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Typical America: A wave of layoffs is crossing the country and most people still see something positive behind it. What in Europe would lead to huge protests is interpreted in the United States as management strength. . . .

The fact is that many Americans are heavily in debt from their stock market speculation. Their motto was: don't save, buy shares on credit. During the times of euphoria as the markets rose, many Americans accumulated huge sums of money -- but most unfortunately only on paper.

Now the market fever is over and prices are in the basement. Recession anxieties are doing the rounds. . . . However, the policy of layoffs, as practiced today by U.S. companies, could turn out to have a boomerang effect.

"Just-in-time employment" doesn't only have lasting consequences for the size of the labor pool. It is an idea from the warehouse, used when dealing with actual merchandise. So working people are turned into yet another product, cut back just to be on the safe side when the economic picture is looking bad. They can always be re-employed if things change. But it's an open question whether firms that treat their staff so badly can stay attractive in the employment market.

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