High Anxiety (A reprint of Vol. XX, Art. 25 – two years ago today. Deja vu again!)

The New York Times of August 22nd brought us this propaganda from Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Here’s the bold headline: “World Bankers Suggest Rebound May Be Under Way”, and here’s the collection of rubbish that followed:

“Central bankers from around the world expressed growing confidence on Friday that the worst of the financial crisis was over and that a global recovery was beginning to take shape.

“‘The prospects for a return to growth in the near term appear good,’ declared Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, offering optimism both about the United States and the worldwide outlook.

“Though the Fed chairman repeated his warning that the economic recovery here was likely to be slow and arduous and that unemployment would remain high for another year, he went beyond the central bank’s most recent statement that economic activity was ‘leveling out.’ Speaking to central bankers and economists at the Fed’s annual retreat here in the Grand Tetons, Mr. Bernanke echoed the growing relief among European and Asian central bankers that their own economies had already started to rebound …

“Investors reacted ebulliently to both the housing news and the Fed chairman’s remarks. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped as soon as the markets opened …

“‘This is a bull market,’ said Laszlo Birinyi Jr., president of Birinyi Associates, who said he was investing in large banks, well-established technology companies like Apple and big industrial companies like 3M and United States Steel. ‘There’s just a desire to be in the market and hope that the train will again leave the station.’…

“‘It is reasonable to declare that the worst of the crisis is behind us, and that the first signs of global growth have appeared earlier than we generally expected nine months ago,’ said Stanley Fischer, governor of the Bank of Israel and a top former official at the International Monetary Fund …

“‘When you get into a crisis like this, gradualism is not the right strategy,’ said Frederic S. Mishkin, an economist at Columbia University who was a Fed governor from 2006 until 2008. ‘Of course, when things turn around, you have to be aggressive in the other direction.’…

“Assessing the extraordinary events of the last year, Mr. Bernanke agreed that aggressive action by countries around the world prevented a collapse that would have been even worse than what actually took place. Asserting that short-term lending markets are functioning more normally, that corporate bond issuance is strong and that other ‘previously moribund’ securitization markets are reviving, Mr. Bernanke said that both the United States and other major countries were poised for growth.”

[Toldja it was rubbish. What a bunch of shills.]

But Bob Herbert, a very special OP-ED columnist at The New York Times, and a much more reliable source of information, steers his readers away from such drivel.

“The American people,” he writes, “are worried sick over the economy, which may be sprouting green shoots from Ben Bernanke’s lofty perspective but not from the humble standpoint of the many millions who are unemployed, or those who are still working but barely able to pay the bills and hold onto their homes …

“Many sane and intelligent American people who voted for Mr. Obama and sincerely want him to succeed have legitimate concerns about the timing of this health reform initiative and the way it is unfolding.

“The president has not made it clear to the general public why health care reform is his top domestic priority when the biggest issue on the minds of most Americans is the economy. Men and women who once felt themselves to be securely rooted in the middle or upper classes are now struggling with pay cuts, job losses and home foreclosures – and they don’t feel, despite the rhetoric about the recession winding down, that their prospects are good …

“It’s still early but people are starting to lose faith in the president. I hear almost daily from men and women who voted enthusiastically for Mr. Obama but are feeling disappointed. They feel that the banks made out like bandits in the bailouts, and that the health care initiatives could become a boondoggle. Their biggest worry is that Mr. Obama is soft, that he is unwilling or incapable of fighting hard enough to counter the forces responsible for the sorry state the country is in …

“People want more from Mr. Obama. They want him to be their champion. They don’t feel he is speaking to them in a language that they understand. He is seen as more comfortable speaking the Wall Street lingo. People don’t feel that the voices of anxiety are being heard.”

There are other voices that also aren’t being heard by the president and his advisors. We’ve sent out hundreds of e-mails and faxes to the privileged in Congress and in Mr. Obama’s administration but our painstaking efforts to bring our patented container ship design to the attention of those who were elected to represent the interests of the American people have generated not a single response.

We’ve been assured that our writing style is simple and understandable, and because it’s reasonable to assume that most e-mails and faxes get through, we can’t help wondering, therefore, why those empowered to do so are reluctant to duplicate the steps taken by FDR in the 1930s. Could it be that the best interests of the “privileged” don’t coincide with the best interests of the “unprivileged”?

It’s also reasonable to assume that if there was a logical reason why the Emergency Shipbuilding Program we’ve been advocating would not get the same results that FDR’s programs did in the 30s and 40s, then someone in Washington would gladly bring it to our attention. Dead silence.

As Vince Lombardi often exclaimed, “What the hell’s goin’ on here?!!”