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Pearl River Brothers and sisters, it’s bad. Furthermore, it’s getting worse! Piled on to that, it will get much, much worse, before there’s even a hint of it getting better.
A recession has a simple economic definition. Any two quarters of falling economic activity earns the title. Economists and forecasters say that the good news is that what we are facing won’t be as bad as the Great Depression when the market dropped by 80%, unemployment rose to 25%, and US economic output dropped by one-third. The bad news is that we will get darned close to that.
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin guesstimated that unemployment could go to 20%, then tried to hide from the number. Goldman Sachs and others speculated that we would be at 10% within the coming weeks and that unemployment applications, which soared by 230,000 this week, will top 2.5 million in the coming week. It’s hardly any comfort to note that we’re in uncharted waters where the world has never been from what the economists say. This will be the first service sector driven recession or deprecession or whatever we end up calling this shitstorm.
Wouldn’t you know it? Big chains and conglomerates might be hit hard, but they’ll make it. They have reserves. They have access to credit. Banks will keep them alive.
Wouldn’t you know it, Walmart and some of the big banks are giving workers bonuses. That’s a good thing of course. Walmart is hiring 150,000 if you can stomach it. Amazon is hiring 100,000, so ditto that. Some of the banks are giving tellers a grand and hiring frontline banking people, because they are still open and making money until the rest of us run out of money for them to make.
Remember when inequity was an issue, and unemployment was at a fifty-year low? Yeah, just a couple of weeks ago. Now, the big companies that survive will be gluttonous in size. The tech monopolists, telecoms, video services, will all be booming. The rest of us? We’re up a creek without a paddle.
Restaurants and other small businesses will be slammed. Lacking credit or always running at maximum credit allowable, like Fair Grinds Coffeehouse, there just aren’t reserves. There were bills and payrolls before the lightening fast shutdown of everything, and now there’s no income adequate to keep floating those bills or any new ones. The New York Times argued that small businesses should get direct cash infusions. Roger that! What are the chances though? When the Republican Senate is tight fisted about $1200 for individual citizens, which for many won’t cover rent and groceries, what are the odds on that? Little and none, would be my bet.
None of this even counts the number of deaths, which some experts still say could pass a million and hit double that.
Sisters and brothers, there are no two ways to say this. We’re sheltered in now. Maybe it’s a good thing, because it’s very dark outside.