So we are informed in a piece by Floyd Norris in today’s New York Times.  Whereas a $100 investment in a major stock index would now be worth $53, it would be worth $45 in Great Britain, $23 in Russia and $3 in Iceland.  Japan, by the way, beat the U.S. at $59.  The bottom line is that it is pretty bad everywhere.  It’s an interesting piece in that it puts the U.S. economic situation in a broader world perspective.

On the subject of the economy, there’s also a worthwhile Op-ed by Paul Krugman in the New York Times today.  It’s entitled Who’ll Stop The Pain.  It discusses the difficulty in breaking out of a recession such as the one the country is currently experiencing.

The difficulty for the individual consumer was brought home to me in a Michael Kinsley Op-ed in the Washington Post this morning entitled Upside-Down Economics.  Here’s the opening paragraph:

In January, Suze Orman, the blonde financial adviser who’s all over TV telling you to cut up your credit cards, went on “Oprah” to discuss how to cope with the recession. Orman recommended not eating in restaurants for a month. The appalled National Restaurant Association pointed out that if every “Oprah” watcher took this advice, it would cost 53,000 jobs.  

That’s the dilemma we face as consumers.  The more defensive we get, the worse we make it on others and the economy as a whole.  I’m sure not witnessing much of a slowdown in Washington, DC, however.  I met friends for lunch yesterday for “Restaurant Week” and there wasn’t an empty table and a line out the door when we left.  A friend told me that they couldn’t find a parking place at a shopping mall on Saturday.  I don’t think this is true out in America where the federal dollar looms less large.  Here, a huge part of the economy hums along nicely confident that the Federal government won’t be laying off or furlowing workers any time soon.  If anything the stimulus will mean even better times for the DC area.  It’s nice for us in DC, but not real.