From March 20, 2008 -- an excerpt from a piece posted here by wade norris:
OK let's review. Last Spring, Bush said their was no recession. This summer, 'a few bumps in the road' - this fall, "Stormy weather", now, well their might be a depression, but my tax break will fix it. My opinion of these changes reflect that there is indeed a serious recession and possible depression occurring, but our news media doesn't cover the issues. At least BBC has covered the newest element of our spiraling economy - Bush's own 'Hoovervilles' are here.
A "few bumps in the road" appears to have turned into a highway to (or at least skirting) Hell. Even the magickally prosperous and ever-growing Dubai isn't immune:
With Dubai’s economy in free fall, newspapers have reported that more than 3,000 cars sit abandoned in the parking lot at the Dubai Airport, left by fleeing, debt-ridden foreigners (who could in fact be imprisoned if they failed to pay their bills). Some are said to have maxed-out credit cards inside and notes of apology taped to the windshield.
The government says the real number is much lower. But the stories contain at least a grain of truth: jobless people here lose their work visas and then must leave the country within a month. That in turn reduces spending, creates housing vacancies and lowers real estate prices, in a downward spiral that has left parts of Dubai — once hailed as the economic superpower of the Middle East — looking like a ghost town.
No talking? No facts or feedback if it'll hurt the government or reputation? Mmmm...maybe that's why Dick Cheney's former company, Halliburton, finds it a great place to retreat to. Of course, the voices of reality sometimes have a habit of catching back up with people -- and governments.
Click to enlarge. Attribution: xkcd.1
It may not be a voice in the back of your head, but you can bet on the likelihood that someone is talking, somewhere. In this day and age, it's difficult to hide anything completely successfully.
No one knows how bad things have become, though it is clear that tens of thousands have left, real estate prices have crashed and scores of Dubai’s major construction projects have been suspended or canceled. But with the government unwilling to provide data, rumors are bound to flourish, damaging confidence and further undermining the economy.
Instead of moving toward greater transparency, the emirates seem to be moving in the other direction. A new draft media law would make it a crime to damage the country’s reputation or economy, punishable by fines of up to 1 million dirhams (about $272,000). Some say it is already having a chilling effect on reporting about the crisis.
Last month, local newspapers reported that Dubai was canceling 1,500 work visas every day, citing unnamed government officials. Asked about the number, Humaid bin Dimas, a spokesman for Dubai’s Labor Ministry, said he would not confirm or deny it and refused to comment further. Some say the true figure is much higher.
It's beginning to look like Dubai's little microcosm is also going to serve as a small-scale simulation of events that will play out if we don't get a viable handle on the current runaway economy.
This is an Open Thread.
For more information about past ePluribus Media stories, check out these taxonomy / "tag" / terms:
recession : financial crisis : economy
Note: there is a little overlap.