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Recession with a twist
April 11, 2008

The United States may be in a recession. There seems to be something close to an economic consensus on this point, but what a peculiar one it seems to be when sitting in my chair.

Everybody sees life from his own perspective and what I am seeing strikes me as odd.

I had to go to the dentist yesterday. Two and a half hours in the chair is no fun, but it is sometimes necessary. On my way back to the office, I heard an advertisement on my car radio from an area employer urging people to apply for jobs there.

This ad by itself would probably signify nothing, but it occurred during a period when I am also seeing an ad on a local TV station where another company is seeking qualified employees.

I don't remember any recession where advertisements were airing looking for workers.

Now I am old enough to have seen enough downturns to know that they all have characteristics in common, but they also have their own unique stupidities that either caused them or contributed to them, but I don't want to write about subprime loans.

Perhaps the underlying economy is redefining itself. Fewer financial workers in Manhattan, more jobs in central and northeast Wisconsin. We will see.

As evidence of the downturn, there seem to be fewer people eating at the Crystal Cafe during my lunch hour. People are there in large enough numbers when Social Security payments have made it to the local bank, but as the month goes on, I am seeing less of the work lunch crowd.

I also carefully look at my change. Times of economic stress tend to flush out older coins and notes. I have begun to see that. Wednesday I had pie for dessert, so my change from my $9.97 tab was just three cents. All three were the 95-percent copper alloy that hasn't been produced since 1982.

The week before I got some older $1 Federal Reserve Notes. One was a Series 1981. Whoa, that surprised me. Others were Series 1995, so I quickly scanned them to see if they were Web notes.

They weren't. Darn.

Overall, I can't say that there is no recession, only that it has peculiar ramifications.

What are you seeing in your area?

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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