As a scholar working in an abstruse subject I live a life largely divorced from what concerns most people. We have no newspaper subscription. I really don’t have much of a clue. But I am aware of the poor state of the world economy. Now, how has it affected me so far?

The only effect of the financial crisis on my life that I am aware of is that the mortgage my wife and I took out in December is absurdly cheap. We currently pay less per month to live in a 114 sqm house than we did last year to live in a 80 sqm apartment.

In the long run, it seems the crisis will have both good and bad effects for me. On one hand, the foundations that fund my research are likely to have less money than usual to dole out over the following years. On the other hand, the slump will prompt the government to invest in roads and railroads, which will create archaeological job opportunities, and it will lead to unemployment in other sectors, which will prompt the government to invest in the university system to keep the kids off the streets, which will create further job opportunities for scholars in abstruse subjects.

So I’m not really bothered by the global financial crisis.

What about you, Dear Reader? How has the crisis affected your life so far? And what effects do you foresee?

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Comments

  1. #1 Captain Obvious
    April 23, 2009

    It’s not really, to be honest.

    It causes house prices to slump and with luck they’ll keep on going south until they reach some sort of level where they can resume a relationship with reality. This time last year, the only way you could buy a house round my way on anything other than a ridiculous top-band wage was to get a huge windfall from somewhere to fund it – be it inheritance, lottery or masterminding a daring gold heist.

    They’re still not down enough to make it feasible but they’re going in the right direction at least, which makes a nice change!

  2. #2 OmegaMom
    April 23, 2009

    My hours have been cut by a third. Everyone at my university will be required to have three furlough days during the next fiscal year–so far; given that the state budget is getting worse and worse, that may increase. Friends from the u. have been laid off. Lost $$ in my equivalent of a 401k account, but I switched to gummint treasuries/bonds before the great drop in October, so we didn’t lose as much as we could have. As for the future? Dunno. Stimulus $$ may balance out the dreadful drop in state income, but if they don’t, there will be more layoffs.

  3. #3 Martin R
    April 23, 2009

    Your hours have been cut by a third — I take it that means that your monthly income is now only 2/3 of before? Ouch!

  4. #4 SM
    April 23, 2009

    I graduated several months ago with my bachelor’s degree in computer science, and finding work isn’t easy. The region has been hit relatively lightly by the recession, but not many firms are hiring, and many that are hiring want people with several years’ experience. But I have free room and board with my family, and plenty of savings, so I’m not worried yet.

    My main concern is the government debts my generation will have to pay, and that the recession may mean that less funding is available for grad school in a year or two.

  5. #5 Pierre
    April 23, 2009

    You seem to do well, I´m happy for you. Me I´m a bit scared to lose my job and taht is not so good for me and my family. Please send more letters so I can keep my job =)

    I hope you are right about more roads and railroads, but on the other hand there are tons of unemployed archaeologist so the chanses of get a foot into contract archaeologi will be wery small indeed.

    And if the crisis will put more people into the universitys to studdy archaeology, that would be really great … not! What happend to your usal critic view of the university systems??

  6. #6 llewelly
    April 23, 2009

    I hate you, because you live in a country with a functional government.

  7. #7 Martin R
    April 24, 2009

    SM, aren’t those government debts more due to eight years of the Bush administration’s fiscal policy than to the financial crisis?

    Pierre, I’m not saying that more archaeology students would be good for society, I’m saying that they would be good for ME! (-;

    Llewelly, just as long as you have feelings for me…

  8. #8 Jonathan Jarrett
    April 24, 2009

    A number of my friends who were previously employable anywhere they liked now can’t find work. There’s a certain amount of Schadenfreude seeing such people exposed to the breadline but since they are my friends, I can’t enjoy it very much. As for me, well, one job I was applying for was closed without appointing because of the relevant university’s endowment shrinking horribly, and I don’t know how many more just haven’t advertised for similar reasons. My funding where I am is safe for this coming year but it may be in greater doubt the year after. My savings are safe, but the interest rates I was hoping for have of course disappeared meaning that in the distant future putting my son through university is going to be harder than I’d hoped. A lot of the shops I like are going out of business, leaving fewer alternatives to the supermarkets. Mainly it hasn’t touched me where I am yet but it’s making it still harder to get anywhere else and I’m conscious that outside my academic sanctum a lot of things I expect to be there are getting brittle.

  9. #9 Martin R
    April 24, 2009

    I haven’t seen many shops out of business, but then I rarely frequent shops. As for sending the kids through college, I have no such money at all. They’ll take their government loans like their dad and granddad did.

  10. #10 Thinker
    April 24, 2009

    I haven’t seen many shops out of business, but then I rarely frequent shops.

    According to some people, Martin, you (and people like you) are the problem: if you did frequent the shops, they won’t have to go out of business. ;-)

    To save the economy, you need to adopt the neo-Cartesian philosophy I once saw on the bumper sticker of an American woman’s car: “I shop, therefore I am”.

    Sure, you could just be sensible and use the money freed up by the reduced interest rates to pay off principal on the mortgage so that you don’t get hit as hard when rates go up at some point in the future, as we all know they will.

    Of course, that would be irresponsibly selfish, right?

  11. #11 Martin R
    April 24, 2009

    I’ll have you know that I am a loyal mindless consumer! Just a few weeks ago I bought two garden chairs! And any month now I may buy a new water tap for the kitchen despite the fact that the current one is fully functional.

  12. #12 Tsu Dho Nihm
    April 24, 2009

    I’m in software development. It’s not affected me much yet. No pay raise for this year, and open jobs don’t seem to be offering as much money as in the past few years.

  13. #13 SM
    April 24, 2009

    Martin: It would be if I lived south of the border. But since I’m Canadian, we were paying down our national debt until a year or two ago.

  14. #14 Tim Abbott
    April 24, 2009

    The big non-profit conservation organizations in my field are making deep cuts in staff. The nature Conservancy shed over 400 jobs, or 10% of its workforce, and the Trust for Public Land eliminated more than 15%. Our donors, many of whom are still wealthy by any measure, feel poor and are gving less, or not at all. There are fewer conservation dollars available for land protection. The only silver lining is that there are also fewer land sales for development, though that will change.

  15. #15 murmel.jones
    April 25, 2009

    Here in Germany (at least in the better-of southern regions) the economic crisis has not yet directly affected archaeology. However, foundations, local museums, etc. have announced cutting down their projects for the second half of 2009 and for 2010. On the other hand, government-financed infrastructure projects (mostly roads and railroads) are being prepared, which will generate quite a lot of CRM work and rescue excavations, so I suppose we will get along and can avoid layoffs.

  16. #16 Charlotte
    April 25, 2009

    I’m still living off the government, so the main effect for me is the annoyance of my students loans of £27K gathering interest at 3.8% while my savings get next to nothing. The research council who will hopefully fund my eternal student-hood is likely to have their funding levels frozen, this might have an effect on the number of grants they offer.

    Archaeology probably isn’t going to do too well over the next few years in the UK. All my architect friends are having a lot of trouble finding work, all the big projects are on hold for now. The government work and redevelopment that’s going on seems to be mostly working on 50’s-80’s brownfield sites, which don’t usually need so many archaeologists. So not all that great here.

  17. #17 Martin R
    April 25, 2009

    Brownfield was a new (and useful) term to me. I’m sure there may be quite a lot of goodies there if you just strip the asphalt away. Particularly if you have river deposits and buried culture layers…

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