Monday, October 20, 2008

Finances for the masses

I'm not going to pretend that I understand the current financial crisis, but I'm always thankful when journalists try to explain it to us less-than-savvy folks. "This American Life" had 2 wonderful pieces trying to explain the crisis, which you can find here and here. And yesterday, the Sunday Globe Magazine had this insightful and humorous piece by Charles Pierce. I love how it starts out:

Money, he thought to himself, has moved into the third person.

What he thought of as My Money wasn't really his money. Not anymore. It was Their Money, moving around as digits and pixels into the various markets and funds that he couldn't begin to understand, lost in a great current of commerce moving at a distance from him so great that he felt like a Plains Indian contemplating what he'd heard about the size of the Great Lakes or the power of the Mississippi, a place where feckless and inscrutable gods worked in their feckless and inscrutable ways. That was where they'd taken what he used to think about as My Money and made it Their Money, a place where he did not know the language, was a stranger to the vocabulary, and was tangled and bound in the syntax they'd created to transform the money from the first person to the third person. He was lost, is where he was. He might as well read the entrails of a goat or burn incense as try to understand what had happened. What he knew was that what he had thought of as My Money wasn't anymore. It was Their Money. He was lost, is what he was.

And it wasn't Their Money in the comforting way that Jimmy Stewart explains it during the run on the bank in It's a Wonderful Life, where everybody's money is helping everybody else. "You're acting like I've got the money around here in a safe," Stewart pleads. "Why, your money's in Joe's house. That's right next to yours. And Mrs. Maitland's house." There, in the fictional Bedford Falls, the money stayed in the first person. It just pluralized itself. My money became Our Money. But, he thought, that was not the way it was working today.

You can read the rest here.

1 comment:

Vicki said...

I just loved those episodes on "This American Life." They did such a good job at explaining things without making me feel over my head.