Andy Serwer and Allan Sloan write today in their Time article "How Financial Madness Overtook Wall Street":
"If you're having a little trouble coping with what seems to be the complete unraveling of the world's financial system, you needn't feel bad about yourself. It's horribly confusing, not to say terrifying; even people like us, with a combined 65 years of writing about business, have never seen anything like what's going on."
Under the relentless push of greed, financial operations kept becoming more and more esoteric and hard to grasp--even for those whose fortunes depended on them. Nearly incomprehensible schemes were hatched and accepted due to the belief in the words of the professionals who voiced for their plausibility and reliability. Unfortunately all involved suffered from bhrama, pramada, vipralipsa and karanapatava (the tendency to make mistakes, being prone to illusion, cheating propensities and imperfected senses) and their heady tricks caused a situation in which, in the words of the authors: "Banks and other financial companies around the globe are struggling to pull themselves out of this mess," "All of us are now paying the price for Wall Street's excesses," and "Whatever the politicians do, we as a society are going to be poorer than we were. . . . Coping in this new world will require adjustments by millions of Americans. We all will have to start living within our means — or preferably below them."
By the way, Badrinarayana Prabhu brought attention to "a recent article in the Reader's Digest about a family that made a vow to not spend one dollar beyond bills for utilities, mortgage, and a very minimum food budget--- for a month. The father writes "We found we could get a perfectly delicious free lunch at the local Hare Krishna temple". Now these folks are emblems of middle-class mid-America, but there they are, dropping by their local Hare Krishna temple for prasadam lunch. That make visiting a temple about as mainstream as you can get."
But, besides the opportunities uncovered by widespread misery, the circumstances remind us of the grim Bhagavatam prophesies: "He who can maintain a family will be regarded as an expert man" (SB 12.2.6) and "Harassed by famine and excessive taxes, people will resort to eating leaves, roots, flesh, wild honey, fruits, flowers and seeds. Struck by drought, they will become completely ruined" (SB 12.2.9).
For sober, frugal devotees there are words of comfort and encouragement in the Time article: "If you don't overborrow or overspend, you're far less vulnerable to whatever problems the financial system may have."