It gets somewhat frustrating to read the cheerleader stories on the economy, or from the supposed economic experts on the same day and in the same paper where there are other stories plumbing the economic problems of average, everyday, yes, real Americans.
First off, we have the somewhat ludicrous cheerleader opinion piece from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in today's (Tuesday August 3) NY Times titled Welcome to the Recovery. It's impossible for me to pull out a couple of points of idiocy from this piece as almost every line of it is a misdirection, strawman, or flat out untruth.
From there, we go to this piece discussing a speech Monday by Fed Chair Ben Bernanke:
While the United States has “a considerable way to go” for a full recovery, “rising demand from households and businesses should help sustain growth,” Mr. Bernanke said on Monday in a speech in Charleston, S.C. “We are maintaining strong monetary policy support for the recovery,” he said in response to an audience question, without discussing any further action the Fed could take to aid growth.
The remarks signal that Mr. Bernanke and his colleagues, when they meet in Washington next week, will stop short of making major changes in their policy statement or taking new steps to lower interest rates and reduce unemployment, said John Ryding, a former Fed researcher. Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, “seems likely to pick up in coming quarters from its recent modest pace,” Mr. Bernanke said.
Yeah, who cares about nearly 10% official Unemployment and the Un/Underemployment nearly double that? David Dayen had a post at FireDogLake yesterday on a Krugman column on how this is the "New Normal" for employment. Looks like Krugman is correct (not that that is a shock mind you.)
These speeches and such are contrasted by this story in today's Times on "99ers."
In June, with long-term unemployment at record levels, about 1.4 million people were out of work for 99 weeks or more, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not all of them received unemployment benefits, but for many of those who did, the modest payments were a lifeline that enabled them to maintain at least a veneer of normalcy, keeping a roof over their heads, putting gas in their cars, paying electric and phone bills.
I'm one of those "99ers." I was laid off in April '04, a few months before my 52nd birthday. I exhausted my unemployment benefits and used up my retirement plans. As I've said before, the only consolation in that is knowing that even with paying early cash out penalties, I still got to use more of it on myself than those who watched their plans swirl down the toilet in the Crash of Too Big To Fail.
An Economix blog post in today's Times offers some discussion on why "laypeople" think the Great Recession is still ongoing. Using Alan Greenspan's analysis from Sunday's Meet the Press(!) to explain:
MR. ALAN GREENSPAN: …I think we’re in a pause in a recovery, a modest recovery. But a pause in the modest recovery feels like quasi recession. Our problem, basically, is that we have a very distorted economy in the sense that there has been a significant recovery in a limited area of the economy amongst high-income individuals who have just had $800 billion added to their 401(k)s and are spending it and are carrying what consumption there is. Large banks, who are doing much better, and large corporations, whom you point out and the — and everyone’s pointing out, are in excellent shape. The rest of the economy, small business, small banks, and a very significant amount of the labor force, which is in tragic unemployment, long-term unemployment, that is pulling the economy apart. The average of those two is what we are looking at, but they are fundamentally two separate types of economy.
We truly are in Bizarro World when Greenspan seems to have the best handle on the problems being felt by those of us who refuse to give up our job searches no matter how much the cheerleaders want us to just accept the status quo.
And because I can: