Buckle Up!

Buckle up. That is a decent message to read into this week’s tea leaves. The road ahead may not be the yellow brick road some experts predicted. Well, maybe the brick road minus a number of bricks might be a better description.

Buckle up. The Chinese economy cools. A natural occurrence for one that has boiled for years.

You may think this is good for us. Now those Chinese won’t compete so fiercely for our jobs. They may not. Then again, in a slower economy over there, they may grow more fierce. Remember too, the Chinese buy a lot of stuff from us. Wish them to suffer and you wish your customers woe.

Buckle up. The government recalculated the growth of our own economy. Downward. Toward anemic.

And there is likely more bad news to come. The balance of trade figures came out Wednesday. Lousy figures. They will cause the economists to revisit the GDP figures they already lowered. To lower them further.

Meanwhile the administration heaps flowers round the latest job figures. Look at these bright spots, they urge us. You can build a mountain of blossoms around a casket. Sooner or later your eyes find their way to it. The latest job figures belong in one.

The Fed sees the same dreary picture. This week it hung the “Buckle Up” sign on its wall. 

It has precious few tools left in its kit to stimulate the economy. It will pull them out. Like the guy who has only a hammer to fix a clock, it will push more cheap money into the system. And hope entrepreneurs and home buyers and credit card users will leap for joy. And will seize the cheap money and use it to stir up things.

Alas, the Fed knows there are already trillions of dollars sitting on the sidelines. Pushing more is like bringing the plate of bread after dinner.

Buckle up. This week’s figures on productivity of our workers were not good. This usually bodes poorly for the future.

Would you fling this news in my face?  Would you argue that a lot of this news reflects what was? What happened already? You would be right.

However, it also serves to predict what is to come. To some unavoidable extent, it does.

Buckle up. Lousy times lead to reforms, they do. We will heal, we will. We will recover, without a doubt.

You have been moved by movie scenes where the stroke or accident victim sweats through hours of rehab. To defy the doctors’ predictions and walk again! If you could silence the uplifting music you would be left with the sounds of groans and weeping. That is what real rehab is.

We will have rehab. Buckle up for the pain that accompanies it. And for the uncertainty of how long we will gnash our teeth whilst slip sliding on the treadmill.

A quicker recovery will come if our rulers think outside the box. A more solid recovery will come if those rulers grow imaginative. Healing will be more profound if they deal with the political side of this mess with a sure and practical hand.     

We have not seen much of the above lately. I am certain we will. The lingering uncertainty is when. And whose hand it will be.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.                  

For more columns, for Tom’s radio shows and new TV show (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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