Monday, September 20, 2010

The Great Recession, RIP?

So, the so-called “Great Recession” is officially over, eh?

Forgive me if I’m not in a partying mood.

The Great Recession, in fact, ended a year ago in July, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. They’re not exactly celebrating. Here’s the nut from their news release:

[T]he committee did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity. Rather, the committee determined only that the recession ended and a recovery began in that month.

So it’s kind of a looking for the silver lining in the clouds moment, I assume. And as you read more deeply into their news release, you really, really have to look for any glint of silver.

The committee decided that any future downturn of the economy would be a new recession and not a continuation of the recession that began in December 2007.

So whee. We’re on the uptick. But you know, given the cyclical nature of our economy, there are likely to be more downticks. But at least future downticks won’t be added to the Great Recession’s duration.

What LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley said waaaay back in 1998 still sticks with me:

Now, brethren, I want to make it very clear that I am not prophesying, that I am not predicting years of famine in the future. But I am suggesting that the time has come to get our houses in order.

So many of our people are living on the very edge of their incomes. In fact, some are living on borrowings.
We have witnessed in recent weeks wide and fearsome swings in the markets of the world. The economy is a fragile thing. A stumble in the economy in Jakarta or Moscow can immediately affect the entire world. It can eventually reach down to each of us as individuals. There is a portent of stormy weather ahead to which we had better give heed.

I hope with all my heart that we shall never slip into a depression. I am a child of the Great Depression of the thirties. I finished the university in 1932, when unemployment in this area exceeded 33 percent.
My father was then president of the largest stake in the Church in this valley. It was before our present welfare program was established. He walked the floor worrying about his people. He and his associates established a great wood-chopping project designed to keep the home furnaces and stoves going and the people warm in the winter. They had no money with which to buy coal. Men who had been affluent were among those who chopped wood.

I repeat, I hope we will never again see such a depression. But I am troubled by the huge consumer installment debt which hangs over the people of the nation, including our own people.

There have been temptations to get more debt. Instead, we’ve listened to him and, thanks mostly to Michelle, we have instead put money away for the future. Not nearly enough, but we have made a start. The roiling stock markets have eaten away at our savings, but still we will save and hope against hope that optimism will return.

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