So, let me see if I have this right: some group of eggheads back east that fancies itself the arbiter of economics (NBER, which apparently stands for National Bureau of Egghead Research) puts out a news release to the media that the recession is over. And not only is the recession over, it ended 15 months ago, in June of ’09.
Horse puckey. Or, as one economics blogger commented to the L-A Times, “hallucinatory news.”
I don’t know about you, but it occurs to me that these NBER folks who apparently determine if we’re in a recession or not, and when it started and when it ended, would do well to explain to us which planet’s economy they’re measuring, or change their definition of what a recession is. I don’t know what it’s like in your neighborhood, but in mine, June of ’09 was no time for celebration. As I understand it, though, the NBR folks say June ’09 was the bottom of the drop that started in December of ’07. From June of ’09 on, things have been “getting better.”
I’ll believe that when my friend who’s a skilled cabinet maker goes back to full-time work and not just picking up odd jobs here and there. Last time I checked, unemployment was still going UP, and under-employment was still running rampant in the “man-cession.”
Seth Godin, a smart marketing guy whose blog a lot of communications people read, says there are two recessions going on. One is gradually ending – the cyclical recession which we have all the time that comes and goes, which isn’t fun but isn’t permanent. But Godin says the other recession going on is permanent, the one he calls the recession of the industrial age. He observes the “factory” work we did is now being mechanized, outsourced, or eliminated; buyers have easy access to lower prices and many more choices; and thus, the middle class jobs that existed making stuff are gone and not coming back.
Godin says the industrial revolution has given way to the networked revolution, creating a lot of change and a lot of new opportunities, but it’s not going to provide millions of “brain-dead, corner office, follow-the-manual middle class jobs.” Pretty scary talk, but when you look around and see what’s happening at Wolf here in Madison or Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee, with labor agreeing to huge concessions, you know Godin may be onto something.
I guess I’m very much a part of this “networked revolution.” Two years ago, I was doing this, the sort of stuff you’re reading right now, for a company that continues to exist in its present form because its prior generation of ownership and management generated a sizeable fortune, which is now keeping it afloat. In one of my other “jobs”, I gather and report Wisconsin news for a company in Colorado which exists only on the internet. Their “physical plant” is a small office suite in Boulder, not a huge new building full of offices and studios on the west side of Madison.
Godin says the sad irony is that everything we do to prop up the last economy gets in the way of profiting from this new one. I think he’s got a good point there.