What’s the old line? It’s a recession when your neighbor is out of work. It’s a depression when you’re out of work.
Earlier today, the chairman of the Federal Reserve said the recession was probably finished. He may have missed yesterday’s Times, which reported the job losses continued – 5,500 positions at Eli Lilly. (The Federal Reserve isn’t the official arbiter of a recession anyway – that’s left to a council of economists to measure the country’s economic growth.)
The slow recovery matches so many descriptions of an economy being reset.
So is there a recovery or a reset? Can Americans keep up their increased savings? Will they want to? What changes in spending habits do you plan to make?
The Dow is up. So is the number of first-time unemployment filers and the housing foreclosure numbers. Retail sales are down as is the net worth of an American family.
I’m not sure whether this is an economic slowdown, recession, reset, or whatever word you want to call it.
Sure, it’s bad. And every commentator wants to compare it to something: Early 1990s, Early 80s, 70s stagflation, Great Depression, Panic of 1873, etc. There’s no doubt that folks are aware – very aware – that the economy is in a difficult stretch. Not that we’re oblivious to past recessions, but this one has some teeth.
Maybe I’m paying more attention. But maybe there is something to all the talk that this is a turning point that will change how our system works.
I made some decisions to alter my saving and buying habits before everyone started to feel it. I’m looking at our apartment and wondering whether we should opt for a place that has a bit better infrastructure – say at least insulation in the attic. We’ve passed up a few of the kitchen gadgets. We’re paying down debt. We’re seeking our masters degrees. We’re trying to stay ahead of the knowledge economy.
I’m hoping we use the opportunity to make other changes though. Advanced degrees makes us look smarter, but dropping the land line for cell only makes sense. I’d love to back up my computer files to the cloud AND be able to get rid of all the paper I’ve lugged from apartment to apartment. I’d like to reduce our energy bills (and consumption) – through insulation and by monitoring when we run the washer and dryer. I’d like to eat out less and eat healthier at home.
As for the news? One of my colleagues was talking about something else, but could have been talking about this today: This is a great time to keep your head down. Keep busy and don’t look up.