and Mail subscription, and it just nauseates me. Did the original Gilded Age feature such genuinely ridiculous high-end consumer products and was the elite so gormless?

  2. We passed from “free market” (cough) capitalism into Ponzi scheme 20 years ago. Ponzi schemes just aren’t sustainable.

    6 months ago Americans were told that the economy would be back on track by now so I tend to take these announcements as best case scenarios/wishful thinking than honest predictions.

  3. Should be interesting to see what happens with some of the smaller banks. I’m expecting WaMu to go down any day now.

  4. Seriously.. Wachovia wtf. Hearing some of the experts talk about the morgages out there makes my stomach turn. A neg. amortized morgage? Really? And that was supposed to be a good idea. Now we get to look forward to inflation and unemployment.

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