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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Finally--maybe--an end to the economy bashing

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Tribune

Thank God it's over.

No, I don't mean the longest presidential campaign ever, although I'm glad it's done. Even though some commentator Tuesday night, as soon as the votes are counted, will be the first to kick off the next campaign by proclaiming that so-and-so now is "well-positioned" for a run in 2012.

Instead, I'm talking about how we no longer will have to be instructed that we are in the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. That has been political hogwash, slopped on us by Barack Obama and the Democrats. If Obama wins Tuesday, the Great One no longer will need to scare us with that economic boogeyman and the positive news will start flowing. However, if John McCain wins (which we are assured he won't), look for Democrats and their media parrots to thwack his "failed economic policies" for our miseries, oh, woe is us, for another four years. Just as they blamed President George W. Bush's "failed economic policies," even though the same policies pulled us out of a bad recession that he didn't cause. Even though their president, Bill Clinton, was the first to push for the relaxation of mortgage loan requirements that led to the current wreck of a housing market. Truth is, we're not in the worst economic times since the Great Depression, when, at its peak, one out of four Americans was unemployed. Unemployment now, running about 6 percent, rose to more than 7 percent several times between the Depression and now, hit 9 percent in the mid-1970s and hovered a little less than 11 percent for some of the 1980s.

Yet, not letting facts stand in the way, Obama repeatedly deployed the Great Depression fabrication, which, in fact, added to our economic woes by eroding consumer confidence, stock market and housing values and credit availability. The collapse of the dot-com bubble and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks produced a recession that lasted 22 months (the Bush tax cuts helped pull us out of it). A recession in the early 1990s, brought on by a restrictive monetary policy, declining consumer sales, the insolvency of the government-backed fund guaranteeing savings-and-loan deposits and other factors still being argued, lasted 23 months. Those were nothing compared to the lengthy 1980s recession that featured 14 percent mortgage interest rates and lengthy gasoline lines. We had earlier recessions, even in the supposedly booming 1950s, but I guess those don't count either.

Sadly, many of my media colleagues have been struck by amnesia as they failed to report how we have gone through harder times, mindlessly repeating the Obama assertion as if it were a given. Keep it up long enough, and it will be a given, which is why I'm kind of hoping that Obama is elected so that it just might staunch the unremitting flow of predicted bad news.

Ever since Bush took office, we've had a ceaseless barrage of "we're-in-for-it-nows" from Democrats and liberal media. They have relentlessly repeated the r-word, even in good times, and soon enough, like a self-fulfilling prophecy and to Democratic good cheer, we got an economic slowdown. If you keep saying we're in a recession long enough, sooner or later, because of the economy's cyclical nature, you can claim that you're right, hurray, even though we still have not officially entered one.

Since I'm rash enough to challenge Obama's economic inventions, I'll go even further and suggest that the "recession" might well be over even before it started, or soon thereafter. The most recent gross domestic product numbers didn't tank as badly as the oracles predicted. Skyrocketing crude oil prices ("It's Bush's fault"), once considered the prime cause of our miseries, have plummeted. Funny how energy prices, when they are high, "ricochet like a deadly bullet through the economy," but when they nose-dive, it doesn't matter. Now, we're told, housing is really the problem. Except for the fact that housing sales, according to the data, have turned positive in the last month. But that, I gather, doesn't matter either because now it's tight credit that matters. Even though the credit markets have begun to loosen.

Not until Obama steps into the Oval Office will any of this be taken as a positive sign, and then guess who will get the credit for bringing us our newly discovered prosperity?


Steven said...

Hey Dennis...

I just finished reading your article and I want to leave a few comments. I don't claim to know it all, but I can't believe that any of us do (not even you). That's the preface to the questions/comments I am about to make.

In your article, you make it sound like Obama has fabricated this huge lie about these economic hard times. You didn't talk about the economic bailout that congress just handed wall street. I am pretty sure I read that all over the news and it wasn't just a fabrication.

It also seems that your outlook it to just ignore the problem and it will go away. I look at it like taking money out of the piggy bank over and over again. Before long, there is nothing left. Our national deficit continues to grow, while Clinton handed W a surplus. Oh the war not costing us anything? I suppose if we give all of our business to Haliburton and Lockheed Martin, it will make all ships rise in the tough economic times. Please!

I think that the biggest difference between Dems and Republicans is that the Democrats are willing to face the problems while the Republicans refuse to acknowledge the reality. (that happens in SO many situations)

Our current situation is not the fault of one party, but of both. It is also the fault of lazy US citizens who take their freedom for granted and don't hold their elected officials accountable for their actions (Ted Stevens for example). If our congress was held accountable for spending all of the earmarked funds on BS, we could use that money to solve our problems. Even in the bailout package, there was earmarking for ridiculous things!

As long as "We the people" are willing to accept this type of behavior from congress and willing to continue to let them run wild, then we are just getting what we asked for. Talk about accountability....

PS.... Good job for keeping a blog so people can tell each other how stupid they truly are! I love fostering discussion over politics.

Alex said...

1. The "economy bashing" is not a partisan activity. It was started by the Republican Bush administration aka Paulson. A quick Google search shows a number of quotes where McCain also implies that the economy is in dire straits—he suspended his campaign because of the situation!
2. The 2001 recession was actually one of the mildest in history lasting only 8 months, not 22, as you claim (see the NBER site).
3. We may well have officially entered a recession as the NBER typically dates recessions back months prior to the date of the announcement. In fact, most knowledgeable economists, pundits and market participants believe that had the official inflation and GNP measures not been manipulated over the last few decades, we would “officially” have been in a recession in late 2007.
4. Your contention that the current economic slowdown is a result of the media subserviently relaying the Dem’s contention that we are entering a recession. That it is merely a self-fulfilling prophecy is patently ludicrous. Please point me to any evidence that backs up your claim.
5. The increase in home sales in certain markets is hardly an indication of a housing market recovery. Home sales are up in certain markets due mainly to foreclosures, massive price reductions and home sale levels at historical lows the prior month. New home sales are down 33% year over year (US Census/HUD). Home prices are down 16.6% nationally (August Case-Schiller). And prices are still above historical pricing metrics, meaning home prices will continue to fall. If I were you, I wouldn’t use home sales as an indicator of economic health at this point.
6. You may very well be correct that this will turn out to be a short, shallow recession or never actually become a recession, but it would be nice to have a little backup to your argument. Financial indicator after financial indicator keeps being released refuting your theory. Additionally, your commentary shows a lack of understanding of economics and finance, poor backup for any of your arguments and, frankly, appears to no more than unfounded partisan rhetoric.

terrible dan said...

That clever Obama! He tricked the IMF, the European Union, John McCain, the United States Congress and the entire nation of Iceland into believing in this clever fabrication. What will that mischievous rascal do next?

Kramer said...

a big ditto on everything "Steven" said. The way you write (I would say "the way you reason" but you really don't), it's no wonder that one of the most conservative papers relieved you from their payroll. Since I voted for RWR in 1980, I have always agreed with the Tribune's presidential endorsement. So when they reversed course and endorsed a democrat (Obama), it really said alot about either Obama or McCain (or should we say McBush). What's funny about your column is that you have already pre-judged the next four years. I always thought that people who considered themselves journalists were supposed to look at things with an open mind; or at least claim an open mind. You have already quit on any claim of objectivity in your analysis/prediction, or whatever you want to call it. Perhaps you should run for office; you would make a great Oberweis type dupe; but with a penchant for the pen.

george said...

Your article this morning was a refreshingly honest analysis. It was a "common sense" article on the events of the past and present situations occurring in our society. The mainstream media, through lies, deception and outright unprofessional reporting, have destroyed their credibility which has never been too high. This is common in this state which is the most corrupt in the U.S.. The national media has resorted to similar tactics in order to put "their man" in the presidency. What ever happened to balanced, professional reporting?

Barak Obama's lack of integrity, honesty and moral values is very disturbing. His personal associations have not been stellar as well. America will recover from our economic and financial troubles and the Democrats will boast of how they were our "savior", but my greatest concern is how a President Obama will have a devasting effect on the future of this nations moral state due to the absence of his personal moral code. Any nation without a strong moral code will not be impactual in this world even though they appear to be strong economically and financially. Other comments to your article dealt with the issues at hand pertaining to the econmy and financial situation and I found them interesting, but we can't, as a nation, set aside the moral implications that should be the bedrock of any productive society.

Bill Gallagher said...

Re: Column in the Chgo. Tribune 11/4/08

Mr. Byrne:

You are a typical republican pundit that sticks his head in the sand and then tries to
comment on the real world from his own little hole.

In the real world, we have thousands of people losing their jobs daily. General Motors and Ford are going broke. There are record setting foreclosures. Airlines are struggling just to stay in business. Health care is unaffordable for millions. Our national debt has doubled since George “W” came to power. Soup kitchens are running out of food and funds. The stock market is plummeting. To top it off, young men and women continue fighting and dying in an unwarranted war financed with borrowed money.

You are living in an ostrich world! Having a good job, health care and financial security, you have the audacity to say we are not in a recession and accuse the democrats of making it up to get elected!

Mr. Byrne, you are the type of republican that says, “I’m doing well. Why should I
be concerned about anyone else?” “Hurrah for me, to hell with everyone else!”

I feel sorry for you. You have no compassion for your fellow man.

I hope you never lose your car, job, 401K, home or health, and that no one in your family is ever in need. Should that ever happen, you will have to come out of your hole and face the real world.

In this regard, you inspire me. I propose the new symbol for the republican party be the ostrich. The Bush administration has laid huge eggs. When confronted, they bluster and run away like a BIG CHICKEN to bury their heads in the sand, and leave the challenges to be resolved by others.

Bill Gallagher