These modern global calamities tend to play out like slow motion train-wrecks. This is partly a consequence of our media culture, which encourages us to think of ourselves as detached spectators rather than responsible participants. When they peak, we tend to hanker after state intervention, because we’re so unused to decisive decision-making on our own.
The so-called financial crisis of 2008 was well under way by the autumn of 2007, in full public view, yet too many resembled those who walk out in pursuit of the retreating shoreline before the tsunami rolls in. ‘2008’ refers to the folding of Lehman Brothers, a pivotal event that now stands for the whole process.