Stock markets have dropped severely over the past day after the announced bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers.
Lehman was not bailed out because it is an investment bank and only has under $ 300 billion in assets. But its demise despite its long history and prime reputation has been a wake up call for those who have believed that the excesses of the past decade have been absorbed by global markets.
Coincidentally the news of HP reducing staff by 24,600 over the coming three years was another sign of system change.
The turmoil is not over. It will not be a comfortable autumn. Food prices will continue to rise and fuel will remain costly as Western countries increase their heating. And at the core of our problems remains our dysfunctional financial behaviour.
The financial industry has a large role to play, especially in their inability to act with integrity and to continue to create a breeding ground for moral hazard, but we are all contributing to the problem because it is people that increase their debt and consume, consume, consume.
If this week continues as it has started, it will be the smack in the face that we all need to adopt some reserve and self-discipline. Perhaps it will catalyse the system change that is needed to allow humanity to continue to enjoy this planet, to reengineer our systems to be compatible with nature, to adopt biomimicry as a priority.
(Let’s hope, though, that the downturn does not extend in to a vicious spiral from which anarchy emerges and we regress to a more primitive state.)