Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Melancholicus is afraid.

And to tell the truth, he is more than a little depressed.

These are most uncertain times. It appears that the world is headed for a hyper-inflationary depression, which is bad news for everybody but particularly bad news for the economy of the United States of America.

There have been warnings and alarums aplenty since the current misery began in the wake of the subprime lending crisis. That such is more than merely gloomy forecasting may be seen from the recent and oftentimes high-profile collapse of many companies in divers places; the Canadian airline Zoom on 28 August, the British holiday company XL on 12 September, and recently in Ireland Fáilte Travel ceased trading on 11 July while Mayo-based tour company Great Escapes closed on 26 August. At the time of writing, Alitalia is at death’s door in a commercial crisis severe enough to warrant the prayers even of our Holy Father the Pope for the airline’s survival.

Over dinner on Saturday evening last, Melancholicus’ mother expressed grave concern for the stability of both Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland, the two largest banks on this island. Together with his brother and with and his sister (who is a certified accountant), he attempted to explain that nothing beyond a catastrophic event could possibly bring down either institution. But yesterday Melancholicus awoke to the news that Lehman Bros. Investment Bank had filed for bankruptcy protection in the largest such suit in US history, and he has since heard that both of the Irish banks about which he was reassuring his mother on Saturday can be expected to write off hundreds of millions of euro in bad debts over the next two years.

Which is unlikely to put them out of business altogether, but nevertheless.

Now, AIG has not been able to convince credit agencies of its solvency, so there may be further calamities just around the corner unless the US government should intervene.

Apparently, there will be no further growth in the US economy until at least 2010 (if even then). These economic woes would not be so terribly worrying to Melancholicus were he not getting married next year. Not only is he getting married, but since his fiancée is American, he will be emigrating to the United States. Which means he must find there a reasonably well-paying job in order that he might buy a house and provide for his wife and whatever children it may please God to send us.

Although Melancholicus is well-qualified in his field, the prospect of being able to land a secure position in the current economic climate is looking increasingly difficult. While he is tempted to say that this could not have happened at a worse time, he acknowledges that of course it could have—he could be sitting here with negative equity up to six figures hanging round his neck.

Which thanks be to goodness he is not.

But these events have left him in the meantime feeling not less gloomy than Eeyore.

There is at least some consolation: in the midst of the upset of the markets, oil is down to only $90 a barrell, so go fill your tanks y’all.

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