Monday, September 29, 2008

Once in a lifetime... more on the financial crisis

I'd love to write about innovation, growing new markets, etc., but for the moment I'm preoccupied, like many others, with the financial crisis, especially a feeling that I can only express in the words of David Byrne from "Once In A Lifetime":

How did we get here?

To that end, Harvard University held a panel discussion last week, nicely summarized at the Working Knowledge web site, that helps to illuminate the situation. Lots of wisdom and perspective here, including this sobering (but perhaps welcome) observation, from another summary of the conference by Andrew O'Connell of the HBR Editors' Blog (the post at Editors' blog also contains a link to a video of the entire event.):

As management professor Robert Kaplan pointed out early in the discussion, Americans' ability to tap into their home equity had for years masked a fundamental deterioration in their ability to pay for goods and services with their wages. And as we all can see too clearly now, what's under that mask isn't a pretty sight.

I imagine many bankers feel like the besieged, buffeted, sweating, stunned character Byrne plays in the video. Do they say to themselves, "My God, what have I done?"

, , , , ,