In December 2009, an Associated Press headline told us that the top business story of the year was “Recovery From Great Recession.” Readers of its text were informed that the previous year had seen the “Economy’s Fall — And Rebound.”
Twenty-six months later, the question I asked in response still resonates: “Rebound? What rebound?” Even though the American press has mostly pretended that they don’t exist, the unforgivable length of the post-recession malaise has caused an unprecedented growth in problems not seen since decades before most Americans were born.
If you’re looking for “good” news, the following sentence represents its full extent. For the first time in the ten quarters since the recession officially ended in June 2009, the private sector’s gross domestic product (GDP) was larger than it was at its pre-recession peak, whether you define the recession’s beginning the way normal people do (two or more consecutive quarters of contraction, in this case beginning with the third quarter of 2008) or as the academics at the National Bureau of Economic Research whimsically determined it (December 2007):
That’s nice, but as seen at the right in an updated version of a graphic originally posted at Investor’s Business Daily last year, even the overall recovery in GDP (including the government sector) which occurred during the third quarter of last year took three times as long as any recovery from any downturn since World War II.
Demonstrating that he may need to employ a ghostwriter to compose his personal correspondence in order to prevent him from going off-message, President Barack Obama informed a Maine constituent in June of last year that “it will probably take another year or two to fully dig our way out of this hole.”
This demonstrates that despite the public posturing, Obama knows full well that this nation hasn’t attained an economic recovery, and is in fact far from it.
Other benchmarks indicate how bad things really are, starting with per capita GDP. By Obama buddy Warren Buffett’s reckoning in September 2010, before the Oracle of Omaha decided to become the full-time Klingon of class warfare, we were still in a recession, and would stay in one “until real per capita GDP gets back to where it was before.” We’re probably at least a year from that threshold:
Thus, we will have endured a half-decade of Buffett-defined recession.