Sunday, March 23, 2008

Economic predictions sound familiar - meanwhile BBC shows us the new Hoovervilles

CNBC superstars Erin Burnett ("Street Signs") and Maria Baritromo ("Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo) just appeared on "Meet the Press" where they (mostly) assured everyone that the economy looks good in the long run and how much better off you will be if you put your money in stocks.

Money Honey Bartiromo said that the Federal Reserve and international banks have made it clear they will do whatever it takes to avert disaster. Up-and-comer Burnett hinted that there are some who fear that doing everything may not be enough to stave off nasty surprises.

An editorial in Gold Eagle by Colin Seymour in 2001 saved me the trouble of looking up reassuring predictions from the past. Here are a few of the 20 entries Seymour gathered:

- "There will be no interruption of our permanent prosperity." - Myron E. Forbes, President, Pierce Arrow Motor Car Co., January 12, 1928

- "We feel that fundamentally Wall Street is sound, and that for people who can afford to pay for them outright, good stocks are cheap at these prices." - Goodbody and Company market-letter quoted in The New York Times, Friday, October 25, 1929

- "I am convinced that through these measures we have reestablished confidence." - Herbert Hoover, December 1929

- "There is nothing in the situation to be disturbed about." - Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, Feb 1930

- "... the present depression has about spent its force..." - Harvard Economic Society, Aug 30, 1930

- "All safe deposit boxes in banks or financial institutions have been sealed... and may only be opened in the presence of an agent of the I.R.S." - President F.D. Roosevelt, 1933

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My goal is not to foment panic. After all, economic prosperity depends on everyone maintaining faith in the system, and I have a retirement account to protect.

But I, for one, am weary of having my security threatened by a two-party system with one position on the economy, which is to allow corporate America to call the shots without any real regulation.

Remember the Savings and Loan scandal? Weren't we supposed to learn some lessons from that?

Republicans and Democrats colluded in passing NAFTA without requiring other countries to meet our environmental and labor standards, guaranteeing the playing field for manufacturing jobs would tilt elsewhere. Then there was the Internet bubble, the Enron energy bubble and now the housing bubble.

Remember the old song called "I'm forever blowing bubbles - pretty bubbles in the air"?

When the bubbles burst, tax dollars are used to mop up the fallout on corporations, but not on citizens. And our corporate media colludes in offering reassurances rather than analysis.

Congratulations to the BBC for showing us the tent cities springing up in our country. And thanks to the Internet for allowing us a way to see real reporting again.

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