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October 22, 2008

President Bush Says Panic is Easing
No Thanks To Him!

This has me seeing red.

During a meeting with business leaders in Louisiana, George Bush said people's attitudes had changed from "near panic" to a "more relaxed" approach.

He put it down to the effects of the huge bail-out agreed with Congress to sustain the financial system.

Earlier, Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke said more government spending may be needed to combat the slowdown.

Oh, so the panic that the President, along with the Treasury Secretary and a majority of Congress created by having a giant, foamy-mouthed group spasm in front of the entire world is easing? Great job, Mr. President! I'm so glad you managed to convince everyone that we stood on the brink of a second Great Depression so you could come back a month later and pat yourself on the back for averting it.

Oh, and that credit crunch? The numbers are out; commercial credit and loans. Once again, the sky isn't rising fast enough. But if there's been a credit contraction (say, like the one we experienced from 2002 to 2004, you remember all the chaos over that one, right?) it sure isn't in the data.

But what about LIBOR and the TED spread? Yes, in lieu of solid data they were an indicator that something was out of whack. But they weren't evidence of a pre-existing credit crunch. They were evidence that people and institutions were behaving as if there was a credit crunch. People and institutions are scared enough to change their behavior in ways that are likely to worsen the very conditions they are afraid of.

For example, there will be many fewer houses and new cars sold in the next year. Not because of a lack of credit, but because people, believing the economy is in such poor shape, will choose to put off buying new houses and cars. Of course, the low rate of sales will be taken by overexcited commentators and Congressional blow-hards as a sign of our dying economy. Their hysteria, though it is predictable, will only worsen conditions.

But hey, everything is cool, right, because Ben Bernanke is calling for another stimulus package. Maybe I'll get another $600 of my own money back!

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