Like so many of you who are reading this column, I saw the Sam Raimi film Drag Me to Hell. Not that I'm into horror or I could have just stayed home reading my IRA statements. But I recommend this movie because it's weird enough to make us almost forget about the economy and how we're living on canned spaghetti and Jell-O.
For those who haven't seen it yet, the story is about a young loan officer named Christine who denies an elderly borrower named Mrs. Ganush a third extension on her mortgage payment. Christine never suspects she's dealing with a classic psychopath, in spite of the jagged teeth, glass eyeball, and the familiar dialect of Romanian Cliché. So Mrs. Ganush zaps Christine with the requisite curse, the kind that involves spending a long time in an uncomfortably warm place with no chance for parole or Curse Modification.
To reach out to the mainstream audience, Raimi could deliver an equally horrifying sequel Drag Me to Wall Street, the curse being that Christine discovers her entire trust fund sitting in shares of General Motors. So she joins the rest of us on the fast track to poverty who are buying our movie tickets on lay-away, vacationing in an RV in our driveway, and fine-dining on a six-inch Subway Value Meal. Toasted.
Historically, our country has weathered scads of economic crises, so by now financial pundits like the New York taxi drivers have identified some of the tell-tale indicators: 1) four of your five neighbors have been laid-off and joined the American Idle; 2) the national economy is featured in every news report, sitcom, cooking show, women's college basketball, and airline safety announcement, and 3) Eskimos have 30 words for recession.
While our national FICO score is in the crapper and China has stopped taking our calls, we are consoled by the fact that a recession, like Bubonic Plague, is just a phase, an economic correction that requires a little patience, a little optimism, and lots of recipes for road kill. It's not that our country is getting dragged to Hell, necessarily. It's just that the housing market collapsed, which toppled our lending, investment and insurance giants, which reduced credit and trashed the stock market, which--complicated by soaring food and oil prices--led to the demise of our automotive, banking and manufacturing industries. See? No big deal. Every country goes through some hard times so there's no reason to panic, just because U.S. Treasury Bonds are turning up in pawn shops and Mexico is patrolling the borders to keep us out.
Have no fear, my fellow and sister Americans, this country will rise again. And when consumers return to the malls, spending money we don't have buying stuff we don't need, we'll know the economy is healthy. Until then, enjoy your Value Meal. And if anyone asks you for a loan extension, just say yes.