Really, this argument is unworthy of someone as smart as Larry Summers:
Of all the statistics pouring into the White House every day, top economic adviser Larry Summers highlighted one Friday to make his case that the economic free-fall has ended.
The number of people searching
for the term “economic depression” on Google is down to normal levels, Summers said.
Searches for the term were up four-fold when the recession deepened in the earlier part of the year, and the recent shift goes to show consumer confidence is higher, Summers told the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
This is a remarkably thin reed on which to rely, nyet? We have ways of gauging consumer confidence that do not rely on mind-reading exercises that come in the aftermath of gathering figures concerning Google searches for “economic depression.” And what about other Google searches that might concern us? Summers says nothing about how many people are searching terms like “unemployment,” or “foreclosure,” or “double-dip recession,” or even “Nouriel Roubini.”
I really have to wonder whether the former Treasure Secretary was able to deliver this line with a straight face. I can’t believe that he did. Things may not look as bad economically as they did some months ago, but there are still plenty of people concerned, given that unemployment is a lagging indicator, given that we may be facing a new round of foreclosures that result from people being unable to pay their mortgages because they lost their jobs, and given that the threat of a double-dip recession is out there, keeping people like Nouriel Roubini worried and pessimistic. If the Obama Administration is compelled to tell us stories about things are looking up merely because Google searches have been more bright and cheery than they were in the past, then frankly, the very same Google searches that the Administration is pleased to note are disappearing will come back with a vengeance.