The Coal Mine Canaries Have Been Dropping Off Their Perches For Months Now

In case you missed it: a PI report on the ongoing bloodbath in architecture. For instance, this nice building is going to feel pretty roomy for a while.

And lest you forget, architecture is leading indicator, duly noted by commenter BrianK:

“Architects and engineers are the canary in the coal mine when it comes to the 2nd largest industry in the world, which is construction. If we aren’t getting new work, you can quite be sure the thousands of people in our region who build buildings won’t have any either.”

Ah yes, it’s the cyclic nature of capitalism kicking our collective butts once again, and kicking harder, it would seem, than it has for several generations. But then again, it’s perhaps worth contemplating whether or not “cyclic” is a actually a euphemism for dumb-greedy-humans-falling-for-a-bubble-again. Apparently we are slow learners.

Human nature notwithstanding, we are told that capitalism is inherently cyclic. There’s just one pesky problem with that: Those cycles are not good for people. Obviously, the stress is severe on the down-cycle when we wonder if our jobs are going to disappear. But stress can also creep in on the up-cycle when we have to work like crazy because firms can’t find enough help.

Moreover, you’d think that even a Scroogy, bottom-line economist, to whom people’s silly feelings are of zero consequence because they can’t be represented in a mathematical formula, would acknowledge that severe cycles are to be avoided simply because they are inefficient. Investments in recruiting, training, specialized experience, team building, client relationships, etc, are all flushed down the toilet when a downturn forces layoffs. And add to that all the energy wasted when people have to search for new jobs.

Well that’s capitalism, the best of both worlds: inefficient and inhumane! Not that I’m a socialist or anything. Heavens no. No Europe-worshipping on this blog. Mustn’t upset the good Americans…

Um, sorry about that lapse, and now back to the point: How can we do better job of controlling the vicious cycles of capitalism? Is there any answer other than tighter regulation?