Ask ten "experts" whether we are headed for a double dip recession, and you'll likely get ten different answers. And the press is having a field day with this ambiguity. This is not surprising since stories predicting economic apocalypse are almost as tantalizing as forecasting the next boom.
If you are already nervous about what's to come for the economy, following the press on this issue will only exacerbate your anxiety. And if you aren't anxious yet, you will be soon if you keep reading.
A few weeks ago, the New York Times featured a doom talker who sees the dow dipping below 1,000 and the economy crumbling in the way that makes people buy canned food and survival gear.
Dave Kansas of the Wall Street Journal provides a counterpoint with five reasons the cynics on the economy are wrong. (Note, however, that he didn't affirmatively declare 5 reasons for optimism....).
One thing that seems clear to me is how profoundly uncertain our economic future is, and how politicized the answer has become. Obama's economic team is out in force touting the success of the stimulus. Republicans have the House and Senate to gain by persuading Americans that the economy remains mired.
As for me, despite my general bent toward optimism, I'm feeling bearish on this economy. I haven't built any models to provide a quantifiable answer. But I believe that too many economic essentials are headed the wrong way to support a view that better times are coming soon.
States, cities and counties are drowning in debt, without any clear path toward solvency. Structural problems plague the American labor market. Political discord rules capitols from Sacramento to St. Paul to Washington DC. Nearly all the Federal stimulus money goes away in 2011 with no hope for additional funds. Small business credit remains very tight. You see where I'm headed on this.
Where do *you* think we're headed? Back to bartering, hunting and gathering? Toward a new economy that builds on mistakes of the past? Vote your vision in my poll. As usual, I'll report with the results.