The Recession is dead. Gone. Passed away. Kaput.
But the Republican Party has elections to win in November. They, and the media outlets they control, are trying to keep the recession alive, constantly throwing out the terms "slowdown," and Double Dip.
I'm not saying the Democratic Party deserves very much credit for ending the recession. Many of the measures put into place to save the economy during the crisis are fairly attributable to the administration of George W. Bush. Of course, the awful policies that caused the crisis were put in place by "consumers are fair marks" politicians from both sides of the aisle and powerful cronies of Bush and Clinton. But the downturn also had the usual cyclical components, and the upturn has been a fairly typical story of the upward rebound part of the cycle.
Usually the business community, which is largely Republican, likes to talk about the resilience of free markets and the American economy. They like government handouts, tax breaks, and low interest loans too, but that is just human nature. Most of them believe the Great Depression would have ended more quickly if FDR had not created the New Deal.
But Fox News and company, even spilling over to NPR, have been harping on a double dip recession for six months now. Where is it? Despite trying to scare businessmen out of making new hires, consumers out of consuming, and everyone out of buying a home despite rock bottom prices and interest rates, the recession just is not showing any signs of life. The big European crisis fizzled when Germany reported its economy is growing quickly. China is doing great, so are Austrailia, Canada, and India. Russia is in a bit of trouble, but that has done wonders for the U.S. agricultural sector.
It could be that bond traders are more powerful than you think, since the main financial market to benefit from this "catastrophe is just around the corner" thinking is the bond market (think Goldman Sachs). But I think it is mainly political.
The Democratic Party just happens to be sitting on its collective ass right now, holding the Presidency, Senate, and House of Representatives. The economy is turning up. Normally that would be the makings of sure-fire electoral victory in November. But if there is widespread perception that the economy is going to fail again, even if that is not true, it will help Republican candidates in November.
Are there problems ahead of us? There always are. Global warming is more serious and its effects are coming sooner than most people think? Do Americans now have to earn their jobs in the global marketplace, as Carly Fiorina says? Yes, after having it way too easy after World War II, in which everyone's factories except our own were destroyed, this is only getting back into balance. There is a lot of room for improvement in the U.S. economy, and mostly that has to come from people working hard, being creative, and taking risks. The government won't do it for us, and won't do it as well as we can.
If you are still unemployed, best to redouble your job search efforts. Talented but unable to find a position as lofty as the one you had? Get in at the ground floor somewhere. Buy or manage a franchise when you learn the business. Stop whining. (Even Greens like me can only take so much whining from people who have had so much past privilege and can't cope with a little adversity.)
There are a bunch of things local, state, and federal governments could do to help, but they won't, so I'll discuss those topics later.
The recession is over. Do the best you can in this up cycle, be more careful what you spend your money on. If you own long-term bonds get out of them before they decline in value. There will be another recession somewhere down the road, sure, so shore up your finances and make sure that the next time executives have to lay off workers (and management), you are one of the indispensable people who is kept.