Not that you’d know it from the collapse of real estate, manufacturing, finance, retail and basic employment, but America is now officially in a Recession! In the third quarter of this wretched year of Our Lord — which doesn’t even include the 1929-style stock market collapse this month — the economy shrunk by .03%. Not outrageously terrible, as the never-ever-correct people known as economists predicted a half-percent contraction, but it’s still the worse since Our Terrorized Quarter of 9/11. Never forget!
Consumer spending, that perpetually unsatisfied engine of America that makes up two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, fell by 3.1%. Now that’s a serious number, if you like numbers. The last time quarterly consumer spending actually dropped, we were in a magic time known as the 1991 recession. And the last time consumer spending dropped so steeply, it was 1980.
“Disposable personal income,” officially known as “walking around money” plunged 8.7%, the biggest drop since 1947.
Of course, some assholes will perpetually argue that we’re not in a True Recession, as we haven’t had some asshole’s specific definition of a recession perfectly honored by the government GDP reports. (By “some assholes,” of course, we always mean Larry Kudlow.) The only reason the government GDP reports haven’t shown two consecutive steep declines in economic activity is because the government has been printing money at an obnoxious, enormous pace for more than a year straight — economic stimulus checks, Bear Stearns, the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac takeover, AIG, and the whole open-ended “$700 billion” bad-securities buyout that has metamorphosed into a $2 trillion bank buyout.
Or, in Reuters’ words, “More spending by the government partly offset a sharp retreat by consumers.”
Stocks are up a little today, because come on, who doesn’t know this?