John Edward, a resident of Chelmsford who earned his master’s degree at UMass Lowell and who teaches economics at Bentley University and UMass Lowell, contributes the following column:
In 2009, I wrote a column that used a fictional story to explain how the Great Recession started. The column concluded with a warning that “unless we make fundamental changes, the next time it could be even worse.”
Fundamentally, very little has changed in the last three years. Now, I will script in advance, how THE BIG ONE may play itself out.
The opening scene is the interior of a luxurious home. The entire wall facing the audience is a giant computer screen. On the screen is what might be a futuristic Facebook page. Within the page are images representing content providers
The bright light coming through the skylight gives the impression that it is not some dystopian future of science fiction. A man, appearing to be in his forties, is facing the screen while running on a treadmill.
There is no dialog. Occasionally the man issues commands in a staccato voice to activate news reports on the screen. Images expand and fade, with and without voiceovers. As the man controls his environment, we learn what conditions are like in the United States of the not too distant future.
Outside, in the real world, the future is dystopian for most. Things are bad and getting worse. People originally called it the third Great Recession. Conditions worsened to the point that former Federal Reserve Chairman Geithner labeled it Great Depression 2.0. Now everyone just calls it THE BIG ONE (always in upper case).
Economic growth has been negative for 13 quarters in a row. Output has plummeted. Most people cannot afford to buy anything but necessities. Many cannot afford even that. The luxury goods that still sell well are mostly manufactured overseas.
The official unemployment rate is 18.97 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics now counts military personnel as employed. People who have been out of work for more than a year are no longer counted as unemployed.
A cheerful woman reports that price and wage controls are very effective and people should not be concerned by a recent uptick in inflation to 2.1 percent. Adults vividly recall the second Great Recession of 2016 when the Federal Reserve responded aggressively to inflation briefly creeping above 3 percent.
The U.S. dollar continues to lose value against the common Asian currency – the Yuan. China no longer feels compelled to devalue the Yuan as they now export more than the United States and what is left of the European Union combined. read more »