Ground Hog Ben: Fed Declares Depression Over

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That’s it folks. Wrap it up. This here recession…er…correction…ER depress…oh, whatever…is over.

Time to put away your pens and papers, boys and girls.

Professor Bernanke says there’s going to be no test. You hear that? Or maybe, there’ll be one little teeny-weeny take-home. Better yet, you just get to write in and ask for whatever grade you want.

Billy Gross, Bobby Rubin, and Jamie Dimon, you boys get A’s, as usual.

(The rest of you clods better learn to suck up if you want A’s.)

Everyone else gets B’s….

No one fails. Ain’t life great?

Whew. That depression stuff was so, well, depressing. Glad it’s over.

There. That wasn’t so bad, after all, was it, seeing as how it was supposed to be the worst one in half-a-century and the sky was falling and we were all going to live in the Ozarks or Patagonia on canned peas and raw mackerel until we got raptured up… and really all that happened was some green paper got printed and we had to listen to a lot of speeches about schools an’ stuff in Barackistani (not as weird a lingo as Bushlish, but just as daft) and then, bingo, everything’s back to normal again.

Yessir. The economy is healthy.

Grade A, certified organic, flu-vaccinated healthy.

A bit weak. But wholesome.

Except for jobs, that is. No jobs.

What kind of recovery is that, you ask?

What kind? It’s the new deadbeat, can’t-get-a job, rocketing-inflation, trashed-currency, can’t-sell-my-house, can’t-make-my-payments, bankrupt-mafia-government, kazillions-in-debt, trade-warring-with-China recovery — that’s what it is. Glad you asked.

It’s kind of a new thing. No one’s really tried it so far, but they’re doing it in Europe, we hear. And maybe a bit of it in Asia. But it’s back here in the US of A that we’ve got the whole thing down. Right here in Washington. And from now until the economy gets really going, we’ll be getting the full Bernanke on it — at least, that’s the buzz.

Yep. Professor Ben’s all but promised us he’s going to be inflating grades all around this time.

No F’s. No D’s. Heck, no C’s. It’s A’s and B’s all the way. That’s the way they do it in Princeton. It’s a self-esteem thing.

Like that pep talk back on March 16, when Ben first spotted those green shoots.

Now it’s September 15 (exactly six months later), and Ben says the recession is over.

He says it’s all in the numbers from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The numbers say the recession ended this summer or fall.

Man, the things they can predict these days.

Ole Ground Hog Ben. Puts his head out and the sun comes up.

Amazing. Who knew you could even keep score of an economy?

Kind of like a lacrosse game at Princeton. Swat. Swat. Swat. Take that, Harvard.

Of course, being a Princeton professor and religious and a pretty nice guy from all we’ve heard, Ben couldn’t bring himself to tell an outright whopper. He let the truth out dribble-drabble at the end.

Something about “impaired credit”…. and “head winds”…. and “digging out from personal debt”…. and “ongoing adjustments”….. and “unwinding massive stimulus efforts”…. and “risking igniting inflation”…. and “lingering high unemployment”…. and “sluggish outlook”…. and “higher gas prices” and…. “consumer reluctance”…. and “widespread job insecurity”…. and “significantly impaired credit”…. and “less lending”…. and “higher costs”…. and “deep freeze in credit”…. and “fearing defaults.”

But they put that way down in the report, after paragraph 5 (“Bernanke: Recession is Over,” Kansas City Star, Sept. 15, 2009).

Before that, they just had him muttering something about the economy “underperforming.”

Yeah, underperforming. Like the old geezer just needs a shot of Viagra.

But don’t let any of that bad stuff worry your little head, ’cause you know, the numbers say we’re okay. The numbers say the recession…er correction…er depress…oh, whatever…is over.

And numbers don’t lie, you know.

Like August retail sales. That went up by 2.7% over July.

(I know, I know, cash-for-clunkers, high gas prices, blah blah blah. Gimme a break. It was still up wasn’t it?)

And the ISM numbers are good too.

August PMI (Purchasing Manufacturers Index) came in at 52.9, 4 percent points higher than July.

(A number over 50 indicates an expanding economy. Below 50 is a contracting economy. This is the first time since June 2007 that the number’s been over 50.)

Oh you don’t say!

And New Orders came in at the highest reading since December 2004.

You know what that means. Businesses are stocking up. GDP is on its way up.

Woo-hoo. Ride that gravy train. Ka-ching! Bada boom!

Hold just a moment though.

What’s this Non-Manufacturing Index stuff here?

Oh, you mean those bozos in medicine and law and teaching and real estate and construction and finance and retail?

Yeah, consumers.

You know, guys who consume stuff. That stuff the manufacturing guys are producing.

Seems like they still aren’t doing so good.

So who’s going to buy all the stuff?

Not consumers. They’re cutting back.

You don’t know? That’s what comes of being a grade-inflated B student.

I bet Bob Rubin knows. And Jamie Dimon. And Bill Gross. And Warren Buffett.

And all their hedge-fund managing, private-equity-directing, leveraged-buying-out, sovereign-wealthy speculator buddies lining up to start the casino all over again.

They know whose money they’re using to do it too.

Hey, Professor Bernanke. Can we see you outside class? We have some questions….

Lila Rajiva [send her mail] is the author of the groundbreaking study, The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American Media (MR Press, 2005), and the co-author with Bill Bonner of Mobs, Messiahs and Markets (Wiley, 2007). Visit her blog. All responses to email are posted at my blog in the comment section after the relevant article, with personal information omitted to ensure privacy.

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