Policy gimmicks won't fix what ails us

Obama's jobs speech proves that the economy may be beyond repair

Kevin Lamarque/AP
President Obama delivers a speech to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington. Watching are Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner.

Last night’s “job bill” speech was nothing short of a travesty, a decisive and freakish reminder that America has been taken deeply down the worst possible path.
While somewhat surprising, I suppose it just makes sense that both the Federal Reserve and the Federal Government have simultaneously lost all credibility and that both are seemingly exhausted of policy tools.

When the window of reality opened briefly in 2008 with colossal failures and crisis in every direction, many Americans got a brief and uncomfortable sense of what it feels like to be truly concerned about their current wealth and future prosperity… a sharp contrast to the heyday of the housing boom era where levering up on residential real estate was all the rage.

With a host of broken, deteriorating and dysfunctional markets, stocks down over 50%, a few notable public bank runs and several earth shaking “buck breaking” money market events, the Feds panicked and abruptly snapped into a mode of propping and bailing using creative accounting trickery, blanket guarantees and boat loads of massive Keynesian boondoggles.

What we are now seeing, I believe, is the clear recognition that the propping and stimulus action was an unmitigated failure and further that the political process and institutions that brought us these “solutions” are as weak and phony as the “recovery” they attempted to manufacture.

Bernanke’s speech yesterday at the Economic Club of Minneapolis revealed this somewhat in his recounting of events of the past few years and his recognition that the massive housing slump has made all the difference to the severity of the recession and the lackluster “recovery”, a fact that the Federal Reserve appears to have underestimated at every turn.

With a litany of platitudes and talk of the “enduring strength” of the American economy, Bernanke concluded his speech by assuring listeners that the long term prospects of the U.S. economy does not have to be materially affected by the ongoing financial crisis so long as we take the necessary steps to “secure that outcome”.

President Obama did no better last night when he outlined a list of futile fiscal policy gimmicks that could have been borrowed right from the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” a 2009 policy action carrying over twice the supposed Keynesian punch that we all know did little to nothing to build a durable long term recovery.

It’s over folks… By hook or crook the Feds did their best to reassemble our Humpty Dumpty economy but it can’t be done… you can’t paper over the serious mistakes made by millions of households or the bad policy created by generations of Washington DC vote peddling hucksters.

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