One thing I noticed when I couldn't speak, is how many couldn't think.
And how many make a bad thing a worse thing, because they do the panic thing.
I read about a company CEO who feared a slowdown in sales, so as a pre-emptive strike, he trimmed a thousand workers.
And get this, his sales at the time, were just fine.
The lender that had very few defaults, but to be safe, stopped lending to practically anyone to keep them that way.
The young couple who told a newspaper they had stopped looking at homes, because they figured they wouldn't qualify for them anyway.
And just yesterday, Morgan Stanley pulling its home equity credit lines on thousands of customers, not because they're late paying their bills, but because Morgan feared they could be.
Wall Street does it all the time. One financial company has a bad quarter, all financial stocks get hammered.
Wal-Mart warns August sales might look dicey, economists conclude we're going to hell in a hand basket.
Perhaps Franklin Roosevelt was right when he said the only thing we had to fear was fear itself.
Because fear itself is a powerful thing.
It's what turns a slowdown into a stop down, a momentary pause into a panic.
One firm cuts back because it has to, another cuts back, even though it doesn't have to.
And suddenly some people late on their mortgage is everyone late on their mortgage.
Some lenders having problems is all lenders having problems.
Some borrowers having trouble getting loans is all borrowers having problems getting loans.
People stop shopping. Products stop selling. Retailers stop hiring.
And everyone starts panicking, some without saying a word.
It's enough to leave you speechless.
For a good six weeks I watched it, it did.
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