Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What Happens Now?

The eve of 2009 and the only certainty is uncertainty. In New York the financial collapse is a specter on every street corner and a guest at every party. It's one thing to wish ill on your exes, its another when the former expat titans of the universe start to leave the city and even the country...unemployed and understandably unhappy. That victory felt better before the horsemen of the Apocalypse showed up outside of my office, portending doom and layoffs. My fate is a cliffhanger right now, but I expect to avoid this round of "redundancies". But the next? And how effectively will a wounded workplace breed innovation and creativity?

When the sale signs started to go up on Madison Ave, I did my part to support the economy. And when lame duck businesses began to go out of business I felt it was a form of Darwinism...inferior product mix or customer connections begets obsolescence. That's a good thing. But when the Madoff scandal broke (in an eerily similar fashion as Nate's take down of his father on Gossip Girl...life imitating art methinks) and it became apparent that even blue blood would be shed, the luxury industry, historically the bull industry in a bear market, started to feel it. As a daughter of Regan's America, that scares me. The trickle down effect might be debatable for increasing wealth, but few can deny its proclivity for decreasing nest eggs to nothing .

So that's where we are on the eve of a new year...broke and broken. Those of us with jobs feel the pressure to preform and know our next bad idea could be our last. The bitch of it all is that what these times call for is unprecedented vision and brave innovation. Feeling complacent in the flush times left most people and companies illprepared for the diaster we find ourselves in now. A lot of dross will be cleared but some of the layoffs and bankruptcies will punish smart people who were caught by the invisable hand of an inflated market struggling to regain equilibrium. Who's going to make it? And why? Will the auto industry embrace the alternative fuel sources foisted upon them decades ago? Will banks recover when their ubercapitalist workforce realizes the job's markedly less exciting sans 200% bonuses? Will art and fashion and everything pretty (including but not limited to the women used to playing trophy girlfriends to hedge funders) disappear to be replaced by burlap and hags?

I didn't sign up for this. I left the sorority house to come play at a bigger party But I'm here and somewhere over the past few months my rss feed and mind expanded to include the Wall Street Journal alongside Style.com and "The Hills" recaps. No one can afford to play at their purpose. Its time to find one and carve a marketable niche into the bedrock of a stagnant economy. And while I'm doing that to secure my paltry income, the real action will be seeing which multi-million, multi-national corporations are ready to do the same. Its going to be a wild ride, luckily I'm don't get motion sick.