There is very little to celebrate in this economy. The employment rate just refuses to make any significant improvements, the housing market has been depressed for so long a good dose of Paxil wouldn’t help pick it up, and we’ve just agreed that if we can’t control our spending, we’ll allow ourselves to borrow more. Those in the know are predicting a brand new recession and those not in the know are wondering exactly when it was that the last one passed. “Double Dip” no longer simply describes an extra delicious ice cream cone, but the expert’s favorite phrase for predicting future recession numbers. The prolonged economic suffering has people asking when it will ever end. And it’s not just America.
Global economies too are depleted and ready to just collapse. Greece is about to receive their second bailout, Spain and Italy are having severe cash problems and the French banks are basically broke. These bailouts usually come with an amount of austerity measures, but do they really help? In the case of Greece, the answer seems to be: apparently not.
The gold rush days of America economics seem to be behind us now. It was only three years ago we were discussing building a giant fence just to ebb the flow of illegal immigration; folks were after all flocking here for a taste of the good life, now according to CNN, since 2008 more than 300,000 illegal immigrants left America to return to Mexico, because the job prospects were much better there. Well, we never thought we’d see the day, but here the day is. It didn’t happen overnight, this day has been in the wings waiting to take center stage for a while. The Obama administration, as the current administration, takes the bulk of the blame; like a game of hot potato, they were caught with the economy in their hand when it all fell apart.
Many more site the Bush administration, if only for the fact that they inherited the country with a financial surplus, and when they left office it was with an astronomical debt in their wake. Two wars and a tax cut probably will remain their legacy for ruining the economy. Still some reach back as far as the Clinton administration and pin the economic slump on NAFTA. The reviews on NAFTA are mixed, even Clinton himself has confessed to some misgivings on the treaty.
In America, if not globally, one thing most will admit, at the root of the current situation is living beyond our means; whether you are discussing private citizens of corporate moguls. While the banks were largely responsible for the housing bubble, or the bursting thereof, consumers too were complicit in borrowing in amounts, that even given the fluctuation in payments, there was essentially no way they could afford. Corporations, for their complicity, began employee layoffs as soon as the word recession was mentioned post 9/11, even while their yearly profits rose. Oil companies’ prices surpassed even what you would expect from oil companies while they showed record profits quarter after quarter. The government for their part has squandered money in missing funds directed into Iraq and building bridges to nowhere.
Corporate greed and government indifference combined with bad planning on behalf of the consumer got us into this mess. Now it is anybody’s guess as to what it will take to get us out. We are having a nagging hangover after a long bout of spending. Belts must tighten if we are to come out the other side of this terrible economy, most likely the consumers will reign in their appetites, making the car last a little longer, the soup stretch a for another bowlful, looking for a great balance transfer credit card to save some money on debts they have already incurred - many will have no choice. However: when it comes to corporations or governments, only time will tell.