Here is a rather more optimistic assessment of the economy, based on the plans of America’s business executives. I cite it, though, for the figure of speech in the final paragraph:
Washington policymakers are entering a crucial period for the nation’s stalling economy, starting with President Obama’s address to Congress about jobs on Thursday, but the fate of the recovery ultimately depends on decisions being made elsewhere: inside corporate America.
So far, business leaders have been standing firm, with senior executives making few revisions in the plans they had drawn up for expansion and hiring, according to interviews and a review of more than three dozen recent conference calls that executives have held with financial analysts. Even the wild swings on Wall Street during this cruel summer have not knocked executives off track.
But while companies are not undertaking new rounds of layoffs, hiring does not seem poised to take off. Executives speak of the same sluggish but steady job creation that has been underway for months continuing through the end of the year.
The cautious approach taken inside executive suites was also reflected in the grim jobs report from the Labor Department on Friday. While it showed that the nation’s job creation had ground to a halt in August, the private sector continued adding jobs slowly. After adjusting for workers on strike, mostly at Verizon, and employment cuts by government, the report revealed that private employers added the modest net sum of 62,000 jobs.
That result was consistent with the reflections of top executives, such Ronald L. Sargent, the chief executive of office-supply retailer Staples.
“I’m not an economist at all,” Sargent said in a conference call in mid-August with analysts to discuss quarterly earnings. “But from what I see, we have no chance at another recession. I think we’re probably more likely to stay in economic purgatory for a while longer, but I don’t have any worries about a double dip at this point.”
We are in economic purgatory! We are being punished for our sins! But we are still saved, eventually. And government efforts to get us out are nothing but indulgences. We can buy them, if it makes us feel better, but they don’t really work. Can there be free forgiveness in the economics realm, or that just in the spiritual kingdom?