The “R” Word; The “D” Word or The “S” Word? (January 14, 2008)

“A recession occurs when your neighbor loses his job; a depression occurs when you lose your job.“  A recession is technically defined as two successive quarters of a downturn in the economy.  The traditional definition of a recession is backward looking.  Would you value being told that you were pregnant fifteen months ago?  Policy planning requires a more forward-looking perspective.  If you lose your job, is it a depression?  If you have less earning capacity despite working overtime and pay more for goods and services, is it stagflation?  (See the e-ssay dated August 7, 2006 entitled “The Fed: Deal With ‘Stag’; Deal With ‘Flation’?”).

The credit rating agencies such as Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch suffered from the same grade inflation their employees suffered from in college.  Everyone in college gets As; their parents are spending too much to bestow anything less.  In the real world, the grade inflation is trebled.  The credit rating agencies gave the insurers of bonds the “AAA” ratings.  The insurers of bonds such as Ambac Financial Group and MBIA also suffered from grade inflation.  The insurers of bonds then gave everyone the “AAA” ratings.

The downturns in foreign markets today are a more accurate verdict on the state of and prospects for the American Economy.  In America, risk is not tied to reward whereas foreign investment professionals are more accountable for their performance.  And while the foreign kids were in college, they did not get As just for showing up.

[The recent incident in the Strait of Hormuz:  Gulf of Tonkin II or the USS Cole II?  The statements in English (not translated from a foreign language) from someone expressed a clear present intent to do harm.  The Navy responded in a professional and disciplined way and maintained their course and speed.  Someone can be provocative without provoking a response that is not in the nation’s interest.]

Bumper sticker of the week:

The Mortgage Meltdown continues.

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