If it seems like the economic headaches of 2008, 2009 and even 2010 keep recurring, there’s a reason for that.
This week has brought news – some big, some less so – that might fall under the heading of “progress, but ...”
• Progress: Chrysler, bailed out with billions in loans during the economic crisis, paid those back this week – years early and at a profit to the taxpayers.
But: The smallest of Detroit’s Big Three is soon to pass into foreign hands – again – as Fiat is set to take a majority stake in the company. It was only four years ago that Daimler AG, a German company, ended its decade-long debacle in owning Chrysler. Let’s hope this works out better. And let’s not forget that other huge automaker, GM, in which the taxpayers still hold a large stake.
• Progress: AIG, the massive insurance underwriter for whom taxpayers wrote a huge check, this week made an initial stock offering at a price high enough that the government turned a little profit on shares sold – so far.
But: AIG has a long way to go, and it’s still not likely the taxpayers will get all their money back.
• Progress: Europe’s various debt crises – affecting our stock markets as well as trade and other issues that directly affect Americans – had slipped off the front pages. Painful but needed changes have been under way in places such as Greece.
But: Greece hasn’t been doing enough to satisfy the markets that hold that country’s debt and on whose graces it depends for further financing. It’s giving American stock markets jitters again, and every drop in the market takes a little wealth – or a lot – out of the 401(k). It seems like one more far-away, so-what domino, but in the age of globalization dominoes can fall our way quickly, as events have shown.