Thursday, September 23, 2010

My views on the current recession

We might first begin with some semantics; is what everyone's calling the “great recession” a depression instead of just a recession? I guess, the government doesn't want to spook us further, adding more despair to our collective mood and has made a conscious decision of naming this economic catastrophe a “great recession” instead of a “small or mid-sized depression,” but again that's just a trick for naming bad things.

This said, my first observation is that we had, ever since the 1974 energy crisis, began to dig a hole for ourselves by spending too much and paying no attention to the economic consequences on splurging on fossil fuels, which habit has since turned into a monster with a cortege of ugly heads. We have to clean up our act and begin to catch up; this will take time and there will be plenty of competition. Then, we began to systematically export our manufacturing expertise to the point that we're today hard-press to find one single item made in the USA wherever we shop.

With the technological transfer that goes along with shipping jobs abroad, we have created much more potent competitors the world over and our trade deficit shows it, with trade policies no longer in synch with that imbalance. Next, we've exported our educational method and creativity only to be matched and sometimes beaten flat out by other countries. Innovation will soon become a function of the population of a given country, regardless of its culture or its economic system. Finally, we've spent like drunken sailors particularly since the mid nineties and our attempt to withdraw from that destructive practice is already extremely painful and weighs significantly on our current recovery.

So what does that all mean? Harder times lay ahead for sure and it will take a long time for our economy to rear its head back again, our days of domination are most certainly behind us and we'll have to begin to share and be a bit more humble. The two later qualities aren't that bad, after all...

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