The Great Depression that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke claims to have averted has been part of the background radiation of our economy since at least 2008.
It’s just that like radiation — it’s invisible.
… There is nothing more depressing than hearing about a new recession when you haven’t fully recovered from the last one. I take heart in suspecting that in a still-distant future, historians will look back with clarity and call this whole rotten period a depression.
It is easy to avoid seeing all of these events as constituting a depression if you somehow have kept your livelihood intact all this time. But it’s important to remember that not everyone has to stand in a bread line during a depression.
Nearly one out of seven Americans receives food stamps, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s more than 44 million people. If they all stood in a line and someone photographed them using black-and-white film, they easily could be mistaken for people from the 1930s. Instead, they go to a grocery store and spend their credits like money. There isn’t even a social stigma to make them stand out as any more glum or destitute than anybody else.
… “Half the jobs in the nation pay less than $34,000 a year,” noted Peter Edelman, author of “So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America” in a recent New York Times piece. “We’ve been drowning in a flood of low-wage jobs for the last 40 years.”
If you don’t want to call this epidemic of rising poverty an invisible depression, call it the golden age of unemployment. Today’s laid-off workers can collect unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks, staying off the public’s radar as an economic distress signal. Over that time, they often lose confidence, their skills degrade, and they can slip into the ranks of America’s chronically unemployed — where they no longer will be counted in the nation’s official unemployment rate, now at 8.2%.
The cure for our battered economy has been to allow our disasters to occur more slowly through taxpayer bailouts and extraordinary interventions from the Fed. So far, this strategy has worked. We have averted a sudden crash in favor of a depressingly slower one. At least if you don’t look, you may not have to see it. (my emphasis)
You can read all of Al Lewis’ commentary at here at MarketWatchPrint This Post Send To A Friend