Category Archives: economy

Some more good news for the economy

Unemployment drops to 8.5% and the US adds 200k jobs.

In addition, average wages in private industry ticked up by 4 cents an hour, though over the year wages have not kept pace with inflation. And government downsizing, which has been a drag on the jobs numbers, slowed in December, with only 12,000 public jobs lost. The private sector added 212,000 jobs.

In another positive sign, the unemployment rate seemed to be dropping at a faster rate than the number of new jobs would imply. This is perhaps because new businesses and the newly self-employed are less likely to be counted in the Labor Department’s survey of businesses, from which the job numbers are drawn, than in its survey of households, from which the unemployment rate is calculated.

Now keep in mind we aren’t at pre-crash levels, but an economy is kinda like a car. Put an idiot in charge and he can crash it to pieces in an instant. Give it to better hands and, although it will get rebuilt and repaired, it can take some time.

The important thing isn’t just that this happened in the past month, but that we’ve had roughly a year of gradual improvements. To use another analogy, think of it like weight loss (since we’re hitting the New Year). Dropping five pounds in a weekend seems nice but doesn’t mean much. However, dropping one pound a week for a few months is far more meaningful.

Let’s just hope another foreign disaster, Euro crash or Iran going nuclear on someone, doesn’t hit us with the proverbial weekend fast food binge.

This is what the "job creators" are up to.

Hoarding money and firing people.

When Pfizer cut its research budget this year and laid off 1,100 employees, it was not because the company needed to save money.

In fact, the drug maker had so much cash left over, it decided to buy back an additional $5 billion worth of stock on top of the $4 billion already earmarked for repurchases in 2011 and beyond.

The moves, announced on the same day, might seem at odds with each other, but they represent an increasingly common pattern among American corporations, which are sitting on record amounts of cash but insist that growth opportunities are hard to find.

The result is that at a time when the nation is looking for ways to battle unemployment, big companies are creating fewer jobs, and critics say they are neglecting to lay the foundation for future growth by expanding into new businesses or building new plants.

Indeed.

Okay wait a second here.

The “consequence” of the super committee being unable to come up with a debt reduction deal was that a whole boatload of spending cuts will happen automatically,  why wouldn’t Republicans just do everything to stop a compromise?

That’s like telling two kids that if they can’t agree to share, you’ll just give the toy to one of them.

Just in case you forgot about Obama's jobs bill

The GOP filibustered, and killed it.

The bill the Republicans shot down is not a panacea, but independent economists say it would have a significant and swift effect on the current stagnation. Macroeconomic Advisers, whose forecasts are often used by the Federal Reserve, said it could raise economic growth by 1.25 percentage points and create 1.3 million jobs in 2012. Moody’s Analytics estimated new growth at 2 percentage points and 1.9 million jobs. Those economists say that Republican ideas for increasing growth would have no measurable effects in the next year.

Because this is 2011, we’re about to enter the phase where constant killing of bills is what the Republicans will want to do. By preventing any bills from passing, Obama and the Democrats can’t get credit for fixing anything, thus leaving them looking like the party of disaster. Moreover, they can do so while still claiming that the bills shot down were terrible anyway, letting the base believe that their motives weren’t blatantly political.

This is the key quote:

Republican candidates fear the Tea Party too much to acknowledge that economists are solidly behind government intervention to awaken growth.

Exactly. The Tea Party wing of the right has embraced Reagan’s famous “I’m from the government and I’m here to help” quip to the point that they don’t simply oppose excessive government intervention, they oppose any and all government involvement. And because Republicans are too frightened of their clout to stand up to the nutbar base, nothing will get done.

Hanlon's Theatre: Dylan Ratigan loses it on air

Now this, my friends, is a rant. No one else knows how to respond.

Ratigan 2016?

So who's helping Cain with his whole 9-9-9 thing?

An economist?

Nope, an accountant from Americans for Prosperity with ties to the Koch Brothers. That should tell you all you need to know.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Paul Krugman?

Because his latest, Panic of the Plutocrats, goes on a long list of “shit you’d better read”.

The way to understand all of this is to realize that it’s part of a broader syndrome, in which wealthy Americans who benefit hugely from a system rigged in their favor react with hysteria to anyone who points out just how rigged the system is.

Last year, you may recall, a number of financial-industry barons went wild over very mild criticism from President Obama. They denounced Mr. Obama as being almost a socialist for endorsing the so-called Volcker rule, which would simply prohibit banks backed by federal guarantees from engaging in risky speculation. And as for their reaction to proposals to close a loophole that lets some of them pay remarkably low taxes — well, Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of the Blackstone Group, compared it to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

It’s a phenomenon we see all over the place, wherein any entity that had previously held all the chits finds their position, however, illegitimate it may have been, threatened. That’s where the outcry against letting blacks or women vote came from, and why Christians tend to screech about persecution at the notion of simply letting others act according to their own beliefs.

Let’s get one thing straight: the wealthiest don’t give two shits about “the economy” beyond its ability to bring them more wealth. Any deregulation they’re fighting for isn’t to keep “the economy” healthy, it’s to help fatten their bank accounts further. The populist arguments they make are crafted for the same purpose. Job creators? If they could keep earning the same amounts but not have to pay employees, they would. There’s a reason outsourcing exists, and it’s not “minimum wage”.

It almost doesn’t matter how big the OWS protests get, FOX and the right will keep spinning it as radical communists against good hard-working Americans, all to serve the people who want nothing more than to hammer on the system for their own benefit at the expense of everyone else’s.