Now we enter January, the month of Obama's inauguration. For all the talk of change, Obama seems poised to pick up right where Bush left off in pumping as much fiat money into the economy as possible in a vain attempt to resurrect it.
Contrary to cheesy science fiction, you can't bring a corpse back to life no matter how many volts you pass through it. But you can make it twitch and jerk in some bizarre imitation of life, and probably we'll see the stock market do just that in the coming weeks. However, just like the corpse eventually gives off a stench that makes its "dead" status impossible to ignore, so the hard data on employment and GDP for the end of 2008 will confirm the economy went belly-up.
The problem is that this "recession" is not cyclical, but rather structural. The cheap energy and easy credit that built the consumer-driven, mall-centered American economy are gone. The government can produce more paper wealth with the printing-press (note that every republic that's gone that route has gone kaput, and we officially started with the bailouts), but oil is what it is.
Really, if the America I was born and raised in hadn't turned into a nation of media-saturated, apathetic overfed clowns, we'd have realized long ago that things ain't what they used to be. In 1970 a working man could support a mortgage, a car note, a wife and two kids. Now, after the bean-counters got the bright idea of having us compete against Chinese slave labor and Japanese drones and Southeast Asian peasants, two working spouses get foreclosure notices left and right. And anyone who has looked at food prices knows the official inflation statistics ought to be perforated, put on a roll, and hung next to commodes across the land.
My advice to anyone reading this, especially Americans, is to begin preparing for the failure of the government and economic systems we have taken for granted lo these many years, and to do so soon. Like, right now. If you have land and water, plan on gardening this year...and pretty much every year after that. If you don't know how to grow your own food, learn how. (For instance, I plan on growing tropical fruits indoors against the day when cheap transportation of oranges and other tropical fruits may no longer be possible.) Inventory your personal skill-set, and consider ways you could become involved with the underground (read: non-conventional, localized) economy. Remember: the crash of Big Everything doesn't mean we're all going to die. It simply means our lives are going to be reorganized and reprioritized.