Arthur C. Clarke’s economic premonition

I’ve been reading Arthur Clarke’s Rama II, the sequel to the awesomely dry Rendezvous With Rama. I just remembered a passage near the beginning that had some notable parallels to our current economic downturn. Quoting:

Dire warnings of impending economic doom started being heard above the euphoric shouts of the millions who had recently vaulted into the middle and upper classes. Suggestions to balance budgets and limit credit at all levels of the economy were ignored. Instead, creative effort was expended to come up with one way after another of putting more spending power in the hands of a populace that had forgotten how to say wait, much less no, to itself.

On May 1, 2134, three of the largest international banks announced that they were insolvent because of bad loans. Within two days a panic had spread around the world.

The full excerpt can be read on Google Books.

Of course, there are likely hundreds of published fiction stories where a global economic collapse is triggered by a prolonged period of loose credit. I was just interested how the quoted passage describes so closely what happened recently. Also interestingly, the narrative then diverges to tell how the collapse perpetuated itself because the computers running the stock markets could not keep up with the volume of transactions pouring in from people dumping their stocks. Arthur C. Clarke may have been the first to propose the notion of geosynchronous orbits, but I think he also slightly miscalculates the computing power that will be available over a century from now.

I suppose, in science fiction, you can’t hit a home run every time.