Thread: Unemployment and Our Dumb Politics

  1. #361
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffd View Post
    I believe tomorrow is the monthly jobs report! Anyone want to lay some bets on which way unemployment is moving? How about inflation?
    Higher unemployment rate, no inflation at all. Natch.

  2. #362
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    Stock market notices how awful the recession is.

    Stock markets have terrible day; Dow drops 500 points

    Fear factor soars as worries about economies in US, Europe slam stocks

  3. #363
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    Time to buy some stuff

  4. #364
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    Man.



    Worse compared to trend than the post-WW1 recession.

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    Unions mattered.

    The key finding is that “the decline of organized labor explains a fifth to a third of the growth in inequality—an effect comparable to the growing stratification of wages by education” and this is the conclusion:

    More generally, the analysis contributes to a political account of rising economic inequality in the United States. The analysis suggests that unions helped shape the allocation of wages not just for their members, but across the labor market.

  6. #366
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    New unemployment numbers are out! BLS.gov is down, so I can't link.

    Summary: In July the economy added 117k new jobs. The private sector added about 154k, but the public sector contracted by 37k.

    Boilerplate: The economy must add 125k-150k jobs per month to keep up with population growth. In order to reduce unemployment, the economy has to add more than that. July's labor report isn't a disaster like June's was; it pretty much represents the economy treading water. Given how bad the situation is, that's a disaster in and of itself. iirc, since the recession ended the economy has only had two or three months where we've actually added enough jobs to make a dent in the unemployment rate.

    Meanwhile, the bond vigilantes still haven't struck. For the US treasury short-term borrowing remains essentially free. Long-term interest rates are at 2.4%, the lowest they've been since the 1950's. It seems to me that there are likely all sorts of things the US government can invest in that will pay off at higher than 2.4% per year - fixing our roads, updating our broadband infrastructure, &c. But instead, we'll worry about nonexistent inflation & manufactured debt crises. Our government is shameful.

  7. #367
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    Hilarious: the headline on msnbc.com: "Sigh of relief... Upbeat jobs data sends US stock futures higher."

    This is not upbeat jobs data.

  8. #368
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffd View Post
    Hilarious: the headline on msnbc.com: "Sigh of relief... Upbeat jobs data sends US stock futures higher."

    This is not upbeat jobs data.

    It's a much better jobs report than the previous months. Upwards revisions, real job growth is closer to 140K which would lower the UI rate ordinarily. Strong wage growth. Small uptick in temp services demand.

    It surpasses expectations and has some of the best news on the job front in a few months.

  9. #369
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    That just reflects amazingly low expectations. This report represents treading water, which in this environment is bad. If we'd had more than a handful of months in which the economy added jobs it might be OK, but given our economic situation it's bad news.

    Here is my alternate headline, which I think is more accurate: "Jobs crisis continues: Economy once again fails to meaningfully increase employment"

  10. #370
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    Yeah, I wouldn't call "same unemployment as last time" upbeat.

  11. #371
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    Here is the fun calculated risk graph I enjoy posting:


  12. #372
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    I have a pet theory that all television outlet headlines offline and online only make sense if you're a day trader. I guess that MSNBC one goes with it.

  13. #373
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason McCullough View Post
    I have a pet theory that all television outlet headlines offline and online only make sense if you're a day trader. I guess that MSNBC one goes with it.
    That is probably the case.

    Fun questions to ponder regarding that graph: Note that the previous three recessions are bowl shaped; employment recovers quite slowly. Contrast that with previous recessions, which are more V shaped. What happened in the past twenty or so years to cause recoveries to be so much slower?

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    Obama is toast, if the GOP nominates a nominally sane (read: non-Tea Party) candidate with any kind of track record in business.

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    Probably. On the other hand, it's worth pointing out, as Kevin Drum has, what has actually happened to our economy:
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Drum
    2001-2008: Republicans run economy into ditch.

    2008: Obama elected.

    2009-2011: Republicans respond by doing everything possible to prevent him from fixing things.

    2012: Republicans use lousy economy as campaign cudgel against Obama.

    2012: Republican candidate wins presidency (maybe).
    It's a shame that our public discourse is such low quality and our institutional structures enable such obstructionism. From a policy POV you can lay almost all of the economic misery at the feet of the GOP.

  16. #376
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffd View Post
    Probably. On the other hand, it's worth pointing out, as Kevin Drum has, what has actually happened to our economy:
    It's a shame that our public discourse is such low quality and our institutional structures enable such obstructionism. From a policy POV you can lay almost all of the economic misery at the feet of the GOP.
    Right, but you know how it goes. Trying to say "Well, I've been in charge for 4 years, but it is really all the fault of the last guy!" just comes across poorly. It sounds like you're ducking accountability.

    And Obama knows that; he stated a couple of times, on the record, in his first year, that if the proposals he was pushing didn't result in significantly lower unemployment and a significantly improved economy, he'd be a one term president.

    I'm not sure how I would craft Obama's campaign and ads. You can't say "Things suck, but it's the fault of the guy who was in charge 4 years ago, it ain't my fault!!!" You really can't point out anything really successful, other than health care reform, and that hasn't been embraced as a huge success by anyone yet. So, and it is an interesting problem to ponder from a purely strategic process problem point of view, how DO you craft a good campaign and ads for Obama? (It's too easy on how to do that from a GOP POV.)

    EDIT: BTW, what specifically are you pointing out that the Republicans prevented Obama from doing to improve the economy?

  17. #377
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    Yeah sure the campaign ads are tough. But that's why I (mostly unsuccessfully) try to stay away from the nitty gritty of campaigning: it's lowest common denominator stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffd View Post
    Yeah sure the campaign ads are tough. But that's why I (mostly unsuccessfully) try to stay away from the nitty gritty of campaigning: it's lowest common denominator stuff.
    Yeah, but unfortunately it is what determines who is in Washington making the decisions (Congress and the White House.) And has been since there's been TV (and before!)

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    Well, he could certainly run ads that say something like "The Republicans didn't care about the deficit when they exploded the economy in order to wage needless war in Iraq and give tax cuts to the rich. Now they claim to care about the deficit, but only to cut SS and Medicare; they refuse to even close tax loopholes or end subsidies. Is THIS the party you want to support?"

    Just a thought. *shrug*

  20. #380
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffL View Post
    Yeah, but unfortunately it is what determines who is in Washington making the decisions (Congress and the White House.) And has been since there's been TV (and before!)
    Actually I disagree with this. Mostly the campaigns seem to be meaningless, which is another reason I'm trying not to bother with them.

    That's not to say you can't run a campaign at all - you have to. But my read of the state of poli-sci makes me believe that they basically cancel one another out. The GOP will throw out their message, the President will throw out his, and the election will be decided by something else entirely.

  21. #381
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    Quote Originally Posted by AaronSofaer View Post
    Well, he could certainly run ads that say something like "The Republicans didn't care about the deficit when they exploded the economy in order to wage needless war in Iraq and give tax cuts to the rich. Now they claim to care about the deficit, but only to cut SS and Medicare; they refuse to even close tax loopholes or end subsidies. Is THIS the party you want to support?"

    Just a thought. *shrug*
    I think it is going to be VERY difficult to combat the ads pointing out the lack of progress in unemployment and the economy in general. The economy just sucks, and the administration has been impotent in all attempts to make it better. People are going to feel like, hey, he had his shot, he wasn't able to fix it, we can't handle this going on another 4 years, let's give someone else a shot. America almost always judges a president based on how the economy is doing (even though the President actually has very little actual impact.)

    Not saying anything here that everyone doesn't already know, just noodling on the strategy of a re-election campaign.

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    I'm aware. I'm just saying that attack ads bite both ways.

  23. #383
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffd View Post
    Actually I disagree with this. Mostly the campaigns seem to be meaningless, which is another reason I'm trying not to bother with them.
    You think the examples over the years of how Presidential candidates have framed their opponents had no significant impact? I guess we disagree pretty strongly there.

  24. #384
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    I'm sure a well-run campaign is worth a point or two, but over the medium to long term it doesn't matter so much.

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    Looking at that - utterly horrifying - recession chart, I wonder if the sheer force of boom and bust parabolas might lead to a recovery-by-default in 2012 no matter how hard Republicans work at sabotage.

  26. #386
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    I don't care who is President in 2013. I just want the Tea Party people gone, which won't happen. At least with a GOP President, needed bills can get done.

  27. #387
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason McCullough View Post
    I'm sure a well-run campaign is worth a point or two, but over the medium to long term it doesn't matter so much.
    OK. So Kerry's loss to Bush had nothing to do with the Swift Boat ads or the "first he was for it, then he was against it" ad and other campaign crap? The Tank ad and Willie Horton ad had no real effect on the Dukakis results? The infamous SS attacks and other ads attacking Goldwater had no impact?

    The papers I've seen that minimize the impacts of advertising on presidential results tend to be rather simplistic, such as the one in Science Daily recently that simply asked people how much they were influenced by these campaign ads, and most people said "Oh, I am not influenced, but I bet everyone else is." But there are numerous studies with different conclusions, that measure the poll's change after certain ads take hold, etc.

    One example, a recent paper jointly authored from Columbia and Stanford - let me look it up.......

    http://faculty-gsb.stanford.edu/hart...oli_demand.pdf

    Their conclusions include "Advertising elasiticities are smaller than are
    typical for branded goods, yet signi cant enough to shift election outcomes. For example, if advertising were set to zero and all other factors held constant, five states' electoral votes would have changed parties in 2000, leading to a diff erent president."

    It is one of those topics difficult to prove conclusively, as you would need to run the experiment twice to actually measure the results. But I do believe enough Americans are swayed by what they see in the media, in general and certainly in politics (look how easy it is for the GOP to make the polls in the debt ceiling issue move by declaring it a "blank check for Obama" and how their ads swayed so many in the health care reform bill debate) to be inclined to believe the papers that show there is a significant result.

  28. #388
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Sharp View Post
    At least with a GOP President, needed bills can get done.
    Like in 2002-2006? The only "progress" GOP control led to was straight down at the speed of sound. And that was with less stupid and insane Congressional Republicans and quite possibly a less stupid and insane president.

  29. #389
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffL View Post
    It is one of those topics difficult to prove conclusively, as you would need to run the experiment twice to actually measure the results. But I do believe enough Americans are swayed by what they see in the media, in general and certainly in politics (look how easy it is for the GOP to make the polls in the debt ceiling issue move by declaring it a "blank check for Obama" and how their ads swayed so many in the health care reform bill debate) to be inclined to believe the papers that show there is a significant result.
    I think the evidence usually cited would be to look at how much of the vote distribution can be explained by other factors, such as the economy. It's only the differentials from those results that needs to be attributed to advertising (or other unknown factors).

    I think polls on the debt ceiling or health care bill aren't great examples, since they aren't elections. For the purposes of the election, we're interested in how people vote rather than what they think. So public opinion only matters insofar as people change their votes.

  30. #390
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    2000 is as close as elections get! Strangely they don't give a % vote delta for the 5 states they say would switch.

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