Chapter 2. How Did We Get into This Mess? And What Is the Best Way Out?

Gary Alexander

At the Atlanta Investment Conference in late April 2009, I was able to interview over a dozen of our main speakers in a private televised taping room during the breaks between the conference's general sessions.

After speaking at nearly every Atlanta conference since its founding in 1988, and serving as co-emcee when not speaking, I had already heard these gentlemen speak many times before, including their podium time at the similar New Orleans conferences, held in the fall. In recent years, many of these speakers had been predicting an event something like what we saw in late 2008, yet all we usually hear in the popular media is that "nobody saw this crisis coming." That's why conference organizer Martin Truax thought it would be a good idea to ask those who did, indeed, see this mess coming, about what might happen next.

Martin requested that I ask five key questions (with follow-ups) of each speaker, asking first about the market malaise that was then attacking the nation and the world. The other questions led toward long-term outlook and the best long-term solutions. Bear in mind that at the time of these interviews, we had just come off the market bottoms in March 2009. There was still a haunting sense of "another shoe to drop" (i.e., another big bank or car company to fail, another market correction, another big spending bill—in short, more pain ahead). Most of the speakers were by no means ...

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