The failure of the bailout bill came as a surprise.
Today we are focusing on asking a few key questions that will be part of our This American Life story on Friday.
I really have one question:
- Will normal banks stop lending money to people and companies that deserve it?
During the past few years, we had what is known as a credit bubble. So much money was floating around that banks and investors would give some to just about anybody or any business that had any hope of paying that money back along with a tiny bit of interest.
As is generally the case, the credit bubble is followed by a credit crunch. Even good investments don't get loans.
That is bad.
The single biggest selling point of the US economy—the thing I say to anybody who says China is going to take us over or that the Euro will overtake the dollar—is that this is the easiest place for a good idea to get funding.
You don't need to be the nephew of some party boss. You don't need to bribe a petty official. If you've got a good idea, you get funding.
That is why we have the most dynamic economy in the world.
And that might change now.
There are already signs that good ideas aren't getting funded.
There are signs that good, existing businesses won't get funded.
That is scary. That means massive lay-offs and no new businesses to pick up the slack.
I don't know of anybody who thinks it'll be a permanent condition. Eventually, folks with money will lend it to people with good ideas.
But how long will the adjustment take?
That is the question.