James Pethokoukis

Why U.S. labor markets may stay in a funk

March 22, 2010

“The Labor Market in the Great Recession” is an interesting new paper that looks at where the job market may be heading, as well as how it has fared the past few years. The latter points first:

The cure for high unemployment

March 15, 2010

Gary Becker gets straight to the point:

The only real remedy for the long-term (and other) unemployed is to have the economy grow fast, as it did after the severe recession in 1982 when unemployment peaked in December of that year at 10.8%, and then fell rather rapidly. There is no magic bullet to accomplish this, but I do believe it would help a lot if the leaders in Washington did not try to radically transform various aspects of the economy while we are recovering from a serious recession, and thereby magnify the high degree of uncertainty that is typically caused by a recession. Instead, they should be concentrating on fighting the recession, and stimulating long-term economic growth.

US debt approaches danger zone

March 9, 2010

The CBO analysis of the Obama budget finds that America’s debt-to-GDP ratio will hit 90 percent in 2020. Uh-oh. Research by Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart finds that level to be problematic:

The 20 Percent Solution

March 3, 2010

House Republicans Jeb Hensarling and Mike Pence want a constitutional amendment to limit government spending to 20 percent of GDP, its rough historical average. In their Wall Street Journal op-ed, H&P admit, significantly, that America cannot grow its way out of its debt problem:

Austerity makes for bad politics

March 1, 2010

It looks like the Conservatives in Britain are getting worried that their emphasis on deficit reduction is hurting the party with voters. Labour seems to be catching up in the polls:

Paul Ryan’s Long (Deficit) Goodbye

February 10, 2010

Why should Tim Geithner be so confident that America will “never” lose its AAA credit rating? The White House doesn’t currently have a long-term plan to stanch America’s fiscal hemorrhaging. Hoping and wishing for a successful deficit commission does not make a plan. The Treasury secretary’s statement sounds like one of those perfunctory defenses of the dollar.

Cutting spending vs. raising taxes

February 2, 2010

The Washington consensus is that taxes will go up sharply because there is no will to cut spending. Yet that may not be the view outside of the 202 area code.I just got back from a wing-ding at the Hoover Institution where economist Robert Hall quite matter-of-factly assumed big future spending  cuts because, in his opinion, Washington did not have the will to broadly raise taxes. Certainly, the new Obama budget sticks to the Dem pattern of only raising investment and incomes taxes on the so-called wealthy, at least transparently.

5.7 percent 4Q GDP growth … then a slowdown

January 29, 2010

Or so says RDQ Economics:

The recovery from the Great Recession firmed in the fourth quarter as real GDP increased at its fastest rate since the third quarter of 2003.  However, also as expected, a sharp slowing in inventory liquidation accounted for 3.4 percentage points (or 60%) of the 5.7% increase in real GDP.  We are particularly impressed by the 13.3% increase in nonresidential investment (upside risk in this area was flagged by yesterday’s durable goods report).

Just how bad is the US debt problem

January 27, 2010

Some interesting factoids over at Capital Gains and Games:

Point One:  We often hear that the US government debt load is  lower as a share of GDP than those of many other large, wealthy nations, including Japan, Germany, the UK and France. But a more apples-to-apples comparison, which combines federal, state and local government borrowing, suggests that the US is in worse shape than most other AAA-rated countries.

Yup, spending is the problem

January 27, 2010

Great point made by the Heritage Foundaiton:

After building a true budget baseline, the sobering result shows ten-year deficits of $13 trillion. The annual budget deficit never falls below $1 trillion. By 2019, the debt is projected at $22 trillion, or 98 percent of GDP.