Economy

Happy Days Are Here Again?

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Michael Snyder at Zero Hedge has 37 reasons why the talk in portions of the mainstream media about an economic recovery is utter rubbish:

 

There has been absolutely no employment recovery.  The percentage of Americans that are actually working has stayed between 58 and 59 percent for 51 months in a row.  But most Americans don’t understand these things and they just take whatever the mainstream media tells them as the truth.

And of course the reality of the matter is that we should have seen some sort of an economic recovery by now.  Those running our system have literally been mortgaging the future in a desperate attempt to try to pump up our economic numbers.  The federal government has been on the greatest debt binge in U.S. history and the Federal Reserve has been printing money like crazed lunatics.  All of that “stimulus” should have had some positive short-term effects on the economy.

Sadly, all of those “emergency measures” do not appear to have done much at all.  The percentage of Americans that have a job has stayed remarkably flat since the end of 2009, median household income has fallen for five years in a row, and the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row.  Anyone that claims that the U.S. economy is experiencing a “recovery” is simply not telling the truth.  The following are 37 reasons why “the economic recovery of 2013″ is a giant lie…

#1 The only reason that the official unemployment rate has been declining over the past couple of years is that the federal government has been pretending that millions upon millions of unemployed Americans no longer want a job and have “left the labor force”.  As Zero Hedge recently demonstrated, if the labor force participation rate returned to the long-term average of 65.8 percent, the official unemployment rate in the United States would actually be 11.5 percent instead of 7 percent.

#2 The percentage of Americans that are actually working is much lower than it used to be.  In November 2000, 64.3 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  When Barack Obama first entered the White House, 60.6 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  Today, only 58.6 percent of all working age Americans have a job.  In fact, as you can see from the chart posted below, there has been absolutely no “employment recovery” since the depths of the last recession…

Employment-Population Ratio 2013

#3 The employment-population ratio has now been under 59 percent for 51 months in a row.

#4 There are 1,148,000 fewer Americans working today than there was in November 2006.  Meanwhile, our population has grown by more than 16 million people during that time frame.

#5 The “inactivity rate” for men in their prime working years (25 to 54) has just hit a brand new all-time record high.  Does this look like an “economic recovery” to you?…

Inactivity Rate Men

#6 The number of working age Americans without a job has increased by a total of 27 million since the year 2000.

#7 In November 2007, there were 121.9 million full-time workers in the United States.  Today, there are only 116.9 million full-time workers in the United States.

#8 Middle-wage jobs accounted for 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession, but they have accounted for only 22 percent of the jobs created since then.

#9 Only about 47 percent of all adults in America have a full-time job at this point.

#10 The ratio of wages to corporate profits in the United States just hit a brand new all-time low. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

The Reality Gap

We’ve reached the point in the election where the press decides to mostly report on how the election is being perceived rather than on any particular events, and since the president is doing well in the polls this results in a lot of “desperate Republicans do foolish things” stories. The flavor of the week seems to be the media’s discovery that somewhere out there in the right-leaning internet, there are people who have made a hobby of “re-weighting” polls in order to reflect what the re-weighters think is a more likely partisan composition of the electorate come election day.

There is, yes, a certain sad desperation about this. Now that election reporting is often more about “the race” than about issues or events, being behind in the race is crippling and so people come up with way to try to explain it away. Those with long memories (eight years counts as long in our modern age) may recall that when Bush was so rude as to be ahead of Kerry in the 2004 race, Michael Moore and those like-minded rolled out a theory that all the polls were wrong because an army of voters who only used cell phones and not land lines (and thus couldn’t be polled) were out there ready to vote against Bush.

However, just as everyone’s getting ready to announce that Republicans, in their constant flight from the “reality based community” have decided they don’t believe in polling, we find out that the left has its own reality problem: They’re convinced that the economy has been getting better over the last couple months, despite the fact there’s little reason to believe this. Gallup and the Pew Research Center both have data out showing that Democrats’ opinions of the economy and the job market have suddenly started improving, despite almost universally bad news over the last several months.

As you can see, partisan affiliation wasn’t much of a dividing factor in assessments of the economy a year ago, but now that a bad economy might mean President Obama not being re-elected, Democrats obediently come to the conclusion that the economy really isn’t that bad. According to Pew, the same divide now exists on the job market, consumer prices, the financial market, real estate, and even gas prices. You would think that at least people could agree on what the level of gas prices is, but no, apparently not, though the gap is narrower there than elsewhere: 89% of Republicans say they hear mostly bad news about gas prices while 65% of Democrats do.

The trope goes that you are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. However, as the political divide has become wider and more entrenched opposite sides increasingly do have their own facts, as reality become filtered through a partisan lens.

Recession Here We Come

 

 

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  Orders for durable goods dropped a calamitous 13.2% in August, the worst decrease since 2009.

New orders for manufactured durable goods in August decreased $30.1 billion or 13.2 percent to $198.5 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This decrease, down following three consecutive monthly increases, was the largest decrease since January 2009 and followed a 3.3 percent July increase. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 1.6 percent. Excluding defense, new orders decreased 12.4 percent. Transportation equipment, down following four consecutive monthly increases, had the largest decrease, $27.8 billion or 34.9 percent to $51.9 billion. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Obama, Can You Spare a Dime?

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Something for a weekend.  A variant on the song of the First Great Depression, Buddy Can You Spare a Dime.  It seemed timely in regard to the terrible economic news that came out this week:

1.  AA- -Credit rating firm reduced the United States Credit Rating to AA-.  Here is why

Egan-Jones said it believes the Fed’s third round of quantitative easing,  which sent stock prices surging on Thursday, “will hurt the U.S. economy and, by  extension, credit quality.”

The firm said that while the program should boost equity markets, issuing  additional currency and depressing interest rates through purchasing  mortgage-backed securities will hurt the value of the U.S. dollar and cause a  painful increase in commodity prices.

“In our opinion, QE3 will be detrimental to credit quality for the U.S.,” Egan-Jones said.

At the same time, Egan-Jones warned that the cost to finance U.S. debt will “slowly rise” as the global economy rebounds and the Fed scales back on its  purchases of Treasury securities.

The ratio of U.S. debt to gross domestic product soared to 104% in recent  months from 66% in 2006 and will likely increase to 110% in a year, the firm  said. By comparison, Spain’s debt-to-GDP stands at 68.5%.

2.  Median Income-Under Obama Median income per household has fallen to $50,054.00.   When adjusted for inflation this is the lowest median income per household since 1995.

3.  Industrial Production-Down-US industrial production fell 1.2% in August pointing to a slowing economy.

4.  Unemployment-Fed analysts estimate that unemployment will not reach 7% until 2014. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

The Next Great Depression

I was provoked by Tito’s recent post with a great cartoon on the economy. Like him I am greatly concerned about where the U.S. Dollar, our economy and country are headed. This post is related to an earlier post that Christopher Blosser and I co-posted on the Austrian School of Economics. Let me state from the beginning that I am neither an economist nor a certified financial planner. My opinions are worth the value of the cyber ink you are now viewing. It seems clear to me though that our economy is heading into a double-dip recession and possible depression, which is actually calling it what it is. I don’t see how the current policies and actions of the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve are helping the common man. The rate of interest for savings is so minimal now and for the foreseeable future that it can be compared to the sand under the ocean, not the raft-boat on top of the waves. Therefore what can we do to not lose and potentially grow our savings?

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Ovide 2010

Next week, New Hampshire Republicans, and probably some irritating Democrats, will decide who the Republican Nominee is for the Republican New Hampshire Senate Candidacy. It appears to the best of my knowledge that Ovide Lamontange is the only consistent pro-life and limited government candidate on the ticket. I urge anyone you know who lives in New Hampshire to vote for Ovide. No, he’s not a genius, but he’s principled, more than the others. Primaries should be about principles. Playing Machiavelli can wait until November. We have to choose the right people to put up for office, and the right people are principled people who think that government is more than simply another way to stimulate the economy. We have a debased and corrupt form of politics that only recognizes the material dimension of our lives. We need candidates who understand that material life is not the only good, and that material well-being is in some way really dependent on our spiritual well-being. Our spiritual well-being is in a real way determined by our laws, and our politicians create our laws, not just “our jobs” (which is ridiculous, politicians don’t create jobs). We need to look for politicians who have but an inkling of an understanding of this countercultural idea. Our laws are not just about money; they are about truth and justice and goodness and even beauty.

Republicans are upset about not being in power. Republicans are not in power because they have failed to live up to their principles, and everyone knows it. Republican principles are good principles, and we should not concede them because we have hopes of winning an election. Republicans have won elections, and they have acted frivolously and ignorantly with their power because they were not principled. We need to elect politicians who will behave responsibly with their power, and not just win the election. Elections don’t matter; justice and truth do.

Obama To Announce New Business Tax Cuts

President Obama will propose several new tax cuts and incentives for businesses on Wednesday, September 8th, including one which is billed as having a decidedly right-leaning flavor:

President Barack Obama, in one of his most dramatic gestures to business, will propose that companies be allowed to write off 100% of their new investment in plant and equipment through 2011, a plan that White House economists say would cut business taxes by nearly $200 billion over two years.

The proposal, to be laid out Wednesday in a speech in Cleveland, tops a raft of announcements, from a proposed expansion of the research and experimentation tax credit to $50 billion in additional spending on roads, railways and runways. But unlike those two ideas, both familiar from Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign, the investment incentive would embrace a long-held wish by conservative economists that had never won support from either Republican or Democratic administrations.
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Is the Means of Production an Obsolete Idea?

The “means of production” (which may be defined, roughly, as consisting of capital goods minus human and financial capital), is a central concept in Marxism, as well as in other ideologies such as Distributism. The problems of capitalism, according to both Marxists and Distributists, arise from the fact that ownership of the means of production is concentrated in the hands of the few. Marxists propose to remedy these problems by having the means of production be collectively owned. Distributists want to retain private ownership, but to break the means of production up (where practicable) into smaller parts so that everyone will have a piece (if you wanted to describe the difference between the Marxist and Distributist solutions here, it would be that Distributists want everyone to own part of the means of production, whereas Marxists want everyone to be part owner of all of it).

Where a society’s economy is based primarily on agriculture or manufacture, thinking in terms of the means of production makes some sense. In an agricultural economy wealth is based primarily on ownership of land, and in a manufacturing economy ownership of things like factories and machinery plays an analogous role. In a modern service-based economy, by contrast, wealth is based largely on human capital (the possession of knowledge and skills). As Pope John Paul II notes in Centesimus Annus, “[i]n our time, in particular, there exists another form of ownership which is becoming no less important than land: the possession of know-how, technology and skill. The wealth of the industrialized nations is based much more on this kind of ownership than on natural resources.”

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Set Me Free (From Ideologies) Part 2

 

To follow up on my first installment of “Set Me Free (From Ideologies), I am going to draw again from the rich well of Pope Benedict’s powerful encyclical Caritas In Veritate.  In this case it would seem that in paragraph #25 the Pope is sounding kinda liberal if we would attempt to fit the views expressed into one or another of our American political ideologies. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Pray for the Unemployed this Advent and Christmas

In my brief life on earth I have not experienced such high unemployment amongst my family and friends this year than ever before.  As each week passes I hear of another friend or acquaintance who has lost his or her job.

This is the worst recession I have seen and I don’t see any signs that it will let up for the next 9-12 months.  So I find it appropriate that a simple request to all our readers to make time this evening prior to going to bed and include those that are unemployed, especially those with families and dependents in your prayers.

With extra time on our hands the unemployed can remain steadfastly busy by working on their faith through prayer and service.  For when work does come around there will not be time for such activities.

The following prayer is a traditional Catholic prayer that I have used from time to time due to the nature of my work of being an independent contractor and one that helps to put life in proper perspective and order:

Dear Lord Jesus Christ,
You wanted all who are weary
To come to You for support.
Lord, I am worn out
By my inability to find work.

Guide my steps to a righteous path;
Give me the patience
To find opportunities with a future.
Calm my worries and fears
As my financial responsibilities mount.
Strengthen my resolve;
Embolden my heart to open doors;
Open my eyes to see life beyond rejections.
Help me believe in me.

Let me realize other ways
To bring about Your kingdom on earth.
Let me grow as a person
That I may be worthy
For Your greater glory.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

Amen.

Saint Joseph has been especially helpful for me and I strongly recommend him for those seeking employment:

Dear Saint Joseph, you were yourself once faced with the responsibility of providing the necessities of life for Jesus and Mary. Look down with fatherly compassion upon me in my anxiety over my present inability to support my family. Please help me to find gainful employment very soon, so that this heavy burden of concern will be lifted from my heart and that I am soon able to provide for those whom God has entrusted to my care. Help us to guard against bitterness and discouragement, so that we may emerge from this trial spiritually enriched and with even greater blessings from God.

Amen.

Obamaville Shanty Towns: Tent Cities Sprouting Up Across America

As the recession continue to take its toll on our fellow Americans, rendering more and more of them homeless, tent cities have begun sprouting up across this great country.  It would not be fair to blame President Obama for the predicament that our nation is in, but President Obama has done nothing to help the situation.

President Obama’s ‘stimulus package’ only rewarded government contractors with more spending.  It is also correct to point out that former President George W. Bush’s ‘stimulus package’ did nothing more than President Obama’s spending bill.

Small businesses and the private sector in general got almost zero benefit for either porkulus spending bills.  Though this recession is typical of a business cycle, there are some things that can be done to alleviate the stress the economy is undergoing and maybe expedite the expiration of the current recession.  President Obama has done neither.

So it is fitting and fair to label the tent cities that are sprouting across America as Obamavilles.

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(Note: In case the above YouTube video is taken down by the Blueshirts, you can see the entire story and video here.)

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Moving Halloween to Saturday: Treat or Trick?

In recent years Halloween has gone from a primarily child-oriented holiday to an occasion of commercial importance comparable to Christmas or Easter. National retail sales figures indicate that Halloween is the 6th biggest holiday for retailers — behind Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day — and rapidly gaining ground, particularly among young adults.

The trend has now sparked a movement of sorts — led by the Spirit Halloween retail chain — to move Halloween permanently to the last Saturday in October. Their online petition at this link (http://www.spirithalloweekend.com/ ) asks Congress to lend its official endorsement to the change, although that would not be strictly necessary since Halloween is not a federal or national holiday.

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It's A Depression, Thus Sayeth The Veep

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During these dismal economic days, we can always rely upon the  comic stylings of Joe Biden to raise our morale, just as the American public during Depression I looked to the Three Stooges for comic relief.  I assume Jolly Joe in the above video was thinking of  the old Reagan line from Reagan’s 1980 campaign for President:  “A Recession is when your neighbor loses his job.  A Depression is when you lose your job.  A Recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his!”  Needless to say, the brighter lights in the Administration were reaching for extra strength pain relief as they saw the human gaffe machine use the “D” word, especially since they have been attempting to convince a sceptical public that the recession  is ending.

What makes this especially hilarious is that Newsweek, the unofficial house organ of the Obama administration, ran a puff piece on Biden last week entitled “Why Joe is No Joke” .  Hint Joe, when you are a politician and one of the most sycophanic press journals on your side runs a story arguing that you are not a joke, that is most definitely not a good sign. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

The Class Analysis

At the request of my friend and fellow contributor to The American Catholic, Darwin Catholic, I will elaborate more on some of the general points I introduced to the discussion over his latest post about economic morality. For those who did not follow the exchange (of me versus everyone, understandable on this somewhat more conservative blog), I questioned the accuracy of any scientific theory of economics that did not take into account class conflict (or, as some insist on saying, “class struggle”). Darwin and others responded by questioning the validity of the very category of class. Hence, we have a great deal of ground to cover – I hope you will bear with me, and that we all end up learning something.

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"Caritas in Veritate" Soon To Be Released

After a few delays, Pope Benedict’s long-awaited third encyclical on economic and social issues is set to be signed tomorrow, June 29, and released to the public on July 6 or 7, according to Catholic News Agency.

We here at American Catholic have had our share of lively debates over the meaning and application of Catholic social doctrine. I anticipate that they will continue following the release of this encyclical. This is a historical event of great importance to Catholics all over the world. Like some of his predecessors, and particularly Pius XI, Pope Benedict will be addressing the world on social and economic matters in the midst of a world wide economic crisis.

It was the crisis itself that reportedly caused the delay in the completion of the encyclical, and as it would be reasonable to assume, it is now clear that much of it will deal directly with the breakdown of the financial system in particular, and with the phenomenon of globalization in general.

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