Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke offered cautious reassurance that the U.S. recovery is on track, despite recent turmoil in financial markets and worries about the health of Europe’s economy.
“There seems to be a good bit of momentum in consumer spending and investment,” Mr. Bernanke said at a dinner hosted by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “My best guess is we’ll have continued recovery, but it won’t feel terrific.”
“It won’t feel terrific,” and as near as I can tell, Bernanke offered nothing of substance to support his contention that we remain in a recovery, but the Dow Jones Industrial Averages, which had lost well over 400 points in the preceding two sessions bounced up today, over 100. Just last Friday, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich reacted to anemic unemployment numbers by pointing out that our economy depends on consumers who are now more worried about staying employed than about keeping up with the Joneses. His sentiments were widely shared.
Obama, whom I’ll never forgive for saying of unemployment, “We all know there are limits to what government can and should do even during such difficult times,” finally promised to do something about one group of unemployed: oil workers. He’s promising to enable the next Deepwater Horizon, even as the news on the present case just keeps on getting worse, just as soon as the Minerals Management Service—which exempted BP from some regulations and failed to enforce others–can rush out new regulations. (UPDATE: It turns out that the initial relaxation of the drilling ban applies in shallow waters only; however, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has reportedly “reassured congressional representatives from the beleaguered gulf states that a six-month moratorium on drilling [in deep waters] that many here have called economically ruinous could be lifted sooner if new studies and protections are put into place.”)
We live in times which would challenge even a competent administration. But instead, we’ve got Obama’s.