While Congress debates President Bush’s FY09 budget and tries to find the responsible middle ground between hopeless optimism and criminal self-delusion, economists are looking at the current fiscal crisis to determine whether the economy is:
a) at the beginning of a recession,
b) experiencing a mid-course correction, or
c) caught in a raging river of financial despair without a paddle, a life preserver or, for that matter, a Life Saver. (Not that fruit-flavored candy would help in a time like this, but I’ve found that eating a red one can turn a frown upside down. It’s my Happy Color.)
Many of you are already convinced this country is in recession, given that you’ve lost your job, or your home, or your savings. But I remind you that yours is merely anecdotal evidence of a downturn, and hardly germane to the broader economic conversation. You can’t just up and use the “r” word without proper credentials. That’s for the financial experts, who know what they’re talking about—since they talk about it all the time on television. And attractive people on television are never wrong.
According to these people—who, to their credit, live in at least one of the houses they own—a recession is only recognizable after it’s ended. I mention this only to reassure you that, as hard as things are for you right now, you really don’t have to worry. The experts will be just fine. Because they’re rich.
BUT RESPONSIBLE Americans need to get their economic house in order (those who still have a house), cut back, roll up their sleeves (those who haven’t sold their sleeves for food), and generally be more responsible with their spending.