April 22nd, 2009
12:14 PM GMT
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HONG KONG, China – You can tell a lot about the state of the economy by what passes as positive news.

A worker works on a product line at a factory in Chengdu of Sichuan Province, China, February.
A worker works on a product line at a factory in Chengdu of Sichuan Province, China, February.

Business across the globe has gone from bad to worse, and a new phrase has crept into the lexicon of the credit crisis in recent weeks: the "less-worse" economy.

"Getting Better (or Less Worse) All the Time" was a headline last week on TheStreet.com. "From Bad to Less Worse," said a story about the German car industry from Der Spiegel earlier this month.

"I expect things to get less worse as we proceed through the year," Richard Fisher, chief executive officer and president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, told CNN last week (although he also expects U.S. unemployment to eclipse 10 percent in 2009).  Watch Fisher comment on economy

Translation of a less-worse economy: It's still bad - much worse than a year ago, in fact - but still not as bad as the previous month or business quarter. Some recent less-worse news:

– The U.S. Federal Reserve released a report on April 15 that showed "overall economic activity contracted further or remained weak." However, five of the 12 districts across the United States that supply data to the Fed noted a "moderation in the pace of decline. Several saw signs that activity in some sectors was stabilizing at a low level."

– Exports from Japan dropped 46 percent last month, compared with March 2008. But that's less than the nearly 50 percent year-on-year drop the month

–  China's exports were down 17 percent year-on-year last month, but still $25 billion more than in February

– An Associated Press-GfK poll early this month showed that 40 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction, double the percentage in October

The less-worse economy is still tumbling downhill. But when optimism is in short supply, people find hope where they can.

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Scott

    It's PR spin. 'Less-worse' is more euphemistic language. It's not positive growth, it's contraction. The numbers will continue to be negative and the spinsters will continue to say, "it's not as bad as it could be..."

    All of the while, someone is making money hand-over-fist in all of this, and it's being taken from the American people. And those in power are allowing it to continue and making excuses all the while.

    Allow me a moment of deduction: take the recent death of Fannie/Freddie's CFO (I forget which company) for instance. Either he did it to himself, or someone else did. Why? If he did it to himself, what reason would he have for doing so?

    Look at BoA's Lewis' testimony stating Ben and Hank made him stay quiet in reference to the amount of losses that Merrill had sustained.

    My curiosity begs the question: Is Freddie and Fannie in the same predicament? Were they and other banks told to be quiet and hush-hush about losses? Why aren't the losses stopping?

    Imo, PR spin isn't primarily meant to make people feel better, it's meant to misinform; to hide the truth from scrutiny. Will it get better? Yes. When? When the real and horrible truth is out on the table in all of its glory.

    April 23, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  2. Bert

    Martha Stewart goes to jail for about $50,000. while Chelsea Clinton's bosses avoid taxes (as does Mr. Geitner) and cause the common!!!!!! taxpayer to bail them out to the tune of $500,000,000,000. Somehow less worse is hard to recognize ($50,000. versus $500,000,000,000.) We have hopefully purchased a revenue stream by buying big banks and insurance companies, but as is usually the case, we haven't seen the total cost of the bribes that Mr. Geitner's cohorts will extort from the likes of the hedge fund people who have so far cost the common!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! taxpayer about $2,000,000,000,000.

    April 24, 2009 at 2:05 am |
  3. tHEREisjm

    Less is better based on income in needing a cap on credit.

    April 25, 2009 at 5:52 pm |
  4. ron larson

    My comment is to ask how well protected are the pig growing businesses in relation to the swine flu getting into their buildings and infecting their whole herd?

    April 30, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  5. alfredo rezende

    The american society moral is realy down.
    So bad that it can't react against the scandals
    we have seen happening in your country.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  6. The Web Lender

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    Traditionally, conventional banks make loans, commercial loans, and business loans on their terms.

    The Web Lender offers this contrarian business acumen.

    You name the terms for your business loan.

    May 1, 2009 at 4:46 am |
  7. dan in Tucson

    The economy is worse every day. 20 people in my department alone got laid off past Friday. Most of the people I know are either out of work or took a substantial pay cut. There are no jobs out there. You can't get a loan. Can't pay your bills. How is this better?
    I see it getting worse, not better. The indicator is not big business with fat pockets, its the guy at the end of the line who does not have to worry about feeding his family or, I am sick with the flu, but I don't have health insurance, so I have to suffer.
    I will see a light at the end of the tunnel when my family and friends aren't hurting anymore. That ain't now, believe me.

    May 4, 2009 at 2:51 pm |

    The economy could look a lot better if we charged each country for health care costs related to their citizens who are in our country illegally and it would help bail out the health care problem. We have to start looking for the root causes of our problems and fixing them and not just throwing money at the problems.

    May 7, 2009 at 11:23 am |
  9. tanboontee

    “Less worse” or not, one can get disoriented by the myriad arguments presented by economists amid the current confusion resulting from the economic upheavals. Many terms have been used in the prognoses, inflation, deflation, stagflation, stagnation and so on, each seems to carry specific meaning to the speaker concerned.

    Inflation or deflation, the greenback could be the immediate casualty. There are already moves to gradually replace the dollar by a new currency from certain group of nations as well as some distinguished global financial establishments. Whatever happens after this recession can only accentuate the downfall of the once mighty dollar.
    (Tan Boon Tee)

    May 8, 2009 at 5:19 am |
  10. jorge covarrubias ramirez

    In fact, it seems the situation is keeping stable after severe contraction during 2008, so it´s very important all the authorities maintain a "fair behaviour"in order to recover the normal standard of the global economy.
    And I figure out the lesson was just learned for everyone all.

    May 10, 2009 at 6:29 am |
  11. BFuniv Rector

    100 to 50 is a 50% loss, 50 to 30 is "only" 40% loss, is that proof of improvement? A subsequent bounce from 30 to 60 is a 100% gain – will that make you feel whole?

    May 27, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  12. Mike Deist

    I heard on the news that the top economists are saying that the recession will be over the end of this year. Are these the same economists that said we weren't in a recession, or that told MSNBC and Senator McCain that the economy was sound just before it tanked? Economists need to get away from their charts and look outside. It is raining! The economist is like a doctor who comes out of the operating room and says "The operation was a success, but the patient died!"

    A.M. Deist, author, Amazon.com
    Fort Walton Beach, FL

    May 28, 2009 at 1:32 am |
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