The papers were full of it Friday. We are ‘sliding into recession’. So we’re not actually IN a recession yet, but ‘sliding’ into one. Some figure on a ‘shallow but painful’ (whatever that means) slowdown over Christmas, and a ‘difficult’ first half over 2009. Some say we’re in for 1992. But no one is predicting the Apocalypse, at least not for the moment.
This after the headlines, and not just the redtops, but all papers, have been trumpeting the return of 1929 and the Great Depression. For the last two weeks. Since economic cycles are so much about perception and confidence, it’s hard to see how this helps. Why, perhaps, such scaremongering, isn’t illegal.
The real trouble is that all this scaremongering creates intense anxiety without giving a clear picture of what’s going on. Sure, the US gov’t is about to siphon 700 billion dollars into Wall Street – a move that most commentators, liberal or conservative, Stateside or over here, seem to feel is a necessary evil. But will the aftereffects have a greater impact on everyone’s life than, say, the tech crash, the Russians defaulting on their loans in 1997, or even the lull after 9-11? And since the last few years of the ‘boom’ – the post 9-11 years, as far as I can see, have mostly been propped up by debt (‘If you don’t shop, you let the terrorists win’) – then how, in real terms, will the next year or two be different for the average man than they were before?