Yesterday there was a report on jobs and employment in the United States. And the news was good. In fact, the news was better than anybody expected! Unemployment is at a 7 year low. The economy is not just showing signs of growth, but robust economic growth.
Nor was this “growth only an economist could love.” Many things I’ve been harping on for years got better: wages grew faster than inflation; more people are working; there’s growth in more areas; more people are working full time! I’m not ready to say yet that the economy is all healed up — I know too many people who are unemployed or underemployed — but I’m willing to say that the light at the end of the tunnel is probably not a train.
Now all the Very Smart People are talking about how the Fed will now have an excuse to raise the interest rates banks charge one another when they meet next month. Some are saying that’s a bad thing. However, I think it’s long overdue.
Apparently, former Fed chief Ben Bernanke has a new book about how he saved
Christmas the economy. That means a bunch of econ bloggers and Serious People have to say something about it. The NYT Sunday Book Review likes it, although they called it “a bit of a slog.” You can buy your own copy here.
In Closing: least of our worries; unfortunately I don’t see a way to solve this problem; I bet we laugh at this fashion trend a decade from now; yeah that’s a problem; breaking the rules; maybe you could have educated the patient up front?; and voting.
Remember that Banks Always Make Their Own Rules?
So then here’s a story that has two sides, after a fashion. On one side, banks know that if there’s a back door to their communications that governments can use, there is by definition a back door that Bad Guys can use*. On the other side, these same banks have a history of not exactly being Good Guys themselves, and some are rightly pointing out that this same security prevents the legitimate government action of rooting out and punishing unlawful actions.
Ha right, like bankers get prosecuted! Now there’s a good one.
In Closing: Def Con; darn math; back to school preview; bunker; fun; not so much fun; more TPP; and LLAP.
* I know, I actually agreed with something That Asshat Michael Chertoff said! Alert the media.
So USA Today has helpful hints for people of my generation towards saving for retirement. Unfortunately they forgot Step 0: have a job with a retirement plan and that pays well enough that you can actually save money.
So then, about jobs. Earlier this week, the jobs report came out. The good news is that there are more jobs. They’re even paying a bit more — by a whole $0.05 per hour (don’t spend it all in one place, kids). Yet still, unemployment claims are up and Very Serious People are speculating about plateaued progress and The Next Recession.
Just maybe that’s why consumer spending and factory orders are down.
Even so, I am NOT among those calling for the Fed to avoid raising interest rates. For one thing, the Fed doesn’t have as much control as many people think. Second, the last several years should have proven that the interest rates banks charge one another really doesn’t have much to do with whether or not your boss gives you a raise. Third, I’ve been saying for a decade now that super low interest rates don’t actually stimulate the economy. Yeah, we’ve had super low interest rates for a decade now. Maybe if interest rates went up, corporations would spend some of their cash.
Of course, if you are very wealthy, the economy looks just great. Remember that when you listen to the 2-ring circus we’re calling “2016 presidential candidates.”
In Closing: Warren Buffet has single handedly prevented many unwanted pregnancies (and probably a few cases of cancer); The TPP is on life support, but still out there and it still is a no good very bad thing for average people; ain’t nobody but spies like us; more studies tell us the same damn thing; I am still not sure why anybody ever thought this was a good idea; to hell with the H-1B program.
Here’s just a little reminder for you: many Americans are still pretty bad off since the Great Recession. Many of them are pretty mad. And yet, there is still talk about the Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would throw you and I under the bus.
The Freakin NSA
The Executive Director of Google says that the NSA is going to break trust in the internet, and thereby break the very internet itself. I don’t think the government cares. The NSA will do whatever it likes, thankyouverymuch. Further, it will do what it likes in whatever country it chooses! Ed Snowden still believes that the whole thing will be found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Only problem with that is that by his own admission, none of the felonies uncovered have been prosecuted. A case has to get to the Supremes before it can be heard there. Chalk it up to terror-phobia.
The Freakin Economy
This is why I like Elizabeth Warren: she knows what she’s talking about and she’s not afraid to say it loudly. In this case, she’s willing to say the system is rigged against Joe and Jane Average, in favor Wall Street — a group of institutions almost as untouchable as the freakin NSA. Gee, maybe that’s why Americans are flat-out broke. And for African-American or Hispanic-American families, median assets are worth less than a decent used car. By the way, notice that infographic doesn’t say net assets, just assets. Oversight, or does that not reflect debt owed on assets?
In Closing: a couple of TSA items; Can we please have more cops like this guy and fewer cops that see the public as a bunch of incipient criminals, please?; “shut the whole thing down“; fight to the death and reap the profits thereof; please be sure to take this quick ebola quiz courtesy of Southern Beale — you’re much more likely to encounter Enterovirus D68; two items on diabetes; and I didn’t get the memo either.
Ok, by now everybody’s heard that really good job creation and unemployment numbers were announced Friday, right? Good. There were even jobs for people without a lot of education! I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet — I’ve only been talking about job creation numbers for a decade or so — but I do think we are headed in the right direction. That said, the middle class has still lost a lot of ground. Oh, look over there!
In Closing: On bankers; everything old is new again; into the woods; GOP = Rum Tum Tugger; Donner Pass; be afraid!!; compare and contrast; secure the data first; and gird up thy loins.
Only 8% of Americans think the economy is “recovering strongly.” Most think it’s recovering, but not very strongly. Gee, I wonder why!
Despite the fact that poverty seems to be dropping and more people have health insurance, it’s tough out in the real world — that’s the place where people understand that there’s just no way Alibaba has more inherent value than Citigroup. Income is stagnant at best. Politicians seem unaware that there are two applicants for every job opening. Millennials are caught in the middle: worried about their parents and their student loans (which are dragging down the whole economy). People are arriving at the hospital with malnutrition. And artists are being a voice of reason recommending the next generation of artists learn skills and get part time or seasonal jobs when they can.
Things are tough all over. Well, for 92-99% of us anyway.
In Closing: secret laws shouldn’t exist; “get down, he’s got scissors!!!”; just what you need; red flag; in search of real reform; uncool; a stupid fiasco caused by the War on Drugs; a logical corollary of the law of supply and demand is that if prices are too high for demand, other sources and substitutions will come into play; just stop; and please help a no-kill shelter, more here.
In California, one out of every ten workers is here illegally. Most of them have lived here for years and live with an American citizen.
Yesterday’s protests seeking an actual living wage for fast food workers resulted in arrests — and remember, if you eat lunch at these places you need to be served by an adult rather than a kid who will someday get a “real job”.
Meanwhile, normal citizens are pressured by low wages, competition from workers here illegally, and are further oppressed by a criminal “justice” system that is pretty much out of control.
The “powers that be” better tread lightly.
In Closing: Driving “American” might mean buying a “Japanese” car; I bet when they say “diversity” they aren’t really including the ~1 in 5 American women for whom “petite” pants drag the ground; Nudies and the NSA.
The bad news is that hourly wages have declined. Look at the first chart, and you’ll notice that’s even true for the top quintile! In other words, ThinkProgress is soft-selling the fact that most of us — on average — are making less per hour in favor of pointing out that those at the very bottom have it worst.
So then, how can CNN turn around and tell us that wages are up? Two things. First, they mean that median income is up, which can be explained away by more people working and people working longer hours. Second, even they admit that “the gains are not spread evenly“.
So the Very Intelligent People are wringing their hands over the fact that none of us seem to have much savings, and don’t we know we will retire one day, the fact is that for many average people, these savings tips are a cruel joke. Ha, put aside 10-13% for retirement, and reduce your debt (heh), and “Don’t make emotional purchases”? Emotional purchases like what, replacing the dead transmission in the car so you can get to work? Maybe if we just teach the middle and lower class how to manage their money better somehow they can magically make all their bills less.
When one in seven people are at the food bank, they don’t have anything to put aside at the regular bank for a rainy day; it’s already pouring.
In Closing: support staff; No Fly; bulldozer improvements; grittier than Melissa Gilbert’s portrayal; and no, this will not do what it advertises. There is no such thing as a master list of sexual predators; there is only a list of people who have convictions for certain crimes involving genitals. Ways to be put on this list include having a significant other who is underage (even if they lie about it), peeing in the wrong location, or happening to be naked in one’s own home. Schools that use this system will wonder why parents aren’t lining up and spending $20 for a background check and the honor of being allowed to chaperone a field trip or shelve library books.