Saturday, September 26, 2009
Trends show our recovery is not happening, despite media hype
by Larry Geller
The truth seems to be greatly devalued these days, along with everything else. I love it when I hear that we are turning the corner on this recession/depression because the stock markets might rise.
By any measure meaningful to most of us, the economy is getting worse, with no end in sight. But how to support that claim? An interesting method is to follow Google Domestic Trends. I’ll point you there and you can check out several of the indices. To go to Google’s tracking query graphs, click on the images. In each case, there is some discussion of what goes into the data.
First, luxury goods. These are not yachts, they are apparently what we might buy if we had lots of spare change (and jobs, and medical care, etc.).
Here is luxury goods. On the left is 2004, the right is 2009, and yes, the spikes are year-end holiday peaks. The slide isn’t over yet, folks.
How can one buy luxury goods without a job? Unemployment is a clear worry. Here’s Google’s graph tracking queries on unemployment.
Forget luxury goods. This Google graph is retail trade. No recovery in sight for this one.
Well, you may ask, we are counting on construction jobs, those “shovel-ready” projects that will be paid for by federal funds. Check it out. Nothing happening yet.
For Wall Street, it’s business as usual. For Main Street, no bonus this year. The president and Congress rushed to bail out the banksters and put them back in charge, with healthy bonuses, even better new stock options (they are the winners when the stock market rises, not us), and a new supply of recently repossessed homes to resell. That’s right, there’s not much incentive to re-finance someone and keep them in their home when you can take their home away from them instead.
That’s sick. What is also sick is how the banks are raising fees and interest rates ahead of the mild regulation Washington will impose on them in the future. What’s sick is that insurance companies will be the beneficiaries of healthcare reform instead of us.
What’s sick is that the banksters and insurance company criminals are flooding Washington with lobbyists and campaign contributions. Why should the Senate pass any reform that will hurt their buddies and financiers?
What’s sick is that our media convinced us that the problem is sub-prime loans instead of predatory lending. That they say that GM has been bailed out when the workers have lost and the stockholders are prospering.
We would be better informed if journalism were not a big business itself. As our economy decays, local media almost never suggests that taking back some of the tax cuts from the upper income yacht-buyers would help, and never hesitates to frame union give-backs as key to balancing the budget. Knowing that many readers take letters to the editor as a measure of public opinion, our local paper selects and prints letters filled with lies as though that is some kind of journalistic duty, turning discourse into propaganda.
The bailout was not for us, and there is no such thing as a
“jobless recovery.” It’s like we don’t count. And neither does the truth in today’s media world.