Monday, December 15, 2008

All hail the recession !

First, I'd like to apologize to my dear readers for being unproductive over such a long time span. Lack of inspiration, business in out-of-blog life and general tiredness kept me from writing.

Today, however, I feel like commenting on the craze of the day: claims that someone finally "get us out" of the coming recession.

It is a generally accepted view that recessions are bad. 'Something' ought to be done about them, we are told by all the concerned-looking pundits, otherwise we might face the full impact of the bust. And that is, supposedly, "bad" for "the economy".

That may be true in Bizarro World. On Earth, a recession indicates a reallocation of resources away from seemingly unproductive enterprises to those which actually satisfy customer demands. Various shifts in preference patterns may occur: market participants may either change their preferences for certain goods and services while remaining in the same time preference pattern, e.g. change their fondness for chewing gum to a liking for white bread, or alter their time preference altogether, e.g. stop buying video games and instead save for a house. As long as this happens in small doses, the impact of the reallocation is hardly recognizable. If, however, for some reason a large amount of market participants decide to switch from popular industry A to unpopular product B, markets need to restructure on a grand scale.

This, in turn, leads to temporary inconveniences such as unemployment, wage reductions, short-time work (or overtime) or business failures.

Think about it again: politicians, economists and pundits generally support fighting this process. How does that make any sense? It is not some bad voodoo that tends to haunt our world for an unknown reason from time to time, but simply markets reacting to future trends and expected modifications in supply and demand. So why would they want to stop it?

Of course, the argument "it's bad for the economy" holds some truth: it is bad for those entrerprises that are expected to undergo enormous changes or go bust due to production of goods or services that are not in demand (anymore). Nobody wants to leave a front row seat in the ride of life, but we have to decide at some point: Do we want an economy that produces goods and services according to market demand, or a museum economy which reflects demands and speculations of the past, but is unwilling and unable to adapt to our changing wishes and needs?

If you don't want to live in a museum, you'll be just as glad as me to see the recession unfold. Gas prices dropping, house prices dropping, commodity prices dropping in general, laggard companies like GM that have been more busy meddling with Michigan politics than producing neat cars for decades threatened to be finally gone for good, Ponzi schemers like Bernie Madoff going broke as well and, maybe of paramount importance, politicians that are too busy "fixing the economy" to think about going to war another time. I might be wrong with that one, but at least it's a reasonable hope.

Thus, as the headline said: all hail the recession !

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