Hahaha

Great moments in political analysis: Bill Clinton, November 2016: Bill Clinton branded Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn the “maddest person in the room” in a speech he gave explaining the resurgence of left-wing politics in Europe and America. Documents released by Wikileaks show the former President joked that when Mr Corbyn won his leadership contest, it appeared Labour had just “got a guy off the street” to run the party. Barack Obama, December 2016: President Barack Obama has suggested that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is “disintegrating” because it has lost touch with “fact and reality”…. Read More

Jobs nonsense from ZeroHedge

ZeroHedge is ridiculous and terrible, a fever swamp of conspiracism, far-right paranoia, and permabearishness. Spreading disinformation about the employment statistics might not be their worst sin, but decent naïfs often fall for this sort of thing, so it’s worth a refutation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics applies a statistical model, known as the birth/death model, to its monthly survey of employers—the source of “the U.S. economy created x thousand jobs last month” headline. The survey covers over 600,000 employing establishments, but misses new business formations at first. The b/d model is an… Read More

Job demographics

Paul Krugman asks plaintively “why don’t all jobs matter?” To answer, he enlists the help of Slate’s Jamelle Bouie: Finally, it’s hard to escape the sense that manufacturing and especially mining get special consideration because, as Slate’s Jamelle Bouie points out, their workers are a lot more likely to be male and significantly whiter than the work force as a whole…. Laid-off retail workers and local reporters are just as much victims of economic change as laid-off coal miners. The loss of newspaper jobs, a trend of many years, has been very bad news for… Read More

Varieties of unemployment

This is the first in a series of lbo-news posts about the state of the U.S. job market. On March 10, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the employment report for February showing a robust job market, Donald Trump finally liked the numbers. His press agent, Sean Spicer, quoted him as saying “They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.” Trump himself retweeted Matt Drudge’s gloss on the news that employers added 235,000 jobs in the month as proof that America was already “GREAT AGAIN.” That was… Read More

Federal employment is already frozen

This morning, chief bloviator Donald Trump issued an executive order freezing federal hiring. Such a move probably appeals to those who think that the growth of government is “out of control.” That might be true in some senses—surveillance and the warfare state certainly qualify, but Trump only wants accelerate their growth. But one thing that doesn’t qualify is the subject of the order: federal employment. Graphed below are federal employment in thousands and as a percentage of total employment, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly survey of employers. The absolute number of federal employees at the end of… Read More

Factchecking Gail Collins

Gail Collins wrote this ludicrous paragraph in her New York Times column today: The bottom line on Hillary Clinton is that she’s spent her life championing women and their issues. She began her career with the Children’s Defense Fund, fought for better schools in Arkansas, for children’s health care as first lady and for reproductive rights as the senator from New York. As secretary of state she spent endless — endless — days and weeks flying to obscure corners of the planet, celebrating the accomplishments of women craftsmen, championing the causes of women labor leaders, talking… Read More

Varieties of Krugmanesque experience

Paul Krugman’s talking shit about Bernie Sanders again: Indeed, what the Sanders movement, with its demands for purity and contempt for compromise and half-measures, most nearly resembles is not the Trump insurgency but the ideologues who took over the G.O.P., becoming the establishment Mr. Trump is challenging. And yes, we’re starting to see hints from that movement of the ugliness that has long been standard operating procedure on the right: bitter personal attacks on anyone who questions the campaign’s premises, an increasing amount of demagogy from the campaign itself. Compare the Sanders and Clinton Twitter feeds… Read More

Blaming Hillary for Bill

Hillary apologists insist that one shouldn’t hold her responsible for abominations perpetrated by her husband, like the crime bill and the end of welfare. There’s some truth to that; she wasn’t the one with executive power. But she did praise both, extensively. Not only was there her calling ”welfare recipients “deadbeats”—there’s this chilling demand to bring “superpredator” youth “to heel.”   Holding her not responsible for Bill also undermines a good bit of the argument for her “experience”—that quality we’re supposed to admire but not examine. As I write in My Turn (pp. 22–25),… Read More

Pollitt responds to my response

Katha Pollitt is out with a response to my response to her review of My Turn. Once again, it’s largely free of any engagement with Hillary Clinton’s political history. It’s a short book, but there is a healthy amount of detail about some rather terrible things she’s done over her four decades in public life. Katha touches briefly on a few, but the blows are merely glancing. I understand why she might not want to engage, since those terrible things undermine some of Hillary’s supporters’ most cherished claims about her, notably all the work she’s done… Read More

Glum job prospects, say officials

On December 8, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its employment projections for the next decade (or 2014–2024 to be precise). They don’t make for happy reading. The Bureau projects GDP growth of 2.2% a year over the decade, well under the 3.6% average that prevailed from 1950–2000, and lower even than the 2.4% average from 2000–2007, a period that contained a recession and the weakest expansion in U.S. history. And they also project that labor force participation (the sum of the employed and those actively looking for work, aka the officially… Read More

Sanders, budget-buster?

The Wall Street Journal, one of the more respectable organs of the Murdoch press, put out a sensationalized tally of Bernie Sanders’ spending proposals yesterday: an $18 trillion agenda that would “greatly expand government.” Sensation is Murdoch house style, but the Journal is also supposed to be a serious paper. Here’s how they get to $18 trillion: Sanders’ spending proposals, next 10 years billions of dollars Medicare for all $15,000 Social Security 1,200 infrastructure 1,000 college affordability 750 fund to allow workers paid family/medical leave 319 protecting private pensions 29 one million youth jobs 6 total 18,304… Read More

Matt Yglesias just wants to believe…

…that Census data showing real median household income is slightly below 1989 levels is wrong, so he went searching for another data source to support his hunch. (Real means adjusted for inflation; median means right at the middle of the income distribution, with half of all households above, and half below.) In his first post on the topic, “Median family income since 1989: Is the stagnation real?,” Yglesias drew on an assortment  of feelings to make his Slate-ish contrary case: bigger better cars, bigger better TVs, MP3 players, and, of course, the… Read More

Rasmus: my last word

The previous post is Jack Rasmus’ return of fire. Here’s my last word. Rasmus: “YOU REFERENCE ‘IP PRODUCT’ (COPYRIGHTS, MOVIES, ETC.) AS “THE MAJOR CONCEPTUAL CHANGE” IN THE REVISIONS, PROVIDING ONLY MINOR BOOSTS TO GDP.  BUT THAT’S NOT CORRECT.  IP PRODUCT RELATED CHANGES ONLY ADDED 0.5% OF THE 3.6% IN 2012 UPWARD REVISIONS.  AGAIN, THE BIGGEST FACTOR WAS ‘R&D EXPENSING’, NOT IP PRODUCT INCLUSION.” R&D is part of the new category, “IP Product.” Is it really too much to expect a self-identified “professor of political economy” (though I hear he’s actually nothing of… Read More

Response to Rasmus

Here’s my response to Jack Rasmus’ complaint about my fact-checking him (“GDP revisions: not a conspiracy, Jack”). His words are in purple italics; mine, in normal type. GDP for 2012, as I pointed out in my prior article, ‘Economic Recovery by Statistical Manipulation’, was raised by almost 33% as a result of the BEA revisions–from the 2.1% annual growth to 2.8%. GDP wasn’t revised up by almost 33%—it was more like a tenth that. Rasmus means that the growth rate was revised up by 33% (no almost about it). It’s a minor error, but… Read More

GDP revisions: not a conspiracy, Jack

The irrepressible Jack Rasmus, who never tires of displaying his ignorance, has a piece up on Counterpunch (“Economic Recovery by Statistical Manipulation”) on the recent revisions to the U.S. national income and product accounts (NIPAs). No doubt speaking for legions of paranoids, left and otherwise, Rasmus describes the revisions as yet another politically driven scheme to make the economy look better than it is—“rewrit[ing] the numbers to make the failure ‘go away.‘” They’re not, and they don’t. Like almost all economic stats, the national income numbers—GDP and its supporting cast—are revised frequently… Read More