Friday, April 25, 2008

Economic opportunities of tomorrow

In an ominous sign for the economy, one of the stenographers at the Washington Post reports that it is showing signs of stability. Given how consistently the Post's stenographers have been wrong when parroting Republican spin, I think it's relatively safe to speculate that the economy must be wildly unstable. Of course anyone who's not a millionaire can see that as plain as the price stamped on a gallon of milk, not to mention a gallon of gasoline. Pretty soon they'll have to implement price controls on gallons of vodka to see America through this mess.

And note that they never really reported that the economy was unstable. It's gone straight from "everything is hunky-dory" to "everything will be hunky-dory real soon."

From a journalistic perspective, it's interesting that this putative news article is almost pure opinion (if not outright fantasy) starting from the first paragraph in which we're reassured that although economic figures are weak, they are not as weak as expected.

Between paragraphs of unadulterated opinion, the Post's intrepid newsman quotes a Federal Reserve spokesman, a compatriot of Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake, a big shot from B of A and someone from a research firm, all of whom agree that the future is ever so bright.

Are there no experts out there that think that economic fundamentals are so fucked up from years of mismanagement and misleading numbers that things will likely get much, much worse? Of course there are, but it's unlikely we'll be hearing it from the stenographers who write the news or play the parrot on teevee. There is a widespread belief in self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to the economy. The powers that be think that happy thinking trumps economic reality.

Who am I to dispute these experts? Well, I'm someone who's seen the price of just about everything I buy go up by about 25 percent in the last week. Someone who gets what's essentially a cost of living raise at work that doesn't begin to cover the increase in the cost of living. In other words, an economically normal American.

But unlike most economically normal Americans, I've lived in Latin America. They have a word there for those kind of price increases and the corresponding devaluation of the currency (I note that the Euro hit $1.60 this week). That word is hyperinflation. Maybe happy thinking will help for awhile, but reality sits in pretty quickly when spending power goes through the floor. And then just when you think it's reached the basement you find that you're living in a high rise and there are a lot more floors for your spending power to fall through.

Me? I've started hoarding Euros. And if I get that old entrepreneurial spirit, you'll soon find me hanging out on Wall Street saying pssssst, I got Euros, only $3, get them today, they'll be $4 next week, better deal than the banks. Change your money with me, seƱor.