I was thumbing through the dead-tree Wall Street Journal at the school library before class today and found this interesting headline-"U.S. Slump Takes Toll Across Globe."
So far we haven't been in a recession; we've yet to see a single quarter of negative GDP growth, although all bets are off as to what the first quarter numbers will be. Ben Bernanke made headlines by just acknowledging the possibility of a recession.
The US economy is still growing, despite all the sub-prime mortgage headaches and $3/gallon gas. We're still the most potent economy on the planet.
Let me go back to that headline. If the largest economy on the planet is growing, albeit slowly, how does that equate to a slump? If everyone is expecting more, modest growth is a "slump."
Twenty points a game is a very good average for an NBA player. Only 28 players are at or above that figure as I go to press; Detroit manages to have the #2 record without any of them. Currently, LeBron James leads the league with 30.3 PPG followed by Kobe Bryant with 28.7.
Were Kobe to have his scoring average drop to 20PPG, he'd still likely be an All-Star. He'd still be one of the more feared players in the league. However, since we're used to seeing him in the general vicinity of 30, a 20PPG average would be a slump; he hasn't scored that low in almost a decade, when he was college-aged and just coming into his own.
Likewise, when the US economy merely slows down to a 1% growth rate rather than the 3-4% that is expected, everyone starts to worry. Even a modest downtick in the economy is a modest downtick from a doggone big economy; that's cold comfort to someone getting laid off at a mortgage firm or someone who's out of a house due to an ARM gone sour, but it's something to remember as a citizen and consumer.
Beyond the headlines, we have a very solid economy. Not perfect and not without pockets of inequality and poverty, to be sure, but still very solid. Just like most of the NBA would be happy to "slump" to 20PPG, the rest of the world wouldn't mind slumping to US levels.
Thus, things probably need more tweaking that overhauling.