An unprecedented situation


As the world’s economy teeters on collapse, everything is unprecedented. And that state of unprecedentedness is, in itself, unprecedented.

Just about every move that U.S. officials are taking is described as “unprecedented.” And it’s catching. Earlier today, I described yet another piece of bad news as “unprecedented, frantic steps”. I was talking about the Wall Street Journal‘s “U.S. Rewrites Financial Playbook”:

The Federal Reserve’s move Tuesday to backstop the commercial-paper market is the latest unprecedented step the government has taken to redraw the rules under which U.S. financial markets operate.

The spreading crisis in global financial markets has forced regulators to work around the lengthy and occasionally onerous process for instituting policy, which can take months or years of debate.

Many of the new powers that have been authorized by Congress — such as higher ceilings on federal deposit insurance — were approved at the last minute with little if any discussion.

Now comes this late-breaking news from the Journal:

“Central Banks Cut Rates World-Wide.”

With unprecedented global coordination, six central banks including the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank cut interest rates sharply Wednesday in an emergency move designed to offset the economic damage from a deepening financial shock.

At last look, the Dow was still falling but gyrating wildly.

Finally, something that’s not unprecedented.