I don’t intend to weigh back in on the Dennis Kneale contretemps with the blogging community. I had my say on that a week or so ago. I do want to ask a question of Kneale or for that matter anyone else who contends that the recession is over, ending, going to be history toute de suite.
It’s kind of like Goldman (NYSE:GS) earning $2 billion or Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) blowing through all the analysts predictions yesterday. It doesn’t make a dimes worth of difference to the people that are unemployed, under water on their homes or just generally terrified about the future. Something has changed among the rank and file in this country and it’s not a change for the better.
Talk to the guys at the bar, or the teachers on break or the kids just starting out and you get the sense that they have no optimism left. That spirit that used to be so prevelant, that tomorrow was going to be better and the next day even more so, that with some education and hard work you could fashion a wonderful life has vanished. In its place there’s a preoccupation with protecting whatever one has left and a vague sense that somehow the whole game was rigged. People feel cheated.
President Obama had an appearance in Michigan yesterday, a state that gave him 54% of the vote and arguably should look to him as their savior. By all accounts he was met by a sullen crowd that wants to know how he plans to pull their economy out of a 20% unemployment hole. They don’t care that the financial system is on the mend or that some economic indicators are picking up. The only know that things are about as bad as they have ever seen and they can’t see how they will get better.
So, Dennis, it doesn’t make any difference when the recession ends. This time it’s different. Corporations might start making money, the Dom might start flowing on Wall Street and the political class may hold some hearings to revel in the recovery but most of the country is not going to notice — and that might be a big problem.