Life is so much sweeter when viewed with blinders firmly in place. They block out all those unpleasant truths that can be such downers. Add to the blinders a pair of rose colored glasses, and utopia has arrived.
The Rt. Rev. Ben Bernanke had both blinders and glasses in place when he declared the worst recession since the 1930s over, finished, history, no more, a thing of the past. Just like Jesus raising Lazarus, Bernanke raised the economy from the dead in a speech to the Brookings Institution.
“From a technical perspective, the recession is very likely over at this point,” he said. And there it was: that magic incantation—“technical.” Once again, the steel door of mathematical guesswork slammed shut on the real world. It’s the mantra of the technician: if it looks good, it is good. All you have to do is ignore the foul stench emanating from the ranks of the poor and the unemployed.
Ben did pay lip service to these unfortunates when he said, “It’s still going to feel like a very weak economy for some time because many people will still find that their job security and their employment status is not what they wish it was.” That’s the technicians way of saying that people have lost their jobs, they can’t find another and their unemployment benefits are running out.
Of course, we have to understand what Ben means when he says the recession is over. What he is telling us is that the tip of the pyramid has risen out of the muck. As long as the tip has surfaced, all is well.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that unemployment will hit 10 percent this year. However, we have to remember the rose colored glasses BLS wears have thicker lenses than Ben’s. The uncooked figures would put unemployment somewhere around 16 of 17 percent.
But, what the hell! If the banks can hide their insolvency by marking their junk assets to model instead of market, and if Goldman Sachs can make money hand-over-fist through their computerized front-running, then we have nothing to worry about. In today’s virtual world, the numbers on a screen are all that count. It makes no difference if the numbers have no relationship to reality.