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Posts Tagged ‘depression’

9 Signs That We May Be Living Through Another Depression

Three in 10 Americans say we’re living through another depression — are they right?
AlterNet / By Joshua Holland
June 1, 2011  |

A poll released this week found that a majority of Americans are experiencing so much anxiety over the state of the economy that they’re losing sleep, experiencing relationship issues and getting angry. Two-thirds of those polled by Newsweek and the Daily Beast even said they were “angry at God.” Pollster Douglas Schoen concluded that “reality is beginning to break down Americans’ normally optimistic attitude.”

Another poll found that three in 10 Americans believe we’re living through a depression rather than a recession.

Yet the reality that’s breaking down Americans’ sunny optimism is obscured by reports that the economy is in recovery, and has been since June 2009. That’s a technical determination that does absolutely nothing for tens of millions of people living through the worst economic pain since the 1930s.

A little-discussed aspect of this downturn is that many Americans never fully recovered from the last one before the crash hit. In 2000, before the dot-com bust, a person right in the middle of the economic pack took home $27,833 inflation-adjusted dollars, and since then, that same person has only earned more in one year – 2006 (Excel). By 2008, the median income was a thousand bucks less than it had been in 2000, and then in 2009 and 2010 we saw the largest two-year drop in wages and benefits since 1962-’63.

Depressions don’t always unfold in the same way. The bleak period following the 1929 stock market crash has come to be known as the Great Depression, but it was not the first brutal downturn to be characterized as such. Between 1873 and 1896, the big industrial powers went through what was then called the Great Depression, and has since become known as the Long Depression.

The Long Depression never reached the grinding severity of the 1930s downturn; in fact, it was actually two severe recessions that bookended a period of rapid growth in the 1880s. Today, having “lost” much of the past decade, and with the economy looking like it may well head into a second period of recession – or at best a gradual, drawn-out road to economic health – historians may well come to view this period as another kind of Long Depression.

Consider how bleak the 2000s were relative to past decades. According to the Economist, “In the years between 1940 and 1999 the number of Americans employed outside farming grew by an average of 27 percent each decade,” but the 2000s saw the employment rate actually fall by around 1 percent.

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Obama: Stimulus package prevented another depression

By Raw Story
Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 — 3:13 pm

On the anniversary of his huge stimulus bill, President Barack Obama admitted Wednesday that millions of Americans had yet to feel the economic recovery, but insisted he had staved off a depression.

Obama also lashed out at Republicans he accused of misrepresenting the aims and achievements of the $862-billion mix of tax cuts and government spending, which he said had saved or created two million jobs.

“One year later, it is largely thanks to the Recovery Act that a second depression is no longer a possibility,” Obama said, at an event marking the anniversary of the day he signed the bill last year in Denver, Colorado.

“We acted because failure to do so would have led to catastrophe.”

Obama’s remarks came the same day as the New York Times‘ David Leonhardt reported that the “best-known economic research firms” agree the stimulus package created somewhere between 1.6 million and 1.8 million jobs, with the final tally expected to be around 2.5 million.

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Maxine Waters grills CEO’s over the raising of credit card interest rates

CLICK VIDEO

Rep. Maxine Waters asks CEO’s about their practice of raising credit card limits at the Bank CEO hearing today. How many of us have had a sudden jump in our interest rates without ever even knowing it.Which of course never allows people to pay off the debt. Waters is making a key point here.

Waters: Since you received TARP money, have any of you increased the amount of interest on the credit cards by sending out letters to the consumers, to your credit card holders indicating that this was part of the contract even though this was in small print and you now have the ability to do it, have any of you Did any of you do that?

Did you do this?

CEO: I was volunteering. First of all I feel like corporal of the universe not captain of the universe.

Waters: Did you increase your credit card interest rate?

CEO: In 2008, we increased interest rates on 9 % of our customers.

Waters: Thank you very much, did anyone else increase credit card rates after you received TARP money? Anyone else, if so would you please raise your hand. (most of them did)

You sent out the letters I’m trying to describe? Saying that you have the authority to do that. Did any of you reduce the amount of credit that was available to credit card holders because they shopped at certain stores? Just raise your hand if you did. None of you did. Let the record reflect, none of them raised their hands.

Tom Geoghegan has repeatedly talked about the idea of helping the American consumer with their credit debt by canceling their private consumer debt which would immediately stimulate the economy. He often speaks about how these institutions can raise their rates to as high as they want. The consumer can never catch up and it’s a sad practice which will cripple Americans with overriding fear about their state of finances. And as he points out in the linked video, we always come up with the money for war….

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Laid-Off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down

By ROBERT F. WORTH

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Sofia, a 34-year-old Frenchwoman, moved here a year ago to take a job in advertising, so confident about Dubai’s fast-growing economy that she bought an apartment for almost $300,000 with a 15-year mortgage.

Now, like many of the foreign workers who make up 90 percent of the population here, she has been laid off and faces the prospect of being forced to leave this Persian Gulf city — or worse.

“I’m really scared of what could happen, because I bought property here,” said Sofia, who asked that her last name be withheld because she is still hunting for a new job. “If I can’t pay it off, I was told I could end up in debtors’ prison.”

With Dubai’s economy in free fall, newspapers have reported that more than 3,000 cars sit abandoned in the parking lot at the Dubai Airport, left by fleeing, debt-ridden foreigners (who could in fact be imprisoned if they failed to pay their bills). Some are said to have maxed-out credit cards inside and notes of apology taped to the windshield.

The government says the real number is much lower. But the stories contain at least a grain of truth: jobless people here lose their work visas and then must leave the country within a month. That in turn reduces spending, creates housing vacancies and lowers real estate prices, in a downward spiral that has left parts of Dubai — once hailed as the economic superpower of the Middle East — looking like a ghost town.

(more…)

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Lawmaker To SEC Lawyer: “We Thought The Enemy Was Mr. Madoff. I Think It’s You”

More great political theater from the Madoff hearings.

Rep. Gary Ackerman, a New York Democrat, just reamed out the SEC’s top lawyer, Andy Vollmer, over Vollmer’s decision to decline to answer lawmakers’ questions about the SEC’s failure to catch Madoff.

Some highlights from Ackerman:

“Most of us speak English, and we’re having a hard time understanding you.””Your value to is useless. Your value to the American people is worthless. Your contribution to this proceeding is zero.”

“Our economy is in crisis, Mr. Vollmer. We thought the enemy was Mr. Madoff. I think it’s you.”

Here’s the video.

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Kerry: Republicans insisting on housing relief are ‘a year late’; they have ‘created’ the crisis.»

In recent weeks, conservatives have made housing their new battle cry, claiming that there isn’t enough addressing the housing crisis in the recovery bill. But as ThinkProgress has noted, they have been stalling housing relief for months. In an impassioned floor speech today, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) recounted how the GOP’s stubborness has “created” the current crisis:

KERRY: We put in a 15 billion provision in the Finance Committee. … It came to the floor of the Senate. And guess what? And the very people who are here on the floor now stripped it. The President and the administration opposed it. And for nine months, they sat there while 10,000 homes a day were being foreclosed, and they allowed us to slide into where we are today.

“They are about 10 months, a year, late on that effort, and they have created…a situation where it’s out of control,” he concluded. Watch it:

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Economic PTSD: The Psychological Effects of the Recession

By Michael Bader, AlterNet. Posted January 14, 2009.

We feel responsible for things we didn’t do and helpless in the face of things we couldn’t do.

Having recently lost 40 percent of my own retirement savings, it’s not hard to empathize with others in the same boat, including their feelings of helplessness, rage, guilt and shame.

Empathy for oneself and others is necessary but not sufficient. The antidote to helplessness begins with compassion and acceptance, but it doesn’t end there. It involves grief but can’t rest there. We need psychological healing but not apart from healing the world.

Outrage is part of the healing that we need. But our public outrage at being betrayed by the greed, mismanagement and political shenanigans that created the current crisis is compromised by all the subtle and secret ways that we avoid confronting painful feelings of helplessness and, instead, irrationally hold ourselves accountable.

This creates a political problem: While the helplessness we feel is legitimate, our ability to rationally respond to it by trying to correct its real structural causes is compromised by the guilt and shame that we’ve internalized.

Our real responsibility to change the world — something we can do — is undermined by the false and self-blaming feelings of responsibility for things that we didn’t and can’t do. The paradox is that we have to face the ways that we’re really helpless in order to own the ways that we’re not.

What is the alternative? The alternative to irrational guilt is real innocence. The alternative to denial is grief. And the solution to helplessness is to get angry and fight back.

MORE HERE

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