Economics is not a science. It is certainly not a religion. To study it, parse it, analyze it points the way to madness; but owning it is a dangerous game. The Bengal tiger in the brush. Stay in the boat, the man said – and he was right. Because the thing in the dark has fangs and a passionate hunger. Taming it is a recipe for gouging and gnawing of flesh. To think about the results of you in the jungle with God’s perfect killing machine is not for me or you or the poor bastard running the Treasury Department to fathom. Some of this nation’s best and brightest have slunk slack-jawed in defeat from its considerable shadow. Boastful yuppies in power ties end up on the wrong end of a swinging rope. Lives and reputations end in tatters. Weeping the order of the day. Yeah, it’s best to let it be.
I have written very little about economics. There is a reason. I am afraid of it. There is this hoary thought in my head that once I finish this sentence most of the money I have in the bank and whatever ghostly form it takes in the stock market will go the way of the hoola-hoop and rock music. I will be left with fond memories and a cot in the poor house… and that is after one sentence. Given the choice of finishing this paragraph or going back to writing about politics or society or even sports and art is not a choice but a redeeming factor to my existence. And yours. We’re all in this together.
Having written all the above, I will attempt to report on the current economy here, which, by all indications, is showing two signs: fucking gangbusters and edge of disaster. Statistics, as stated already, are less than meaningless. Ask the guy sleeping on the street as your stepping over him! Statistically, all indicators are that we have roared back from the sinkhole of 2020 – even inflation has been halved. A year ago, we and the world were at 9%. Today we are at four; the world still at nine. That’s fucking amazing. America currently owns the most robust post-pandemic economy of any G7 nation, and with halving inflation, unemployment is at lows that you’d only have seen if you had a gig in 1969. I was six most of that year. My gig was electric football, the Jackson 5 cartoon, and choosing peanut butter and jelly for lunch. We’re at some kind of record number of months of payroll increases and job growth, as well. Consumer confidence is at a 10-year high. They tell me the GDP is crawling, but doing so in the right direction.
Of course, this brought our president out of his hermetically sealed chamber last week to tout it. And why not? He got the Inflation-Reduction Act through Congress, along with an era-defining Chips Act. A bi-partisan infrastructure bill was also done-and-done. He worked with the crazies in the Republican Party to avoid dogging on our bills a few months back. If his predecessor had done half of this, he’d be doing a victory lap while eating hamburgers (not too strenuously, because he’s dangerously obese and mightn’t have lived otherwise). However, there would be band-beating tweets aplenty to be sure.
Joe Biden, with his paltry 40% approval rating, absolutely should be reminding people that we are in the midst of the third verse of “Happy Days are Here Again.” Still, I remind him that he is playing a scary game. Owning an economy that is precarious at best is mumblety peg with a hunting knife high on meth. The same indicators that ring the bells, and Wall Street, hinted at it last Thursday by shedding over 500-points – also toll the bad ones. If interest rates are jacked again, even with a booming housing market, there may be no stopping a late 2023 to early 2024 recession. How hard a recession matters is to who is viewing it, whether you root for the fascists or the domestic socialists. The fascists dream of the nation to be plunged into darkness so Jesus can save us from the drag queens and the Mexicans. The domestic socialists want more money for more taxes to get us more government stuff, like college debt relief or free electric cars.
A rolling economy can bring confusing signs that come from the strangest places, and what emerges from those places is someone’s business, as Patti Smith once mused, but not mine.
For kicks, Biden used the moment to shat on Ronald Reagan’s most infamous boondoggle: Trickle Down Economics. A tale of fine yacht enthusiasts tossing their crumbs to the middle class to allow their parade of malfeasance and land rape. Thus, the president’s reference to the high times now as Bidenomics. In fact, he leaned into it as a way to prove that unfettered capitalism and hoping rich people and corporations pitch favors to Johnny Lunchpail, which for the record has never happened in the history of humankind, was always a pile of elitist claptrap. Ground up economics, of which Biden also noted, is not a thing. There is no money down there. No one has – or will – ever care about the worker bees deep in debt and paying the piper for our share… whatever slice that is allowed.
Again, I don’t know fuck-all about economics and don’t want to know, but things are so sunny these days that even the bleating corpse of Larry Kudlow was singing its praises. The very man who quit a cushy TV job lying about the economy to make up numbers for Donald Trump so he could sell whatever clusterfuck was going on before January of 2021 as “the best economy is American history” while swearing they weren’t tea-bagging the rich’s ample testicles and leaving the rest of us to suck air is left to admit that this baby is cruising.
I would normally apologize for such cheap and vulgar symbolism, but I’m writing about economics. This is my point in a nutshell. I once asked an assistant for celebrated economist and former chairman of the federal reserve Allen Greenspan for his thoughts on Quantitative Easing and he went on for 20 minutes about how to remove a cock ring from your molars.
Look, I am sure things are going swimmingly now, and if this was the summer of 2024, the politics of this would be a slam dunk, but we are so far removed from that we could have 70 shifts in the economic winds by the autumn of 2024 when the country decides to hand the operation over to either a domestic terrorist or a 100-year-old man. The whole thing is a jinx and I shan’t be touching this subject for another decade of so. It’s safer eviscerating the stupid.
In the economic jungle, we’re all stupid… or tiger chow.