It's Bad But Not Depression II, Says Obama Advisor

Former Cal economist admits things are bad, just not breadline and stewed shoe leather bad

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    No matter what former Cal econ prof Christina Romer says, why not stock up on canned preserves, salt pork and cornmeal?

    Christina Romer, former University of California Berkeley economist and current chairwoman of the president's Council of Economic Advisors recognizes we're all facing hard times -- just not 1930s hard.

    The current economic calamity "pales in comparison" to the hardships our grandparents and great grandparents endured, Romer promised, citing an unemployment rate just over eight percent now as opposed to 25 percent back then.

    Romer's dose of perspective was administered to an audience at the Brookings Institution, a venerable and avowedly non-partisan Washington think tank.

    She pointed to programs like unemployment benefits and bank deposit insurance, which didn't exist before the depression, as ameliorating factors which have softened the blow for citizens.

    The $700 billion in stimulus spending and other moves by the Obama administration are meant to kick start the economy, but will take time, she urged. Meanwhile, the ranks of unemployed citizens continue to grow.

    San Francisco recorded the highest rise in unemployment on record for the month of January, with 40 percent more residents finding themselves jobless than during the same month last year.

    Still, the city's unemployment rate is slightly lower than the national average. And while home prices are falling fast across the region, they're falling a little less quickly in San Francisco than in neighboring counties.

    In other words, it's not as bad as the depression -- yet. But take heart: According to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, we have at least achieved a respectable second place in the crappy times are here again race.

    Jackson West suggests brushing up on your blues harmonica before setting out on any hobo adventures.