The fog of numbers

(Photo: Zwob/Wikimedia)

Nothing but unreality is real any more. That shouldn’t be a particularly controversial statement in terms of the global economy (and a few other areas, but that’s another topic) because for the past five years that economy has been defined by rackets. The most persistent of the accompanying messages is that we are in “recovery,” despite evidence of such being almost completely absent from any average person’s day-to-day life. The trick, of course, is to recognize that the “recovery” applies to the wealth of the already wealthy, who have indeed moved from one high to another.

It’s primarily the U.S. Federal Reserve that has enabled this with its quantitative easing and zero interest rate policy, but in Europe the European Central Bank and Bank of England have done the same, as has the Bank of Japan. It’s a group effort, really. But sometimes the messaging hits new highs (lows?) of contradictory hilarity, threatening for a brief moment to pull back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz. A chuckle-worthy example comes from Bloomberg.

One story, from the “exclusive news” section, is titled “Job Cuts Loom at European Banks as Economy Pinches Fees.” It details the thousands of job cuts that are coming (on top of the 140,000 over the last two years) because the European economy is continuing its downward trajectory, encroaching even on the untouchable banks the political and economic elites of that region have been striving to protect with predictably diminishing returns.

In a second story, from the “industries news” section, the title is “Banking Turnaround Foreseen in Europe, Citigroup, MS Say.” Citigroup says this is happening “as economic growth returns to the continent.”

These two stories appear on the same day. In the same publication. And we’re apparently to believe only China makes up economic numbers.

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