Ezra Klein gives us some terrifying news in a Bloomberg column today. President Obama's economic team think they are doing a great job, hence the desire to bring back former teammate Larry Summers as Fed chair. This is terrifying because the economy this Labor Day is described by a set of statistics that can only be described as horrible.
We are almost 9 million jobs below the trend level of employment. The number of people involuntarily working part-time is still up by almost 4 million from its pre-recession level. Wages have been stagnant for a decade and show no signs of increasing any time soon.
And, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the economy is still operating more than $1 trillion (6 percent) below its potential. Oh, and by the way, the financial sector is more concentrated than ever, with top honchos drawing the same sort of paychecks they did before the crisis.
I could go on but what's the point? This is an economy that under other circumstances we would all say is awful. The Obama team can pat themselves on the back for saying its better than a second Great Depression, but that's a bit like saying that the 1962 Mets didn't lose all their games. Horrible is horrible.
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Dean Baker @ Center for Economic & Policy Research:
Jared Bernstein @ NYT's Economix:
I was struck Thursday by the juxtaposition of two stories in the news (two and half, really).
First, the banks had another banner quarter in terms of profits, up $42 billion, or 23 percent from last year. News reports emphasized lower loan losses, meaning the banks had to mark down or charge off fewer nonperforming loans. That increases the share of their capital that they can put to work spinning off profits, something they are very good at.
A classic case of it takes money to make money.
At the other end of the economy were the striking fast-food workers, calling for an increase in their pay to $15 an hour (the average for these workers is around $9, up from $8.66 in 2009).
I also noted — this is the half-a-report I mentioned above — that in the upward revision to second-quarter gross domestic product that came out on Thursday, corporate profits were again up near record highs as a share of national income while compensation fell again and is now at the lowest share it has been since the year I was born (1955 — ancient history, I know).
And yet, what I mostly heard about this was about the audacity and the economic illiteracy of the strikers. Don’t they realize that it’s still a tough economy? Don’t they get that their employers are not the big corporations but the franchisees who can’t afford to pay more? Don’t they get that the increase will just have to be passed on in prices?