There is a growing sentiment in the corporate media that the economy is finding its bottom and we’ll see recovery the rest of the year. Their indication? Economic leading indicators aren’t as bad as they have been. “It’s only a matter of time”, they say. Which is about the only thing they’re getting correct. It is only a matter of time. But they’re paying way too much attention to trends in the stock market and not enough attention to fundamentals. Take the last two “recoveries” from the last two recessions. The recovery from the 1991 recession took 16 months before the unemployment rate started going down. 16 months after the official declaration of the end of the recession, the unemployment rate finally responded. The recovery from the last recession was even worse – exacerbated as it was by insane Con economic policies (giving away money to people who are already rich doesn’t benefit the economy or workers). For 21 months (nearly 2 years) after the 8-month recession ended, unemployment continued to rise. It took 47 months (4 years) for the same number of jobs to be reported as were held back in February 2001. Which sounds good except for the U.S. population grew during those 4 years – meaning the percentage of people employed in 2005 was still less than it was in 2001. And those two recessions weren’t nearly as bad as this recession is.
I don’t think the fundamental problems that helped cause the last two recessions were ever honestly dealt with by policy makers. That goes for Democrats as well as Republicans. The rich kept looking out for themselves while trying to screw the non-rich. Few in political power have tried to stop that effort. Instead, many of them have helped. There are reasons fewer people are employed today than there were in 2001 – reasons that remain unaddressed. So when the chattering heads get all excited about a small turnaround in the stock market – where the rich continue to make money while the non-rich continue to try to keep themselves afloat – I don’t get too worked up. American corporations are firing American workers and closing American workplaces while at the same time keeping operations going in foreign countries, employing foreign workers. Where is the outrage for that happening? I hear nothing from the “build-the-border-fence” xenophobes, which reinforces the true intent of their complaints. It was never about American jobs – they’re still being lost despite the efforts to crack down on immigration across our southwestern border. It was and remains about people with different colored skin than the current majority of Americans.
So the numbers continue to get worse – and they’ll stay there for an awfully long time until more people figure out how they’re being screwed by American corporations. Their profits will rebound while most Americans’ suffering continues. It’s up to workers and citizens to decide when enough is enough. Until then, news like ‘Retail sales fall‘, ‘Jobless claims remain high‘ and ‘wholesale prices fall while producer prices rise’ will continue to come out. There is no sane reason economists should be cheering jobless claims at a rate of over 600,000 per month, just because last week’s reading is 10,000 or so less than the maximum number in late March. 600,000 per month is still over double what it was one year ago. It’s not like 580,000 of them are finding jobs in a couple of weeks, let alone jobs that pay even as well as the job they lost. Tens of millions of Americans are underemployed to some extent. That is creating a huge weight on the economy, preventing it from being as strong as it should be if corporations were employing Americans instead of people in foreign countries.
Whatever bottom might be found in the next year or two won’t mean spit to those millions of Americans or the rest of us as we’re all held back by conditions that corporations and Chambers of Commerce fight for. Unless more workers begin to stand up for themselves and their neighbors, we will all continue to be exploited. Because you can bet any sum on corporations joining together to fight for their “right” to proiteer off of us. As far as announcing recoveries go, economists don’t like dealing with the real world – their theoretical framework does what they want it to. So don’t expect their prognosticating to make much sense when it comes to examining the real economy.