The Recession Essay

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The Recession Is Overrated THE human spirit is willing to accept only so much recession gloom. So there are signs here and there that people seek a more uplifting narrative of the downturn - and that they are unconvinced there is little light left in the economy. I sense this in several questions I am hearing in conversation or reading in commentaries. Are we talking up the recession, a number of professionals have been asked. What about turning a layoff into lemonade, a Newsweek article asked. And why not count the reasons for optimism or be alert to opportunities, commentators in this newspaper have also counseled. These are contrarian responses to the recession. Realistic or Pollyanna-ish? Who can really tell in these yet nascent days of the global recession? For the full magnitude of the global woes will be visible only in retrospect, when we are able to view what is happening today from the rear-view mirror of history. But I believe that the hopeful streak here and elsewhere shows that people are often more resilient than they think, and we are designed with an innate refusal to go down fast. This kind of inner bounce will do us good in the next few rocky quarters, so don't outlaw the optimists. In reverse, maybe we should have listened harder to a different set of contrarians a year or two ago. It was easy then for most people to go with the flow, and imagine the party would never end. But there were warnings that the sub-prime delinquencies looked like the tip of a treacherous iceberg. We have now hit the iceberg. But are we doomed? Let us return to that intriguing poser: Are we talking up the recession? The implication here is that we may be making the bad times worse by fixating on the dark side. There is such a thing as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Squelch confidence enough and banks, businesses and consumers will

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