Monday, October 6, 2008

Credit crunch

Walking past both the Treasury and the Federal Reserve today really underscored DC's epicentre status in these credit-challenged times. Okay, so today might have been the first day Messrs Paulson and Bernanke weren't actually in work, thanks to Friday afternoon's volte-face by the House, but I doubt work was far from their minds. 

The whole credit debacle is never far from anyone's minds here it seems. Someone on the Mall today was muttering about the "mortgage crisis" while in a shop yesterday two assistants were seriously debating the merits of hanging onto your gold jewellery because "although it's worth a lot now, gold is only going to go higher given everything else going on". Taxi cabs resonate to phone-ins about the now-done-and-dusted $700bn bailout and even here in DC property signs shriek "Stop. Look. Lease," at you from the sidewalk. 

"Sale" banners hang in most store windows; it's not clear whether they are the remnants of a poor summer or the start of the winter markdown season. Old Navy, Gap's cheaper sister, is advertising a Columbus Day sale with 1,492 items on sale at $14.92. And it's only the beginning of October. Personally I'm relishing the prospect of some savage pre-Christmas discounting although I hope it comes before I face my own personal credit crunch when my dwindling stash of maternity pay runs out. 

It's good to see that Louis at least is showing some financial nous. He's eschewing banks in favour of keeping his savings - a crisp $2 bill that someone in the hotel donated to his college fund - safe and sound in his trouser pocket. Meanwhile as Americans fret about the safety of their bank deposits in the event of banking failures (now insured up to $250,000 thanks to the Senate's amendments to the bailout bill) what do Louis's parents go and do? Yes, you guessed it. Open a US bank account! 

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