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The Jobs Report, and Why the Recovery Has Stalled by Robert B. Reich, robertreich.org | February 1, 2013We are in the most anemic recovery in modern history, yet our political leaders in Washington aren’t doing squat about it. In fact, apart from the Fed – which continues to hold interest rates down in the quixotic hope that banks will begin lending again to average people – the government is heading in exactly the wrong direction: raising taxes on the middle class, and cutting spending. read more »
New Poll: America's Workers Soundly Reject Social Security Benefit Cuts by Jackie Tortora, aflcio.org | February 1, 2013The "chained" CPI is a Social Security benefit cut (not an innocuous "adjustment"), and the majority of voters understand this, with 55% opposing this policy proposal. A new poll, Strengthening Social Security: What Do Americans Want? from the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), highlights working people's opposition to benefit cuts, including the "chained" CPI, which reduces the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). A large majority, 64%, thought the COLA should be increased to better protect seniors and other beneficiaries from inflation and rising prices of food, utilities and other necessities. read more »
Looking for Mister Goodpain by Paul Krugman, The New York Times | February 1, 2013Three years ago, a terrible thing happened to economic policy, both here and in Europe. Although the worst of the financial crisis was over, economies on both sides of the Atlantic remained deeply depressed, with very high unemployment. Yet the Western world’s policy elite somehow decided en masse that unemployment was no longer a crucial concern, and that reducing budget deficits should be the overriding priority. In recent columns, I’ve argued that worries about the deficit are, in fact, greatly exaggerated. Today, however, I’d like to talk about a different but related kind of desperation: the frantic effort to find some example, somewhere, of austerity policies that succeeded. For the advocates of fiscal austerity — the austerians — made promises as well as threats: austerity, they claimed, would both avert crisis and lead to prosperity. And let nobody accuse the austerians of lacking a sense of romance; in fact, they’ve spent years looking for Mr. Goodpain. read more »
Good News On Jobs: Growth Was Steady To Start The Year, And 2012 Was Better Than First Thought by Neil Irwin, The Washington Post | February 1, 2013The economy began the year with solid job creation, and the labor market was much stronger at the end of 2012 than previously thought, according to new data out Friday that indicated surprising momentum in the economy in the new year. Employers added 157,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department said, which was right in line with analyst expectations. The brightest news, though, was that revised estimates showed much higher job creation at the end of last year than first reported. The nation added a whopping 247,000 jobs in November and 196,000 in December, a combined 127,000 jobs above earlier estimates. read more »
Jobs on Jobs on Jobs on Jobs by Jamelle Bouie, prospect.org | February 1, 2013According to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy created 157,000 jobs in January, a solid number, though behind what we need to see a robust recovery. More important, as always, are the revisions. November’s job growth was revised to 247,000 (up from 161,000) and December’s was revised to 196,000 (up from 155,000). These are big revisions, and when analyzed as part of a trend, it’s clear that the government was been underestimating job growth for most of 2012, to the tune of 28,000 jobs a month. read more »
At This Pace, The U.S. Won't Get Back To Full Employment Until 2022 by Brad Plumer, The Washington Post | February 1, 2013The jobs numbers have been crunched and re-crunched, and it turns out that the U.S. economy added an average of 181,000 jobs per month in 2012. That’s a faster rate than in previous years. But it’s also relatively sluggish, given the deep, deep hole the economy is still in. If the United States keeps adding 181,000 jobs per month, then it will take nine years and three months to get back to full employment, according to the Hamilton Project’s jobs calculator. read more »
The Idiocy of Sequestration by Matthew Yglesias, slate.com | January 31, 2013With all feel-good talk about immigration reform, fans of conflict and dysfunction may fear the arrival of genuine bipartisanship in Washington. Not to worry! Another budget crisis is almost upon us! This time it’s not the dread fiscal cliff or the debt ceiling, but rather the “sequester”—the extremely crude cutting mechanism that essentially nobody favors but that seems likely to happen anyway. It’ll drag down the economy, impair the functioning of the government across the board, and do nothing to improve America’s fiscal sustainability over the long run. Here’s what you need to know. read more »
Government Is Hurting The Economy — By Spending Too Little by Ezra Klein, The Washington Post | January 31, 2013You’ve heard this before: The government is holding the economy back. And it’s true. But exactly what the government is doing to hold the economy back might surprise you. Typically, when people say the government is hurting the recovery, they mean that deficits are too high and uncertainty over future policy is scaring businesses. But there’s little evidence of that. It’s not because government is spending too much, or because of concerns over future policy. It’s because government, at all levels, is spending and investing too little. Despite the stimulus and various other policies we’ve passed to help the recovery, and despite the large deficits the government has been running, government spending and investment have, at all levels, been contractionary since 2010. read more »
Report: Nearly Half of Americans Have No Safety Net to Keep Them Out of Poverty by Lauren Kelley, alternet.org | January 31, 2013A new report reveals a fact that too many Americans are familiar with first-hand: nearly half of the nation's residents have no safety net to protect them from falling into poverty in the event of a layoff or other financial misfortune. The recently published Assets & Opportunities Scorecard from the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) shows that "[n]early 44 percent of Americans don't have enough savings or other liquid assets to stay out of poverty for more than three months if they lose their income," as NPR summarized. At the same time, nearly a third of Americans live with no savings account at all. read more »
Why Consumers are Bummed Out by Robert B. Reich , robertreich.org | January 30, 2013The Conference Board reported Tuesday that the preliminary January figure for consumer confidence in the United States fell to its lowest level in more than a year. The last time consumers were this bummed out was October 2011, when there was widespread talk of a double-dip recession. But this time business news is buoyant. The stock market is bullish. The housing market seems to have rebounded a bit. So why are consumers so glum? Because they’re deeply worried about their jobs and their incomes – as they have every right to be. The job situation is still lousy. We’ll know more this coming Friday about what happened to jobs in January. But we know over 20 million people are still unemployed or underemployed. read more »
Central Bankers Reach Initial Accord on Global Standards, The New York Times | July 27, 2010
Even as investors applauded the mostly positive results of recent stress tests of European banks, central bankers and regulators reached a preliminary agreement Monday on new standards to reinforce the stability of the global financial system. more »
White House Signals Its Support For Warren, thehill.com | July 27, 2010
The White House on Monday gave the strongest signal yet that it may pick Elizabeth Warren to head a new consumer bureau created by the Wall Street reform bill.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday said Warren is “very confirmable” for a position in charge of the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA).
Industries Find Surging Profits in Deeper Cuts, The New York Times | July 26, 2010
Motorcycle sales are falling in 2010, as they have for each of the last three years. The company does not expect a turnaround anytime soon.
But despite that drought, Harley’s profits are rising — soaring, in fact. Last week, Harley reported a $71 million profit in the second quarter, more than triple what it earned a year ago.
Left Presses White House to Tap Elizabeth Warren, Politico | July 26, 2010
Pressure is building for President Barack Obama to name Elizabeth Warren as head of his new consumer watchdog agency, as Warren seemed to pick up support from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who had been thought to be skeptical of her nomination. more »
Warren’s Candidacy Raises a Partisan Debate, The New York Times | July 26, 2010
Elizabeth Warren last week won the endorsements of several dozen Congressional Democrats, two of the nation’s leading labor groups and her hometown newspaper, The Boston Globe.
One would be forgiven for thinking that the Harvard professor is running for elected office. more »
Deficits Don't Matter as Geithner Growth Gets Lowest Yield, bloomberg.com | July 26, 2010
For all the criticism of record budget deficits, President Barack Obama can take comfort knowing that for the first time in half a century, government bond yields are declining during an economic expansion and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner is selling two-year notes with the lowest interest rates ever. more »
Cities View Homesteads as a Source of Income, The New York Times | July 26, 2010
It hardly sounds like a prudent scheme. But in a bit of déjà vu, that is exactly what this small Nebraska city aims to do. Beatrice was a starting point for the Homestead Act of 1862, the federal law that handed land to pioneering farmers. Back then, the goal was to settle the West. The goal of Beatrice’s “Homestead Act of 2010,” is, in part, to replenish city coffers. more »
Geithner Dismisses Concerns on Letting Tax Cuts Expire, The New York Times | July 26, 2010
In appearances on two television programs, Mr. Geithner said that letting tax cuts expire for those who make $250,000 a year or more would affect 2 percent to 3 percent of all Americans. He dismissed concerns that the move could push a teetering economy back into recession and argued that it would demonstrate America’s commitment to addressing its trillion-dollar budget deficit.
Bush-Era Tax Cuts a Likely Campaign Theme , The Wall Street Journal | July 26, 2010
Democrats are aiming to push legislation extending Bush-era middle-class tax cuts ahead of midterm elections. But with Republicans and several Democrats advocating a similar extension for high-earners, too, prospects for passage before November balloting appear uncertain. more »
Education Funds Out of Senate War Bill, Politico | July 23, 2010
The Senate sent back to the House Thursday night a stripped-down $59 billion war funding bill, after striking all of the added education assistance which Democrats had wanted to avert threatened teacher layoffs in the fall. more »