Clicking The Economy

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Bailouts, investments, securities, oh my. There's so much drama in the economic story these days that it's hard to keep up. One way that people are working on the econo-drama is through the help of the interweb — I posted a few of my personal faves the other day — and while we're in Phoenix, a town famous for it's tech, we've invited author Bill Tancer to our show, to explain how the economy relates to his book, Click: What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why it Matters. Here's a primer. What are you searching for when it comes to the economy? Sympathy? Explanations? A ticket out?



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

I would rather move into a deeper recession than bail out the bankers that knowingly engaged in wrongful investment and lending practices. They should be in jail because the damage they've done to society is far greater than that of an individual who shoots a clerk while robbing a convenience store.

Sent by Tim S, Newark, NJ | 2:17 PM | 9-25-2008

What have I been hearing?

In 2002: Give me a blank check to deal with Iraq right now, or you'll see a mushroom cloud over an American city.

In 2008: Give me a blank check to deal with the markets right now, or you'll see a mushroom cloud over Wall Street.

Last time, the answer should have been: No.

This time, the answer should be: No, Hell no, SIR!

Sent by Mark | 2:17 PM | 9-25-2008

My mother and I have no faith that the federal government will repay us and our fellow citizens the 700 billion they are about the borrow from us. But if I do get reimbursed, I think that I would like my $2400 share to be invested in the stock market. I have never owned stock and if someone is going to borrow my imaginary money without my permission, they may as well repay me with another form of imaginary assets. (Listener in St. Louis, MO)

Sent by Eve Abaray | 2:17 PM | 9-25-2008

a couple of positive observations
1. Americans are engaged and paying attention.
2.This is happening during an election where we can see the leadership styles of candidates in crisis situations.

Sent by Angela Overby | 2:23 PM | 9-25-2008

...there is an elephant in the economic room that all the finger-pointers are ignoring: all the people who signed those mortgages. no-one, so far as i can tell, ever held a gun to someone's head and said "here, sign this mortgage and turn your house into a piggy bank. then you can buy that new Hummer, or breast implants... do anything you want, just don't bother SAVING it."

the mortgage crisis is as much the fault of the borrowers as it is the fault of the lenders and the institutions which bought the mortgage packages. why is no-one, anywhere, addressing this?

Sent by Alan Staats | 2:24 PM | 9-25-2008

The government cannot win in this situation. If it had done nothing, then "everyone" would be calling for the government to take action. This is just a shock -- so much bad happening so fast.

Sent by Laura | 2:26 PM | 9-25-2008

If John McCain has suspended his campaign, then Obama is running uncontested. Thanks, McCain!

Sent by Julie | 2:27 PM | 9-25-2008

Instead of giving wall street 700 billion dollars, why doesn't our government just make this money available to the tax payers directly with programs, loans, jobs and growth in renewable energy, etc. that will help our country and people. Why should we be forced to buy bad debt?

Sent by Lisa Mele | 2:31 PM | 9-25-2008

When high ranking banking executives have exploited finances until they are used up and then expect the taxpayers to bail them out-something is terribly skewed in Washington if the government can't find an alternative than putting more pressure on the already pinched commoner who is paying exorbitant gas and food prices while the rich get richer off of us.

Sent by Karen Benthien | 2:32 PM | 9-25-2008

I am about to graduate from collage and to be hones, I am outraged and terrified of what is happening in the country at the moment. I had worked full time through college but I was still forced to take out thousands of dollars in loans in order to graduate. Now, instead of having a clear start as a reward for my hard work, I do not only worry about my loans but also about the ward debt and bailing out the wealthiest people in the country. I am shocked that President Bush did not apologize for leading this great country into a ruin. This is scary.

Sent by Marz | 2:33 PM | 9-25-2008

No sympathy. I was responsible and got a 30 year fixed for a modest condo in the city. I was an entrepreneur and invested all my money (over $500,000) in a business. Now my business has gone bankrupt because of the economy (in Phoenix), losing my condo and everything else and starting over. I didn't expect the government to guarantee my business nor the taxpayers to pay my mortgage if my businesses failed. Am I a patsy - I now have to bail out the rich and the irresponsible. Fairness dictates either the rich and irresponsible are allowed to reap the results of their actions, or I get bailed out, too.

Sent by Brandon Schwarz | 2:36 PM | 9-25-2008

Question for CLICK researcher: Is there an upsurge in searches for living in other countries?

Sent by Jeannine White | 2:37 PM | 9-25-2008

Obviously the public is frustrated with the proposal to bail out the failing financial institutions without any consequences. As an alternative, what about a criminal approach, where we charge these institutions with consumer fraud or business fraud. This would allow the government to freeze the assets without buying them, punish the companies and CEOs for their management, and then take receivership of the assets for a more equitable end solution.

Sent by Marc | 2:37 PM | 9-25-2008

I know that this is not exactly on the point of internet searches, but as to the impact of the bail out -- we should also understand what we are not going to be able to do as a result of the bail out and how that impacts our values as a nation. I work for a international development organization with a focus of health. We should be talking about lives that will be forever changed, and maybe lives lost as a result of having to redirect such a large portion of our national spending.

Sent by Holly Ladd | 2:38 PM | 9-25-2008

what is being talked about- and not covered by he media- is that Bush may try to suspend the election; McCain's suspension of his campaign is a precursor to what could happen if Bush uses his new executive powers under NSPD 51 & HSPD 20 duringthis "crisis"

Sent by jamie | 2:42 PM | 9-25-2008

Although maybe clever and interesting, it seems inaccurate to make some of the conclusions I have just heard on air, e.g. that people are looking at the presidential election on a very surface level, based on the top searches for trivia and photos of the candidates.

An alternate POV: People already have established routes for getting their "hard" news -- e.g. I have bookmarks for NYTimes, LATimes, PBS, NPR, etc. -- but I must do a search for trivia or photos, both of which play a key role in parody and humor, an important escape valve in these serious times.

Sent by J. Clayton | 2:52 PM | 9-25-2008

The cry "do something" is one of the most dangerous cries. We must be sure the "something" is the right thing. A small minority of economists point the finger directly at those trying to solve our problems: Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson. The claim, which I believe, is that way too much money was made available for several years now by the Fed. Wall Street "fat cats" are certainly complicit in this problem, but it didn't begin with them or with the housing market. It began with the Fed pumping too much money into the economy, causing the housing bubble and eventually the credit bubble. The tech bubble prior to this also has the same root cause: too much money.
Congress is also complicit by urging Fannie and Freddie to make low-cost loans available to otherwise uncreditworthy people.
There's plenty of blame to go around. The big question is: How do we best deal with this without making the problem worse? Is pumping MORE money into the system going to help when that may be the root cause of the problem in the first place?

Sent by Jim | 2:54 PM | 9-25-2008

The bail-out debate currently way closely resembles the vote which rubber-stamped funding for the invasion of Iraq. That vote was held in a climate of fear and uncertainty, without necessary investigation of the facts, and it turned out that congress voted to invade Iraq based on the false information on the existence of WMD's. Today, those who were not caught up in the emotion of the moment can brag about their wisdom. In the very near future it will become clear, I am certain, that much of the fear surrounding our current Wall Street crisis was unfounded. But the people's money will be gone and it will be too late.

Consider the amount of time it takes to analyze the finances of a complex organization. This can take months and be a very difficult task. Can Wall Street or an investment bank or a multinational insurance company be analyzed in a few days? Most certainly not. Therefore, the so-called experts who are providing recommendations to the congress and to the administration cannot have properly done their homework. That this will emerge over time is a certainty. Therefore the only course of action that can be taken by congress is to refer the matter for proper study and analysis. If this does not provide an easy out for Wall Street and the international markets, too bad. They have other avenues of recourse and should get to work on them.

When the time came for the Congress to vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq, nearly all the Senators were asleep at the switch. But who do I hold accountable for the Iraq war? The American people. It is our democracy and our responsibility as individuals to speak up, as I am now to you, or to keep silent, as nearly every American did prior to the war in Iraq. I have fulfilled my responsibility in urging you not to support the ill-conceived bail-out.

Best regards,

Sent by David Peterson | 3:04 PM | 9-25-2008