Another down day on the markets… the price of almost everything is collapsing it seems. Stocks, bonds, commodities, gold, oil, you name it. OPEC declares they are cutting daily production by 1.5 million barrels per day and no one notices or cares as oil continues to drop in price. Financial firms and large corporations are hemorrhaging staff every day. People fret over their portfolios, their house’s value, and their retirement funds.
Sounds pretty ominous to many Americans, but in reality, we’ve still got it pretty good compared to much of the world. While the first world worries about how to keep the stock markets liquid, people in many parts of the world are trying to figure out what they are going to feed their children for dinner this evening, or if there will be any power to be had anytime soon. There are millions of desperate people in the world, and their number is growing daily. It is situations like this that, left unattended, can lead to chaos, famine and war.
Most of the problems are happening right now in far away countries that many people haven’t even heard of. There are no guarantees that it will stay that way. A major humanitarian catastrophe in, say, Mexico would have a much more immediate impact on Americans. Perhaps it will come to that, or perhaps it will even hit home here in the US at some point.
A down side of our modern way of life is that many of us urban folk are completely dependent on an intricate delivery system that needs to function well to work. Imagine how quickly grocery store shelves would be depleted if truckers couldn’t get diesel fuel for one reason or another… or if the grocery store chain couldn’t get the short-term loans that businesses often rely on to keep distributors happy or employees paid on time.
The financial crisis we are facing is global, and it’s good to remember that it affects more than just stocks, bonds and housing prices. We are all linked, and if we don’t get this under control relatively soon, things could get very ugly indeed.