Why "the recession is over."

Yesterday, President Obama and Joe Biden went out and grabbed a burger in a bit of “we’re just normal guys” political theater, a replay of what we saw back in 2004, when John Kerry and John Edwards went to Wendy’s.

A breathless press told us this was part and parcel of Ben Bernanke’s statement that, while things must still bottom-out, and un-employment numbers are still going up, our economy was looking much better.

So, in February, we were facing “catastrophe” and Obama didn’t know if we’d even be able to pull out of it and now, in May, after 100 days of fear-mongering, demonizing, takeovers (and apparently threats), we’ve got the president and the veep eating hamburgers, and somewhere Ray Stevens is singing, “Everything is Beautiful!”

Kind of amazing, how economies get reported, from administration-to-administration, isn’t it? I remember when things were going gangbusters, (say from 2004-2006), in the Bush Rodney Dangerfield Economy; when everyone was working, unemployment was low, and even the New York Times had to bring itself to report that the Bush tax cuts were bringing in nearly unprecedented tax revenues, but that news was always reported with the caveat, “we could go into a recession any second!” No matter how good the economic news was, it was always reported with a frown, and a “but…there may be bad news on the horizon…”

Here is one particularly egregious example, and here is another, but basically, for the entire Bush presidency, the press was busy not telling you good news unless they could chase it with some bitters. And if they couldn’t well, then the economy “slipped” into a “sweet spot,” what luck!

Now, of course, the news is pretty grim. Industrialists are suggesting that this Administration is thuggish, the banks are not being permitted to payback taxpayer monies they neither need, nor want and we’re likely to see double-digit unemployment in the next batch of numbers (at least for the private sector), but the emphasis is on Bernanke’s smile, and Obama’s incredible magnificence of being.

Forbes, is a rather strange article, declares the recession is over!

If you want a bone to pick–or an economic argument to have–it should be about when the current recession actually began. The National Bureau of Economic Research, the U.S.’s semi-official recession arbiter, says it started in December 2007. But real gross domestic product grew at a 1% annual rate from then through August 2008. That doesn’t look like a recession to us.

Nonetheless, when Lehman Brothers collapsed and the $700-billion TARP plan was proposed, a very rare “panic” ensued. Monetary velocity collapsed. From September 2008 through March 2009, the economy shrank at a rate of 5.5%. That’s why we think the recession started in September 2008, not in December 2007.

Once the “real” recession started–the one that began in September–we consistently forecast it would be over by mid-2009, earlier than many (including the Federal Reserve) predicted. Now it looks like our V-shaped recovery is underway. When the NBER eventually gets around to declaring the recession end date, we think it will be May 2009.

So…historically, when recessions happen (and it’s part of the cycle of economics), if the free market is allowed to do its thing, most recessions start to back off at about 9-11 months. In 2000-01, we had 8 months of recession, in 1990-91 about 8 months. Counting from September of 2008 – perfect time to get a good panic going for the November elections – we’re talking 8 months, again.

But we were in “catastrophic” circumstances just two months ago! Obama was telling the banks he was the only thing standing between them and pitchforks! ACORN was giving people guided tours of AIG-executive communities and stirring up the exec-hate. Obama was telling us that the days of corporate jets flying people to Vegas for industry conventions or perks were over.

That was in February; this is May. Would we have come out of the “recession” (and what started it, anyway? I forget, was it the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac stuff?) without congress passing spending bills that project almost 10 trillion dollars of debt in our future?

Since almost no actual “stimulus” money has begun to “stimulate,” anything…I guess perhaps maybe we would have.

So, America-the-Gullible has been engaged in some unprecedented political theater, international panic and pageantry, domestic chaos and cajolery, beginning in September of 2008, and rounding out directly after the new president’s first 100 days in office.

You know what I think? I think a lot of bunkum got spread around in time to effect an election, and the “crisis” was not allowed to “go to waste.” Now that the President has -in his first hundred days- taken control of the banking industry, the automotive industry, education, the census, and possibly property rights and free speech in America, he’s figured out that if he doesn’t take the horses off the track and walk them a bit, he’s going to lose them. So now-while the Obama administration works out the first kinks of nationalized industry-we’re going to be given a little break; we’re going to get good news. We’re going to be reassured. The administration is going to, for a while, stop trying to scare the hell out of us, so that we’ll start spending money again, and regain a sense of normalcy, and a sense of trust.

People will get into summer, when they traditionally pay attention to almost nothing. They’ll forget about those “tea party” people, and whether they were actually on to something. The sensational headlines will recede, and so will memories of recent mistakes; fear will recede. The Obama’s will have their first vacation at Martha’s Vineyard and the press (so happy not to have to go to Crawford and watch Bush clear brush) will cover every presidential chest-exposition, and gush about Michelle Obama in a swimsuit.

The recession is “over” because timing is everything, and right now, it’s time to take it all down a notch after 100 white-hot days of drama.

The recession is also over because Michelle Obama, who for the most part is doing the First Lady gig very well, wore a pair of $540.00 sneakers to a food bank last week, and-because of the recession-this week had to do damage-control.

I’m not kidding. Check out the damn headline:

Michelle Obama brings out dress from President Obama’s first day in office
Now that’s how to dress in New York during a recession.

For her first visit here as First Lady, Michelle Obama recycled a wardrobe staple. She shopped her closet and picked a Tracy Feith dress that she’s worn before for a meet-and-greet at the U.S. mission to the UN Tuesday afternoon.

Mrs. O sported Feith’s flowered frock on her husband’s first full day in office back in January.

Earth to American Press: even Princess Diana wore her clothes out in public more than once. It’s not really the stuff of headlines, is it?

With the exception of Mrs. Obama’s own remarks about the power and value of being a role-model, which are good and sound genuine, the article is nausea-inducing gibberish:

“Seeing as how Michelle is the greatest First Lady we’ve ever known, not to take anything away from the other First Ladies, but I think its so fantastic that she’s tonight’s guest and leads the pack of influentials,” Winfrey told the Daily News.

Yeah, Abigail Adams, she was some slouch, eh? Dolly Madison? Jackie Kennedy? “Influentials” is a noun? Can’t Obama make Oprah an Ambassador and send her somewhere?

“She’s very warm. She’s very sane,” said “The View” co-host Joy Behar. “She’s not crazy like some people in politics.”

Behar would know, wouldn’t she?

“Michelle is incredible, I think she’s amazing,” said designer and Beatles scion Stella McCartney, who also made Time’s list. “The half-American in me wants to dress her.”

One of the most influential young women in the world and she can only come up with those overused gems “incredible” and “amazing.” And apparently the English half of her does not want to dress Michelle Obama. I thought we were all border-transcendent now and everyone loved us?

On being in the same category as Obama, Whoopi Goldberg quipped, “What does Michelle Obama think about being in the same category as Whoopi Goldberg? That’s the real question.”

Yeah. Of all the questions that need to be asked and answered, that’s the one, alright.

Gad! I am so glad I am a frumpy, middle-class, nothing special, non-influential woman who would never have to spend a milli-second in the company of any of these people. I’m sure I would eye-roll myself into a stroke, or something. And that would really suck, now that the recession is over, and…

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Peter

    The MSM and Mr. and Mrs. Obama need to get a room! It’s getting embarrassing to watch.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender B. Rodriguez

    if the free market is allowed to do its thing

    Free market? What’s that?

    We no longer have a free market, not when the government has controlling interests in the financial industry, not when the government (with the UAW) has controlling interests in the automobile industry, not when government is poised to control each and every other business by regulation of carbon dioxide. If this were normal times and the government a private company, it would be criminally prosecuted for antitrust violations.

    Indeed, if the UAW does get substantial ownership of Chrysler and Government Motors, it should be prosecuted for violations of antitrust laws for monopolization and restraints of trade, as well as violations of labor laws for unfair labor practices, in that the UAW has clear conflicts of interest in being both management and labor, and in having the Ford labor force controlled by its competitors.

    And then throw in all the securities laws violations from having government and labor unions running everything.

    The once free market is no longer free and, soon, it will no longer be a market. It will only be Obama putting on one of his various hats — Chavez or Peron or Lenin or Robespierre or Dear Leader or the Messiah — and issuing various diktats and the sycophantic Pravda press reporting how wonderful and glorious he is and the world has become ever since he came to be our salvation.

  • dmd25

    Anchoress you are on fire these days! I love reading what you write—except for the fact that it makes me even more mad. :) I wanted to gag yesterday at the reporting on the burger lunch (you’d think they could have at least eaten Mexcian on 5/5!). Then you bring attention to the fact that they reported that MO re-wore a dress. Ugh. I just don’t know how we are going to survive these next 3+ years.

  • http://mutnodjmetsmusings.blogspot.com/ Mutnodjmet

    See here

    My Friend, Professor Athena, wrote this today –

    The recession of 2008-2009 will likely be still the recession of 2010-2012. We saw how inflation at the point of no growth served incumbent Jimmy Carter, and it is quite likely to repeat itself by the 2012 elections if the current administration continues to insist on putting the cart in front of the horse by spending prior to growing new capital and investment in the economy.

    In government where the order of priority is everything, this administration sees carbon credits as more important than accounting credits on a balance sheet. If style were only substance, we would have one great President. Instead what we have is Jimmy Carter without the charming Georgia accent.

  • Windswept

    Your blog should be compulsory reading to everybody in the world Anchoress!
    Classic ending! :D

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender B. Rodriguez

    Re: “growing new capital and investment in the economy”

    Except you cannot grow new capital and investment in this climate. Who is going to invest in anything if government might come in and seize everything? Investments during this regime are throwing dollars away. To go back to Chrysler and Government Motors, who is going to buy bonds from these companies or otherwise lend money to them when the government puts even secured lenders at the end of the line and refuses to pay the money back, much less pay interest on top of it? Who is going to buy stock in these companies when the government comes in and wipes out the ownership interests of everyday shareholders?

    And don’t get me started on confiscatory taxation for those who have the evil audacity to actually make a profit on their investments.

    To invest, that is, to interject capital into the economy, is to risk having your investment dollars being stolen by the government. Better that you invest in a safe and put your money in that.

  • Gayle Miller

    Mr. Obama had only been in office a little over 2 months when I DID have a stroke – for real. And I had that stroke (a very mild one, thank goodness) because he hadn’t solved all our problems magically in a mere 80 days!

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  • Gina

    Anchoress, you did see this bit of over-the-top paean, right?

    The “Obama is the messiah” meme is yet with us.

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  • Terrye

    I refuse to watch most TV news. I tend to read on line or watch business news. If you watch business news you do not get the idea that the recession is over, far from it.

    I think the fawning over Michelle Obama and her husband is embarrassing and silly. But I also think more and more people are starting to notice that.

    If the Obama people claim that the recession is over, it will become more difficult to get people to agree to the ridiculous level of spending he wants. The American people might not notice the Tea Parties, but if there are enough of them in enough cities it will be difficult to ignore them entirely, especially if unemployment continues to rise.

    So right now, it might look good for Obama, but that does not mean it will stay that way.

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