An article from the San Franciso Chronicle by Deepak Chopra:
The shock is in the statistics. For the months of September and October, consumer confidence fell lower than at any time since it's been measured, going back forty years. The same for consumer expectations for the future. More than 70% of Americans say they are spending less than last year. A third of Americans are at risk for moving downward economically, another third know someone who is in that position.
What statistics can't measure is the psychological blow we've all taken. Rich, poor, and in between, the economy has been cheating on us. The relationship has been hit hard. It may or may not fall apart.
It didn't help that the first people to be bailed out were the cheaters themselves. At a time when they lost over $80 billion for their investors, Wall Street's leading investment banks paid themselves $230 billion in compensation and bonuses. GM is crashing, but its CEO has a reported annual salary of $8.5 million. A pittance, actually, compared to the take-home of a few leading hedge fund managers, who reported incomes for 2007 in the range of 2 to 3 billion dollars.
It's like having your husband take you to McDonald's while he takes every other woman in town to the Ritz in Paris.
The first stage of reacting to a cheating spouse is shock, followed by hurt, anger, guilt, and the need for revenge. One way or another, the American public is going to go through all of those reactions. It won't happen fast. We've been forced into rational solutions — particularly the big TARP bailout of $700 billion, with a huge stimulus package to come — long before the initial shock has worn off.
Almost a century ago the great British economist John Maynard Keynes observed that all markets are psychological. For the past decade, the mood has been manic; now it's depressive. The one thing that might have brought steadiness (serious regulation of Wall Street) was considered unnecessary, even by the smartest, most liberal economists. They were saying, in essence, that your spouse will be faithful even if you don't demand that he or she come home at night. Cutting someone loose isn't the best way to feel secure in a relationship. Or in an economy.
Now that the cheating has been exposed, one wonders what it will take to restore confidence. Time, I imagine. Public works and stimulus packages are all well and good. Saving endangered industries is the compassionate thing to do. So is saving endangered mortgages. But somebody should step forward and talk about the emotional wounds being suffered all around. You may scoff at therapy when times are good, but there's no substitute for it when times are rough. People want their feelings heard, understood, taken seriously, and then healed. It's true in a relationship; it's just as true in a society.