Posts Tagged ‘recovery’

How the US economy is like Luke Wilson in “Idiocracy”

10 March 2014

See for yourself. Our anemic economic performance since 2007 is . . . the best in the world?


Yes, it’s still a slow recovery that has yet to restore full employment, but, except for Germany, we’ve done better than any of our counterparts in Europe that also experienced a financial crisis.

“The ordinary will be considered extraordinary.”

I was going to say something about the folly of austerity policies (spending cuts and tax increases) during an economic slump, which is true insofar as US budget policy has been only mildly contractionary while our European counterparts have embraced austerity and all but one have sick economies to show for it, but that one is Germany, which was slightly ahead of the US as of 2013:Q2 (data for 2013:Q3 and Q4 were not available for the European countries). Germany’s economy defies easy explanation. Maybe Germany should be Luke Wilson’s character and the US can be Maya Rudolph’s.

(For anyone who’s not familiar with “Idiocracy,” here’s the trailer.)


Bad tidings

16 January 2012

200 posts later, I’m still agreeing with Nouriel “Dr. Doom” Roubini, whose prognosis for the U.S. economy in 2012 is not good.

The best I can say, and this is better than it sounds, is that recovery has a way of taking us economists by surprise. The 1991 and 2001 recessions look short and shallow in hindsight, but they seemed pretty bleak at the time, like classic “liquidity traps” where monetary policy was powerless to prime the pump. And the economy in 1980-82 seemed to be in absolute shambles. Most of the business cycle literature I’ve read deals with the causes of recessions and depressions, but I’m told there’s a substantial literature on the forces of recovery. I plan to acquaint myself with it this year, and to blog a fair bit about where recovery — especially a genuine, non-bubble-driven recovery — might come from.

Unemployment, U-6, and U-turns

14 May 2009

Ever since Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said a few weeks ago that we may be glimpsing the first “green shoots” of recovery, it’s been a cockeyed-optimism fest among media commentators.  As always, developments in the stock market have gotten way too much attention (Paul Krugman wryly noted on TV that the stock market has predicted six of the last one recoveries), and they’ve done much to fuel the optimism.  As of yesterday’s close the S&P 500 is up more than 30% from its low of 676.53 just two months ago (March 9). Sucker’s rally or not, it’s moving in the right direction.

Commentators have also seized on the BLS’s latest unemployment release as a good tiding, which would seem like a reach given that the official unemployment rate rose from 8.5% in March to 8.9% in April.  The cliche of the day is that employment has “bottomed out.”  Let’s crunch the April numbers: