Richard Carnes: Further updates from Mr. Happy
I am, without question, the most optimistic person I ever see in a mirror.
That reason alone is enough for me to question a select few who claim I was overly pessimistic last week concerning economic realities (I should also mention that my suggested headline was not “A doomsayer’s prophecy,” which are two words a non-theist would never use in the first place, much less together).
“But Richard,” you ask. “Wasn’t last week’s column about our ongoing economic recession and how people shouldn’t be too quick to jump on the rainbow bandwagon while singing ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’ in spite of thugs named Guido knocking on their doors at strange hours demanding rent?”
Why yes, yes it was, thanks for asking.
But not only that, the column was about the reality of how long it takes for business cycles to complete (and the resulting fallout to finish falling) as opposed to the Kool-Aid-drinking fantasy of covering our eyes and ears while shouting “LA-LA-LA-LA-LA” and pretending the dollar’s strong, commercial credit is available, house sales are up, inflation’s down and unemployment is back under 5 percent.
Yet what really drove the point home was the number of people saying I was not pessimistic enough in my prognostication.
Yeah, can you believe it? It’s as if I claimed the town of Vail had “acted stupidly” by wasting almost $2 million on a flatulating fountain and folks felt obligated to take sides.
Anyway, I want everyone out there in Happy Valley Land to know that I am, as a financial guru friend of mine puts it, bullish on the markets but bearish on the economy.
Most investors have been more successful in the markets since February than in all of 2008, but nearly all are also still down at least 25 percent from 2007 highs, meaning a few years of gnashing and clawing yet to occur before we see who’s left standing.
I am optimistic the economy will be better over time. I truly want it to be so. I want the entire world to have affordable health care, too. I want all wars to end. I want lift ops and waiters able to afford rent, and everyone connected to the construction and development industry (even Realtors!) to get back to making money around here.
I also want the Cowboys and the Broncos to trade the Lombardi Trophy back and forth for the next 50 years. But no matter what I want or wish for, reality will always continue to be the brick wall smack in the middle of Fantasy Highway.
Most corporate profits announced today are due to government bailout funds and/or better business efficiency, which is due mainly from layoffs (hence higher unemployment numbers) and other budget cutbacks. Very little is due to increases in consumer spending, which drives two-thirds of our economy.
Mere optimism has never solved a problem, but cautious optimism (which some confuse as pessimism) is the experienced approach to solving any issue, as long as we’re not talking about the new Britney Spears album.
Three steps forward and two steps back is a fine dance if you can stay on your feet until the end of the song, and that’s where I think we are today.
Let’s just hope it’s not Britney singing the long version of “In A Gadda Da Vida.”
Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.