Commentary: Looking for signs of hope in the economy

This editorial appeared in The (Tacoma) News Tribune.

Could it really be? The U.S. economy is finally coming up for some air? Well, thank goodness, and pass the Visas.

None other than Ben S. Bernanke says it's so. In his testimony Tuesday before the Joint Economic Committee in Congress, Federal Reserve soothsayer and head cheerleader for the financial markets said, "the pace of contraction may be slowing," that consumer demand "may be stabilizing" and that the housing market has "shown some signs of bottoming." That, dear readers, is what qualifies as a message of optimism these days.

We'll take it. Americans are just plain tired of frugality. They've skimped and saved and bought generic, and it's wearing on them, literally.

Down in Waco, Texas, Elizabeth Anderson told a reporter she'll still buy ice cream and sandwich bags at Wal-Mart, but she's chucking sensibly priced shoes and $60 haircuts for her old $350 pumps and $300 'dos. "My hair didn't look good, and my feet were hurting," she explained.

Elizabeth is in good company. Consumer spending grew by a whole 2.2 percent in the first quarter of 2009. Retailers are starting to notice more people buying Gucci bags and $100 bottles of wine. Shades of good times gone by.

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Tacoma) News Tribune.

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