The best reporting and commentary on the ongoing and (probably) historic financial crisis is in the Financial Times ($3.15 at the newsstand, but still very good value compared to the Toronto dailies, and available even on Mondays). A nice article with a more philosophical tone by Alain de Botton from the other day. Now, normally the thoughts of French intellectuals on economic matters wouldn’t have much of a claim on most readers’ time, but this item is right on the money:
If we do not dwell on the risk of sudden calamity, in the money markets or elsewhere, and pay a price for our innocence, it is because reality comprises two cruelly confusing characteristics: on the one hand, continuity and reliability lasting decades; on the other, unheralded cataclysms. We find ourselves divided between a plausible invitation to assume that tomorrow will be much like today and the possibility that we will meet with an appalling event, after which nothing will ever be the same again. The Goddess of Fortune can scatter gifts, then watch as with terrifying speed a 50-year-old company disappears or a balance sheet is destroyed by toxic assets.
We should, of course, instead remember the great pessimistic voices of history. There are two quotes I cherish for these sorts of times. One is from Seneca: “What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears.” The other is from the French moralist Chamfort: “A man should swallow a toad every morning to be sure of not meeting with anything more revolting in the day ahead.”
But read the whole thing.