Busted: Bankers and The Global Economy

January 20, 2009

Economy: Unemployment & Opportunity

recessionTimes are not good for the United States right now, but this recession has not made a decisive turn for worse just yet this year. The unemployment rate, (see poll) 7.2 percent in December, remains below the average peak unemployment of 7.6 percent during the previous 10 post-World War II recessions. The nation has been in similar straits before, but has a measure of hope in focus today with the inauguration of a new president (see poll).

What has been so menacing is the real feeling coupled with the likelihood that the nation is headed for far worse. Indicators are that an enduring recession or depression is likely. The published government unemployment rate is expected to climb to 9% this year and is likely to eclipse that figure, even though the reality is that unemployment is much higher. Incomes are stagnant or declining. Jobs are scarce, with a decline of full-time employment that will actually pay the bills. Getting enough part-time jobs to get through this crisis isn’t an option. Business is down with little hope of any improvement for some time. The business economy is looking at lean times with capital goods purchases almost non-existent compared to the norm. Economic contraction is the only news that America has to look forward to for the next 2 years. Politicians say that Americans are now confronted with the fact that sacrifice is essential as Congress spends more taxpayer money than ever before.

making history

making history

The real fear is that America has lost (the illusion of) control. The fear continues that government will not overcome the economic blight nor will address the root cause that brought the blight into existence. Many Americans are thrilled with the present hope that Barack Obama holds, a new-era president of new ideas and vision to lead a divided and ineffective Congress. In the eyes of many, the inauguration is a time for celebration. The stale policy and menace of the Bush administration is a item of the past. Besides, America loves a party.

presidential-limoOver the last few decades, there has been an increase in the number of Americans that fall into the no man’s land of the labor market. American people are not employed, but they also don’t fit the government’s definition of the unemployed. This American subclass does not have a job, have not actively looked for work in the prior four weeks, and are not currently available for work. They are living by the skin of their teeth. Finding a job that can pay the bills is increasingly difficult. Right now the unemployment system that is in place is overwhelmed.

new era of security?

new era of security?

Americans long for order and security. We have been told for decades that personal virtues of hard work, study and planning for the future will be rewarded in the marketplace. That story has not proved to be true in the corporate world or the modern world that the U.S. government has created. We have been ripped off by the banking crisis and our 401k funds torn away from us.  Those that are retiring, saving for decades, are faced with an uncertain future.

Many Americans would feel utterly helpless were it not for Barack Obama. He is the hope of the nation which is both a burden and a grand opportunity.  He knows that he is fighting a raging economic storm. The fact that he isn’t just another white guy politician with the same old views inspires additional hope among many. ~ E. Manning


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