So yesterday Standard & Poor, for reasons best known to itself, put the United States on a negative outlook. It didn't actually downgrade the nation, but it cast a dim light on the future, sort of put a small turd in the punchbowl of the recovery.
This of course put a giant crimp in Wall Street, which as you all must know is in a constant search for things to be afraid of. When things are very, very good, your average Wall Street citizen is seized with panic, for indeed, how LONG can things continue so well? Not long, that's for sure. Time to panic!
When things are sort of going along all right, neither great nor terrible, then Wall Street kind of gets one of those colds that hang on all winter and keeps you from going out and having any fun for months on end. Sure, it tries to enjoy itself now and then during one of these stretches, but it never builds up any kind of momentum one way or another, and is always on the verge of punishing its best friends or at least boring them to tears with fears and complaints.
And when some big fat authority, like S&P for instance, finds what could possibly be a spot on the x-ray? Good Lord. Wall Street rushes around like Mike the Headless Chicken, bumping into things and failing to thrive for as long as it can sustain the energy. Then it sinks into a funk, and from a funk into a freeze and from a freeze into a coma. Yesterday, we reached the coma phase. Today, the patient is up and taking in a little clear broth, but we all know very well that this particular case is all about self-confidence. When that's lost, we could all end up back at the Intensive Care Unit at any time, reading old magazines and waiting for the inevitable.
So thanks, S&P, for putting the entire economy on a moderate death watch. Thanks for giving heart to all the legislators that want to make the national debt the sole determinant for the future conduct of the nation. Thanks for being a big fat bummer just when we thought it was somewhat safe to go back in the water.
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