Last week’s startling events on Wall Street reminded me of a 2005 article by James Fallows, former Carter speechwriter turned Atlantic magazine correspondent. His article predicted many of the economic woes America currently experiences or faces.
The essay is a memo from a communicator of sorts to a fictitious third party candidate in the 2016 presidential election. This communicator lays out the candidate’s talking points by recapping the last 15 years of American history—a period that saw nothing but decline.
Some of Fallows’ predictions in 2005 are proving vaguely, and in at least one or two instances, eerily accurate. Take this excerpt, for example:
For politicians every aspect of this cycle was a problem: the job loss, the gasoline lines, the bankruptcies, the hard-luck stories of lifetime savings vanished as the stock market headed down. But nothing matched the nightmare of foreclosures.
For years regulators and financiers had worried about the “over-leveraging” of the American housing market. As housing prices soared in coastal cities, people behaved the way they had during the stock market run-up of the 1920s: they paid higher and higher prices; they covered more and more the purchase price with debt; more and more of that debt was on “floating rate” terms—and everything was fine as long as prices stayed high and interest rates stayed low.
It’s worth a read, particularly because Fallows is a former professional communicator writing as a fictitious professional communicator. I don’t know if this fake memo explains how issues were explained to Carter, or other presidents, but it’s nevertheless interesting to watch Fallows hit talking points for this candidate.