I was out of town earlier this week, and for two full days I did not listen to the radio or watch television, nor did I have access to the Internet. It is amazing how quickly events around our country and the world can change over the course of just 48 hours, or so.
When I left on Sunday afternoon, I was rocking along, laboring under the cloud of doom that has been declared for the last 7 weeks. I was absolutely clear from what I was being told by our President that the economy in the United States, and indeed in every other developed nation around the globe was in a crisis, aaaaaand, it was not only in crisis, it was veering toward a catastrophe. President Obama told us about it over and over and over and over again.
Having seen my portfolios decline at percentages approximating 50, I admit to buying into the seriousness of the situation, even if I did NOT agree with the solutions that were being offered. I am still struggling to see the connection between the essence of the economic problems facing the country and the targets of the planned spending. And my doubt is confirmed when various non-partisan government watchdog groups and even the congressional budget office raise questions about the timing and the effectiveness of the programs and importantly, the true cost of the planned spending.
But wait! Now the President is telling us that things are “not that bad.” Huh? Over the course of just a day or so, we have moved from a situation that is in-crisis and a hair’s breadth from catastrophe, to “not that bad.”
Not that bad? With the stock market having strung together three or four positive days, and the fact that my portfolio is now down only 49 instead of 50%, is that the margin of improvement that changes the view from “brace-for-impact” to, “not that bad”?
Surely there must be some specific piece of good news that I missed while I was out of town. Can someone help me? Was there some economic indicator that really WOW’d everyone a day or so ago, but its shelf life in the news cycles was short and preempted by the shocking revelations that Anna Nicole Smith had a group of criminally negligent enablers who were supplying her with prescription narcotics? Who would have ever thought such a thing could happen?
Or perhaps yesterday’s nearly breathless coverage of what has been a foregone conclusion, that Bernard Madoff would go to jail, eclipsed that outstanding piece of good news that turned the economy around. Come on, help a fella out. What did I miss?
If there is no such nugget of information that I missed during my physical absence from the news, is it possible that the President’s handlers have decided to radically change the tone of his conversation? If this is the case, it makes it really difficult to know which version of the “truth” we should be believing. Or, is it possible that neither version is true? In which case, is this man believable at all?