Regarding the economy, it's hard not to notice this stark contrast: The "real economy" of spending, production and jobs -- though weakening -- is hardly in a state of collapse, but much of today's semi-hysterical commentary suggests that it is. Financial markets for stocks and bonds are described as being "in turmoil." People talk about a recession as if it were the second coming of Genghis Khan. Some whisper the dreaded word "depression." Meanwhile, Americans are expected to buy about 15 million vehicles in 2008; though down from 16.5 million in 2006, that's still a lot.(via Assistant Village Idiot)
There's a disconnect between what people see around them and what they're told is happening. The first is upsetting (rising gas prices, falling home prices, fewer jobs) but reflects the normal reverses of a $14 trillion economy. The second ("panic," "financial meltdown") suggests the onset of something catastrophic and totally outside the experience of ordinary people. The economy, the New York Times said last week, may be on "the brink of the worst recession in a generation" -- an ominous warning.
Perhaps, but so far the concrete evidence is scant.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Robert Samuelson in Wednesday's Washington Post: