Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Recession That Isn't a Recession

There seems to be some question about whether the American economy is in recession. On one hand we have the president of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, stating on June 10, 2008, "The Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession.” On the other hand, Martin Feldstein, president of the Cambridge group that is considered the official word on economic cycles, stated on March 15, 2008, "The United States has already slipped into a deep recession that could be the most serious since World War II.”

It's good to know that the people in charge are in agreement about what is the current state of economic affairs. Denial has been a continuing symptom of our current economic crisis. According to an Associated Press Release on July 26, 2006, Bernanke told Congress that the once high-flying housing market appeared to be experiencing a safe landing. “The downturn in the housing market so far appears to be orderly," Mr. Bernanke said during a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee. Since that prediction, the country has experienced the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression. So much for the safe landing.

The so-called "subprime crisis" was also minimized month after month until it exploded and resulted in the sudden takeover of Bear Stearns by J.P. Morgan. A study cited by a Reuter’s press release in early March 2008 concluded that, "The bottom of the subprime crisis has not yet been reached." The predicted economic impact cited in that study is far too complex to be cited here.

What we have is a pattern of continual minimizing of serious economic problems. Why is this occurring? Are the powers in charge simply behind the curve and unable to comprehend what is coming next, or are they deliberately minimizing known severe problems. Why would they do the latter? A friend of mine suggested that they do the latter because they do not want to panic people which will cause even worse economic problems. That's an interesting hypothesis, but the problem with that approach is twofold. One, it prevents adequate planning on the part of the public. Secondly, when the crisis explodes people lose faith in those in charge and people are even more likely to panic.

As the computer said towards the end of 2001 A Space Odyssey, "Nothing can go wrong, can go wrong, can go wrong,…………………………


Dana said...

Personally, I don't believe this recession is as serious as some would believe, but rather we've grown so accustomed to a STRONG economy that any lapse in that seems to trigger panic.

Neil Benson said...

This recession is worse than most people think. It's just getting started in some areas. The decline of the regional banks are a tell on the state of the economy across the nation. Don't let the quacking ducks in charge fool you into thinking things aren't bad.