Long and Short of Recession


October 04, 1990|By Ben Wattenberg

BUDAPEST. — THERE IS bad news and good news on the global economic front. The good news is more important than the bad news.

The most publicized economic news concerns recession coming America, and perhaps recession coming everywhere. The roots of the gloom: soaring oil prices due to the Gulf crisis, a sluggish economy, plummeting stock prices and real-estate values, higher inflation and unemployment, bad banks and bad loans.

Experts say we may or may not already be in a recession; if we are not, we may or may not be in one soon; such a recession may or may not be mild, may or may not be long, and we may or may not know the remedy. Thanks.

Luckily, there is no dearth of opinion about the cause of this long, short, shallow, deep, real, not-real recession. The ones we lTC hear most about are: greed, profligacy, debt, deficits, LBOs, junk bonds, corruption, Reaganism, Thatcherism.

Aren't these super reasons? They answer everything except what caused the other nine post-war recessions.

(Flash! Experts unanimously agree that the new congressional summit budget deal, which may or may not actually pass the Congress, may or may not yield a recession, sooner or later.)

Upon such a playing field of certitude, mortals may cavort. Accordingly, I will explain why the economic situation is much better than it seems.

The culture of freedom and markets is expanding at remarkable speed. Here is a medley of validation from a recent short trip overseas:

In England, Mrs. Thatcher may be in political trouble, but her opponents dare not talk about un-privatizing the economy.

In the land now known as the Soviet Union, there will be markets. As CIA man Jack Ryan says to the Soviet submarine commander the end of ''The Hunt for Red October,'' ''Welcome to the new world, sir.''

Back in America, Congress may pass an intelligent immigration bill, raising the number of skilled legal immigrants. They do more for an economy than a capital-gains tax reduction.

In Baghdad, it is dawning upon Saddam Hussein, the bandit who tried to steal stability, that he will pay for it. Other bandits will think twice. Oil prices will decline.

The global population will double. If additional people arrive in cultures that are free, they will advance the sum of global well-being. Every once in a while, a cliche is accurate. ''Inter-dependence'' is accurate. They gain, we gain.

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