The Ponzi Economy

Now that the bubble has burst, let's be frank: it was absurd to base our well-being on property prices

Illustration by Brian Stauffer for TIME

They keep telling us that this is the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. But there is at least one difference: in the Great Depression, nobody needed to be told they were in a depression. Today, except for relatively few investment bankers and somewhat more middle-class homeowners, who would guess that things are so dire? Life goes on, reasonably normally. Maybe it's easier to get a cab in New York City--a reliable real-life indication of an economic downturn--but then maybe the effect of the financial crisis is canceled out by the effect of that other crisis, the one about energy....

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