the Insiders


October 7, 2011 6:10 PM

Frightening: Economists Arm-in-Arm

The latest sign of the apocalypse is upon us....

The latest sign of the apocalypse is upon us. No it's not the East Coast earthquakes or a pestilence borne of cantaloupes, but a frightening degree of agreement among economists, who have increasingly come to believe the U.S. government needs to do more to boost the economy. 

This troubles me on a couple of levels. 

First, the fact that there's so much talk about more stimulus more than two years after the recession officially ended says that the experts really are worried there could be another dip down. 

Secondly, economists just don't agree on things. They're smart and well-trained, but they try to predict what a hugely complex system will do with imperfect information. 

They're like meteorologists, but they're following pennies instead of drops of rain. And so one looks at consumer prices where another will look at incomes and a third looks at commodities and they all come to slightly different conclusions. 

That is until the big storm comes. 

That's when meteorologists stop talking about a chance of showers and start telling everyone to prepare for power outages. And that's when the economists all start seeing the same thing. 

"This is by far the worst economy in my lifetime and it's a scary time with what's happening in Europe and elsewhere," said Charles McMillion, president and chief economist at MBG Information Services. "Everybody realizes that this is a dangerous and difficult time. 

So could be this be the end? 

"It's not true that nobody knows what to do about it," McMillion said. "I think everyone knows what to do about it, but no two people agree. As soon as you start talking about what should be done, consensus flies out the window." 

Whew. So maybe the end isn't neigh. 

But there's still the thorny issue of getting the economy moving in the right direction. 

Sadly, there's another frightening point of agreement. Nobody seems to think that the powers that be in Washington will be able to get together any time soon to do something that will really help boost the economy. 

For now, we might just be on our own.
load comments


Sign in using your Facebook or Twitter account, or simply type your comment below as a guest by entering your email and name. Your email address will not be shared. Please note that WWD reserves the right to remove profane, distasteful or otherwise inappropriate language.
News from WWD

Sign upSign up for WWD and FN newsletters to receive daily headlines, breaking news alerts and weekly industry wrap-ups.

getIsArchiveOnly= hasAccess=false hasArchiveAccess=false