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September, 2009

Everything is Peachy

The author expresses discomfort with the notion that the country has recovered from the recession, arguing that not much has changed and that the 'good times' thinking might just be a facade.

All of this talk about us coming out of the recession is making me really uncomfortable. It's not that I don't want to see the country recover, however, I can't help but feel as though the trope of the last 12 months, one centered around a "reset" in the world's economy, has been forgotten (and maybe never was). I've felt this way for a few months now, though I must say it's been inflated for me by the dealmaking in the tech world of the last few weeks.

It started a few months ago as I kept reading about executive after executive explaining to the world that business was fundamentally changing and then, in the next breath, explaining how their company would come out the other side unscathed. I kept thinking that it felt akin to the whole world believing they're above average, ignoring that if that were really true, average would just go up and they'd all be back to square one.

Anyway, I was having a conversation about this at likemind this morning and felt like writing something about it and then I read this interview with Nassim Taleb and knew I had the quote I needed to anchor an argument:

The government is socializing all these losses by transforming them into liabilities for your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. What is the effect? The doctor has shown up and relieved the patient's symptoms - and transformed the tumour into a metastatic tumour. We still have the same disease. We still have too much debt, too many big banks, too much state sponsorship of risk-taking. And now we have six million more Americans who are unemployed - a lot more than that if you count hidden unemployment.

That's exactly it. I am ultimately worried that we haven't really fixed anything and instead have just postponed something, transferring the problem to another time (and maybe even generation) so we can go back to a world of building faux-value: A world where we start to believe our own hype, thinking that just because we've cooked the balance sheet to make things look better that we've really fixed the problem.

I don't mean to be a "Debbie Downer" or anything, just really felt like I had to write all this stuff. I don't know the answers or even think that I'm immune to the "good times" thinking.

That's all, carry on with the happy thoughts.

September 18, 2009
Noah Brier | Thanks for reading. | Don't fake the funk on a nasty dunk.