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Posted: July 02, 2009

500 days of summer

Today's economic realities explained by way of blockbuster movie titles

Jeff Thredgold

One of the painful realities of life as an economist and professional speaker is that the subject matter of economics is typically viewed (with good reason!) by the general public as confusing, intimidating and boring. As a result, trying to present weekly economic and financial information with an unusual twist can occasionally be a most welcome change.

That's why I'm using today's current movie titles to enliven this week's column. Please accept my sincere apology to anyone I might offend.

The recession
So here we are, as summer is finally upon us, finding ourselves at YEAR ONE-and-a-half of the longest, most serious and most painful U.S. recession since the Great Depression. THE HANGOVER from weak home prices, six million lost jobs and enormous government spending makes many of us wish we were 17 AGAIN, with few cares in the world while enjoying a DANCE FLICK or a NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM.
Job losses

Too much economic BLOOD in the streets is found across America, with 12 states now recording double-digit unemployment rates. THE HURT LOCKER of broken dreams is all too full.

Millions of people struggle with the ANGELS & DEMONS of where their lives go from here. MY LIFE IN RUINS stories are routinely told by all too many.
Ponzi schemer
Bernie Madoff’s victims are part of this pained list as well. Madoff, according to himself, worked as THE SOLOIST in the largest Ponzi scheme on record, with billions of dollars in investor losses. He managed to keep inept government regulators at bay for many, many years as he dealt with the MONSTERS VS. ALIENS battling within his own mind.

Too many investors got caught in the EASY VIRTUE of consistently reported and paid double-digit investment returns … in both good markets and bad. Such investors took little comfort on June 29 from his admission in court that he had made “an error in judgment.” Now there’s an understatement. Some will take only modest SALVATION in seeing him spend his remaining years behind bars.   

The new Administration continues its FAST & FURIOUS assault upon the private sector, with the PUBLIC ENEMIES of health care insurers and energy companies firmly in its sights.  

The TRANSFORMERS inside the Beltway will soon embrace THE PROPOSAL to bring more and more of the nation’s health care system under governmental control. We seriously wish them well, as health care costs have risen too quickly. However, the phrase “We’re from the federal government and we’re here to help you” still scares many of us to death.

Many hope that the medical role of MY SISTER’S KEEPER in the future won’t be determined within a rationed health care system by some faceless government bureaucrat … the direction now followed in too many of the EARTH’s nationalized health care systems.
The U.S. military
American soldiers just completed their scheduled withdrawal from major metropolitan areas in Iraq, including Baghdad. Iraqi security forces now control the major cities within that country, where LIFE IS HOT.

Any modest AWAY WE GO euphoria, however, is tempered by the American military buildup in a LION’S DEN known as Afghanistan. American soldiers, including G.I. JOE, will attempt to strengthen their understanding of LOCAL COLOR and customs so as to boost their success against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. These groups remain OBSESSED with our destruction and their return to an ICE AGE-style domination of other people’s lives.
The Federal Reserve

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke continues his focused SURVEILLANCE of the nation’s economy, including the QUIET CHAOS at times within the nation’s financial markets. His supporters will avidly seek his reappointment as Federal Reserve Chair by the President when Bernanke’s term expires in January 2010.

Bernanke’s critics see the ORIGINS of the GHOSTS OF (INFLATION) PAST in his extremely aggressive monetary policy and fear a DRAG ME TO HELL future of much higher inflation pressures. Others wonder (WHICH) MOUNTAIN will have to be climbed in coming years … that of facing inflation OR deflation.

U.S. economic recovery
Better News? THE STATE OF PLAY of the American economy is now in transition from the LAND OF THE LOST to one where a return to modest economic growth is expected. Such imminent growth does not suggest that serious issues regarding residential housing, commercial real estate, more job losses or shaky consumer confidence will be behind us.

However, a sense of KNOWING (or hoping) that the economy’s next widely expected direction is UP will help us feel better. We will get through this.


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The Tea Leaf is a weekly economic and financial update by Jeff Thredgold, economist for Vectra Bank Colorado. He has been writing an economic update every week for the past 31 years and is the only economist in the world to have received the designation of CSP, or Certified Speaking Professional. Republished with permission from the Tea Leaf by Jeff Thredgold, whose site address is
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