London Times "American View" columnist Gerard Baker:
Whatever happened to the Great Depression? Not the real one from 70 years ago, the lost decade of unimagined misery and Steinbeckian angst, the worst period in the history of modern capitalism. I mean the replay we were promised this year. The one we were told was the inevitable counterpart to the greatest financial crisis since a couple of medieval Italians first sat down on a Florentine bench and invented the word “bank”.(By the way, the unemployment rate dropped a 10th of a point in April, to 5 % and the number of initial unemployment insurance claims dropped by 18,000 last week; continuing claims have been falling for three weeks. Based on futures trading at Intrade, the odds of a recession this year slipped from 75 % to 25 % since mid-January. Does that matter?--I'm not sure. My financial guru is MaxedOutMama.)
I don’t know about you but I feel a bit cheated. There we all were, led to believe by so many commentators that the sub-prime crisis was going to force the United States into a new era of dust bowls and breadlines, a slump that would call into question the very functioning of the capitalist system in the world’s largest economy. Carried away on the surging wave of their own economically dubious verbosity, the pundits even speculated that this unavoidable calamity might presage some 1930s-style global political cataclysm to match.
Well, it’s early days, to be fair, but so far the Great Depression 2008 is shaping up to be a Great Disappointment. Not so much The Grapes of Wrath as Raisins of Mild Inconvenience. Last week the Commerce Department reported that the US economy – battered by the credit crunch, pummeled by a housing market collapse and generally devastated by the wild stampede of animal spirits – actually grew in the first three months of the year.
Still, I'm sure about Ken Braun's analysis in comments on CARPE DIEM:
Maybe We Should Sell T-Shirts? --MORE:
"The media promised a depression and all we got was yet another lousy quarter of economic expansion."
James Pethokoukis in US News & World Report:
It's not just the 1Q number that gives me hope. The jobs numbers—both initial unemployment claims and monthly payroll numbers—are also way below levels commonly seen during recession. Plus, corporate profit growth outside of financials and housing remains strong. Simply put, the recessionistas—to borrow a classic Kudlow zinger—are running out of time with both monetary and fiscal stimulus (bleh!) kicking in gear and the credit markets on the mend. If 2Q isn't negative, then what quarter will be negative, if any? Even the NBER doesn't declare recessions when the economy never actually has a single down quarter.MORE & MORE:
Assistant Village Idiot in comments:
Even our depressions are prosperous now.(via reader O'BloodyHell, CARPE DIEM, Instapundit)