A Little Spring in Our Steps
Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream. -- Kahlil Gibran, poet (1883-1931)
For six months or so, in the eye of the worst economic contraction of my lifetime, businesses and forecasters have been declaring the recession over. Regardless of layoffs and spending freezes, experts and non-experts alike stated with great clarity that all was well. And I suppose this is human nature—when things go too far south, at some point it is best to take the attitude that if I believe it, it will become truth.
At long last, this week we heard from the only opinion that matters on this topic. Robert Hall, head economist at the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Business Cycle Dating Committee, the guy charged with looking at all of the data that is coming in, comparing statistics and historical data, spoke with Bloomberg. “I personally put lots of emphasis on employment,” he said. When asked whether he thought the economic downturn had ended, he responded, “I would say ‘pretty clear’ is a good description.”
The most important factor to Hall in declaring the official end to the economic plummet is employment. In March, 224,000 new jobs were added, and while we are still struggling with 9.7 percent unemployment, slowly but surely more Americans are hitting the snooze button just one time, getting dressed and going back to work.
The first quarter of 2010 is behind us. But many are still feeling the aftershock of 2009 and all she threw at us. Perhaps Hall’s statement, while not over-the-top with optimism, can help to put a little swing in our steps.
We’ve got some things to hang our hats on: increasing positive news, a bear market that’s got some stamina, and an increase in manufacturing to verify all that chatter from months prior. Maybe the time has come when we can quietly take those valuable lessons that were dropped on our laps last year, acknowledge them learned and lock them away somewhere safe. 2009 certainly had something to say to us all. She won’t be forgotten.