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Archive for September 18th, 2009|Daily archive page

Economists. And Everyone Else.

In Economy, Media on September 18, 2009 at 12:04 am

Ben Bernanke on 8/19/09 - Doug Mills/The New York Times

Are economists out of touch?  By definition, I’m afraid so.  Take a 60 Minutes feature two years ago where Alan Greenspan can be seen enjoying reading labor and manufacturing statistics over breakfast, while his wife, Andrea Mitchell, looks on, swooning over how adorable she thinks it is.

I’m not sure it’s their fault though.  It’s just their nature, and someone’s going to follow this stuff.  The disconnect arises when economists irritate laypeople with statements like these: “The recession is very likely over at this point.”  That was Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaking Tuesday at the Brookings Institution.

Okay, so I did extract his quote out of its natural habitat (and unlike other media entities I am admitting to it), but the gist is still the same: “Even though from a technical perspective the recession is very likely over at this point, it’s still going to feel like a very weak economy for some time as many people will still find that their job security and their employment status is not what they wish it was.”  This technical analysis may be accurate, but it does little to help the national mood.

Bernanke’s not the first economist to put bookends on the recession, but he is the best known.  These economists called the recession in May in Forbes. Some outlets have been teasing the story for a few months now.  And the IMF’s top dog said a month ago that the global recession is over and the recovery has begun.  The consensus is that America was the caboose entering this tunnel, but still, as interdependent as today’s world is, can that really be so?  And what’s the benefit in saying it?

A huge portion of the population is still reeling from the fall and struggling to get up.  It’s not like four years after Katrina the new head of FEMA would be so insensitive as to call a press conference to say, “We’re all back to normal!”  Can you imagine what Tyler Durden would do to him? Read the rest of this entry »