Follow us:

Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

September 20, 2010 at 10:30 AM

Tell me the recession’s over. Tell me another one

I return with good news. The recession ended in June.

Of 2009.

This is not a joke but the pronouncement of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the group given the dismal but important task of “officially” dating the beginning and end of recessions, The NBER, a group of respected academic economists,didn’t color itself in glory in the run-up to its official call of the recession’s start. It didn’t take a Ph.D. to know the economy was very sick well before December 2007. The new statement will only make average Americans wonder if any common sense remains in the ranks of those who guide and watch the economy.

The problem with this entire slapstick is that most Americans doubt the recession is over. And with good reason. Jobs are especially in short supply: When this or that report says that a statistic is the worst since 1948 or World War II, that’s because modern measurement began then. So we’re talking unemployment stress not seen since the Depression. Poverty is rising. A record number are on food stamps.Consumer spending is anemic, prolonging state and local budget crises, maintaining a feedback loop that keeps recovery from taking hold. Some fundamental illnesses are raging inside the American economy, and the idea that it really, really is a recovery, but with lagging jobs, incomes, small-business lending, etc. etc. becomes laughable.

In addition, the yardsticks of general prosperity seem to have changed as the economy has become more complex, global and unequal. The many resets made and postponed by this severe meltdown have created different dynamics, making it difficult to distinguish the cyclical from the secular. We’re not going back to 1992 or 2001. Thus measures such as the NBER’s become ever more irrelevant.

If it makes you feel any better, most of the causes of the recent recession are still in place.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

The NBER

Kept their jobs through the bad times

What do datres matter?

Comments | More in Great Recession

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►