Tag Archives: unemployment

When Will They Ever Learn: Uncle Sam is not Robin Hood

By L. Randall Wray

Memo to Obama: Don’t tie progressive spending policy to progressive tax policy. Each can stand on its own.

Reported today in the Washington Post:

Obama proposes $600 billion in new spending to boost economy

President Obama on Tuesday unveiled an ambitious budget that promised more than $600 billion in fresh spending to boost economic growth over the next decade while also pledging to solve the nation’s borrowing problem by raising taxes on the wealthy, passing an overhaul of immigration laws and cutting health costs without compromising the quality of care. Obama seeks to raise more than $1 trillion – largely by limiting tax breaks that benefit the wealthy — to spend on building roads and bridges, early childhood education and tax credits for the poor.

Here’s the conceit: Uncle Sam is broke. He’s got a borrowing problem. He’s gone hat-in-hand to those who’s got, trying to borrow a few dimes off them. But they are ready to foreclose on his Whitehouse.

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The December Jobs Report: Disappointing But Not Surprising

By Robert E. Prasch
Middlebury College

We all know that predictions in economics can be fraught. This is for a variety of reasons, with the absence of controlled experiments high on the list. However, over the years we have learned a few things through the observation of regularities and by deducing from the things about which we are reasonably certain to formulate conjectures about things of which we are less certain.

With this in mind, let us consider the December jobs report.  By all accounts, it was a “disappointing” result with only 74,000 jobs created. The “headline” rate of unemployment did fall appreciably, but that was solely and completely due to an increase in the number of people who have entirely given up looking for paid work. While we can all agree that the result is disappointing, I would like to take issue with the almost ubiquitous report that it was “surprising.”

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What if There Are No Conventional Price Mechanisms?

By Frederic S. Lee

Whether it be inflexible prices, wage rates that are too high and sticky, or interest rates that cannot become negative, they all have the common property of disrupting the smooth workings of the price mechanism, thereby causing recessions, preventing economic recovery, and creating unemployment.  But what if there is no price mechanism that allocated scarce resources among competing ends?  Then the ‘price problem’ would disappear and the causes of recessions and persistent unemployment would be quite different.  Ignoring the issue whether scarce resources as defined in mainstream economics exist or not, I am going to interrogate the supposed existence of the price mechanism that lies at the theoretical core of all mainstream explanations of recessions and unemployment.

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The Five Worst Reasons Why the National Debt Should Matter To You: Part Three, The Other Four Worst Reasons

By Joe Firestone

In Part One of this series, I considered “Fix the Debt’s” claim that high levels of debt cause high unemployment and gave a few reasons why this is a false claim. In Part Two, I followed with a review of the historical record from 1930 to the present and showed that it refutes this claim throughout this period, and that there is not even one Administration where the evidence doesn’t contradict “Fix the Debts” theory. In this part I’ll continue my examination of the other four “top reasons” why “Fix the Debt” insists that the National Debt should matter to you.

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The Five Worst Reasons Why the National Debt Should Matter To You: Part Two, the Record Since 1930

By Joe Firestone

In Part One, of a critique of the most important of “Fix the Debt’s” reasons for “Why the National Debt Should Matter To You,” I asserted that high debt levels haven’t caused high unemployment in the United States, and that, if anything causation was in the other direction. I didn’t want to disturb the flow of the argument there with a relatively lengthy survey of some of the numbers in the historical record since the 1930s. But let’s test the idea that High debt causes fewer jobs and lower wages in the United States by looking at that record now.

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The Five Worst Reasons Why the National Debt Should Matter To You: Part One, High Debt Levels and Jobs

By Joe Firestone

I came across a post from the “Fix the Debt” campaign last month called “The Top Five Worst Reasons Why the National Debt Should Matter to You.” It’s a post full of debt/deficit lies that cry out for correction. That’s what I’ll provide in this series. Continue reading

Beyond Pity and Safety Nets

By Dan Kervick

Paul Krugman is justifiably appalled at what he calls the “war on the unemployed”, the accelerating right-wing campaign to subdue, discipline and pauperize the jobless.  Yet there is nothing new in this campaign.  Economic conservatives and market fundamentalists have always tended to believe that the private enterprise system is both self-correcting and stringently just, and that unemployment results from a misguided combination of indulgent maternal do-gooding and inept government interference with the austere and efficient rectitude of market operations.  The fundamentalists believe unemployment happens because artificial minimum wage laws prevent wages from falling as far as they need to fall to clear the labor market, and that unemployment insurance compounds the problem by seducing potential workers into an unsustainable, dead-end limbo on the dole when they should be swallowing their strong laissez faire medicines and the bitter wages that go with them.  After all, if these dregs and flops were worth more handsome wages, then the Invisible Hand would have already dispensed those wages to them, right?

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The Layman’s Case Against Austerity

By Stephanie Kelton

Steve Kraske of The Kansas City Star recently interviewed me for a piece about austerity.  The story ran in today’s paper. It doesn’t provide much depth (unlike bloggers, journalists have strict space constraints!), so I followed up with a few comments on the Star’s website.  I thought I’d share them here, since I’m always trying to improve the way I communicate these ideas with non-economists.  So here’s my best effort to make the anti-austerity case in simple terms. Continue reading

Twenty Numbers From Europe that Should Have You Very Worried

By Russell Huntley (via e-mail)

#1 The unemployment rate in France has surged to 10.6 percent, and the number of jobless claims in that country recently set a new all-time record.

#2 Unemployment in the eurozone as a whole is sitting at an all-time record of 12 percent. Continue reading

Comparing Unemployment During the Great Depression and the Great Recession

By William K. Black

Barry Eichengreen’s and Tim Hatton’s January 1988 paper entitled “Interwar Unemployment in International Perspective” is a useful starting point for any effort to compare unemployment during the Great Depression and the Great Recession.

It is useful to begin by recognizing three related cautions that the authors make in that paper.  First, the modern sense of the term “unemployment” (willing and able to work, but unable to find a job commensurate with the worker’s skills) was not common until the decades before the Great Depression.  The prior assumption was that people were unemployed because they were lazy.  There was little understanding of business cycles or inadequate demand, little sympathy for the unemployed, and no sense that business or government were primarily responsible for the the level of unemployment.  This meant that keeping data on unemployment was rarely a concern of government.  Data on unemployment in Europe was largely collected through industrial trade unions.

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