Note to “job creators” out there: With $2 billion, you could employ 40,000 people for a full year at $50,000 each. #roguetradeless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet ReplyPedro da Costa
I’m not a fan of the kind of political rhetoric that Barack Obama employed for much of his speech last night. “Pass this jobs bill” is not exactly “tear down this wall.” And at the risk of getting nitpicky, it’s difficult to say that “America can be number one again” and “America will be number one again” towards the end of the speech, only to finish with the assertion that “America remains the greatest nation on Earth”: my reaction was “wow, that was quick.”
The symbolism of today’s payrolls report — ZERO — would be bad enough even if it wasn’t coming out in advance of the Labor Day weekend. There’s a pattern here: no matter how bad Wall Street thinks the employment report is going to be, it always seems to be worse, these days. It’s like GE’s earnings circa Jack Welch, but in reverse.
One of the problems with the news cycle is that perennial issues — problems and solutions both — tend to get ignored in favor of things which have changed in the last few hours or days or weeks. As a result, when it comes to the global economic crisis — the thing which came to the world’s attention in 2008 and which no amount of Panglossian dreaming of V-shaped recoveries can wish away — one of the key potential solutions has been left all but ignored from the outset of the crisis through the present day.
It’s incredibly difficult to work out what is the most depressing part of today’s truly gruesome jobs report. The shrinking number of people in the labor force? The rise in U-6, broad underemployment, to 16.2%? The sharp spike in the newly unemployed? The downward revisions to April and May? The downtick in total hours worked? Maybe it’s the way that people leaving government jobs, for whatever reason, are finding it impossible to find new jobs in the private sector.
I moderated a panel on financial innovation yesterday, about which more when I get the video. But there was a lot of talk of leverage, which is the hidden turbo-charger in a lot of financial innovations, from credit default swaps to structured investment vehicles. And there was a general consensus that if you want to create prosperity and jobs, then leverage is in principle a good thing: more debt means more growth which means more prosperity. For a prime example, see this post from Gregory White, who reckons that whenever household debt is going down rather than up, “the economy will stink.”
Is this jobless recovery a peculiarly American phenomenon? This chart, from a new paper seeking to unentangle cyclical from structural unemployment, would suggest that it possibly is: