This blog post originally appeared on RealMoney Silver on Nov. 16 at 7:56 a.m. EST.The growing view that the economy is embarking on a self-sustaining recovery that could be similar in duration to the average expansionary cycle over the past century brings me to a new segment I like to call "Really!?! With Doug." Of course, this is a takeoff from "Saturday Night Live's" Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers. If you are not familiar with their "SNL" schtick during their Weekend Updates, here are a few of their Really!?! segments. Really, the economy is recovering? Really, economists? I mean, really!?! With globalization, wage deflation and with the prospects of tepid top-line sales growth, which corporations intend to expand their labor rolls? So, there's going to be a meaningful return to jobs growth in 2010! Really!?! And what happened to the previous forecasts that job creation would emerge in fourth-quarter 2009? I mean, really! In the face of the withdrawal of government stimulus programs (2010), higher marginal tax rates (in 2011), costly health-care legislation, a low level of small business confidence, still relatively normal inventory-to-sales ratios and only a moderate improvement in demand, employers will soon to be forced to expand both hours and payrolls to meet demand? Really!?! And, really, an economic recovery without job growth? According to the household survey, nearly 600,000 jobs were lost last month, and 15.7 million Americans are out of work. Really!?! The credit mechanisms of the shadow-banking system and the securitization market remain adrift, and banks aren't lending. An economic recovery without credit? Really!?! How about the state and local governments that have provided an anchor to growth in previous economic periods? Only two states have balanced budgets, and New York is letting out prisoners early to save money. Really!?! And I imagine retail sales are going to firm up into a better-than-expected Christmas season? Really!?!
The reliable Liscio Report states that sales tax collections dropped by 10.2% in October, far worse than in September, and consumer confidence remains moribund. I mean, really!?! Are there any drivers to growth that can replace housing in the last cycle? I mean, really? And housing, which led us into this mess, is going to lead us out? Really!?! Then how do the economists explain the recent drop in mortgage applications to a nine-year low and the very tentative housing upturn described in recent homebuilder conference calls since Labor Day? I mean, really? With consumers representing 70% of domestic GDP, an underemployment rate at 17.6% and possible cost-push inflation caused by a lower U.S. dollar strategy, how exactly will the economic recovery sustain itself? Really!?! The drop in the U.S. dollar is orderly, and central bank buyers (and others) of U.S. fixed-income will continue as far as the eye can see? Really!?! Given the outsized budget deficit, another fiscal stimulus package can patch things back together in 2010? Really!?! And what about the government's budget forecasts that are based on the projection that the U.S. government will continue to pay generational low interest rates on the rollover of our national debt? I mean, really? Does anyone think that politicians, facing the 2010 Congressional elections next November, will embark upon serious budget reform? I mean, really!?! Finally, to the rigorous cadre of economists and strategists who failed to identify the 2007-2009 economic downturn, the unprecedented credit crisis and that the S&P 500 would fall below the 700 level: What confidence should investors have in your 2010 $80-a-share S&P 500 forecast or in 3%-plus real GDP growth? John Mauldin reports that "the so-called 'Blue Chip' economists told us at the beginning of 2008 that unemployment would peak out at 6%." I mean, really!?! Doug Kass writes daily for RealMoney Silver , a premium bundle service from TheStreet.com. For a free trial to RealMoney Silver and exclusive access to Mr. Kass's daily trading diary, please click here.