Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Depression Mania

All this Depression talk is depressing.

President Obama tonight has a great opportunity to convince the country that we are not sliding into another Great Depression. Fat chance for that, but still we can hope.

Michelle Leder reports at Footnoted.org that she is impressed by "the number of companies that seem to be mentioning the Great Depression in their [10-K] filings." There's Caterpillar--well I guess that's understandable. I've never forgiven them for tearing down Tom Joad's shack in The Grapes of Wrath. But so has Prudential.

There are certainly advantages to some aspects of the Great Depression, I suppose. One could get a room in a flophouse for 5 cents. Riding the rails might be fun. But I must say that witnessing businesses croaking right and left leaves something to be desired so far.

The other day, for instance, the Journal Register newspaper chain declared bankruptcy. Years ago I worked in a bureau of the Hartford Courant, and my competition, and my competition was a paper called the Middletown Press. It was a fat, advertisement-filled newspaper without much investigative zeal but with a great franchise. It was gobbled up by the Journal Register chain some years ago, and now, like the rest of the news business, it's dying.

So Obama has a chance tonight to convince us that people are going to stop dropping like flies around us. I hope he succeeds, but I doubt he will.

UPDATE: He seems to have convinced the public, based on quickie polls after the speech, but not the market, based on early price action.

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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