Overall, the pessimists are up against an insurmountable reality: In the last reported quarter, the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.3 percent, adjusted for inflation. That's virtually the same as the 3.4 percent average growth rate since -- yes -- the Great Depression.Numero Uno: People are very good judges about how their own lives, and those of their friends and neighbors, are faring. If they say the economy sucks, it's probably because it sucks for them and for people they know and come into contact with.
Why, then, does the public appear to agree with the media? A recent Zogby poll shows that 66 percent of likely voters believe that "the entire world is either now locked in a global economic recession or soon will be." Actually, that's a major clue to what started this thought-contagion about everything being the worst it has been "since the Great Depression": Politics.Patient zero in this epidemic is the Democratic candidate for president.
Numero Two-o: How "the economy" is doing isn't worth a damn to most people. If their paychecks aren't getting bigger, if gas prices have skyrocketed and food prices are going up, if their health insurance leaves gaping holes and they might lose it if they actually use it for anything major, if they're behind in their payments on a house whose value is plunging, then how 'the economy' is doing is meaningless.
The disconnect between the state of 'the economy' and the statistics that give a clue as to how most Americans are actually doing - let alone the polls that show they think the economy's in the crapper - just shows how poorly 'the economy' serves Joe and Jane Sixpack. Don Luskin and his friends are doing great; what's your problem?
Numero Three-o: according to Gallup, people already thought the economy sucked last winter, when it looked like Hillary would still win the nomination. Kinda hard to blame that on Obama.
There's a whole bunch of other horseshit there, but I'll leave it to the economists in the blogosphere to do a more thorough dissecting of Luskin's garbage. I'll just leave you with one more Luskin quote:
McCain campaign adviser and former U.S. senator Phil Gramm was right in July when he said that our current state "is a mental recession."Yeah, Americans are just imagining the problems they're dealing with. Snap out of it, America! Just ignore what your household budget is telling you - you're doing fine.
Update, Monday morning: I forgot to quote Luskin's " "Turmoil" in the debt markets? Sure, but we've seen plenty worse" remark. With Lehman in Chapter 11, AIG on the ropes, and the possibility of a pretty serious cascade failure of major investment houses, I think it's safe to say that no, those of us too young to have lived through the Depression haven't seen worse.