It is official. The United States is in a recession.
And to make it that much more tasty, we have apparently been in one for about a year, according to a gaggle of economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
With the news, it’s easy to imagine high-fives a-plenty in the MSNBC break room – complete with a bunch of “See? I knew it!” and “Don’t worry! Obama will know what to do!”
Reporters, pundits, editors and producers are frantically (triumphantly) combing through their archives to see exactly when it was they first started talking about the inevitable Bush recession.
How early did they nail it?
Was it nine months ago? Two years? Who exactly was the first to peg it, and can we get him on the set?
“Tonight on HARDBALL … New York Times columnist Blah-Blah-Blahbinsky, who saw the Bush recession coming five years ago!”
Rule number one – if you continually predict gloom and/or doom, you will have the luck (and accuracy) of a broken clock.
And if you are one of those reflexive “I-hate-Bush,” all-cataclysm all-the-time pundits like, say, Paul Krugman from the New York Times, and if you are “gutsy” enough to predict an “on the horizon” calamity, it really doesn’t matter what the state of the economy is.
The unemployment rate could be below zero, every mortgage in America paid off and the need for public assistance extinguished, and it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference. If you can forecast an economic downturn – even through fifteen years of prosperity – sprinkle in a bit a class warfare, and fold in some down-arrow numbers, you will be billed as a “visionary,” or as “brilliant,” or even a “prophet” – or some combination of the three.
Historically, the pattern has been a steady one, particularly with a Republican in the White House … Doom is either coming just around the corner, or it has already set in and is so vast that it could take a long time before someone like Obama can set things right – if he can at all.
It is what it is.
And now, the eleven-month old recession is out of the closet.
To be fair – and intellectually honest – the indications of a full-fledged recession were tatooed on the collective foreheads of Americans everywhere for quite some time. Every single economic signpost pointed in that direction. Recall during the campaign, the Prez-El kept reminding us how horrible and unforgiving a nation this is.
If we weren’t in a recession, we certainly deserved to be, to atone for our heartlesness and greed.
Interesting to me, however, is that while the official announcement is brand new, the recession itself is about to celebrate a birthday.
For those who know baseball, it’s akin to saying that the United States has been put on the economic disabled list, retroactive to December, 2007.
From the USA Today:
The committee of economists responsible for determining the dates of business cycles said Monday that they met by conference call on Friday, Nov. 28 and “the committee determined that a peak in economic activity occurred in the U.S. economy in December 2007.
“The peak marks the end of the expansion that began in November 2001 and the beginning of a recession.”
While recessions are often described as two consecutive quarters of decline in economic output, that’s not the official definition.
Instead, the panel looks at a multitude of economic data, including gross domestic product, income, employment, industrial production and retail sales. The economy contracted in the July-September quarter at the fastest pace in seven years.
It’s an odd formula, to be sure. The recession was retroactively dated back to December, 2007 because that was when economic growth last peaked.
I’m not doubting it in the least, mind you.
It’s just interesting to me how the “experts” arrived at their conclusion.
The start of the recession followed a six-year expansion that began way back in November, 2001 – with the ruins of the World Trade Center still smoldering and the war in Afghanistan about a month old.
A whole lot of life has happened since then.
The fact is … The United States has been through recessions before.
This may very well be a tough one, but the nation will endure.
Of course, for the next few weeks, the Dems will be insufferable in their “I told you so” shoes, smug in that James Carville kind of blackboard-scratching way that makes you want to curse at nuns. Give the “I knew it!” brigades a couple of weeks to get the worst of it out of their systems …
-“I knew we were in recession in July.”
-“Well, I knew it in February.”
-“Yeah, well … we’ve been in a recession since Bush stole the election in 2000..”
No need to slit wrists now.
Obama will know what to do.