During the University of Illinois' Farm Economics Summit, economist Paul Ellinger didn't exactly spread holiday cheer.
Ellinger was the last speaker during the sessions, which were held in various Illinois locations last week. Ellinger spoke about the recession, essentially saying that hey, we're still in trouble here.
He started by pointing out the unemployment rate, which fell to 10% in November. However, it's still at 10%! In November 2007, it was 5.3%. Ellinger also pointed out that the underemployment rate (i.e. part-time workers who would prefer full-time work) is at 17.2%, which is more than double from 2007.
In addition, Christmas spending is up this year. But, he adds, "It was terrible last year." Lastly, nearly 25% of Americans have negative equity in their home.
After I left the conference, I wasn't 10 miles down the road when I heard a bit of news that made my mouth drop open: Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has been selected as Time's Person of the Year.
While I hope Bernanke's spending spree will boost us out of the recession, it seems a bit premature to start handing him awards. As Ellinger pointed out numerous times, things are getting better, but they're still horrendous.
According to news sources, Time views it as Bernanke saved us from another Great Depression. With some of the astronomical inflation forecasts, I think it's a little early to start calling Bernanke a savior.
However, I guess this was the year that Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. Oh, and the year that Time told everyone how evil hamburgers are. With that in mind, I guess this makes perfect sense.
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