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Marketplace Scratch Pad

Happy Ben

Scott Jagow May 5, 2009

The Fed Chairman sounded downright cheery about the economy today, compared to his recent assessments. Mr. Bernanke told Congress he’s hoping for positive GDP growth by the end of this year. At Marketplace, we debated how to interpret this. Does it mean we’re still in the “things are getting crappy more slowly” phase? Or are we about to enter the “things are getting better, but they’re still crappy” era?

If you believe Ben, we really are close to the bottom: “Sales of existing homes have been fairly stable since late last year, and sales of new homes have firmed a bit recently, though both remain at depressed levels.” He also expects business investment and production to start turning around soon. And consumer spending.

Wow. I’m glad to hear it. It does make me wonder whether he’s been reading the Onion, though. The paper has a hilarious spoof that suggests Americans want the government to lie about economic conditions instead of giving the grim reality:

“I know when he’s telling the truth, and it bothers me,” recently laid-off schoolteacher Mary Hanover said of Obama. “He gets this serious expression on his face and says things like, ‘This is the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.’ Who needs to hear that? For Christ’s sake, smile a bit and say we just found a diamond mine under Montana that’s going to pay for everything. I’ll believe you.”

32-year-old office manager Alexis Harrington says: “What I want is for someone to tell me with a straight face that the GDP is through the roof so that I can feel better… “For the first time in my life I know who the secretary of the treasury is,” Harrington continued. “And I don’t like it.”

Bernanke didn’t mention a diamond mine. But he did talk about GDP growth.


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