Huzzah! The worst U.S. recession since the Great Depression
is “probably over,” according to equivocal Federal Reserve Chairman Ben
Bernanke, who, you’ll recall, refused to declare the implosion of
the U.S. economy a year ago a “recession” pending further evidence, like, say, the
presence of at least three of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
But now the thing-that-dare-not-speak-its-name
is over! (Probably.) And what chance, after all, did the
Godless Recessionists have in the face of President Obama’s twin economic
stimulus bombings – his answer to Fat Man and Little Boy? FIRST, he continued
the red-carpet-bombing strategy of the previous administration by dropping
additional billions of dollars on our wealthy bankers. Take that,
THEN, to prove he meant
business, he unleashed a second wave of shock-and-awe-shucks billions on the automotive
industry. There’s more where that
from, scumbags! Don’t make me open up a can of “Cash For Clunkers!”
And just like that,
the Recession died, not with a bang but with a… wha…?!
Wait a minute, it’s over?! Not according to the facts, or as I like to think
of them, faceless
hordes of suffering humanity:
The jobless rate is 10.2%, a 26-year high.
Personal bankruptcies are up 24% year-to-year.
Foreclosures of U.S. homes exceeded 300,000
for each of the past eight months, and one
in four U.S. mortgages is "underwater" or "upside down," or insert your own colorful negative equity euphemism here.
Why do we remain in such an unflushed
toilet of dubious
statistics, despite the O-bombs scoring direct hits? partly because the banks, instead of loosening credit, took the devastating
blow of all that stimulus money and used part of it to buy
and, flush with even more customers – and despite federal interest rates
between zero and .025% – proceeded to
raise borrowing rates, penalties and fees to levels that would shame a Mafia loan
shark. Even after banks reported record windfall profits in the second quarter of
2009, credit remains tighter than a G.I. Joe’s kung-fu grip on America’s collective
As for auto manufacturers, having suffered the pummeling of a combined $100
billion assault from
the U.S. Treasury (motto: “Actually, you, the taxpayer”), GM and Chrysler have since slashed union benefits, laid
off workers, closed domestic plants, and continued
to outsource manufacturing to foreign laborers. They also discontinued entire
product lines, thereby freeing themselves from contractual obligations to
dealers and sticking them with the crappy cars already on their
lots. And now, demonstrating the stick-to-it-ness that made America indomitable
(with the possible exception of the auto industry), the auto industry continues
to manufacture the same kinds of cars and trucks consumers have continuously rejected –
the equivalent of ratcheting up production of rabbit ear antennas as the
national switch to digital TV loomed closer.
So rejoice, Americans! Even though
your own individual
circumstances remain unchanged, precarious or hopeless, we won the war against
the evil Recession! Sure, there are casualties: homeowners, car dealers, car
owners, seniors, recent college grads, anyone with a credit card, recently
downsized, under-employed... or, worse yet because of the stigma of invisibility,
“uncounted jobless,” those who simply stopped
looking for work, or are excluded from statistics because they stop counting
you when you die from exposure, despair, lack of health care, or as a result of a knife fight
over the worldly possessions in your shopping cart.
But for the rest of us,
“Recession” is a thing of the past. Like prosperity.
your back, buddy, or you'll get more of the same!