Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Well, we are now officially in a recession.  More bloggers than I can link to are expressing an amazing lack of surprise.  Many of the comments are on the 'blue' side (meaning profanity.)  I read a couple of the articles on Market Watch and MSNBC yesterday detailing how NBER came up with the determination.  But it is a bit late.  Employment peaked in December 2007 they say.  My experience says they are exactly right.  I have seen very few jobs listed (no new ones for the last week.)  They say sales peaked in June and I say they would have tanked earlier if the Federal rebates had not been sent out. Did anyone else catch the excited gush from the news media about the Black Friday sales followed by the barely mentioned fact that sales for the other days of the first post-Thanksgiving weekend fell precipitously?  I have noticed that pattern for most of the economic news.  The good news, however tenuous and slight, is pounced upon and magnified while the more sobering news is mentioned, if at all, in passing.  The mainstream media seem to be buying into Phil Gramm's notion that the state of the economy is all in our heads and will be rectified by positive thinking.  

I watched part of Ben Bernanke's speech that was shown during a couple of the programs on CNBC yesterday.  I don't know where he was or what organization hosted him.  I was struck by one particular part.  He took exception, as someone who has spent a large part of his adult life studying the 1929 Crash and following events, to various comparisons between the Great Depression and today's economic conditions.  He said two factors make today's circumstances very different.  First, the Federal Reserve today is very active and is using all of its tools vigorously to combat the economic slowdown.  Second, there was no political will at the Federal level to intervene early in 1929 whereas there is the will to act today.  I will make two observation here.  First, economists, like generals, are always preparing for the last crisis as though that last economic downturn, or war, is exactly like the current one.  As the saying goes: history doesn't repeat, it rhymes.  Second, I am not encouraged by what has been done to date.  We have saved a couple of big companies but what has that done for us?  What we have applied are some very expensive band-aids to a problem that appears to me more like blood poisoning.

 Thank you, Janet at Gen+Plus, for an absolutely perfect description of the economy.  Mom and I laughed all the way through nodding our heads.

I am always fascinated how one thing often leads to another.  Earlier in the fall, as gardening season wound down, Mom and I were looking at a whole bunch of those plastic tubs margarine, cream cheese, and cottage cheese come in and wondering what to do with them.  We hate throwing anything useful in the garbage.  Since our town does not really encourage us to recycle (because we live in a rental unit we would have to pay a considerable monthly fee), we are forced to throw away things we would normally recycle.  We decided to keep these tubs for planting seedlings next year.  I figure I can start the seeds in the styrofoam egg cartons, suitably modified with drain holes, and then transplant the strongest seedlings into the progressively larger containers until it is safe to plant in our containers outside.  However, we don't really like getting the tubs in the first place.  Last week, Mom picked up the sale flyer at the grocery store (we got there just before the supply ran out) and saw that cream cheese was on sale for $.68/package.  Since that was a quarter the price of the cream cheese in the tub we were going to get we decided to get the sale package.  I simply let the brick soften, transfered it to one of the containers we already had and then scooped out what remained in the nearly used container and added it to the rest.  This week we decided to check out what the normal price is and the brick is one-half to one-third the cost of the tub.  Needless to say, we won't be getting cream cheese in tubs anymore.

From there we started wondering about margarine.  Mom still has her heavy glass butter dish that holds a full pound of margarine.  We checked out the prices on the stick vs the tubs and found that the difference for 3 pound tubs vs. 3 pounds in the stick is about $.50.  Why should we pay for a tub we really don't want any way.  When I was a kid all we had was the stick margarine.  I know that if you try to use it straight out of the fridge it can tear the bread.  But we don't eat that tasteless, white bread and if we leave the butter dish on the counter for about half an hour it softens up in time for dinner.  Hey, guess what?  We won't be accumulating those tubs any more.

Some time ago we started buying the larger supply of hand soap and refilling the pump bottles.  As I was refilling the small containers a couple of days ago, I looked at the large bottle and thought that I could use it as an automatic waterer for our containers next spring.  All I have to do is break off the upper cap, leaving the lower cap with the hole in it and make a hole big enough to add water from the other end.  I don't know how it will work but we will give it a try.

I find it interesting how often we get into patterns of doing things until something comes along to change a small part of the pattern.  And from there the changes flow.

1 comment:

Kay Dennison said...

Yeah -- that was a real news flash that we're in a recession. And yeah, we bailed out the big guys. Who's going to bail us out? Never mind. I think we know the answer.