Recession Effects

A quick little ditty about the long tentacles of a recession…”13 Unexpected Consequences of the Financial Crisis”

The Internet is about to get a lot more #@%$ing annoying. Newspapers are looking to online advertising revenue to deliver them from bankruptcy court (and eventually, total eradication). So, expect more Web advertising on your news sources—pop-up ads, welcome screens, articles hacked into ever shorter segments to maximize clicks—that cannot be escaped easily. Or at least not without getting extremely frustrated.

Skirts will get longer. Here’s a piece of Wall Street folk wisdom: There is a rough correlation between bull markets and bare knees. During boom times, skirts get shorter. In these bearish times, prepare for hemlines to head south. Somewhat in relation, we’ll see something else go north: the age and weight of Playboy centerfolds. Evolutionary biology encourages people to seek “more mature” mates during times of economic insecurity, argue Terry F. Pettijohn and Brian J. Jungeberg in one of the more interesting studies published recently in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. To support their claim, the researchers showed that during recessions, centerfolds get older and, well, rounder. Similar studies have confirmed an identical trend in movie comedies—male and female leads get older during recessions.

Your military just got bigger. The age group that will be hit hardest by the current downturn? The world’s 18- to 24-year-olds. This group just so happens to be the prime recruiting age bracket for militaries, which can generally offer a steady paycheck and decent benefits. Indeed, the U.S. Army exceeded its recruitment goals in the last three months of 2008 for the first time in 5 years. And as the war in Iraq winds down, these new soldiers’ fears of being deployed in a hostile combat environment should wane. The few and the proud might grow into the many and the desperate.

State schools will be cool. A prolonged downturn will profoundly affect institutions of higher learning. For the past decade, private schools far outpaced state schools in terms of resources and expenditures as their endowments swelled from the long financial boom. Many elite universities followed Harvard’s lead and adopted need-blind admissions with generous financial-aid packages.

That’s all about to change. Endowments in the United States have declined 10 to 30 percent during the past year, which will make need-blind admissions a thing of the past and financial-aid offers far less generous. The credit crunch will also make it more difficult for young people to secure reasonable student loans.

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