I started running when I was 15 and became a runner when I was 18. For me running is more than a sport-it is a core part of what I am. So, when I fell and tore my quadriceps tendon I had to redefine myself. On a less metaphysical level, I also had to find ways to preserve my sanity and my relatively low amount of body fat. Since running was out, I turned to a stationary bike (used with one leg) and a Bow Flex. I could do some of my martial arts (punching at least). Eventually I was able to move up to walking, then pool running, then real running.
Last week I managed to injure myself again, this time I tore up my calf. This was mainly due to my over-training and racing too much (every week). In my youth I would have just run through the injury; but I learned some sense and that the world would not end if I was unable to run. Fortunately I already knew what to do: I switched to my alternative fitness program and have been carefully testing the calf. I’ll be back to running soon, but it is good to know that I have a viable alternative for those times when I cannot run.
While the analogy is hardly perfect, the economy can be compared to this sort of injury. For quite some time the United States had been chugging along economically on manufacturing, the housing market, and the financial market. Then the economy was injured. These once strong areas were torn up and the economy was hobbled.
In some cases, people were able to switch careers and some businesses managed to do quite well either by making changes or merely by being lucky enough to be outside the injury area. Parts of the economy have recovered but parts of it are still injured. Recovery, as with any injury, will take time and requires effort. Also, if the analogy holds, the economy will need to change in response to the injury-at least if we want to avoid having it torn up again.
Obviously, there are some important dissimilarities between running and the economy. However, the basic ideas seem to apply: you have to be careful not to do things that are damaging rather than beneficial, you have to expect ups and downs, and when there is an injury, you need to attend to it and change things to reduce the likelihood of the problem occurring again.
In terms of the economy itself, the financial sector and big companies are doing well again. But, they are just part of the economy. Other aspects, such as employment, are still damaged. As far as healing these injuries, we have just had a change in our PT team: the Republicans are now on the team. Unfortunately, they seem to be advocating that we do just what we did when we were hurt. But, doing the same things over and over just produce the same result over an over.
I admit, it is a hard lesson to learn. In my own case, I should know better about when it is time to rest and recover, rather than just doing the same thing: running and racing a lot. Likewise, when it comes to the economy, we need to consider that doing the same thing over and over will not help the economy truly recover. Right now the economy might be like an injured athlete on pain killers: she feels good and is performing, but is actually still injured and hurting under the drugs (or stimulus money). The new coach is telling her that she just needs to keep doing what got her injured in the first place, but that hardly seems like good advice.