Well, I'm not entirely sure if Paul Krugman is even old enough to be my Dad, but he's so wise and has such gravitas that he seems awfully Dad-like. (The beard helps.) So I have this urge to call home, chat with Mom (about the Oscars) for a bit and then say, "Can you put Dad on? Does he have a minute?" Cause I have a lot of questions for him.
This was in a Washington Post article about today's fresh hell on the stock market and the past year's overall decline: "The total value of all shares of companies on the Dow has dwindled to $2.45 trillion, down from $4.51 trillion." Okaaay. I literally can't even do the math to figure out the actually amount the market has lost. Does the calculator on the Mac dock go up to a trillion? More importantly: exactly how many zeros are in a trillion? Seriously, is a trillion even a real number or something kids make up when their parents ask them 'how much do you love me?' (A kagillion!) No matter: it's a lot of money. Something like--ball park--$2 trillion has been lost, yes? That is a shit pot lot, lot, lot of money. That is, like, more money than Titanic made. That is more money than Oprah has.
So this is my question for Paul/Dad: Where. Did. It. Go?
Where? It just...disappeared? If it can just disappear, then...was it ever really there to begin with? (Is this too existential a query regarding the stock market?) I really, really want to know. If this $2 trillion was never really there to begin with, then our previous "good economy" wasn't really...real. It was just numbers on a balance sheet? So...that couldn't have been very good to begin with, right?
And people make this whole fuss about the 'irresponsible' homeowners who are now upside down on their mortgage, i.e., they owe more than their home is worth. But again, if the value of their home went down due to the generally sucky economy and crashed real estate market, how is that their fault? That prior "value" seems to have been based on...nothing, right? If it can just...go down like that? So then the whole real estate bubble is really, really, truly a bubble: not just because it can "burst", but because it only really exists when it's filled with air.
Is our whole economy based on mass hysteria and...air? (Dad? Are you even listening? I get the sense you're watching The NewsHour...no, I don't want to talk to Mom again!)
This kind of freaks me out. Is our whole economy one of those kid's birthday party entertainer's bubble cubes filled with cigarette smoke? Those look so cool, so magical, so unlikely. But then they burst. And all you have left is the sick taste of Pall Mall's and Pledge on your tongue and a deep sense of disappointment in your heart.