Put on a happy face

“We are nowhere near a depression,” says Irwin Kellner in MarketWatch, “so let’s stop talking ourselves into one.” Politicians, pundits, and the “nattering nabobs of negativism” in the press have been ramping up anxiety in recent weeks by using “scare words” like “chaos,” “spreading crisis,” and yes, “depression.” Sure, things are serious, but another Great Depression? Come on. We’re nowhere near that level of fiscal ill-health, and we have policies in place to make sure we won’t get there. The last scare word is “bailout.” This isn’t a bailout of Wall Street, or Main Street, or even the “fat cats.” It is an injection of liquidity, a line of credit to the Treasury, to unclog the financial markets. It will benefit us all.

Enough with the ‘happy talk’

“There’s nothing wrong with trying to bolster confidence,” says Daniel Gross in Slate, but too much “happy talk” is a problem, especially when pessimism is called for. Avoid words like “crash” and “pandemonium”? How else would you characterize a month in which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, AIG , Lehman Brothers, and Washington Mutual all either failed or were taken over, and our “greatest financial minds” assured us that “a bailout the size of the Netherlands’ GDP is needed to stop the bleeding”? If anything, too much happy talk contributed to our woes. So “yes, we have to be careful about crying fire in a crowded theater. But calling Wall Street’s meltdown a meltdown is more like crying fire in a crowded inferno.”