Is the Bush recession finally upon us? In all honesty, I've been anticipating it for years. We balanced-budget types weren't even happy with former President Clinton's surplus. Imagine our distress over Bush's epochal debt. Wanton federal spending usually presages economic hardship.
Before we get to that, a bit of history. Clinton announced in 2000 a $355 billion payoff of national debt. Government surpluses blossomed. Who'd ever heard of a surplus, much less a payoff of the national debt? Yet even in those heady times, the government still owed $5.7 trillion in debt.
I've heard economists argue that some debt is necessary for a strong economy. OK, some. But today's risible level hovers way above "necessary."
Which leads us back to my original question: Is a recession in the offing? I've hoped not, but feared so, for about two years now, ever since the height of the überfrothed, irrationally exuberant housing boom.
The '90s tech explosion spurred Clinton-era growth. The housing boom (and war spending) spurred Bush-era growth. The housing boom has stalled and seems poised to morph into a bust. "Service industries in the U.S. expanded less than economists expected in June, bearing out the Federal Reserve's prediction of slowing growth," reported Bloomberg News this past week. The economy also produced disappointing and lower-than-expected job growth last month.
Interest rates are up. Gas is high, and consumer prices are starting to propel skyward. Can recession be far behind? The only salvation is the hope for explosive growth in some as-yet unknown sector of the economy. It won't be technology or housing. Transportation? No way. Manufacturing? Not on this continent. Telecommunications? Too tied to technology. Agriculture? Wrong millennium. Another war effort? My gosh, let's hope not.