You Say Recession, I Say Tomato

The 24-hour news and/or business channels, which can’t fill the time with analyses and opinions — fresh information only takes a couple of minutes — more frequently use predictions to round out the cycle. Can you take their forecasts to the bank?

Can your bank then take them to the Fed?

Never mind the truth, can anyone handle the sooth?

This morning, we wake up to broadcast news of definite signs the recession has peaked. But

  • If you’ve been laid off or fear that day is coming
  • If you’ve gone to the mall and found it less crowded even for this time of year
  • If your credit card company lowered your ceiling, because you’re following decades of advice and paying the balance off or nearly so every month

That last definitely is me, in today’s mail.

Then (after all those ifs, you are entitled to a then), CNNMSNBCCNBCFoxNews lose that much more credibility.

Economic news borders on wolf-calling. We’ll know times are better when we see proof in our own households, if not our community.

What then to call this worldwide event? I have been preferring depression to recession (the Great Depression was suffered by the Greatest Generation, and at best we’re just a Good Generation) due to its evident breadth and hints of length. Today’s Wall Street Journal, though, may offer a better term, zud.

Falling demand for cashmere among recession-hit shoppers in the West is cutting into earnings among nomadic herders in Mongolia, whose goats produce the soft fiber used in high-end sweaters, scarves and coats. The result: herder loan defaults. Mongolians are calling the current situation a financial zud, invoking a local term for unusually harsh winters that devastate herds.”

This is the nut graf (story summary) from the front-page “A-Hed” feature, “The Global Downturn Lands with a Zud on Mongolia’s Nomads” by Gordon Fairclough. If you subscribe, here is the link.

Here is my vote for “zud” as what all of us should call this economic crisis, even if your tent and herd are not threatened by foreclosure.

Copyright 2009 Ben S. Pollock