OPINION

Weathering the storm?

The most prophetic comment I have heard about the current economic crisis came from US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at a closed conference several months ago. The American professor, an expert on the Great Depression of 1929, said that the (at that time, looming) crisis would be unlike any we have ever seen before. Indeed, reading the headlines of the international press every day gives us the impression that this is not just a crisis, but the end of an era. Manufacturing giants, economic pillars that have become a part of our daily lives, such as Ford, UBS and AIG, are collapsing. Countries like the USA are using terms such as nationalization, which they wouldn’t even have uttered in the past, and the fundamental belief in the transparency and honesty of ratings agencies has become a joke. Greek investors have reached the point of believing their money to be safer in a large Greek bank than in Zurich. The capitalist system has always moved in cycles, burning itself out before it readjusts and goes under stricter state control. No one, however, could imagine the scale of the hubris committed by the «golden boys» of the trading market. Although the crisis began several months ago, we still have no clear picture of its depth or its breadth, nor can we make any estimates about what the world will look like once it is over. What is certain is that its development transcends political leaders around the world. Greece has not yet felt the full brunt of the crisis, although the television stations have stirred us into a panic. For the time being, we are feeling just how weak we are in the face of this crisis because we produce little, have become accustomed to a high standard of living and have embraced all the quirks of the system. The debate within these borders has not even begun to grasp what is at stake on a global level and it will be very sad to see that the only thing we have learned from the crisis is to talk about the privatization of certain banks.