Like anything in life, the recession is all about perspective, and I’m not referring to which side of the bench you look from. Rather, one must consider the broad economic picture not in terms of theoretical notion of economic successes and relative failures, but the intent and result of our nations attempt at recovery.
Last I checked, the Federal Reserve is far from unveiling a “mission accomplished” banner on the recession. Both the Federal Reserve and President Obama have alluded to an emergence from the economic crisis. Similar statements of a brighter economic future came from the European Union in mid-September regarding emergence. But Americans are still not buying the idea that our economy can be recovering so quickly. Not to mention that for those looking for a job, the economy certainly doesn’t feel “fixed.”
Looking at the issue, one may ask if we are half in, or half out of our mess. To best understand our nation’s current economic position, I spoke with NMU Economics professor Tawni Ferrarini. She said that ultimately, we will have to reinvent ourselves to make it through the worst parts of the downturn.
One aspect of this downturn that many are alarmed by is the recent projections by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which state that we have reached our highest rate of unemployment since the start of the current recession in December 2007. The story is even worse in Michigan, where the 9.7 percent national unemployment rate would be welcome in comparison to the state’s current 15 percent unemployment rate.
As with any globalized economy, ours is so dynamic and fast moving that unemployment is classified as a “lagging indicator,” according to Ferrarini. Which is to say, even as spending and development is up as it is, jobs will likely not follow immediately. This is a crucial time if we are to adapt to a suitable role for our nation in the global economy.
However unemployed our work force may be, there are many signs that point to the Nation being down, but not out. The Federal Reserve has reported that Americans are saving more than ever. This is to demonstrate that everyday Americans are committed to making it through the current economic recession, as well as to paying off credit card debt. This type of frugality that may delay current consumer spending reports is what many refer to as “strategic spending.”
Careful spending and saving is a good indicator that many Americans are learning from the crisis. Perhaps now we are trying to embrace the virtues of spending wisely.
On the federal level, the government is also conducting strategic spending as evidenced by an increase in expenditures by the federal government, as well as by private industry. Signs of recovery come as manufacturing orders bounce back from their lull. Evidence of this can be seen locally as Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company calls back workers.
Economics aside, Americans as individuals are not giving up.
Although the optimism of an emergence may seem to some as a political tactic, remember that Americans have always had big dreams. If we listened to all of the cynics, then we likely wouldn’t have made it out of any other major crisis our nation has experienced.
Editor’s note: Tom Cory is a senior international studies major and is on staff at the NMU Political Review, which presents student’s views on political issues. He can be contacted at [email protected] nmu.edu.