STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Rumors of Economic Recovery Overstated
By Staff News & Analysis - September 01, 2009

Everybody from House economic advisor Christina Rober to CNBC "infotainer" Jim Cramer (pictured left) have declared the end of the Great Recession. But can the economy really recover from a historic real estate bubble, unprecedented levels of debt and the collapse of the global credit system this fast. … While some measures of economic activity have improved, many observers suggest it is largely due to massive government intervention. – The Commercial Appeal, James Overstreet

Dominant Social Theme: Some straight talk …

Free-Market Analysis: This sort of article is too rarely available in the mainstream media, in that it departs from the happy talk that has characterized the "recovering" economy in the past six months. Stock markets have run up hard, powered by trillions in central bank money printing, to be sure, and this in turn is said to be trickling into the larger, real economy that will benefit eventually.

Here at the Bell, we have often pointed out that if the powers-that-be wanted to apply maximum juice to the economy, a tax cut or some other form of monetary stimulation provided directly to the consumer would have been the greatest help. But that was not to be. Central bankers, whose actions control the money supply, have no incentive to encourage the thought that anything other than a powerful banking sector is important to a growing economy. It is only by trickling money through commercial banks and into the stock market that the economy can be saved. Or so the logic goes.

Once the money has been injected, the mainstream media goes to work tracking the green shoots and finding the silver lining in the black cloud. Yes, it is that trite. Every data-stream is examined for positive signs, and economic indices are dissected with an eye toward squeezing out the positives. Within this context, the above article provides a partial corrective, as follows:

Housing sales have shown improvement but the increase was largely due to the government's tax credit for first-time home buyers, which expires on Nov 30.

Consumer spending edged up in July. But the increase was fueled by the popular Cash for Clunkers program, which has ended.

In fact, the economy faces some tough head winds. Unemployment is still rising, personal income is still falling and personal consumption is flat.

Despite rosy scenarios being touted by politicians and media pundits, many financial analysts are convinced the crisis is far from over with the worst is yet to come.

Good for columnist Overstreet. He has departed from the happy talk trend. Of course, we logically agree with him. The numbers that are supposed to show a bounce back from last year's difficulties can be construed any one of a number of different ways. The government as a matter of fact, certainly in America, has never seemingly been so inextricably bound in to the business fabric as it is today. A lot of what passes for green shoots, as Overstreet shows us, is merely the result of continued tinkering and quasi-monetary stimulus.

It is unfortunate that Overstreet does not go farther. He could begin to analyze the underlying causes of what's gone wrong. However to do so he would have to dig a good deal deeper than he seems willing to do. He would need to start with central bank overprinting of money, explain the business cycle itself and then mention the problems ahead with commercial mortgages and derivatives. In doing so, the columnist would have to explain the real history of money and how we got where we are in the West.

It really is quite a spectacle in our humble opinion. A great many citizens of the West still do not understand what their money really is, nor how economies work, nor how business cycles function. So many sophisticated people are seemingly Keynesians without even knowing who he is, and can provide Austrian economic rebuttals without even being aware of free-market thinking and its models.

On the bright side, the Internet has educated millions as to the free-market economics and that knowledge continues to spread. It is because of the Internet, that the above article does not qualify as all that hard-hitting or tough. Two decades ago, such an article would have represented tough-minded thinking, but today many readers understand that the underlying issues are far more complex and powerful than what is being pointed out even here.

After Thoughts

In 2008, the latest and greatest attempt at creating a pure, global fiat-money system collapsed. Living as we do, dear reader, at the epicenter or eye of the storm, we have not yet noticed the ripples spreading around us. Most of us likely still believe that the situation, while once extreme, seems to have rectified itself in short order. Overstreet is not so sure. He thinks many dangers to the economic recovery still lurk. We, on the other hand, do not believe that there is an economic recovery, nor that there will be one. At best, the collapsed financial system will lurch from one crisis to another, from debt deflation to hyperinflation, from a credit-crunch to an abundance of speculation. Eventually, we believe, we will arrive at the safe harbor of a free-market money standard. Now that's a story we'd like to see written in the mainstream press.

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