John McCain at a town hall meeting in Florida on Monday morning: "The fundamentals of our economy are strong."
If John McCain thinks that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong," then that phrase is effectively meaningless. Unemployment is at a five-year high, consumer spending is predicted to decline this fiscal quarter for the first time in 17 years, and we are currently undergoing the worst housing bust since the Great Depression.
And that's not even taking into account the fact that one of the nation's longest-lived and most powerful investment banks, Lehman Brothers, is filing for bankruptcy. Lehman has $613 billion of debt, and the ripple effects of its liquidation will reach far. That's not taking into account that one of the nation's largest banks, Washington Mutual, is in serious trouble. That's not taking into account the woes of one of the nation's largest insurance companies, AIG. Do we recall the fate of the nation's largest mortgage lender, Countrywide?
Anyone who has recently reviewed the performance of a 401K or kid's college fund or IRA probably doesn't think that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. Anyone who uses his or her car to commute to work probably doesn't feel that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. Anyone who has been paying attention to the figures on rising bankruptcy filings for individual Americans, the record number of foreclosures, and ballooning credit card debt doesn't think that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. For at least a year, most economists have been debating whether or not the economy is in a recession.
That's not a debate you have when the fundamentals of the economy are strong.