Optimism may be growing, but it is only an inch thick... battered, bruised and beaten up, no-one is prepared to really celebrate just yet. There is a feeling that there could be another brush with disaster before this crisis is over, says CNN's London correspondent Richard Quest, in an exclusive column to domain-b.
There is something extraordinary about flying from Asia to the U.S. and crossing the international dateline. I left Hong Kong on Saturday morning, flew for 18 hours and arrived on the same day not far off when I left. I was curious: had the same magic of economic recovery that I experienced in Hong Kong flown ahead and beaten me there? Or was it taking the Slow Boat from China -- and I would be arriving back in a grim, old world?
New York is the epicenter of the financial crisis. The toxic assets created by derivates may have traveled far and wide, burying themselves deep into bank balance sheets around the world, but most of these financial viruses have their genesis in New York (or London, where I am headed next.)
Seminal moments of the great recession can be traced to this city, notably of course the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the investment and trading powerhouse, whose downfall last September has become the defining moment.
To understand what is going on would involve consulting further and wider than economists and market analysts. I have always believed if you want to know what is happening just look around you.
My first experience was in the cab from JFK to the city. Pre-crisis, the driver took home $150 a night after expenses. Today, he makes $50 -- which is an improvement on earlier in the year when he was lucky if he made $35.
My next victim was a good friend who is an architect with his own private practice. He recounted one horrible week earlier this year when four major projects were cancelled. He cut back his staff's hours. He hunkered down throughout winter and spring.