Barry Switzer, the former head coach at the University of Oklahoma, once said "Some people are born on third base, and go through life thinking they've hit a triple." Among the fascinating aspects of the recent economic "recovery," probably the greatest is the failure of analysts to understand that this growth is none of the private sector's doing.
Wall Street seems to have no concept at all that every bit of growth we've observed over the past year can be traced to government deficit spending, with zero private sector expansion when those deficits are factored out. As I noted last week, if one removes the impact of deficit spending, "the economy has recovered to the point where the year-over-year growth rate since early 2009 now matches the worst performance of any of the 50 years preceding the recent downturn." In effect, Wall Street's is seeing "legs" where the economy is in fact walking on nothing but crutches.
Similarly, it is apalling that Ben Bernanke can say with a straight face that many of the "investments" made by the Fed have been repaid "and some have even made a profit," without immediately noting that the two primary sources of these repayments have been, directly or indirectly, the U.S. Treasury, and savers who are receiving near-zero interest on bank deposit instruments.
If we fail to recognize that the "good news" reported over the past year is due not to a recovery in intrinsic economic activity, but instead to massive government intervention, we risk being blindsided as those synthetic effects gradually erode.