The hits keep coming

Goldman Sachs attracted a lot of attention with its forecast that US GDP will be off 34% in the second quarter of this year. That is a very big number. It’s three-and-a-half times the worst quarter in US economic history since quarterly GDP stats began in 1947. (That quarter, by the way, was the first of 1958, the onset of a sharp recession, which featured, among other things, an “Asian flu.”) Here’s a little perspective on that number. That 34% figure is annualized, meaning it’s what the total decline would amount to… Read More

Radio commentary, September 23, 2010

Summers • recession over! — except in housing and jobs • Zuckerberg & the charter scam Summers back to Harvard So Larry Summers is leaving as head of Obama’s National Economic Council. Everyone who talks about Summers assures us that he’s a very smart fellow, though he left Harvard, where he was president for five years, a financial wreck. (Background here, here, and here.) He’d advised the endowment to borrow heavily to speculate in derivatives that went sour, yielding billions in losses. But, as everyone will tell you, Larry is very smart. He did help… Read More

Radio commentary, August 21, 2010

[Since today’s show was unusually filled with material—a rerun of the Diane Ravitch interview that first ran last April—I kept the introductory comments short. But I did want to get this on the record, for people who think I’m something of a happy-talker.] Evidence of an economic slowdown continues to roll in. First-time claims for unemployment insurance, filed by people who’ve just lost their jobs, have been creeping up for the last few weeks after falling for most of the year. It’s quite possible that the weak job gains of the last… Read More

Recessions & politics (cont.)

Hans Peter Grüner has posted the paper that he and Markus Brückner wrote about the electoral effects of economic recessions to his website: here. It makes eminent psychological sense that a crisis might lead people toward conservative responses—a feeling of impending scarcity encourages selfishness, not generosity. It’s been ages since I read Erik Erikson, but as I recall the identity crisis, it leads the sufferer back to remembered moments of security and happiness, not toward an uncertain transformative future. That helps explain why immigrants are so often the target in an economic crisis:… Read More

Radio commentary, April 23, 2009

Gotta keep the comments short today because it’s a packed lineup today. economic news First-time claims for unemployment insurance rose by 27,000 last week to 640,000. Though somewhat below the highs of a month ago, this is still quite elevated. So, continuing the theme of the last few weeks, things are still quite bad, though not getting worse at an accelerating rate. Sales of existing houses fell by 3% in March, after rising almost 5% the month before. This number has been bouncing around a depressed level since late last year. So, similar conclusion here, too:… Read More

Radio commentary, February 28, 2009

The economic news continues to be bad, quite bad. On Thursday we learned that the number of new applications for unemployment insurance rose a sharp 36,000, and the number of people continuing to received jobless benefits rose by 114,000, also a sharp rise. While neither figure is at record levels when taken as a percentage of the labor force—by those measures, things still aren’t as bad as they were in the recessions of the mid-1970s and early 1980s—they’ve nonetheless been rising steeply and relentlessly. That rise is now very close to breaking the 1974… Read More

Radio commentary, November 6, 2008

Economy takes turn for worse; making excuses for the president-elect.