Friday, January 9, 2009

Yesterday's Not-Really-News Historic News

Hat tip to Matt to go look for this.

Overshadowed a bit by all of the economic news, particularly Sen. Obama's plan to put a bigger push behind the economy, and the fact that this result has been pretty clear since about two months ago, this is actually THE moment when Sen. Obama is officially elected and becomes President Elect Obama. And, as Matt emphasized (from what I understand to be the other side of the political aisle), it is indicative of the way power is transferred peacefully in this country.

The calendar this year holds a rather interesting bit of irony: Monday, January 19, is the Martin Luther King Jr Day Holiday. Tuesday, January 20, is Barack Hussein Obama's inauguration day.

And one side comment on the economy, after today's news about unemployment:

We, like many states, continue to struggle with state support of education in the face of this economy. I caught a bit of Cramer on CNBC tonight, and he spoke a bit of truth that the media and politicians have avoided. We are probably in a depression, not a recession. Politicians and the media are probably correct to avoid using that word because, as professional communicators, they probably know that the vast majority of the American people are too poorly educated to have been taught that the term Great Depression was used because it was uniquely different from the depressions that had taken place periodically in United States history. I went to Wikipedia to refresh my memory of the one that followed the Civil War (the Panic of 1873) and also found the Panic of 1837. It is interesting, but not surprising, that banking irresponsibility and speculative bubbles played a role in each of these. The railroad boom in the 1870s sounds a lot like the real estate boom we recently had. One wonders if the Madoff securities scandal of 2008 will rank up there with Jay Gould trying to corner the gold market in 1869.

If you can trust Wikipedia (and, increasing, I find that I can trust it in technical areas where politics does not play too big of a role), the other reason might be that there is no official technical definition of a depression. The prominent mention of the role of deflation (currency devaluation) in a depression should make clear why the Fed has taken such an agressive role in fighting deflation without regard to the risk of future inflation. The balancing act is to "catch" any surge in inflation of the pump priming gets out of hand.

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