On The Other Hand...
(Washington, DC) The US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill today officially declared the recession canceled. O'Neill admitted that while many people thought there had been a recession, in fact, they were mistaken. "Just because a few hundred thousand people lost their jobs, that doesn't mean the economy isn't fundamentally strong," O'Neill said. "I personally don't know anyone who got laid off who didn't have it coming to them. Frankly, there's been a lot of malingering lately, people blaming this or that on the economy, and I'm sick of it."
O'Neill insisted there were many positive indicators for the US economy in particular. "I know plenty of people who had a great year last year. Hell, I got a raise and my wife and I bought a second house. If that's not real economic growth, then I'll be darned."
Although there is no standard formula determine whether there has been a recession, the most commonly used measure is whether there has been a decline in the gross domestic product for two consecutive quarters or a failure to gain more than 10 yards in four plays. A depression, on the other hand, is signaled when the Giants lose three home games in a row.
Importance of Being Economic
However, a new group of economists insist the correct way to determine if there's a recession is if Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his hole and sees an aggregate supply determinant imbalance. If so, there will be six months of missed earnings; otherwise a year of accounting scandals.
Traditionally many measured economic confidence based on employment statistics, home sales, and the length of women's skirts in the spring. However, a new report from Oscar Ernie of the National Bureau of Economic Research and Tomfoolery (NBERT) examines economic progress using a broader range of measures. For example:
-The Grande Double Latte to Decaf Coffee ratio at Starbucks has doubled since January
-The price of Aeron chairs on eBay has stabilized in the last 60 days
-BMWs now outnumber moving vans on Highway 101
-More Business Development executives are becoming waiters than the other way around
Recession or no, by these measures, the economy appears to be much stronger than previously thought. Still, O'Neill apologized for any inconvenience to people who lost their jobs. "You can all get back to work now," he declared. "We've got an economy to run!" O'Neill said he felt bad for investors who put their retirement savings in Enron stock. "We really should look into this," he said after he stopped laughing. Later, O'Neill admitted that when he first claimed there was a recession he had been drinking. "Sometimes, when I'm travelling like that, you know I get a bit carried away," he said.
Greenspan and Eggs
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is continuing to try to provide more economic incentives to hasten the recovery. Fed Chairman Alan "the rock" Greenspan, has lowered the federal reserve rate 11 times in the last 15 minutes. The reserve rate is expected to be below 0 by end of the year, signaling a renewed confidence in the economy. "Keep rolling the dice," he said. "Baby needs a new pair of shoes."
Still, there's plenty of mixed feelings among economists about the recession. Rhoda Harley from the Mick Jagger School of Economics and Weather Forecasting in London said she remained uncertain whether it was a real recession or not. "Maybe it was a small one," she said. "I mean, it felt kind of tingly, but it wasn't like the movies." She suggested more direct economic stimulus might be needed. "Lets go again, quick," she said.
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