Mu Shu in Moscow

  • Share
  • Read Later
Monday, 11 p.m.

I've just finished dinner with four Russian businessmen. We paid $750 for five people, and it was a mediocre Chinese meal -- just mu shu pork and Peking duck, nothing spectacular.

When it came time to pay, several of them drew out thick wads of crisp $100 bills. Because of the crisis, this place is not taking credit cards right now. I asked them why they didn't pay in rubles.

"We don't have any rubles. Only an idiot would pay in rubles."

At the street level, the crash hasn't yet happened. The attitude is, "Oh, just another crisis." They haven't yet had the big layoffs -- Wile E. Coyote's legs are still spinning in the air. In the upper echelons, people feel that things are in free fall and no one is in charge. One of the guys at dinner compared the situation to California in the early '90s, when they shut down the defense industry. But I wouldn't push that analogy too far -- California had a happy ending.