I found this article on MSNBC that piqued my mind a bit. I have heard on-again, off-again talk over the last months about a 'double dip' recession. The first thing that hits me is that you have to have at least a bit of a recovery for a double dip. At my level of the economy there hasn't been much of a recovery. Perhaps the high end retailers have seen things pick up but they cater to those who haven't seen much of a recession anyway. The stock market has picked up but that is an abstraction that doesn't mean much outside those who have stock. I hope those who have retirement investments in the stock market put a lot of that money into other, safer investments. Earlier this week the MSNBC talking heads were gushing about an uptick in hiring. However, I think the remarks from the Caterpillar spokesman were rather telling. He said the company planned on hiring 9k new employees over the next few months. The reporter asked how many of those would be in the U.S. Only about 3k.
Another aspect of the story that irritates me is the focus on that imaginary creature that only exists in statistics--the 'consumer.' What we have is a Catch-22: employers aren't willing to hire unless the consumers start buying again; the consumers can't buy until they have jobs that will provide them with the wherewithal to buy. But the underlying problem is that two-thirds of this country's economic activity is consumer driven. But none of the experts can figure a way around that dilemma. Then, as a parallel irritation, there is the focus on bad news and that affects consumers. Consumers are frightened to begin with and hearing the party-pooping prognosticators predict a double dip simply scares them more leading them to curtail spending which retards any possible recovery. A self-fulfiling prophecy, in essence. The problem is accentuating the positive, as the old song goes, doesn't change the underlying conditions and at some point reality has to intrude.
Political Perspectives has a post that ties into this discussion. I haven't heard the statistics the author cites but my gut reaction says they may be accurate given what I have heard elsewhere. Manufacturing has recovered but jobs have not and I don't think it is just a case of jobs being a 'lagging indicator' as is so often pointed out. And, as I have pointed out before, we have become a country where most of us sell goods made outside our borders (and simply assembling parts made overseas doesn't make the product 'American") to others selling goods made outside our borders ad infinitum and ad nauseum.