When the Good News Isn’t

I have used this blog to share things that I am reading, have read or am thinking about.   Occasionally I read something that just strikes me as pretty funny.

The magazine, Pacific Standard  September/October 2013, had such an article in its recent issue.   There is an article entitled, “The Case of the (Still) Missing Jobs,” written by Timothy Noar.   The article deals with the ongoing recovery from the great recession the U.S. and much of the world suffered through for the past several years.

The humor was in what I think British journalism calls the standfirst – a line designed to intrigue you enough to entice you to read the article.   The standfirst of this article says:

“The good news: Economists are starting to come up with some decent theories as to why this recovery is so bad at generating employment. Now here’s the bad news.”

Bas-relief Commerce and Transportation

I think the line is cleverly funny.   

The only good news about the recovery is that economists are starting to come up with theories about why the recovery is not generating jobs.

Of course whether they have theories or not changes nothing about the economy (except perhaps that coming up with such theories is job security for economists!).

So, the good news about the recovery is pretty underwhelming.  Economist theorize in good times and bad, during recessions and recovery.  The actual economy seems to have little effect on the numbers of theories they generate.   And the relationship between their theories and the improvement of the economy seems equally equivocal.

Anyway, I was amused for Labor Day and hope you all had a safe one.  At least in the U.S.A. this tends to mark the end of summer.  Long ago it was the beginning of the school year, but nowadays most students around here have been in school for a 1-2 weeks already.

2 thoughts on “When the Good News Isn’t

  1. Dean Calvert

    Dear Fr. Ted,

    Your posts are generally so good, and I am so theologically ignorant, that I would not dream of commenting. However, on this one, “you’re in my territory now.” I was a money manager for 20 years, owned my own firm, and spent a LOT of time accumulating historical econometric data.

    From a statistical point of view, the current recovery is the worst in 50 years. We are growing at barely 2% coming out of a recovery. The average growth rate, at this point in a recovery, would be approximately 4.5%. In the Ronald Reagan recovery, that number was 6%+

    The question, of course, is why. Economist can come up with all the theories they want about the “jobless” recovery. the bottom line is that this administration has pursued policies which inhibit economic growth (raising taxes, increasing regulation, opposing energy drilling and fracking) and have made continued confiscatory economic statements. Perhaps the worst of all is Obamacare, which may be the greatest jobs killer in the history of the country.

    The bottom line is that businessmen are not stupid, and can read. When they read about punitive taxes etc, they leave funds offshore instead of repatriating them. As a result, there is over $2 trillion dollars in un-repatriated funds offshore. These are funds which normally would have been brought home, and reinvested in new plant and equipment.

    No new economic theories are needed to see the result. Capital spending has been anemic throughout this recovery. Without that (spending on new plants and equipment) there are NO new jobs. The economy remains stuck in “first gear” to use a Detroit aphorism. The Fed can prime to it’s heart’s content, if private industry does not take those funds and reinvest them…the activities of pump priming are a waste of time. That is what we have witnessed on the monetary front: the Fed continuing to flood the market with dollars ($85 billion a month) and those funds going straight into interest bearing accounts…NOT THE ECONOMY.

    The bottom line: because of the activities described above, we are about 10 million jobs SHORT of where we should be in an average economy.

    best regard,
    Dean Calvert

    1. Fr. Ted

      I can’t argue with your economics. But you may be disappointed to know that I still think the ‘standfirst’ is cleverly humorous.

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