Friday Reads: Dismal Scientist EditionPosted: January 18, 2013 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: Debt, deficit, economics, Economists 46 Comments
I’ve got a few reads for you from economists on some of today’s economic policy questions. I always complain that we never hear from economists and always hear from politicians, journalists, and lawyers. So, here’s the take on the austerity fetish in the beltway from an economists’ perspective.
Economist Dean Baker thinks there’s a cut Social Security on the Horizon.
According to inside Washington gossip, Congress and the president are going to do exactly what voters elected them to do; they are going to cut Social Security by 3 percent. You don’t remember anyone running on that platform? Yeah, well, they probably forgot to mention it.
Of course some people may have heard Vice President Joe Biden when he told an audience in Virginia that there would be no cuts to Social Security if President Obama got reelected. Biden said: “I guarantee you, flat guarantee you, there will be no changes in Social Security. I flat guarantee you.”
But that’s the way things work in Washington. You can’t expect the politicians who run for office to share their policy agenda with voters. After all, we might not like it. That’s why they say things like they will fight for the middle class and make the rich pay their fair share. These ideas have lots of appeal among voters. Cutting Social Security doesn’t.
While the politics of cutting Social Security are bad, it also doesn’t make much sense as policy. In Washington, the gang who couldn’t see an $8 trillion housing bubble until its collapse sank the economy, has now decided that deficit reduction has to be the preeminent goal.
They don’t care that we are still down more than 9 million jobs from our growth trend; deficit reduction must take priority. These whiz kids apparently also don’t care that the cuts that have already been made are slowing growth and costing us jobs.
Meanwhile, economist Paul Krugman shows–once again–that the deficit isn’t really that big of problem and is dwindling. Oh, just a reminder, Social Security has nothing to do with the Federal Budget, debt or deficit other than than the trust fund is invested in US Treasuries.
Recently the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities took Congressional Budget Office projections for the next decade and updated them to take account of two major deficit-reduction actions: the spending cuts agreed to in 2011, amounting to almost $1.5 trillion over the next decade; and the roughly $600 billion in tax increases on the affluent agreed to at the beginning of this year. What the center finds is a budget outlook that, as I said, isn’t great but isn’t terrible: It projects that the ratio of debt to G.D.P., the standard measure of America’s debt position, will be only modestly higher in 2022 than it is now.
The center calls for another $1.4 trillion in deficit reduction, which would completely stabilize the debt ratio; President Obama has called for roughly the same amount. Even without such actions, however, the budget outlook for the next 10 years doesn’t look at all alarming.
Now, projections that run further into the future do suggest trouble, as an aging population and rising health care costs continue to push federal spending higher. But here’s a question you almost never see seriously addressed: Why, exactly, should we believe that it’s necessary, or even possible, to decide right now how we will eventually address the budget issues of the 2030s?
Consider, for example, the case of Social Security. There was a case for paying down debt before the baby boomers began to retire, making it easier to pay full benefits later. But George W. Bush squandered the Clinton surplus on tax cuts and wars, and that window has closed. At this point, “reform” proposals are all about things like raising the retirement age or changing the inflation adjustment, moves that would gradually reduce benefits relative to current law. What problem is this supposed to solve?
Well, it’s probable (although not certain) that, within two or three decades, the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted, leaving the system unable to pay the full benefits specified by current law. So the plan is to avoid cuts in future benefits by committing right now to … cuts in future benefits. Huh?
Economist Allen Blinder wrote in the WSJ that the Debt Ceiling Debacle is far scarier than than the debt itself.
In today’s Wall Street Journal, Alan Blinder points out that running into the debt ceiling would provoke a severe fiscal contraction.
“At current rates of spending and taxation, federal receipts cover less than 74% of federal outlays. So if the government hits the debt ceiling at full speed, total outlays—which includes everything from Social Security benefits to soldiers’ pay to interest on the national debt—will have to be trimmed by more than 26% immediately. That amounts to more than 6% of GDP, far more than the fiscal cliff we just avoided,” Blinder writes.
The fiscal cliff, by contrast, would have erased 4.5 percent of GDP.
Any sustained captivity below the debt ceiling, in other words, means that the economy will enter a severe recession. This recession will be made far worse because the so-called automatic stabilizers that kick in when the economy slumps—think unemployment insurance—will not be able to function because of the budget constraint. So unemployment will grow while unemployment insurance contracts. This will not only pose a hardship on the people out of work, it will mean that the spending power of the American consumer will shrink rapidly.
Where the fiscal cliff might have led to a recession, this is downward spiral toward depression. The shrinking economy will shrink the government’s tax revenues. And since the budget deficit cannot increase, the spiral will go unchecked. Falling taxes will trigger falling spending. “Downward spiral” may be too mild. Economic black hole better fits the bill.
“In short, the consequences of hitting the debt ceiling are too awful to contemplate—worse even than going over the fiscal cliff. A sane Congress wouldn’t even think about it,” Blinder writes. He’s absolutely correct.
Blinder goes on to propose a plan to avoid a crises based on the assumption that Congress is sane. Let’s hope that assumption is correct.
Meanwhile, the House Republicans are discussing another short term fix to the debt ceiling.
House Republicans are discussing a short-term debt ceiling increase to buy time for broader deficit reduction negotiations with Democrats, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters Thursday.
“We’re discussing the possible virtue of a short-term debt limit extension so that we have a better chance of getting the Senate and the White House involved in discussions in March,” Ryan told reporters gathered at the pricey Kingsmill resort in Williamsburg, where the House GOP is holding its annual retreat.
“All of those things are the kinds of things we’re discussing,” said Ryan, the party’s budget chief and 2012 vice presidential candidate.
A small hike in the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling would give the government more time to make payments on its responsibilities as lawmakers and the White House haggle over federal spending. A GOP leadership aide said there was no consensus on the size of a debt limit hike, and that it would have to be coupled with entitlement reforms or spending cuts.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has told Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that the nation hit its borrowing limit at the end of 2012 and will run out of ways to avoid a first-ever default sometime between mid-February and early March. $85 billion in across-the-board 2013 cuts to defense and domestic spending are set to begin taking effect in March, and the government will run out of funding a month later.
Formulating a good metaphor for Obama’s second term is itself a task for intuitive creative thought that entails rethinking what he will propose in his second term. A good metaphor might embody the idea of an “inclusive economy.” The word “inclusive” resonates strongly: Americans do not want more government per se; rather, they want the government to get more people involved in the market economy. Opinion polls show that, above all, what Americans want are jobs – the beginning of inclusion.
The parallel to Chase’s book today is the 2012 bestseller Why Nations Fail by the economist Daron Acemoglu and the political scientist James Robinson. Acemoglu and Robinson argue that in the broad sweep of history, political orders that include everyone in the economic process are more likely to succeed in the long term.
The time seems ripe for that idea, and it fits with the triumph of inclusiveness symbolized by Obama himself. But another step in metaphor-building is needed to encapsulate the idea of economic inclusion.
The biggest successes of Obama’s first term concerned economic inclusion. The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is providing more people with access to health care – and bringing more people to privately-issued insurance – than ever before in the United States. The Dodd-Frank financial reforms created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, so that privately issued financial products would serve the public better, and created incentives for derivatives to be traded on public markets. And he signed the JOBS Act, proposed by his Republican opponents, which aims to create crowdfunding Web sites that allow small investors to participate in start-up ventures.
We have not reached the pinnacle of economic inclusion. There are hundreds of other possibilities, including improved investor education and financial advice, more flexible mortgages, better kinds of securitization, more insurance for a broader array of life’s risks, and better management of career risks. Much more progress toward comprehensive public futures and derivatives markets would help, as would policies to encourage the emerging world to participate more in the US economy. (Indeed, the inclusion metaphor is essentially global in spirit; had Obama used it in the past, his economic policies might have been less protectionist.)
The right metaphor would spin some of these ideas, or others like them, into a vision for America’s future that, like the New Deal, would gain coherence as it is transformed into reality. On January 29, Obama will give the first State of the Union address of his new term. He should be thinking about how to express – vividly and compellingly – the principles that have guided his choices so far, and that set a path for America’s future.
Where’s the Beef?Posted: December 13, 2012 Filed under: 2012 elections, Fiscal Cliff, U.S. Economy, U.S. Politics | Tags: Economists, fiscal cliff, Paul Krugman 54 Comments
Yup, Clara’s question is still germane.
I have a more earthy version of this having do to with lies and morons when I continue to watch the media cover the “fiscal cliff”. The coverage is singularly lacking substance and Media Matters shows us why in a study that shows that “Economists – And Economics – Absent From Media Coverage Of Debt Debate”. Journalists continue to bring politicians in to discuss the politics of the fiscal cliff in a complete vacuum of facts, data, economic theory, and reality or economic perspective. Why are economists absent from the discussion?
A Media Matters study found that economists have been strangely absent from discussions on budget negotiations, following a typical pattern of the media’s inability to host experts to discuss complex issues. This lack of expert analysis has steered the debate toward politics and away from core economic concerns.
In a recently published study of news segments discussing current budget negotiations, Media Matters found that the presence of economists was sorely lacking – out of 503 total guests in the 337 segments analyzed, only 22 were economists. The lack of appearances by economists is spread across all networks …
I’ve watched a lot of the coverage and there are a lot of things coming out of the mouths of people making these decisions that would never come out of the mouth of an economist whatever their voter affiliation. But let me start with one thing that strikes me as really, really, really obscene. The Republican mantra of “Increased Taxes Kill Jobs” is old school Keynes. I mean REAL old school Keynesian economics because the old Keynes model shows us that increasing taxes or decreasing government spending is contractionary fiscal policy. So, why hasn’t any moderator of bloviating pols mentioned this or asked about this as Republicans rant on about the evilness of Keynesian economics?
NeoKeynesians have discovered a lot about the subtleties of the impact of changes in tax rates or government spending since that first bit of insight came from the Keynesian models back in the day. Those subtleties are present in the studies you read that show that changing tax rates for the rich has a different impact that changing tax rates for others. It also has been determined that some government spending is more effective in a variety of ways than others. However, the point remains. That Republican talking point is actually quite old school Keynesian so why doesn’t one Media person ask them why they hate Keynes and say that continually? Is it because they’ve bought into the idea that tax cuts only should be discussed in terms of the republicans adherence to the dismissed Laffer Curve and hypothesis? Where are the economists that can actually ask these questions? There’s plenty of us out there writing, tweeting, blogging, and facebooking? Why not ask one of us?
Previous studies by Media Matters have noted that the lack of economists’ input helps spread conservative misinformation, leaving a substantial impact on public opinion. The most recent study, however, shows that keeping economists out of the debate also eliminates any discussion of economic issues.
One such issue is the so-called “fiscal cliff,” a combination of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, could plunge the U.S. economy into recession in 2013.
However, of the 337 segments analyzed, 209 — 62 percent — failed to address the macroeconomic implications of either tax increases or spending cuts. While some microeconomic issues were discussed (such as the potential impact on healthcare costs), most of the segments were focused on largely non-economic issues, such as political leverage in negotiations, the Grover Norquist pledge, or concessions made by the two parties.
Meanwhile, economists have not been silent on the economic consequences of current budget negotiations. A recent International Monetary Fund study found that for every dollar decrease in government spending, the U.S. would experience as much as a $1.80 decrease in output. Conversely, the Congressional Budget Office noted that if Bush-era tax rates expired for high-income earners, negative effects on economic output would be negligible.
Given the fact that cutting spending and raising taxes are both large components of the so-called “fiscal cliff,” highlighting these findings when discussing budget negotiations would help inform viewers of the real economic stakes. Instead, the media have taken the economics out of a largely economic issue.
Not even Greg Mankiw would risk his reputation in the academic community spreading the lies that get put out there about the economy by Republican Politicians. Chief among the lies are the kinda crap we saw coming from the Republicans. There are all these completely untrue economic lies running around out there. It’s all surrounding ideological things the Republicans are still trying to accomplish. Social Security has nothing to do with the Federal deficit. It’s not going bankrupt. Raising the age of social security and medicare does not solve any economic problems and does not save money. It just costs shifts things to different programs and sectors of government. Higher marginal tax rates on the rich does not kill jobs. Lower marginal tax rates on the rich does not create jobs. Special tax treatment for speculative investment behavior destabilizes financial markets. Regulation of Financial Markets improves their outcomes. There is not a structural deficit problem. There is a cyclical problem that would be solved if real stimulus of the economy occurred. I could go on and on and on and have written extensively on this citing study after study and economic expert after economic expert.
Nobel prize winning Paul Krugman’s facts get attacked as polemics by a political operative on Sunday TV. This is the reality of our public discussion on the most important issues of our time. Krugman is frequently out there on his own. He’s always trying to argue from a fact based, scientific method based, reality gets to argue with pols. Why can’t the media bring on more economists and let us see a real discussion of facts and theories? We have so much obvious data sitting right in front of us. The UK’s recession is a great example. The UK with its conservatives and austerity package has the worst economy in the west right now. It’s due to those policies the Republicans want to enact here being enacted by Tories there. Both Europe and the US are in much better situations–albeit still stale because of the lack of true fiscal stimulus–because they’ve not completely done the austerity thing. He points out that Ben Bernanke and the overly conservative Fed appears to be the only grown up institution in the beltway these days.
Along with its new policy pronouncement, the Fed released its economic projections (pdf). What struck me is that the Fed expects the unemployment rate to be well above its long-run level even in the fourth quarter of 2015, which is as far as its projections go.
This means that the Fed is projecting elevated unemployment nine full years after the Great Recession started. And, of course, the Fed has been consistently over-optimistic.
This is an awesome failure of policy — not solely at the Fed, of course.When I wax caustic about Very Serious People, bear this in mind. Faced with an economic crisis where textbook macroeconomics told us exactly how to respond, people of influence chose instead to obsess over budget deficits and generally punt on employment; and the result has been a huge economic and human disaster.
So much of this is disheartening to me. However, the most disheartening thing is waking up every day for the last 4 years or so realizing that an entire political organization–one of the two in our duopoly–doesn’t care about anything but getting its way. Every day it becomes more obvious that Republicans are not about our country, our country’s economy, or our people. That kind of psychopathy should be punished severely. Over and over they’ve shown they will absolutely tank our economy for their donor base.
But, again, how will the majority of people know this if they’re only allowed political discussion that continually presents lies, ideology, and out and out crap as an ‘alternative’ viewpoint?
It’s still the jobs, stupidPosted: August 29, 2011 Filed under: Economy, jobs, unemployment, voodoo economics | Tags: Alan Krueger, Dean Baker, Economists, jobs policy, labor market, Mark Thoma, unemployment 17 Comments
In what I hope is not some symbolic hype, Alan Krueger–an actual economist and a labor one at that–was nominated by President Obama today to head the Council of Economic Advisors. He will replace Austin Goolsbee.
As the Wall Street Journal noted, Krueger’s scholarship suggests he will “likely provide a voice inside the administration for more-aggressive government action to bring down unemployment and, particularly, to address long-term joblessness.”
If his name sounds familiar, it’s because Krueger’s academic work has frequently played a valuable role in the political discourse. When congressional Republicans blatantly lied about the costs of a cap-and-trade plan, it was Krueger who set the record straight. When conservatives said in 2009 that slashing the minimum wage would boost the economy, Krueger explained why the opposite is true.
The economist also brings relevant experience to the table.
I’m hoping this finally brings the correct policy priorities and prescriptions to the table. We’ve had nearly three years of confused messages and results and the economy is clearly the worse for it. There’s an article up at The Guardian by economist Dean Baker that pretty much sums up all of my economic posts for the past few years. Obama never seemed to understand that high unemployment is a problem and never instituted any kind of policy to target the problem directly. He says he gets it now, but I’d just like to remind every one that he said he got it after the election that delivered the House of Representatives to the Tea Party terrorists and still has shown no sign that he understands that people expect bold fiscal policy in the face of low economic growth. All we keep getting is tax breaks for rich people and opposites day fiscal policy.
President Obama has discovered how serious the recession is. That’s what he told an audience in Chicago last week. To be fair, he was referring to revised data from the commerce department showing that the falloff in GDP was larger than originally reported.
But ridicule is appropriate. He and we knew all along how many people were out of work. The employment numbers told us the size of the hole and the desperate need for government action.
This sort of ridiculous comment, and President Obama’s weak response to the recession over the first two and a half years of his presidency, explains the tidal wave of scepticism facing his widely hyped upcoming speech on jobs after the Labor Day weekend. The list of remedies leaked ahead of time does little to inspire hope.
At the top of the list of job-creating measures is extending the 2 percentage-point reduction in the social security payroll tax. This provides no boost to the economy, since it just keeps in place a tax cut that was already there, but if the cut is allowed to end at the start of 2012, it will be a drag on growth.
As it stands, the social security programme is being fully reimbursed for the lost tax revenue, but there is always the possibility that Republicans will use this as a basis for attacking the programme. Given President Obama’s willingness to support cuts to social security, it is understandable that this part of his jobs agenda doesn’t generate much enthusiasm.
Baker goes on to call for a new CCC and explains why trade agreements, tax cuts to business yet again that undermine social security, and all the rest of the “jobs” agenda touted by the President aren’t going to do much of anything. Economist Nancy Folbre has a great piece of analysis up at the NYT explaining why letting this high level of unemployment go on for a period of time has an increasingly negative impact on the entire economy because things multiply over time. However, a new study covered by Folber shows that the unemployed just don’t sit around and act like they are on vacation. They create value by doing unpaid work. The same folks that think that the unemployed just lie around are the same ones that push the meme that homemakers spend their days eating bon bons and watching soap operas.
The overall increase in non-market work implies that household consumption among the unemployed fell less than market income, but it’s hard to put a dollar value on the unpaid work. When people make a voluntary decision to substitute time for money, we can infer something about the relative value they place on it.
But most unemployment is involuntary, and some unpaid work probably represents an effort to stay busy more than a significant contribution to household living standards.
The authors emphasize the relatively large impact of unemployment on unpaid work, in part because this is a new finding, and in part because it counters the wrong impression that, as Professor Hurst put it, the Great Recession was a Great Vacation.
But it is also important to note that most of the unemployed can’t allocate more of the free time they gain to productive uses, even if they want to. They lack the capital, land, tools and skills needed to flexibly shift from wage employment to production for their own use. Even when they can make a partial shift, their productivity is likely to be lower in unpaid work than paid work.
That’s why involuntary unemployment represents such a waste of human capabilities and loss of productive output for the economy as a whole.
So, what can Alan Krueger bring to the White House if the President will listen to this economist? This is economist Mark Thoma’s take on the appointee.
His most well known research is on the minimum wage and immigration, The work is somewhat controversial in that the results show small negative effects from raising the minimum wage and from increasing immigration. In my view that is a sign of an economist who is willing to let the evidence do the talking, and that is a good trait to have in this job.
He has also worked in many other areas, including occupational licensing, the economics of terrorism, and more recently on job search in periods when unemployment is high, including how job search is affected by things such as unemployment insurance. But that is just a small taste of the large amount of research he has done.
Krueger’s been working at the Treasury so maybe that will give him access that many of the other Obama economic advisers seemed without. Time is running out for policy to help the unemployed in any meaningful way. I say this because as we get closer to the election, it will make the Republicans more surly and less likely to do anything to help a Democratic administration. They’ve already been rewarded for hostage-taking behavior. Then, there’s the policy lags. Things like infrastructure banks take a lot of time to set up. Ideas like patent reform are laughable as job creation tools. I have no idea why the Obama administration won’t embrace things that worked in the past, but that doesn’t appear to be their MO. They seemed to get their jobs mojo from reheating failed Republican canards and presenting them as the higher, middle ground. I continue to be discouraged.
Rep. Maxine Waters: “We’re gettin’ tired, y’all.”Posted: August 17, 2011 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, the villagers, U.S. Economy, U.S. Politics, unemployment, voodoo economics | Tags: African American unemployment, Congressional Black Caucus, double dip recession, Economists, Emanuel Cleaver, Gallup poll, job fairs, jobs bills, Maxine Waters, Obama bus tour, sugar coated satan sandwich, unemployment 22 Comments
While President Obama was visiting small lily-white Midwestern towns that have managed to do pretty well during the economic crisis of the past three years, members of the Congressional Black Caucus have traveled around the country hosting job fairs. Yesterday they were in Detroit.
U.S. House Rep. Maxine Waters is asking black voters who are struggling with an unemployment rate nearly twice the national average to “unleash” her and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus on President Obama.
The California Democrat, speaking at a raucous town hall in Detroit hosted by the CBC on Tuesday, said she doesn’t want to attack the president from his base unless the base gives her the go-ahead.
“If we go after the president too hard, you’re going after us,” Waters said. “When you tell us it’s all right and you unleash us and you’re ready to have this conversation, we’re ready to have the conversation.”
Judging by the reaction of the audience, including someone yelling to Waters, “It’s all right,” the president will be hearing very soon from the congresswoman and her fellow caucus members.
Since Obama took office, he has resisted pressure from the CBC to create jobs programs specifically targeting blacks, saying that improving the entire economy will help all groups.
I’m not sure I understand why the CBC can’t lead on this issue rather than waiting to be “unleashed” by African American voters. Still, at least she’s talking about the dismal employment situation African Americans face.
On MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell asked Emanuel Cleaver (of “sugar coated Satan sandwich” fame) about President Obama’s promised jobs plan.
I guess Obama’s “jobs plan” isn’t an emergency, since Congress is so unlikely to pass it. I guess that’s why the President is going on vacation first and won’t give his latest “major speech” until after Labor Day.
Looking at that video of the CBC jobs fair reminds me of photos of lines during the Great Depression, but President Obama announced today that
“I don’t think we’re in danger of another recession, but we are in danger of not having a recovery that is fast enough to deal with a genuine unemployment crisis for a whole lot of folks out there.
And you know what an expert our fearless leader is on economic matters (snark). And to show that he’s not that worried, President Obama will soon be heading for Martha’s Vineyard for a 10-day vacation.
But wait, check this out from Gallup:
Oddly enough, it seems that Americans outside the beltway don’t agree with Mr. Obama’s assessment of the economy. And neither do quite a few real economists.
But the President is tired too, I guess. All those golf games, the weekends at Camp David, the fancy White House dinners and parties, the fundraisers, the
campaign swing bus tour of the Midwest–it’s so exhausting. He needs a break. So unemployed people need to stop being so selfish and understand President Obama’s needs. He’ll get around to their problems someday.
Funny though, I don’t recall it taking him this long to bail out the banks, do you?
Here’s a longer version of Maxine Waters’ talk.
Breaking … WSJ Discovers Lack of Demand is behind Weak U.S. EconomyPosted: July 18, 2011 Filed under: Barack Obama, Domestic Policy, Economy, Surreality, The Great Recession, U.S. Economy, U.S. Politics, unemployment, voodoo economics | Tags: consumer demand, economics, Economists, economy, Federal spending cuts, government stimulus, jobs, Keynes, unemployment, Wall Street Journal 16 Comments
Via Andrew Leonard at Salon, the Wall Street Journal today reported the results of a survey they conducted with 53 economists:
In the survey, conducted July 8-13 and released Monday, 53 economists—not all of whom answer every question—were asked the main reason employers aren’t hiring more readily. Of the 51 who responded to the question, 31 cited lack of demand (65%) and 14 (27%) cited uncertainty about government policy. The others said hiring overseas was more appealing.
Only the conservative WSJ, the President, and Congresss could be surprised by these results. I’m not sure who these 53 economists were, but I think they must have been rather conservative, because the survey found that most did not think the government should do anything more to stimulate the economy.
Despite their forecasts for slow growth and an elevated unemployment rate, the economists aren’t in favor of further action either by the Fed or the federal government. Forty-one economists in the WSJ survey said the central bank shouldn’t pursue another round of bond-buying aimed at reducing interest rates, and thirty-eight said another round of fiscal stimulus shouldn’t be a part of any deficit-reduction package.
Economists added that they hope that as conditions begin to improve, albeit slowly, consumers will become more optimistic. “For whatever reasons, in addition to discrete headwinds, I think we’ve taken a hit to animal spirits and as those headwinds fade sentiment will revive,” said Stephen Stanley of Pierpont Securities. “Optimism can be self-sustaining, but pessimism can also provide a persistent drag.”
If any of the economists the WSJ talked to mentioned the possibility that the government itself could create jobs and thus stimulate demand–as FDR did the last time things were this bad, the WSJ did not report it.
Andrew Leonard crows:
what could be more obvious, even in the absence of rigorous training in economics? In the absence of demand, businesses will refrain from ramping up production and adding staff — no matter what employers think about the future regulatory climate. To prime this pump, to rev up this engine, to get the “delicate machine” working properly, the first focus for economic policymakers should be figuring out ways to boost demand.
Wouldn’t the best way to do that be to create jobs? Even Andrew Leonard doesn’t mention that. It seems ass-backwards to me to talk about getting consumers to spend more in order to get companies to start hiring. How can consumers spend more when many of them are unemployed? Maybe Dakinikat can explain this to me.
Anyway, it’s pretty amazing that the WSJ is admitting we have a demand problem. Now if only they could convince President Obama…