HOW LONG WILL THE STICKY RECESSION STICK?

Recessions are a natural element of the economic cycles in a free market society. They even serve a useful purpose. Recessions put a damper on the irrational exuberance that leads to boom and bust. Recovery from recession is just as natural as its recurrence.

MOTHER OF SEVEN Photo from FDR Library via National Archives and Records Administration

Since the end of the Great Depression the average length of a recession has been 11 months; the longest was 16 months in duration. The National Bureau of Economic Research is the universally accepted arbiter for determining when these periods began and when they ended. The NBER has set December 2007 as the start of the current recession. That makes it 2 years and 9 months old. It is by far, the longest recession on record.

Banks have cash to lend, corporations are flush, interest rates are low, labor is plentiful and cheap. These are the seeds for renewal of growth that naturally occur in any recession. But they are not taking root. It is the herbicidal policies of the Obama Administration we have to thank for that.

Taxes will rise but the details remain unknown. The rule of law has been subrogated to executive dictate. Assets have been acquired by government through intimidation. Unions are supported by government as seldom before. Obamacare has significantly increased the cost of adding new employees to a payroll. The Dodd and Frank Act for financial reform has given regulators carte blanche to make the law, no one knows what’s in store. Cap & Trade and Card Check hang as specters for 2011. The Federal debt is set to soar. Socialism is knocking at the door. There is no need to wonder why business is not rushing to expand and banks are reluctant to lend.

The collapse of the mortgage industry brought on this recession. It was the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and the actions of the government sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that fed the real estate bubble which, one day, simply had to burst. It was Andrew Cuomo, Secretary for HUD who threatened the banks because “only” 42% of their loans were to sub-prime lenders. This was not a naturally occurring recession. It was government induced and now it is being government prolonged. It is FDR redux.

What did Reagan say? “Government is not the solution to the problem. Government IS the problem”.

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