You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘recession’ tag.

There’s this notion going around that tough times will reveal the true character of America. It’s a good bit of marketing and satisfies our desire for myth. But it’s baloney.

When you’re backed up against a wall, you learn one thing: people have a keen sense of survival and a knack for self-preservation. It’s those other times that show us what we’re made of, like those times everyone thought they could get rich buying and selling tech stocks  houses  oil futures hope?

I guess Bush will take the blame from a lot of people. But whatever else he did, he didn’t force anyone to take on a mortgage they couldn’t afford.

But didn’t he and his cronies create the climate that made all those criminal excesses possible? I suppose they might bear some responsibility, but people have to take their share of the blame occassionally.

We get the leaders that serve up what we want to believe, and we very badly wanted to believe in everlasting wealth.

It doesn’t mean we still can’t become Treasury Secretary some day, even if it means a come-down in pay.

Advertisements

If Circuit City can’t make it, what hope is there for the rest of us? Well, at least I might get a good deal on a wireless mouse and a new wristpad for my keyboard. The old one is coming unglued (as you can see below, it looks like a blue mystery-meat hoagie).

pad

What’s good for the consumer these days might not be so good tomorrow. I keep hearing about how bad this economy is (the worst since the Great Depression?) , and it’s a cliche that a recession is when a neighbor is out of work and you have to write about it, a depression is when you are out of work. But I can’t quite wrap my head around it.

Maybe it’s because I work from home and have no one to talk to to stoke my fears. Or maybe it’s because people in general err to the positive or the negative, and the muddlesome truth is impossible to tease out.

All I know is a lot of people are losing their jobs with little prospect of getting a new one. I doubt their bank accounts will carry them through whatever’s coming. They can sell off assets, but the more people go that route, the less they’ll earn. More supply, lower prices. At least newspapers might see a small uptick in classified sales. Good luck collecting payment.

Someone should study winning bids on ebay to see if the average is up, down or unchanged. Yes, it’s a lot of apples to oranges, but still. There must be some method that could cut through the madness. Reading this makes me wonder what other statistical nuggets ebay might be able to cough up, if pressed.

Thus, the question. Do I buy a new wristpad or wrap duct tape around what I have? Or should I spare the duct tape to repair a more valuable asset down the road before posting it on ebay?

If you can survive the Bush Boom, you shouldn’t be overly concerned about the coming Obama Crash

If something is too big to fail, shouldn’t it be completely part of the government rather than lie in some netherworld between the public and private sectors? That’s the only question worth asking in light of the Fed’s proposed bailout of our two big mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

What also seems odd is the constant reassurance from figures of authority that nothing is really wrong, that Fannie and Freddie don’t really need any money from the Fed. Then why all the fuss and bother?

At some point, someone in power (and their enablers) will have to start reading from a reality-based playbook. How else do you explain the large number of people who believe the country is on the wrong track and the large number of pundits and commentators who insist everything deep down is really OK?

Maybe Phil Gramm was right. Or maybe, just maybe, if you start to think about it, just for a fraction of a second, as crazy as it may sound and despite all of Gramm’s degrees and years in public life, he has no idea what he’s talking about. He just wants questions about the economy to go away.

Now that sounds like a reality-based playbook for a presidential campaign in 2008.

President Bush got the first part right. Our eagerly awaited rebate checks will certainly help me cope with rising gas and food prices. The economy, I’m not so sure about. It’s nice to have extra bread in my wallet, but it won’t make a difference if there’s no bread on the store shelves.

The problems right now are clearly broader than people not having enough money to spend, though that is certainly part of it. The trouble is that economic downturns don’t hit like a tsunami. They seep in, barely making a dent in our strong and understandable hope that things will always get better.

It’s too bad people didn’t have color cameras during the Great Depression. That sort of cataclysm seems impossibly remote to people surrounded by HDTVs, SUVs and 3,000 square feet of luxury housing. But what if it isn’t? I hope we don’t have to find out, But I also fear, given our optimism and complacency, that we won’t find out until it’s too late.

These photos are from the Depression (courtesy the Library of Congress). The people are generally thinner than us, but they had less to eat. Hmm. Maybe times ain’t so different after all…

Forget about regulations, interest-rate cuts and investment-bank bailouts. Maybe Ben Bernanke can get a recession-busting recipe from this diner near Abbottstown on the Lincoln Highway. Compare photos from previous weeks, here and here, with this one from today. Whatever was in those meals appears to have done its trick (sorry for the blur — I took the pic thru a rainy windshield):

I’ll let this sign speak for itself, then I’ll speak for it:

I will assume, first off, that this isn’t a joke, even though Pennsylvania Dutch humor can be pretty dry. I took a picture of this sign a few weeks ago, and the “now hiring” portion wasn’t there. I swear. I notice things like that.

Maybe we’ll just have to rework the old saw: A recession is when the neighboring diner can’t sell any chicken pot pie. A depression is when you can’t sell any chicken pot pie.

At any rate, the sign should serve to discourage any efforts at comparing the current US downturn to anything in the past. Nothing is ever like what came before and trying to draw analogies only blinds us to what’s really going on. And that blindness prevents us from coming up with effective solutions that do more than make us feel good for trying.

Although, I suppose it can be just as rewarding to debate whose analogy is more accurate than to fix things.

I took this picture yesterday on Route 30 outside a diner near Abbottstown, Pa. So, it appeared even before the president made news today by acknowledging reality. That his concession made news is a sure sign we’re in trouble. The only question is, what kind of trouble?

Bush is right that people are fundamentally optimistic. But they also are impatient. Eventually they will want him to do something, especially those people lacking family inherited wealth to help them ride out the tough times. At least they can get two-for-one meals along Route 30.

Maybe the carnage at Citi will finally put a damper on any speculation that the US economy will avoid recession. But wait! The Fed is going to lower interest rates! That should save us again. Just like the Maginot line saved the French in World War II.

The real solution to the economy– as everyone knows — is basing it more soundly on a continuous loop of upgrades to our electronic devices. Maybe the Fed should annually mandate new software for every computer, phone, television and GPS system.