Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Unemployment

Meet Austan Goolsbee, Obama’s New Top Economic Adviser

Official portrait of CEA member Austan Goolsbee.

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Few were surprised when President Obama replaced Christina Romer, chair of his Council of Economic Advisers, with another statist economist, Austan Goolsbee. Goolsbee is the architect of Obama’s failed economic policies and programs, having served as the executive director of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board from the beginning.

A bright student at Yale where he enjoyed membership in the exclusive and elitist Skull and Bones secret society, Goolsbee went on to get his PhD from MIT, and then immediately became a professor at the University of Chicago. With stints at the American Bar Association and the National Bureau of Economic Research, he was named to Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers in March, 2009.

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Finally, a Sensible Solution to Unemployment

Coat of Arms of American Samoa

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When Kevin Hassett, director of economic-policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in Bloomberg.com that “the biggest problem with the labor market right now is that wages are too high,” it was the first positive sign of intelligent life in the mainstream media in some time.

Many have written about the damaging effects of minimum wage laws, federal and state unemployment insurance, and other interventions in the labor market that have kept workers out of jobs, including William HoarGary NorthJacob Hornberger, and Walter Williams.

But few have offered free-market solutions to the problem of unemployment in the Great Recession. Until now.

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Why Reich is Wrong

Robert Reich

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When former Labor Secretary Robert Reich offered his solutions for ending the Great Recession in the New York Times, he repeated the same errors expressed in a CNBC debate the week before.

Reich appears to have all the credentials for knowing what he is talking about: degrees from Dartmouth College, Yale Law School, and a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. Having served as a law clerk to the chief judge of the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals and then assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General, followed by an appointment by President Jimmy Carter as Director of Policy Planning at the FTC, most would accept his opinions and suggestions for ending the recession as useful and relevant.

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Fed’s Bernanke Running Out of Options

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 02:  U.S. Federal Reser...

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When Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks on Friday at the Fed’s annual meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Fed-watchers from around the world will be hanging on his every word, phrase, and nuance for clues. They’ll be listening to hear that the chairman knows what’s happening in the economy, and that if things get worse, he has a plan.

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Fiscal Challenges: A Way Out

"The Course of Empire: The Savage State,&...

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(This article is a follow-up to Conjuring Magic To Cover States’ Debts.)

Economist Niall Ferguson of Harvard wrote an article entitled “Complexity and Collapse” for the March/April issue of Foreign Affairs, a publication of the Council on Foreign Relations. Ferguson uses the visual image of a series of paintings by Thomas ColeThe Course of Empire, which currently hangs at the New York Historical Society, to illustrate his point that every society goes through five stages. He says that Cole “beautifully captured a theory of imperial rise and fall to which most people remain in thrall to this day.”

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Behind Friday’s Jobs Report: The Real Numbers

Confusing numbers

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Buried in Friday’s employment report from the Department of Labor Statistics were two key numbers that reflected the slowdown in the economy so long denied by the administration: “private sector employment edged up over the month (+71,000). Thus far this year, [such] employment has increased by 630,000, with about two-thirds of the gain occurring in March and April.” (Emphasis added.) The other appeared in the final paragraph of that report: “The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for May was revised from +433,000 to +432,000, and the change for June was revised [downward] from -125,000 to -221,000.” (Emphasis added.)

Taken together, these two numbers reflect the slowing of the economy that has occurred ever since Vice President Joe Biden predicted back in April that “some time in the next couple of months we’re going to be creating between 250,000 and 500,000 jobs a month.”

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Geithner: Welcome to Reality

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Claims that “we are on a path back to growth” by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in an op-ed in the New York Times entitled “Welcome to Recovery” appeared to be based on facts, proof, and hard evidence.

“A review of recent data on the American economy…show that large parts of the private sector continue to strengthen,” he said. “Business investment and consumption…are getting stronger, better than last year and better than last quarter.” According to Geithner, evidence of growth can be seen because

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Temporary Unemployment Benefits—Permanent Welfare?

Horse And Handler Statue,  Department Of Labor

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The White House on July 21 extolled the extension of unemployment insurance by the Senate, claiming it was “not only the decent thing to do but one of the most effective ways to boost our economy.” President Obama signed the extension into law immediately, saying that this was “desperately needed assistance to two and a half million Americans who lost their jobs in the recession…Americans who…will finally get the support they need to get back on their feet during these tough economic times.”

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Great Depression II: Here We Go Again?

The Causes of The Great Depression / FDR Memor...

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The unremitting flow of negative news about the economy has finally caught the attention of the mainstream media, causing an increasing number of economists to make comparisons between today’s recession and the Great Depression.

David Rosenberg, Gluskin Sheff’s chief market economist, commented to his clients that the monster drop in new home sales in June compared to May was not exactly “a one-month wonder” but instead invited comparison of the current recession’s similarities with those of the Great Depression. He said they include:

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The Invisible Recovery

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On Friday Reuters reported that non-government payrolls rose only slightly in June and overall employment fell “for the first time this year…indicating the economic recovery is failing to pick up steam.” This report followed several others last week indicating weakness in consumer spending, housing, and manufacturing which “have heightened fears [that] the economy could slip back into a recession.”

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Sharron Angle vs. Harry Reid and the GOP

Senator Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader

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Sharron Angle is going to have to learn how to fight with both hands in Nevada’s general election battle against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as Manu Raju explains in two articles appearing at Politico.com here and here. With her left hand she will be busy fending off attack ads from the Reid camp for her “extremism,” and with her right hand soothing sitting Senators with whom she might well be working after the election.

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Mortgage Defaults Increasing

Luigi Zingales

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According to the New York Times, “A growing number of the people whose homes are in foreclosure are refusing to slink away in shame.” They are just refusing to make their mortgage payments but continue to live in their home until the bank evicts them. LPS Applied Analytics says the average borrower in foreclosure “has been delinquent for 438 days before actually being evicted.” This means that the homeowner essentially lives rent-free for nearly 15 months, and can use his mortgage payment to make other payments such as car loans and credit cards.

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Jobs? What Jobs?

Henry Hazlitt

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When CNBC announced that the number of workers filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week while private employers added new jobs in May, this was “further evidence [that] the labor market was improving.” In more muted fashion, the Associated Press called it a “slow-motion recovery,” but a recovery nevertheless.

This was in line with Vice President Joe Biden’s prediction back in April that the economy would be adding between 250,000 and 500,000 jobs “in the next couple of months.” Similar sentiments were echoed by President Obama on Wednesday in a speech at Carnegie Mellon University:

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Economic Forecast: Summer of Discontent

Frowny

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After six straight months of gains in consumer spending the April numbers showed no change from March, according to the Commerce Department. This was a surprise to some who have been tracking such things as the University of Michigan’s index of consumer confidence (higher), consumers’ expectations on the economy over the next 12 months (higher), moderate real job creation (higher), savings rate (higher) and manufacturing activity (higher).

Others remained sanguine, holding that “We do not expect household spending to flatline in the coming months,” according to Michelle Girard, senior economist at RBS in Stamford, Connecticut.

Consumers themselves, however, are not a happy lot. According to Rasmussen Reports, only 35 percent of Americans are planning to take a summer vacation this year, and those who are, aren’t planning on spending as much as they have in the past.

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$13 Trillion and Counting

Tax Day Debt Protest 2009

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When former Comptroller General Bill Walker, who headed the U.S. Government Accountability Office, said two years ago that the “official” debt of the United States “is only around $10 trillion,” he wryly suggested that since this number was produced by “government accounting, which…allows one to ignore Social Security, Medicare and the new prescription drug benefit [it was like] ignoring rent, food and utilities in your household budget [and] it will lead to a few bounced checks.” However, he added, “Our real debt is about ten times higher,” or about $100 trillion.

At the time this was a breath-taking number, but Walker was just repeating what Richard Fisher, President of the Dallas Federal Reserve, had said just a couple of months earlier.

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Biden Predicts Job Growth—but Where’s the Evidence?

Vice President Joe Biden takes the oath of off...

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Vice President Joe Biden predicted job growth of 250,000 to 500,000 jobs a month in the next two months, according to CNBC on Monday. Biden was speaking at a political fundraiser in Pittsburgh, where he said, “We caught a lot of bad breaks on the way down. We’re going to catch a few good breaks because of good planning on the way up…All in all, we’re going to be creating somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 jobs next month.”  Even though some have cautioned Biden about his excessive and premature enthusiasm, Biden continued:  “I’m here to tell you some time in the next couple of months we’re going to be creating between 250,000 jobs a month and 500,000 jobs a month.”

However, the evidence and logic backing up Biden’s prediction are clearly lacking.

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Housing: Washington Only Delaying Inevitable

Foreclosure Sign, Mortgage Crisis

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Friday’s announcement of more intervention in the housing mortgage market will result in a deeper, longer, and more painful delay in the inevitable decline in housing prices that are necessary to clear the market. According to the Obama administration, the “broad new initiatives” will help troubled homeowners to refinance their existing mortgages with more favorable affordable ones provided directly by the government. Part of the new program is “meant to temporarily reduce the payments of [those] borrowers who are unemployed [but are] seeking a job.” In addition, the enhancements include inducements to “encourage lenders to write down the value of loans [already] held by borrowers in modification programs.”

In simple English, HAMP (the Home Affordable Modification Program), announced with great fanfare and high expectations early on in the Obama administration, isn’t working, and so more of the same is required.

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Jobs Bill: The Law of Intended Consequences

London | 2009

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With great fanfare, the Obama administration celebrated its first policy victory of the year—the $17.6 billion jobs bill. Eleven Republican Senators helped push the bill through the Senate, 68-29.

The economically flawed and unconstitutional law provides employers an exemption from Social Security tax withholding through the end of the year on any employees added to the payroll who have been unemployed for at least 60 days. And if the employees stay on that payroll for at least a year, the employers would receive an additional $1,000 tax credit. In addition, the law spends $20 billion on federal highway construction and other public improvement projects.

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Latest Unemployment Numbers: Shoveling Snow?

Bureau of Labor Statistics

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When the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced last Friday that the economy lost only 36,000 jobs in February, the usual choristers took that as good news. Christina Romer, the Chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers said, “Today’s report on the employment situation is consistent with the pattern of stabilization and gradual labor market healing we have been seeing in recent months.”

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Geithner: No Double Dip

Timothy Geithner at the United States Departme...

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When he appeared on ABC News‘s This Week on February 7, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was quizzed about the risk of the United States losing its triple-A credit rating, the chances that foreign investors might start shunning US debt, and whether the economy would suffer a double dip recession.

Last week the credit rating agency Moody’s warned that weak economic growth and increasing debt burdens could “put pressure on the country’s triple-A status.”  When asked to respond, Geithner said, “Absolutely not. That will never happen to this country.”  One remembers the speaker’s rule to be very careful about using absolutes, such as “absolutely”, and “never happen.”  History books are filled with examples of events that could “absolutely never happen.”

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.