Theory Teacher's Blog

economic crisis? take one…

Every three months for the past two and a half years, I open my mailbox to find a “quarterly statement” about my retirement portfolio. The statement shows how much of my paycheck I put into my retirment and how much my plan has earned from its investments in stock, real estate, etc. Last week, for the first time ever, the statement had a big minus sign. And next to that minus sing was a shockingly large number. Suddenly, all the abstract and confusing stories in the newspapers about our economic crisis became something very concrete and real, and this morning National Public Radio’s show Marketplace Money [here] was all about what people like me should do — apparently nothing.

But even before I got this statement in my mailbox, I’d been meaning to write something about the economic crisis and the bad home loans that precipitated it. So, I’ve done a little research. Here are some of the best explanations of both events that I’ve found. First, for those of us who’ve never taken an economics class ever in their lives, the radio program This American Life had two wonderfully lucid episodes in May [here] and October [here]. Second, several articles in this week’s special issue of The Economist dedicated to the topic [here]. Third, a forum in the new November issue of Harper’s [here]. And finally, along the lines of the psychoanalytic approach that I often take in this blog, one of my favorite theorists Slavoj Zizek wrote up a short piece for The London Review of Books [here].

And just this past Tuesday, some of my First Year Seminar students themselves wanted to talk about the issue in class, and the very day that we had our discussion, George Bush suddenly announced a revolutionary change of plan (revolutionary for the United States, that is) — instead of buying up bad assets, as was originally planned in the bill passed by Congress about a week ago, the Treasury was going to invest directly into the banks. In other words, some banks would be partly nationalized!!!


I still need some time to think about all this, and every time I think I know what I want to say, something new happens. But stay tuned.

In the meantime, I just want to share a silly little poem I wrote last May about the housing market crisis and its global nature that borrows shamelessly from the beginning of the famous poem by T. S. Eliot. Since the poem was recently rejected by a third-rate, local literary magazine, I figured I might as well just post it here.

    The Love Song of J. Lender Truetown

    Let us, you and I, lay ourselves down on designer sheets
    spread across our bed like housing market woes
    tight across the globe.

    Though you ran away to Dublin to a once-cozy one bedroom,
    now feverish and shivering with negative equity
    from a subprime infection,

    Just as far away taxi drivers in New Dehli were holding their bellies
    complaining of market influx, that sighs
    and seeps like a colorless gas,

    And the world’s iconic lovers were no longer bubbling in the alleys of Madrid,
    their hearts as empty as housing units, swooning,
    from mortgage malaise,

    Yet will I dare to disturb your musings on anticipated wakes,
    to inflate for us an airy bed, as fresh and new
    as my American dream.


October 18, 2008 - Posted by | finance, poetry


  1. Lehman Brothers is not more. Merrill Lynch has gone down the Bank of America jaw. AIG too could go belly up. With a doubt, these developments in America are the most shocking events to have hit global financial markets. So where did it all begin? And what does it mean for the Indian stock markets? Find out. . .

    Comment by riathareja | October 20, 2008 | Reply

  2. […] weakness of neoliberal economics. Several months ago, I began to analyze this economic collapse [here], but was overwhelmed by its complexity and was too busy working. Do I agree with how Klein has […]

    Pingback by The Shock Doctrine « Theory Teacher’s Blog | December 28, 2008 | Reply

  3. […] current economic crisis are complex, and I started to try to understand them last fall in my blog [here]. I can’t say that I succeeded, but I found lots of good sources… and all things […]

    Pingback by Why House? « Theory Teacher’s Blog | February 27, 2009 | Reply

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