Saturday, September 20, 2008

Avoiding a depression . . . at what cost?

CNBC's Jim Cramer thinks the government's plan to buy up Wall Street's problem debt just might have saved us from the Great Depression, Part 2.

WHAT I'M WONDERING, though, is whether we've avoided the abyss at a terrible cost.

Just how much money is the government going to have to just start printing now? How bad will inflation become? How much debt will foreign governments have to buy from us . . . if they will at all anymore?

How far in the hole will Uncle Sam now be, and what does that mean?

Will we have avoided another depression -- an economic cataclysm -- by closing the door once and for all on the American Century? And has that sentence been commuted, or merely temporarily stayed?

I'm no economist, and I don't know. I also don't know whether anyone does know.

AND I DON'T KNOW, either, whether our government realizes that America's fate is no longer in American hands. We have an Achilles' heel, and the world knows what it is.

We've acquired a de facto empire, the product of power and hubris . . . and maybe we've just crossed a bridge too far. We're Napoleon, and we can see the spires of Moscow, but winter is coming on fast and we've outrun our supply lines.

Suddenly, it seems to me -- And, really, what the hell do I know? -- we've come to the end of an era. Suddenly, we're no longer exceptional. Suddenly, empire is something we no longer can afford . . . if ever we could.

We're the Army-Navy game. A faded treasure of formerly great consequence, now more suggestive of stubborn pride and greater witsfulness.

Time marches on. With us or without.

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