Economy Still Not Running on All Cylinders

Though the recession may technically be over, we’re still slogging our way through troubled economic times, and there’s plenty of evidence for this in the news.

For example, Wall Street is spooked today over both Greece’s continuing debt crisis, as well as a rise in jobless claims.

And economist Martin Wolf opines in Financial Times that all that’s keeping the world economy going right now is “a degree of monetary and fiscal stimulus unprecedented in peacetime.” 

But a real solution for the global economy is a tough nut to crack.  Mere “reignition” of the credit engine which created the Financial Crisis of 2007-10 will only lead to another, according to Wolf.  What we really need, he says, is “a surge in private and public investment in the deficit countries or a surge in demand from the emerging countries.”  He doesn’t see anyone really entertaining “a radical post-crisis agenda” like this — but if we don’t start thinking out-of-the-box, history may well repeat itself.            

With respect to the local scene, the other night I was at McDonald’s over at Friendly Shopping Center, reading a book called Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman, the controversial UNC-Chapel Hill religious studies professor.  This stimulated a long conversation with another McDonald’s patron named Craig, and during the course of our talk I learned the unrelated fact that he had been out-of-work for quite a while — close to three years. 

And guess what, he’s in construction, which has been hit awfully hard during the Great Recession — and doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

There was plenty of evidence of the construction industry’s continuing woes in the news yesterday.  The Associated Press reported that new home sales dropped 11.2% in January, which puts annual sales at a pace described as “the lowest level on records going back nearly a half century.”

And the News and Record said Wednesday that existing home sales in Greensboro were down last month too.

If you want to read some literature on the financial crisis, Greensboro Public Library’s latest titles on this topic include:  On the Brink:  Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System by Henry M. Paulson, Jr.; Freefall:  America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy by Joseph E. Stiglitz; 13 bankers:  The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown by Simon Johnson and James Kwak; A Failure of Capitalism:  The Crisis of ’08 and the Descent into Depression by Richard A. Posner; and A Colossal Failure of Common Sense:  The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers by Lawrence G. McDonald with Patrick Robinson.

And if you’re in the job hunt, like Craig, be sure and check out the library’s job links here.

UPDATE:  There’s also talk again of a possible double-dip recession.  Check links here, here, here, and here.

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