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This Too Shall Pass

Despite the gloom on the jobs front, corporate profits are gushing.  Honeywell, Caterpillar and Xerox have all posted 40 percent plus gains in earnings, and more good news comes in from GE, Verizon and McDonald’s.

The one thing almost everyone forgets about the business cycle in both good times and bad is the simplest:  the business cycle is cyclical.  During every expansion there are clueless optimists who say this time is different and expect the Dow to double every year until it reaches infinity, and during every recession there are equally stupid pessimists who wail that capitalism (and the US) are finished and we will never see dawn.

If we could harness the power of human stupidity we would have an infinitely renewable resource; in the meantime, readers can save themselves a lot of time and trouble by ignoring any pundit or politician who can’t seem to grasp the most fundamental truths about the system in which we live.

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  • Anthony

    Pass it shall WRM. Capitalism may not be the last best hope but its cyclical nature and periodic transformations are indeed fundamental truths inherent to system; recognition of such would serve many affected by its currents well. As you know, both major indices (Dow and SP 500) have reached highs not seen since end of 1st quarter.

  • Anthony

    For sake of balance to above comment, unemployment claims did worsen vis-a-vis U.S. job market from previous week.

  • J R Yankovic

    Thanks for a welcome breath of fresh air. It’s always rejuvenating to get a sense of balance in a time when HYPE – towards one extreme or another – seems all but morally obligatory (as if the simple, quasi-Biblical resolve to WATCH and wait was somehow beneath our modern intellectual dignity).

    Though I’m not sure if stupidity isn’t too strong – or too derisive? – a word for what MAY come down to old-fashioned arrogance and impatience. Which in and of themselves, now that I think of it, might perhaps best be described as the Stupidity-on-Steroids of the Highly Intelligent?

    I’m just kicking around a thought here. I mean, if I’m an on-the-rise journalist, why shouldn’t I want to be among the chosen many – or even among the first – to spot China’s history-revolutionizing Complete and Utter Breakthrough? And that to the everlasting shame and contempt of all the other nations (including the US)? Or to reverse it, America’s irreversible triumph over history, to the shame of all the other nations including China? And who cares if I’m wrong? What with things changing SO fast, and memories SO forgivingly short, maybe the key is simply knowing when to jump on – and off – the right bandwagons. I mean, Change is in the Air, right? So who’s going to remember the names and faces?

    Lastly one must admit, hype towards extremes does make for some really exciting, even combative, political discussion WITHIN countries – even as it makes those same nations more and more ineffectual on the international front. Not, of course, that big media conglomerates and other global wealth-creators should need ever be concerned with marginal things like that.

    “Readers can save themselves a lot of time and trouble by ignoring any pundit or politician who can’t seem to grasp the most fundamental truths about the system in which we live.”

    Well-put. I also wonder if one of the fundamental truths about the Age in which we live is the dogmatic certainty of “Forget EVERYTHING you know: this time is globally different.”

    Btw, congratulations and best wishes on an attractive and engaging new format – along with some insightfully fun (and very engaging) writing.

  • Toni

    It was in the early 1980s that I first heard the adage, “Economists can only draw straight lines.” They don’t call turns, up or down.

    I began post-college work as a Forbes reporter in 1979, when everyone knew the world was running out of oil and gas. Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer winner and now dean of energy analysts, came out with his first book, predicting that we’d have run out by 2000.

    Now we know that oil prices peaked in 1981 and then cratered. I know of only two forecasters who predicted the decline.

    Moral: predictions of doom should be met with skepticism, as should predictions of endless prosperty.

  • Mrs. Davis
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