James Pethokoukis

Another banking crisis would not be good

September 4, 2009

Curious Capitalist Justin Fox notices that time is running out on financial reform:

How high unemployment undercuts Obama’s agenda

September 4, 2009

At the end of the 2000 film “The Perfect Storm”, a Gloucester swordfish boat captain (played by George Clooney) finally accepts that his crew won’t escape a monster hurricane in the North Atlantic. “She’s not gonna let us out,” he says as the trapped vessel moves from the eye of the storm and back into the raging winds.

Government’s real role in healthcare

September 4, 2009

Some wise words from economist Andrew Samwick over at Capital Gains and Games:

1) The scenario I envision is that the public option does nothing to control costs.  Its payment system is set up to resemble Medicare, and it is the growth in real, age-adjusted Medicare expenditures per capita that has most people concerned about long-term deficits.  But with a public option, there will now be recourse for every citizen to petition the government to get a better deal on its health insurance premiums.  The pressure will be enormous to subsidize the public option, just as there has been enormous pressure to offer services in Medicare that increase its cost at (future) taxpayer expense.

What does 9.7 percent unemployment mean for Democrats?

September 4, 2009

Marc Ambinder looks at this question and concludes a) that anything under 10 percent is better than expected, b) 0.3 percent makes a big difference politically, and c) Team Obama will be able to more or less successfully blame Bush. His bottom line:

Obama stimulus: promises vs. reality

September 4, 2009

This from the WaPo:

IHS Global Insight, an economic consulting firm, estimates that the stimulus has increased the 2009 gross domestic product by about 1 percent over what it otherwise would have been, with the benefit almost entirely in the second half of the year.

The worrisome fiscal situation of states

September 4, 2009

A fun factoid from Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana shows just how much trouble states are in (via WSJ):

More on August unemployment

September 4, 2009

I will say, though, that the worst-case scenario for unemployment is fading fast as this chart from economist Robert Brusca shows. (Though one cautionary note: watch out for more state/local government layoffs).

August unemployment at 9.7 percent; 216,000 jobs lost

September 4, 2009

The unemployment rate in August jumped to 9.7 percent from 9.4 percent. The economy lost another 216,000 jobs. While the economy may be shifting into recovery mode, the labor market clearly still needs lots of work. The best-case scenario I can find (4 percent GDP growth next year) still would have the jobless rate at 8.5 percent or so a year from now. Also note that the labor force participation rate remained steady last month. So the blip up in unemployment was not caused by discouraged workers returning to the workforce. Also the broader U6 rate surged to 16.8 percent.