Donald Luskin, seemingly upset that he hadn’t been bashed recently in the progressive blogosphere, decided to write a baffling and extremely long column that ran over the weekend arguing that the economy’s fine. The Washington Post opinion section, for reasons I don’t care to speculate on, decided to run it. The basic argument is threefold:
- Foreclosure rates are lower than they were in the Great Depression and therefore saying things are worse than they’ve been since the Great Depression is wrong.
- There was a lot of GDP growth last quarter.
- If you ignore the worst-performing stocks, the stock market isn’t performing that poorly.
Point one seems to evince a curious failure to understand the meaning of the word “since.” Point two is interesting, but we’re still a point where for the first time on record we went from economic peak-to-peak (2000-2007) with no growth in individual income. Then we had several quarters of poor GDP growth. And then one decent quarter and now crazy headlines about a collapse of the financial system. This is not a great situation compared to any recent periods in American history. And as for the last point — well of course stock declines have been concentrated in the worst-performing sectors. That’s just how things work.
The weird thing about Luskin is that he isn’t just a right-wing propagandist; he actually seems to run a business where real people pay him real money for financial advice. It’s a strange world.