Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Depressing Recession Is Finally Acknowledged

The people in charge of measuring such things have finally declared that we are in a recession. What was their first clue? The Lehman Brothers bankruptcy? Hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs? The stock market declining by over 35%? No. The number crunchers and bean counters had to do their thing and tell us that the recession started last December. There is something bizarre about the way the federal government continues to go about its business of handling and describing the economy. It's almost enough to make you lose your faith in government.

Now that the recession is official, the next order of business is comparing it to all the other recessions and estimating how long the current recession will be. A number of official and unofficial sources have already stated that this recession will be worse than probably all the other recessions since the Great Depression. Again, what was their first clue? The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the disappearance of Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, and the near disappearance of the rest of the great brokerage houses might have given them an inkling that the economy was in very bad shape. The great brokerage houses didn't go broke during the great depression, probably because they hadn't had the opportunity to create trillions of dollars of “bad assets."

How can an asset to be bad? Easy. That's when an asset is really a liability. It's very similar to giving a mortgage to someone who can't pay it back. Of course the brokerage houses and the giant national banks told us that the assets weren't bad at first. Then they admitted they were slightly bad, but we shouldn't worry. At the same time, chairman of the Federal Reserve Bernanke and Secretary of the treasury Paulson were also telling us that things weren't that bad. When enough people tell you that things aren't that bad it's time to really worry. We all have denial in our personal lives, but when denial takes place on a national level, it's generally a catastrophe.

The official acknowledgment of the recession comes at a time when the people of this country are supposed to be spending themselves into oblivion for the holidays. The spending orgy this year is likely to be much smaller than previous years. The greatest gift that people can give themselves for the holidays is remembering what's truly important in life. Relationships and family are precious and can't be purchased in any store.

1 comment:

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