Just in case you missed the news, it's official: The recession is over. Or so say the Business Cycle Dating Committee of The National Bureau of Economic Research and the Obama administration media machine. Actually, it's been over since June 2009. Yes, you read that right: June 2009!
Is it just me, or did anyone else miss the recovery, too?
Granted, don't wince that the NBER's committee of eight made that economic conclusion on a quick conference call the day before the president's town hall-type CNBC meeting last week, during which he defended his failing economic plan. What convenient and coincidental timing!
If the recession ended and recovery began in June 2009, the first problem is: What is that saying about the wisdom and effectiveness of most of the feds' borrowing, bailouts and stimulus packages around and especially since that time? According to NBER's own conclusions, the feds' financial rescues were not only unnecessary because we were already "in recovery" but also as useful as a drop of oil in an already well-lubed steamboat engine.
And if the recession was over before stimulus monies were dispersed, then they failed twice. First, they borrowed from future generations and foreign countries to stop the recession's plunge into the abyss, which was needless because we were not in a commerce chasm. And secondly, they failed because the stimulus loans were poised as the remedy to stop the rise of unemployment past 8 percent, which is now 9.7 percent.
Just this past weekend, Nassim Nicholas Taleb -- financial scholar and author of "The Black Swan," which the U.K. newspaper The Times described as one of the 12 most influential books since World War II -- told a Montreal audience that Obama's stimulus solutions actually weakened the national economy: "Obama did exactly the opposite of what should have been done. He surrounded himself with people who exacerbated the problem. You have a person who has cancer, and instead of removing the cancer, you give him tranquilizers. When you give tranquilizers to a cancer patient, they feel better, but the cancer gets worse."
And what about the 15 months of America's economic chaos since June 2009? Have we experienced one iota of the recovery that NBER's website reports: "The trough (in June 2009) marks the end of the declining phase and the start of the rising phase of the business cycle"?
Would NBER really consider the following to be "rising" signs -- all of which have occurred in just the 15 months since that alleged June 2009 gutter ball economic trough -- in the "business cycle"?
--The national unemployment rate is at 9.7 percent, essentially unchanged from a year ago. Thirteen states have a 10 percent or higher unemployment rate -- with Nevada leading the way at 14.1 percent, followed by Michigan at 13.1 percent, California at 12.4 percent, Rhode Island at 11.8 percent and Florida at 11.7 percent.
--The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris concludes that the United States' unemployment rate will not fall to pre-recession levels until at least 2013.
--The U.S. Commerce Department reported that new home sales fell 12.4 percent in July, the slowest pace on record, dating back to 1963.
--The National Association of Realtors said existing home sales in June (2010) dropped a record 27.2 percent, to an annual rate of 3.83 million units, the lowest level since May 1995.
--Foreclosures are up 4 percent, with more than 300,000 filings for foreclosure in each of the past 17 months -- and a record 24.5 percent increase in foreclosures in July alone.
--One in 10 homeowners faces foreclosure -- with 9.9 percent of homeowners behind by at least one mortgage payment.
--Of the $1.4 trillion of commercial real estate debt coming due by the end of 2014, roughly 52 percent is attached to properties that are underwater.
--Forty-five percent of 401(k) participants who took a hardship withdrawal in 2009 took another one in 2010.
Sounds and feels like recovery to me. Doesn't it to you, Homer?
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs recently said that the economy hasn't been stronger in the past two years than it is now. He couldn't be more wrong. The unemployment rate in 2008 was 6.1 percent; it's now 9.7 percent. The median home price was $237,000 in 2008; it's now $204,000. The Dow Jones industrial average was 11,500 in 2008; it's now 10,700. The $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, the $862 billion stimulus, the health care takeover and various expenditures by the feds under the guise of financial reform haven't "saved or created" 3.8 million jobs -- but they have placed $3 trillion more debt upon the heads of your children and your children's children.
Of course, the NBER committee gave itself an out just in case its economic forecasting was incorrect, with these remarks: "The committee decided that any future downturn of the economy would be a new recession and not a continuation of the recession that began in December 2007."
So I guess -- if one considers the economic bullets listed above -- according to NBER, we're already in a double-dip, second economic recession!
I mean, if we missed the end of the first recession and the beginning of the recovery in June 2009, is it possible we also have missed the beginning of the double-dip recession?