Every time I leave my house, I am on the look-out for signs of economic collapse. Empty restaurants, closing-down sales, middle-class men in casual clothes picking up their kids from school.
This may sound ghoulish. But frankly, I think the conversations I am having these days are less disorientating than they were three weeks ago. Back then – with the financial system on the point of collapse – I had a serious discussion with my wife about whether to pull all our money out of the bank. And how exactly how would you buy Krugerrands? Now, the conversations are much more mundane and centre around relatively hum-drum topics like, will we lose our jobs?.
But not all the signs on my personal recession-watch are pointing down. People are gossiping that half the hedge funds in London are in danger of closure. But on Friday I had lunch at Automat in Mayfair in the heart of hedge-fund land. The restaurant was full. We couldn’t get a table until 1.30. Lots of the clientele were in hedge-fund uniform: well-cut suit, open-necked shirt, deep tan. I tried to eavesdrop on neighbouring tables. And I did hear one guy confide to his lunch companion – “Sometimes I think I’m going insane.” But we all feel like that sometimes; even when the economy is growing. Read more