Archive for April 2011
SEATTLE – Scientists agree: there is a comet the size of Iowa that is set to collide with Earth sometime in late October, somewhere in northern North America. What scientists can’t agree upon, however, is the economic fallout generated by such a large-scale event. “Sure, there will be plenty of explosions and shock waves,” says Gilbert P. Swift of the University of Washington’s Max Planck School of Business. “But how this will effect North American commodities markets is anybody’s guess?”
One scenario has the comet striking the continent’s land mass with the force of 2.8 million 50 megaton bombs causing instant death to millions of people in a cloud of mass destruction never before imagined. Another hypothetical has the comet striking just off the Atlantic coast instigating an immediate vaporization of the planet’s oceans and the extinction of all animal species as Earth’s atmosphere transforms quickly into fire, steam and smoke.
“This is going to hit the middle class hardest,” claims Albert Voltare of the Economic Watchtower Group at the University of Chicago. “Right after the comet hits, you’re going to see health care costs sky-rocket,” says Voltare. “Also, expect a dismal jobs market. Employers are going to be really reluctant to bring on new staff. You’re even going to see some employers reducing payroll with early-retirement packages, severance payments and layoffs.”
While job-seekers may find frustration in the initial hours after impact, others see greater threats ahead. In the few hours of human existence that remain, some economists fear a shake-up in global financial markets. “We may see an exodus of wealth from formerly stable North American financial institutions,” says Colin Juvenal, a New York-based investment strategist. “I see Asia emerging as a safe-haven for jittery investors. People are going to want to have their money on the other side of the world when the comet hits.” While Moody’s and Standard and Poors and other investment rating services have not officially downgraded North American capital markets, many experts expect to see a readjustment by late August. “It’s the free market at work,” says Juvenal. “In times of uncertainty, money goes to where it’s considered safest.”
While debate over the comet’s impact continues, the White House has begun to use the event to nudge public opinion. In a statement released after a cabinet budget meeting yesterday, the President made it clear that his office was entirely aware of the impending “contiguity” and was making every preparation possible, adding: “Comet or not comet, the American people want to see the deficit brought under control by October, and it’s our main intention to do so. With both sides at the table in rational discourse, we can get this done and prove to Americans that their elected officials are hard at work doing what they were put there to do.”
In a response to the White House statement, Republicans had this to say: “Americans don’t care about comets. They care about lower taxes, discretionary spending cuts and limits on earmarks. In November, the people have spoken. They want a smaller government that doesn’t run up debt, and whether there’s a planet left or not, we’re going to give them exactly what was promised.”