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15 Sep, 2009 04:28

Black Monday one year on: what’s in sight?

September 15 marks the economic 9/11 that shook the US last year. Global financial services firm Lehman Brothers collapsed and became a symbol of the largest bankruptcy in American history.

It also caused a global downturn which many were not prepared for. The past year has seen global economies brought to their knees, forcing governments to rethink and rebuild.

Now some are saying that the worst has passed and economies are beginning to revive both on national and international levels.

As for the United States, President Barack Obama is optimistic about the country’s situation:

“We can be confident that the storms of the past two years are beginning to break,” he said on Monday, speaking at Wall Street in New York.

Despite the positivity, some say recovery and relief are nowhere in sight. Among them is trends forecaster Gerald Celente.

“It hasn't ended. That was only the beginning. We are going to see a lot more. There is no recovery, it's a cover-up. They're covering it up with stimulus packages, with buy outs, with bailouts – it’s not going to fix the problem,” Gerald Celente believes.

Fifteen million people in America are jobless, and what caused this did not happen overnight.

“Let's put it this way: in order to have a 20 to 30 trillion dollar global blow-up, you don't have a few bad apples and you don't have a few simple mistakes – you have everybody basically bought in on a system that’s fundamentally unsound,” says New York-based financial analyst and journalist Max Wolff.

With the unemployment rate in the double digits, millions have lost their homes.

Italo used to work in construction, but after losing his job, he ended up on the street. Now he is unable to support his two daughters. Every night he goes to a New York shelter for homeless people.

“I couldn't get a job. I found a job off the books, you know, where it was two or three days out of the week, and some weeks it was not even one day. It was pretty hard,” Italo says.

Another person at the shelter, Arlo, lost all of his savings almost in the blink of an eye. With that, he also lost hope, and turned to drugs and alcohol.

“I got laid off. Then I started dipping into my savings. I lost a hundred and fifty grand in a matter of a couple of days due to companies going under and the stock market crashing,” Arlo recalls.

Like millions of Americans, these people went from feeling safe and secure to having nothing.

In his documentary, filmmaker and blogger Danny Schechter dissects why America's economy collapsed. He calls the whole thing a crime story.

“People are suffering, but the people on Wall Street who are responsible for this crisis have yet to be held accountable, have yet to be punished, have yet to even be investigated in any serious way,” Danny believes.

While accountability is still in the offing for those who may have caused the financial collapse, this man didn't manage to escape punishment.

Sam Antar is a former white collar criminal, who says he used to rip off people and institutions. Why? He says – for fun and profit.

The former fraudster says there are many still out there just like him who have been having a blast on Wall Street before everything was revealed:

“White collar crime is very complicated, very complex. It needs enormous resources to investigate. We have less resources investigating white collar crime in the United States of America than we have police officers in the city of New York.”

So could it be way too early for Americans to even start thinking of throwing on the party hats? Danny Schechter is not sure at all.

“When I read Warren Buffet – one of the top investors in America saying we haven't solved the problems yet, and that he is taking his money out of the stock market because he thinks it's very volatile – then you realize this crisis is much deeper than people are telling us,” Schechter says.

Financial analyst Max Wolff agrees that recovery for now is a myth:

“We have done almost nothing to solve any of our structural economic problems. In our ‘recovery’ of the last six months, we have seen the lives of the bottom 80% of Americans get harder every day.”

Read also Obama is Just a Slave