Tag: growth

QoTD: Tragedy of Modern Man

 

The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less. –Vaclav Havel

We are born with a blank slate of experience, just ready to be filled with wisdom and knowledge. As we grow, we might assume that the world is made up of external experiences; people who think that way are formed by what they see and the things they do. Life can be dull or filled with accomplishments, and they identify themselves with the material world.

But some of us are passionate about learning about ourselves and those people in our lives. We try to “make meaning” of the world, our community, our relationships and our faith. It is that melding of reflections on life that makes our lives colorful and rewarding.

David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America celebrate stronger than expected economic growth of 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2019.  They also pour cold water on the absurd notions that Anita Hill was treated unfairly by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 and that Clarence Thomas is somehow assumed guilty of doing what she accused him of doing.  And they react to a judge in Massachusetts and the mayor of Baltimore finding themselves in heaps of legal trouble.

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Pardon my amateur city planning geekiness but testing a theory here. The source is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MehKgIcoj6o&feature=share …wherein an anthropologist got curious about why the eastern parts of cities were (broadly speaking) so often assigned to the under-privileged. It struck him that factory and railroad emissions usually drifted that way, because, ya know… the spin of the earth. […]

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America celebrate the booming economy that hit second quarter growth of 4.1 percent. They also notice the Democrats want to institute five years of jail time for spreading false information about elections dates and locations. And they see that Michael Avenatti was invited to speak to Iowa Democrats and they hope the party won’t take him seriously simply because he hates President Donald Trump.

The state of the US economy in two words: “getting better.” That’s the learned opinion of John Taylor, the Hoover Institution’s George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in Economics and the Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics at Stanford University. He forecasts continued growth thanks to the latest round of tax cuts and regulatory reform – and wishes Washington would address another of his proscribed principles of economic well-being: budget reform.

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Walking in the early morning, I couldn’t help but notice the thin, stark crepe myrtles, seeming to reach for the heavens. Naked sentries, they’d been stripped of their finery of floating Spanish moss, lanky branches, their leaves long abandoned. The pre-spring ritual of preparing them for the months ahead was brutal, at first glance. But […]

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We know the things that make G-d angry. The Torah tells us of men who simply “take” the women they want, of men “of renown” who selfishly put themselves ahead of all others, and of widespread theft and violence. It all amounts to a simple enough lesson, or so it seems: G-d does not want […]

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The Hillary Recession

 

dnc-hillary-clinton-convention-speech-rThis economy may be perilously close to recession. That was the message of the second-quarter real-GDP report and its meager 1.2 percent growth rate.

Over the past year, real GDP has slipped to a paltry 1.2 percent. Business investment continues to fall. Building and factory construction has dropped sharply. Productivity is flat. The profits recession is still in force.

And what’s the Hillary Clinton plan? Tax us into prosperity.

In her own words at the DNC on Thursday night, this is the fix: “Wall Street, corporations, and the super-rich are going to start paying their fair share of taxes.” Why? “Not because we resent success. [!] Because when more than 90 percent of gains have gone to the top 1 percent, that’s where the money is.”

GOP Not Yet There on Growth

 

shutterstock_76996180The singular economic issue of our time is the quest for more rapid economic growth. In the past century the American economy grew at roughly 3.5 percent per year. That included huge booms and even worse busts, such as the Great Depression.

But over the past 15 years that growth has slumped to roughly 2 percent per annum. This has put average Americans in a cranky mood. They want change.

Though a list of current economic wrongs could go on forever, I see three major problems: an uncompetitive business tax code that blocks investment and job creation, a burdensome state-run regulatory apparatus, and an erratic monetary policy that has undermined the value of the dollar.

Will 2016 Be a Recession Year?

 

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In a new note, Goldman Sachs points out that the current economic expansion — beginning in July 2009 —  is now 76 months or 6-1/3 years old. So how should one think about its lifespan on the basis of past history, rather than what’s actually happening right now?

The typical US expansion, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, lasts just over three years with the longest (from 1991 to 2001) lasting 10 years. But as Goldman economist Zach Pandl adds, expansions since 1950 have gotten longer, now lasting around five years on average. This is true globally as well. And after examining both US and international business cycles, Pandl concludes:

Time to Replace the Misery Index with an Anxiety Index?

 

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The current US “misery index” — inflation rate plus unemployment rate —  is 5.06 percent (through last September). That’s the lowest level since April 1956 when the MI was 4.75 percent.

But are Americans as happy and confident as they’ve been since the postwar boom? Even more so than the 1990s? Doubtful. While consumer sentiment has rebounded strongly since Great Recession lows, it’s still below where it was during Bill Clinton’s presidency. And nearly two-thirds of Americans think the country on the wrong track.

Will Democrats’ Populist Obsession with Inequality Be Their Downfall?

 

tightrope_inequality_populism_democrats_economics_2020_500x293President Obama says America’s greatest challenge is the income gap. A 74-year-old “democratic socialist” is the Democratic Party’s hottest star. And the party’s almost certain presidential nominee hedges on whether she’s a capitalist.

The party’s leaders are hardly without popular support for these stances. In a New York Times poll last summer, 83 percent of Democrats surveyed said government should deal ASAP with the income gap, with large majorities favoring higher taxes on the rich and Wall Street.

The Democratic Party clearly has an inequality obsession. But have liberals gone too far? “Yes,” Republicans would surely say, while probably adding a zinger about “class warfare” or some such.

Republicans Are Being Told to Quit Talking About Entitlement Reform. Should They Listen?

 

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Almost every Saturday I do a 30-minute segment on my pal Larry Kudlow’s national radio show. Often the other two guests are John McIntyre of RealClearPolitics and Steve Moore of the Heritage Foundation. During last weekend’s show, Kudlow asked whether Republicans were taking a risk by talking about entitlement reform. McIntyre thought it was “politically dangerous,” and they would do better to focus on economic growth. And Moore had this to say:

I think the Republican message that we’re going to cut entitlements is a loser. I just think it’s a loser. If the Democratic message is, “We’re going to make your benefits,” and the Republican message is, “We’re going to make them worse,” I’m sorry, I don’t think that’s a winning message. … If we get this economy growing at three and a half, four percent a lot of these problems, especially with Social Security go away. … I think this message that we’re the root canal party, I’m worried about that. …

Unsustainability Is a Progressive Delusion

 

shutterstock_175767308China’s oppressive one-child policy has at long last been repealed. Sadly, it was replaced with an only slightly less oppressive two-child policy. Hopes that China’s leaders have finally realized the blatantly evil nature of such decrees are, of course, wishful thinking. The demographic disaster that such bureaucratic meddling has caused was the motivating factor for the policy change.

Likewise, hopes that the American intelligentsia might pass such a basic test in recognizing good and evil are nothing but a pipe dream. Sarah Conly, Professor of Philosophy at Bowdoin College, has provided us with a prime example in the Boston Globe, replete with references to every liberal’s favorite buzzword “unsustainable.”

The change is being applauded around the world, but it raises the question: Is this really a good thing?

Do Democrats Really Believe Americans Are Worse Off Today Than in the 1970s?

 

In last night’s Democratic debate from Las Vegas, Bernie Sanders highlighted a key bit of modern Democratic economic theory: “The middle class of this country for the last 40 years has been disappearing.” Things have been going to hell since Nixon! (It always goes back to Nixon, doesn’t it, progressives?)

But things have not been going to hell for decades. Sure, the middle class – defined as households earning between $35,000 and $100,000 — probably has been shrinking. But through 2000, a New York Times analysis reveals, “the shift was primarily caused by more Americans climbing the economic ladder into upper-income brackets.”

Why Don’t the Candidates Ever Talk about Money?

 

150915104617-reagan-library-2015-debate-stage-exlarge-169While there were some great moments in the latest GOP debate, and some terrific individual performances — Carly Fiorina seemed to grab all the buzz in the aftermath — one thing that barely came up was the economy. It was very much like the first debate.

The day after the candidates faced off, Fed chair Janet Yellen announced a stand-pat, no-interest-rate-liftoff policy. Now, I don’t expect presidential candidates to be Fed watchers. But Yellen did raise the issue of a still-soft economy, despite all the QE and zero-interest-rate policies. And I think Yellen was right. There will be a time to normalize Fed target rates. But not yet.

That said, it would have been a good thing if any of the candidates talked about our money. A strong and steady dollar — the world’s unit of account (in theory) — is pro-growth, as we saw in the ’60s, ’80s, and ’90s. A collapsing greenback smothers growth, as we saw in the 2000s.

For the Fed, One-Eighth of a Point and Done

 

One-EighthAs stocks endure their worst correction since 2011, and the battle between Fed doves and hawks rages on over a quarter-of-a-percentage-point rate liftoff, the much-anticipated August employment numbers made for a surprisingly mediocre report.

Nonfarm payrolls came in below consensus at 173,000. But private payrolls increased only 140,000, the smallest gain in five months. Compared with the average post-1960 recoveries, private-sector jobs are nearly 6 million below that long-run trend line.

The unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent. But the labor-force participation rate remained low at 62.6 percent, as did the 59.4 percent employment-to-population ratio.

Donald Trump: A 21st Century Protectionist Herbert Hoover

 

Hoover-TrumpHere’s a historical fact that Donald Trump, and many voters attracted to him, may not know: The last American president who was a trade protectionist was Republican Herbert Hoover. Obviously that economic strategy didn’t turn out so well — either for the nation or the GOP.

Does Trump aspire to be a 21st century Hoover with a modernized platform of the 1930 Smoot-Hawley tariff that helped send the U.S. and world economy into a decade-long depression and a collapse of the banking system?

We can’t help wondering whether the panic in world financial markets is in part a result of the Trump assault on free trade.