Counterparties: Obama’s unemployment aphasia

September 7, 2012

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If you listened to President Obama’s speech on the final night of the Democratic National Convention, which clocked in at about 4,600 words, there were a number of words you didn’t hear. Chief among those omissions, Zeke Miller notes, is the most important issue for at least 12.5 million Americans: unemployment.

In a speech that the pundit class largely saw as safe — even a bit boringMatt Yglesias found no mentions of aggregate demand, fiscal stimulus, monetary policy or housing finance. (Obama’s signature homeowner aid program, even in its latest spiffed-up form, was also not mentioned.)

Josh Barro finds Obama’s speech “lame and unconvincing”, with “shockingly little content in defense of his economic policies over the last four years, focusing almost exclusively on results in the manufacturing and energy sectors”. Ramesh Ponnuru says the speech was “a celebration of job growth” that the country as a whole “rightly finds grossly inadequate” .

Before the speech, however, the Obama campaign did release a set of economic targets, which Ron Fournier says wasn’t a “blueprint as much as it was a collection of lofty goals and promises”. Among those goals:

  • Create 1 million new manufacturing jobs by the end of 2016
  • Double exports by the end of 2014
  • Cut net oil imports in half by 2020
  • Support 600,000 natural gas jobs by the end of the decade
  • Cut the growth of college tuition in half over the next 10 years
  • Recruit 100,000 math and science teachers over the next 10 years
  • Job training for 2 million workers at community colleges
  • Reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion over the next decade

Those manufacturing claims seem rosy, considering we’ve seen three straight months of ISM index contraction and August saw 15,000 manufacturing jobs disappear, Joe Deaux writes. John Cassidy writes that most of the goals were “familiar or modest, or both”.

Those goals, it’s worth remembering, will do nothing to help America deal with the U word in the short term. Klein notes one more thing that wasn’t mentioned in the speech: the president’s failed American Jobs Act. Which was his most promising solution to the jobs crisis. — Ryan McCarthy

On to today’s links:

God bless Mark Cuban for being honest about who’s to blame for Facebook’s IPO – Jonathan Weil

“The high-end nanny (and manny) economy is thriving” — the latest Fran Drescher Index has been released – Businessweek

EU Mess
Former Greek pharma salesman: “It was a good job. Now I clean Swedish sh–” – Bloomberg
Italy would really prefer not to request an EU bailout – NYT

New Normal
America’s hidden austerity program: public-sector layoffs – NYT
A concise guide to what the monthly jobs report misses – The Daily Beast

From unemployed…to dropping out of the labor force altogether – Felix

Apple wants to take on Pandora by negotiating directly with music labels – WSJ
Meet Apple’s favorite blogger, who pulls in an estimated $500,000 per year – Businessweek

Federal appeals court rules class action against Goldman can move forward – Bloomberg

Philip Roth’s awesome open letter on his credibility as a source on the works of Philip Roth – New Yorker

Welcome to Adulthood
Wall Street intern gets it completely backwards: You won’t be able to stop thinking about money – Ben Walsh

Companies now “crowdsource” their own employees’ morale – NYT

DE Shaw is doing just fine, thank you very much – NY Post

JPMorgan has a new whale trainer – DealBook

China approves 60 infrastructure projects worth more than $150 billion – Reuters

Growth Industries
The American beer market is booming as silly Prohibition-era laws are repealed – Economist

Krugman: “Obama can fairly claim to have helped the country get through a very bad patch” – NYT


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