A New Word to Describe Financial Folly

What’s happening in the world of money is that the depression continues… You wouldn’t know it from reading the headlines or talking to economists. According to the official line, the US economy expanded 2.2% last quarter.

How is that possible? Well, here at The Daily Reckoning, we’ve invented a new word to describe it – ledgerdemain. Go ahead. Look it up. You won’t find it. But the word perfectly describes the practice of making things look like what they are not by using accounting tricks. Unemployment is over 10%…and apparently still rising. House prices are punky…probably anticipating an avalanche of new houses for sale, from the ‘hidden inventory’ of places that people would like to get rid of…if there were any buyers. And the typical consumer household is rediscovering thrift.

It’s too soon to know exactly what is going on…but we have a suspicion. The “growth” now being registered is a product of ledgerdemain, not genuine economic expansion. It is growth a la Japan…

Very long time Daily Reckoning sufferers may remember. In the early ’00s we wrote so often about Japan that readers got sick of hearing about it. They threatened to cancel their subscriptions if we didn’t stop talking about it.

In our view, the US economy was following Japan into a long, slow slump…with on-again, off-again deflation…and on-again, off-again growth.

We were wrong. Under the influence of unprecedented stimulus from the feds, the US economy did not go into a Japan-like slump; it went into a bubble.

But now the bubble has popped…and it appears that the US is finally entering the Japanese trap. And there’s nothing much the feds can do about it. Government spending keeps the GDP from collapsing. But it is phony GDP…government giveaways, boondoggles and payoffs to the financial industry.

“It is a depression,” we told a small group of Dear Readers in Paris on Friday night. “It has nothing in common with the typical post-war recession. And it won’t end until it has done its work.”