The events of the last week have been nothing short of shocking. Comparisons to the Crash of ’29 are everywhere. The downfall and perilous nature of the greats like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have us worried about all institutions. The latest turn of events makes the dotcom bubble and bust look like a test drive in an Aston Martin.
It is a perilous and serious situation and devastating for those losing their careers and nest eggs. The last thing I want to do is make light of it. But.
But these crazy events do raise questions about what will happen next and present the opportunity to make a few predictions. In that spirit, and you heard it hear first, I present the post ’08 Meltdown Predictions:
1. Retirement calculators will be the most used application on the web. What we thought was our retirement is being recalculated daily, not in the right way.
2. All Presidential candidates will soon offer you a job. The promised job may have compensation limits on it and it may be hard to find, but it will be promised.
3. Job search sites will bypass Facebook in traffic. A new site may crop up only for displaced investment bankers.
4. Company loyalty will increase. The old country song, “It Ain’t Love But it Ain’t Bad” will replace “Take this Job and Shove It” when it comes to careers.
5. Airlines will start giving pretzels again. Since people will curtail flying, it will be the lure to get people back into that middle seat.
6. Staycations will be the buzzword next summer too. As long as they don’t stay with me, that’s ok.
7. Wine sales will sky rocket. The attitude will become “Why Not?”
8. Do it yourself injuries will increase. Professionals of all sorts will try to fix their own garage door openers and it will be ugly.
9. Investment bankers will be the new Enron/Worldcom poster children of good gone bad.
10. The dot com crash will look better and better and sock puppets will go up in value.
11. A Virtual WPA will be created. A good idea. Use technology to get people back to work.
12. No one will actually take any blame because the blame will be dispersed onto so many people because no one understands exactly what happened. So far the blame has included all the CEO’s of all investment banks, Bill Clinton, Alan Greenspan, George Bush, Chris Cox and many others.
Like other periods of crisis, financial or not, this one will pass. Investment bankers and Wall Street will re-emerge in a newly defined and regulated way. Many in financial institutions will look at this time as a defining period, the B.C./A.D. of their fortunes or lives and “normal” will take on a new meaning. Maybe we will all be wiser about how fragile organizations are, even big ones. Entrepreneurs who are smug about hitting a new revenue target need to remember that the venerable Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers all but disappeared over night.
We will get through this and we will be better for it. In the meantime, keep perspective and keep your job.