Folks, it is as bad as us cynics on the Left are saying it is. Don't believe the hype, the American Century is coming to an end & the Age of Prosperity is no more. We are in an economic recession. A good look at our economic plight is all that is needed to convince any sane person that I am right.
* BBC News reported that another 62,000 American jobs were lost in the month of June, following the 62,000 jobs lost in May, and the losses of the past six straight months. These aren't people becoming unemployed, these are jobs that no longer exist in the United States because they've been shipped overseas, the company had to downsize, or what not. Department of Labor statistics show the U.S. economy is, on average, dropping 73,000 jobs per month and has already suffered the loss of 438,000 jobs this year.
* When the investment bank Bear Sterns was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy in March of this year, the Federal Reserve stepped in with a loan (of sorts) and kept the mammoth lender from capsizing. Why? Because the Feds were concerned that Bear Sterns' failure would cause widespread disruption of financial markets. This notorious case of corporate welfare signified the begriming of the end for the economy. You know it's bad when the largest economy ever is endangered by the collapse of a single business. The ensuing collapse of the subprime mortgage industry, the bank credit crisis, and the resulting foreclosure crisis have bitchslapped the American stock market into quite a sorry state & it has yet to recover. Predictions for recovery aren't suggesting an upturn until at least 2014.
* There are laws intended to keep the market stable by regulating what companies can & cannot do, but Washington hasn't been terribly concerned with enforcing them. They are supposed to be preventing monopolies and trusts from manipulating prices to increase profits. Big Oil is a clear example of the Feds failure to uphold anti-trust law.
* The price of oil has surpassed $150 per barrel & the effects on the economy are in no way minor. At the very least, oil price fluctuation results in inflation. Before 2005, inflation rates had been steady for a decade at 2.5%, but a jump to 3.3% in 05-06 prompted the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates many times in an attempt to curb increased inflation. Now, economists are pointing to these rate cuts as royal faux pas that have added to the economic woes we face. More on this subject can be found HERE, because I lack the background in economics to effectively explain the problem.
* A worldwide food price crisis has already created a rice shortage in the U.S. The cost of dairy products, fruit & veggies, grains, meat... all of it is rising through the roof. Droughts & floods are impacting the supply, increasing populations have impacted the demand, and commodities speculation is driving up prices while lining the pockets of an elite few investors.
* The unemployment rate is currently at 5.5% and more losses are expected. That is bad enough at face value, but when you consider what the number actually measures, it gets worse. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the definition of an unemployed person is one that does not have a job but did actively look for one in the past 4 weeks. This 5.5% statistic does not include unemployed folks that haven't sought employment in the last month, those that have given up hope of getting a job, or those people that are underemployed.
* The U.S. dollar is plummeting in value, falling like a rock. Our exploding deficit (currently at 7% of the entire economy) isn't helping the matter. So far Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China, Venezuela, Sudan, Iran, and Russia have abandoned the dollar to protect their own economies.
Obviously the indicators of economic downfall are there. What is the government intending to do about it? Obama's economic plan is to repeal Bush's tax cuts to the wealthy, exempt working class families from payroll taxes on the first $8,100 of income, provide a 10% mortgage credit, and expand access to health insurance so that health costs aren't monopolizing consumer spending. McCain wants to cut the corporate tax rate, give Americans a $5000 tax credit for health insurance, & expand upon Bush's tax cuts.
Yup, it's pretty clear we're fucked.