Instant Karma and Why Death Comes to Wall St.

Long time, no blog. I spent most of the week in New York and was too dispirited to blog. Despite my love for Gotham, the place felt eerie. The crash sent ripples in all directions. There was noticeably less foot traffic on the streets. The volume of conversation in restaurants seemed subdued. My lunch guest told me his wife came home mid-morning with a box full of her things, abruptly ending a 15-year career with Lehman Brothers. I felt for him.

Yet, are any of us really surprised? The truth is that the money business in America has long been excessive, indulgent, greedy and reckless. Financial markets suffer from our least attractive cultural trait: we are addicted to the short term. We like our success instantly, thank you. We like it in our business, celebrity, and now, even in our politics. This makes us vulnerable as a people and fragile as a financial power.

So the financial crisis on Wall Street is a reckoning. The Karma bank is calling in its note on easy money. But it’s also the most dramatic sign of the brighter news that lies ahead–the coming renaissance.

History teaches that death comes before rebirth–especially one as robust as a renaissance. The emptying out creates a void. It also stimulates creativity as we search our collective minds for solutions to our plight.

Long term, the news from Wall Street portends great things. The question is, can we quell our passion for the instant long enough to realize it? The bail outs tell me otherwise. The most respected economists say the system needs an overhaul.

That takes time.