LOS ANGELES, September 30 – The shockwaves from Wall Street\’s day of carnage rippled out across America on Monday, heightening anxiety amongst bewildered investors and raising fears the worst is yet to come.
From coast-to-coast, Americans voiced concern at the latest barrage of gloomy news that has left the nation reeling under its most devastating financial crisis since the Great Depression.
For many, the collapse of the 700-billion-dollar bailout amid bitter political bickering on Capitol Hill and the record one-day fall on the stock exchange reflected a failure of leadership on Wall Street and in Washington.
Several said they had increasingly lost faith in the financial system, and they were now questioning if any institution could truly be regarded as a save haven in the current tumultuous climate.
"You wonder how big this thing is going to be," said Robert Gluck, a 36-year-old film editor watching CNN on a television on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. "It seems that it\’s getting worse, and the scary part is that no-one seems to know what to do or when it\’s all going to bottom out."
Lisa Raynor, a 32-year-old human resources executive, said she and her husband had watched in dismay as their stock portfolio had shrunk.
"Our investment portfolio has suffered a lot, but we\’re not sure about where to move our money," Raynor told AFP. "It\’s hard to know who to trust."
In New York, investment firm executive Marc der Kinderen said that collapsing trust in US financial institutions was potentially the most damaging aspect of the crisis.
"The worst thing that is happening right now is that there is absolutely no trust, no faith in the system as a whole," der Kinderen told AFP.
"That makes a horrible way for companies to do business with each other … Banks are the infrastructure of finance, like a highway system, and right now, every ramp to the highway system has effectively been shut down."
Robert Lanese, a retired hairdresser, said the turmoil was the result of failed Republican policies, and gloomily predicted that more companies would go to the the wall.
"More banks will go, more people will lose their jobs, it will go on like that for a while, whatever happens tomorrow," he told AFP.
"The Democrats will sweep in and must bring changes, in the financial system, in the way the economy works. These are sad days for the world, and sad days especially for America".
In Washington, Brad Goldsmith, a 30-year-old consultant, said he was prepared to ride out the storm, expressing optimism that the Dow Jones would recover swiftly if the bailout package was passed.
"I think it\’s an effect of not passing the bailout," he said about the Dow\’s freefall. "Hopefully it will rebound over the next several days."
Nevertheless, Goldsmith said he was against the bailout in principle. "I was not okay with it," he said. "I think it\’s not the right thing for the long term. It\’s a snapshot for right now."
Meanwhile, New York restaurateur Michael Chin blamed the failure of lawmakers to approve the bailout on party politics.
"I heard this is a pretty bad day," Chin said. "I don\’t know what they are thinking about. I think it was more political than anything else. In New York, this mess is affecting us directly."
Others though were able to take refuge in their faith.
Cindy Gustafson, a 59-year-old employee at George Washington University, told AFP: "We give all our money to the kingdom of God so he is our provider. I don\’t have to worry about it."