Saturday, July 30, 2011

Chart of the Day: US Recessions and Recoveries

From The Economist:

"After previous recessions an acceleration in output had helped the employment recover to its initial level. The BEA's new figures show that with output having grown less than previously thought, America's jobless may have longer to wait for a similar boost."

click to visit the source article on The Economist's website

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chart of the day: Were you punished yet?

This infographic from UCubed documents the efforts of various state legislatures to cut back on benefits to their state's unemployed citizens.

(click to enlarge)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Glowbox Lemonade: Song for 99ers

Uncertainty? No. Lack of demand? Yes.

Echoing a point made some time ago: businesses aren't hiring because demand is lacking:

"The main reason U.S. companies are reluctant to step up hiring is scant demand, rather than uncertainty over government policies, according to a majority of economists in a new Wall Street Journal survey.
"'There is no demand,' said Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics. 'Businesses aren't confident enough, and the longer this goes on the harder it is to convince them that they should be.'"

This chart illustrates the problem. It comes from the latest report (PDF) from the NFIB:

(click to enlarge)

While the gap has narrowed, the most important problem for the businesses surveyed is poor sales at 24%, followed by taxes at 20% and government regulations and red tape at 15%.

It's important to note that there may be a silver lining in this cloud: one year ago, poor sales was at 30%, while taxes and red tape remained unchanged.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Agenda Project: Patriotic Millionaires

h/t Progressive Advocacy

Two powerful quotes in this video clip:

"Rich people are not the cause of a robust economy - they're the result of a robust economy."

"Tax me, because my country, our country, means more than my money."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Chart of the Day - Washington Post

Rising executive pay

Executive pay began to grow around the same time as income equality in the U.S. and has increased about fourfold since 1970, while average wages for all workers have remained relatively flat. Defenders of executive pay levels say the higher salaries are justified as the size and profits of companies grow.

Total Change Since 1970

*Based on the salary, bonuses and stock options of the three highest-paid officers in the largest 50 firms. ** Calculated from Bureau of Economic Analysis data. NOTE: All figures have been adjusted for inflation.

SOURCES: The World Top Incomes Database and reports by Jon Bakija, Williams College; Adam Cole, U.S. Department of Treasury; Bradley T. Heim, Indiana University; Carola Frydman, MIT Sloan School of Management and NBER; Raven E. Molloy, Federal Reserve Board of Governors; Thomas Piketty, Ehess, Paris; Emmanuel Saez, UC Berkeley and NBER. GRAPHIC: Alicia Parlapiano - The Washington Post. Published June 18, 2011.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Next Challenge: the 26ers

Arthur Delaney, writing in The Huffington Post:

After this week, workers laid off through no fault of their own will not be eligible for any of the generous extended unemployment benefits layoff victims have received from the federal government since 2008.

"There's a real potential cliff coming for unemployed people," emailed Judy Conti, a lobbyist for the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group. "The federal unemployment programs all expire at the end of this year. This means that anyone who is laid off on July 1st or later, will ONLY receive state benefits unless Congress acts to keep these needed programs up and running."

In exchange for keeping the Bush tax cuts in place for two years, Democrats got Republicans to agree to just over one year of continued funding for the EUC and EB programs, which will expire at the end of this year, unless Congress reauthorizes them.

It's not bad enough that 4 million Americans will join the ranks of the 99ers in 2011. As 2012 begins, an additional 4 million people will have lost their financial lifeline, too.

WSJ: The GOP Myth of 'Job-Killing' Spending

Alan Blinder, former Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve, writing in the Wall Street Journal:
...for example, the large fiscal stimulus enacted in 2009 was not "paid for." Yet it has been claimed that it created essentially no jobs. Really? With spending under the Recovery Act exceeding $600 billion (and tax cuts exceeding $200 billion), that would be quite a trick. How in the world could all that spending, accompanied by tax cuts, fail to raise employment? In fact, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the stimulus's effect on employment in 2010 was at least 1.3 million net new jobs, and perhaps as many as 3.3 million.

Robert Reich: The Truth About The Economy

Obama Needs to Get ’Caught Trying’ on Job Creation: Ron Klain

"The president should put forward a half-dozen job-creation ideas in July, and call on Congress to come back early from its August recess to give these proposals up-or-down votes before Labor Day. Then, he could propose a half-dozen more, and demand votes on those before Congress finishes its session this year. The administration may lose some of these votes; and ideas that win approval by Congress in fall or winter of 2011 may have limited impact on the employment rolls before Election Day 2012, but the American people will be grateful for the president’s determination."

Mother Jones Special Report: The 'Speedup'

Doing more with less.


Mother Jones magazine is doing a special report on the speedup - the increased workloads American workers, managers and executives are being asked to take on, often for no increase in pay.

"For 90 percent of American workers, incomes have stagnated or fallen for the past three decades, while they've ballooned at the top, and exploded at the very tippy-top: By 2008, the wealthiest 0.1 percent were making 6.4 times as much as they did in 1980 (adjusted for inflation). And just to further fuel your outrage, that 22 percent increase in profits? Most of it accrued to a single industry: finance.

In other words, all that extra work you've taken on—the late nights, the skipped lunch hours, the missed soccer games—paid off. For them."

I've always thought that part of the American Dream could be expressed by the saying "a rising tide lifts all boats."

That no longer seems to be the case, though. The record profits corporate America is enjoying seem to be coming, in large part, from an increasingly squeezed labor pool.

If there's a Laffer Curve that tracks the relationship between corporate profits and U. S. employment, I'd venture a guess that we're on the wrong side of it.

Politics Before People

6/24 cartoon: Mike Luckovich on the economy


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Why was this in the Friday trash?

Steve Benen, on the CEA's latest report on the effects of the stimulus on the economy:

The stimulus should have been bigger and more ambitious, and deserved more than one round of investment. But the fact remains that the derided Recovery Act turned the economy around. An economy that was shrinking started growing, and an economy that was hemorrhaging jobs started adding jobs, because of this one piece of legislation. Republicans, reporters, and even the American mainstream may find these facts inconvenient, but the truth is stubborn.

Facing the greatest economic crisis in generations, the nation was effectively left with two choices early 2009: the Democratic stimulus or the Republicans' proposed five-year spending freeze. We're all very fortunate the latter was in the minority.