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If This is Recession, Send More!


Engram, the proprietor of Back Talk, does his usual stellar job finding and presenting facts, this time about the USA economy. His assessment of those facts:

the facts have just not supported the idea that the economy was falling into a recession despite the mortgage crisis. GDP grew at 0.9% in the first quarter and at 3.3% in the second quarter.

My contribution to the comments on that post:

In order to sustain the belief in recession, one must abandon the academic definition. Engram offers only one rendition of macro facts, yet I have found no other rendition which contradicts his conclusion.

If, however, words can be taken by some relative personal definition, recession is essentially how one feels about things. Then we may be in recession. Trouble is, then "recession" doesn't really mean anything. Is policy best aimed at making us feel better? And how do we make some feel better without making others feel worse?

Facts are not just stubborn. They are distinct from feeling and distinct from judgments about them.

Further, if we set policy by personal feeling, my own experience (and that of my acquaintances) is at odds with the mental recession. Several government employees and contractors have never seen such a workload--with overtime pay. A small business owner can't believe all the orders received. In a post-retirement career he never intended to have to work so hard. Despite the alleged "meltdown/crunch" I was able to refinance my own mortgage this year, saving 3 points and reducing my payment 25%. Another lower-skill union pally is amazed at how much money she is accumulating while working the same hours as years ago.

If this is recession, please send more!


It is true a couple of people in my circle wish things were going better. That is always the case. Myself, I wish fuel was still cheap, and eggs were a dime a dozen. The creative destruction of a dynamic economy implies change. Constant and sometimes rapid change. Those doing well today once had harder times, and those truly hurting are not consigned to perpetual suffering. Adaptation is necessary, and does have its own cost.

Yet, on the whole, by more arbitrary academic definitions, we are on a long-term multi-century path of increasing wealth and comfort. Facts are at least as stubborn as the human will to improve.