Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

MaxedOutMama echoes many of my thoughts on recent economic activity and the shameless way our President has been manipulating these issues:

In January, I was writing that fundamentals had taken an upswing, and that the US economy was going to try to resurge in the third quarter.

The numbers that came in for January and February did show what P-Nat projected, which was a gradual bottoming pattern overall and the beginning of some upticks. Bloomberg today:

Orders for U.S. durable goods unexpectedly rose in February on a rebound in demand for machinery, computers and defense equipment.
...
Combined with reports showing improvements in retail sales, residential construction and home resales, the figures indicate the economy is stabilizing after shrinking last quarter at the fastest pace in a quarter century. Stepped-up efforts by the Obama administration and Federal Reserve to ease the credit crunch may help revive growth later this year.

Last night Obama took credit for these events, but the stimulus package had nothing to do with it - the effects of that haven't even hit the economy yet. Very little of that package will be felt in the first half of 2009, in fact, and less than 25% of the effect will be felt in 2009. I would also like to point out that at the time the stimulus bill was being debated, the administration was claiming that the economic emergency was so dire that the representatives and senators shouldn't even be allowed to read the thing before they voted on it. Instead, this was what was really going on in the economy.

She also shares my concerns that the recovery may in fact be undone by recent government actions, not the least of which is the Weimar Republic-like printing of money to buy back government bonds and help fund a mushrooming deficit.  In fact, she and I must be fairly attuned, as she wrote:

Last week I was so sick at heart that I didn't think I could continue writing this blog.

I too felt almost exactly the same last week.  Never have I been so depressed about the direction of domestic policy (I might have felt about the same around 1978, but I was only 16 and had other things on my mind).  Every day last week there seemed to be a new policy directive crazier than the last.  I had a real feeling like I was living through the last half of Atlas Shrugged, where an increasingly desperate government initiates a series of policies with disastrous long-term effects crafted just to survive a little longer in office.  The only difference was several years in the book seemed to have been compressed into about a week of real time.

Fortunately, I am basically a happy soul and I seldom stay depressed long.  I just did what I always do when I despair for the world - spent some time with my family and concentrated on what I could fix, namely the health of my own business.

  • http://www.tinyvital.com/blog John Moore

    Economic policy is changing much more rapidly now than it was in 1978. The current pace of change (and talking about more change) is frightening.

    If I thought the Obama administration were competent enough to do it, I would suspect them of trying to wreck the economy.

  • Shenpen

    I advise not to be too depressed about all this. See, to put things into perspective, amongst the bigger Western countries the one most f*cked up economic policy-wise is Italy. Still, I spent about 3-4 holidays around Florence and found the general quality of everyday life is still agreeable and enjoyable.

    Even copious amounts of governmental stupidity cannot really suppress the desire of millions to live good lives, they find ways to work around that.

    Only downright violent evil (like, Mussolini or Saddam) can achieve that and you guys are far, far away from that situation.

  • LoneSnark

    I would like to second Shenpen's remark. The American people are renound at their ability to minimize the negative impacts of government behavior. Afterall, even the Great Depression could have been much worse. Crushed from all sides and dispite Washington's best efforts, Americans still managed to survive and even prosper (not prosper in a 19th and 20th century sense, but definitely prosper in a 16th century sense).

  • http://oddcitizen.com Martel Firing

    Regarding the strangeness of the economic numbers, we appear to be thinking along the same lines. See Oddcitizen.com where I also reference similar observations by bizziblog.com.

    The stock market tends to be like a spring, ready to move in one direction or another, but only when triggered by some stimulating event or news. In the case of this economy and government, could it be that the leftists have wound up the spring for years without much notice and now the Obamites have supplied the triggering event? (One can say the same about earthquakes.)

  • steep

    Hey America
    Change is now here
    Hope becomes fear

  • TXJim

    Shenpen - Yes we rebounded in the past. Because we had men who had balls. What is in doubt today is whether or not anyone has the balls to stand up.

  • benzo

    I envy your optimism. Being 26 years of age, I cannot share it. They halt every correction(recession) that comes along. The trends are leftish. Somebody somewhere must pay for the largess; be it public or private. I have a very uncomfortable feeling that it will be my generation that will pay, even though we did not vote for the vast majority of public entitlements. That was those pesky baby boomers.

  • rox_publius

    I'm 34 and quite agree with benzo.

    Not fond of the boomers as a generation.

    Not a little bit

  • Stan

    Ditto on the boomers. I get the feeling the generations younger than the boomers don't share that sense of entitlement. Everybody's asking for this that and the other benefit, when people my age are like, "Dude, just get out of my face and leave me alone."

  • Link

    Obama keeps talking about "investing," but investing is not the same as spending. When you invest you intend to create an asset that gives you future returns you wouldn't have had but for the investment.

    Obama's plans area all about spending. There's very little in his plans that can be characterized as investment. When it is "investment" ... it's often a bad investment from the get-go ... a lot of his energy plans for example will put money into boondoggles.

    Obama identifies health care costs as the big problem, but other than to propose more than $600B in new spending we haven't heard a single detail about a single cut in healthcare.

    So I'm back to my standard rant ... is Obama a deluded sh*thead ... or a Machiavellian agent of Alinksy that wants to kill the America we know ... or both.

    ... and it's not just Obama. We have a two-headed beast in DC ... it keeps sucking in more and more money and power from the rest of the country ... and it's become almost unaccountable. Most of the members of the House represent their party and connected special interests ... they don't represent the people of their district in any meaningful way. The Senate isn't much better. That's why pork spending is so bad ... we get bought off with trinkets. The underlying cause is outrageous gerrymandering of Congressional districts. The Supreme Court could have curtailed this, but failed us.

    I'm 51, but never expect to get a dime from Social Security / Medicare. Our federal government makes Bernie Madoff look like a piker ... not an original observation by me, but still quite true.

  • HS

    Elders, or baby boomers in this case, will have to be taken care of one way or another. It is our responsibility, it is just the nature of things. In most countries, it is the family. In the US, it is the younger generation.