January 2, 2009February 22, 2009Meeting Report

January 18, 2009

Dr. Peter Lindert

The Economic Meltdown

Perhaps reflecting the level of the public’s anxiety about the economy, nearly forty of us gathered on a gray January day to hear a lecture about it.

This fascinating talk lasted nearly ninety minutes.

There were two graphs in Dr. Lindert’s printed handout, one depicting real home prices and the other stock market price-to-earnings ratios over more than the last hundred years. Both graphs served to underline his thesis that we are at a truly remarkable—and alarming—point in history. In fact, both Dr. Lindert’s prepared speech and his answers to questions conveyed the idea that although the global economy is obviously in a precipitous free fall, no one knows how far down it will go or when it might begin to recover.

In fact, he characterized his own hope for a turnaround in 2009 as “sheer guesswork.”

There was also a reprint of an article from Time Magazine titled “Blame Them.” Its author, Justin Fox, after naming “the usual suspects” such as Wall Street, concluded with “You and me.” I took the message to mean that we’re all in this together, as both perpetrators and victims, and that none of us will recover until all of us do.

Dr. Lindert’s speech occurred, of course, before the inauguration of Barack Obama. However, he did point out that the new administration’s policies would have to be much more proactive and enlightened than the then-current one’s if things are to improve anytime soon.

So that’s our hope. Now Barack Obama is president and he seems to be taking dramatic action. Let’s all wish him well as we add his name to our spell checkers—as I just did.

Report prepared by Roger Zabkie, Recorder


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