1930s phantasms from the right: how to make up stories with numbers

Economists Harold Cole and Lee Ohanian have a piece in the Wall Street Journal that deserves a prize for the devious use of statistics. They want to argue that fiscal stimulus is bad, and the New Deal only made the Depression worse. This is a familiar argument on the right—and I even heard it once from a Marxist economist—but it’s just not true. Here’s the prize-eligible statement: But boosting aggregate demand did not end the Great Depression. After the initial stock market crash of 1929 and subsequent economic plunge, a recovery began… Read More

Yglesias & neoliberalism

Matthew Yglesias regrets that his original commentary on monetary policy, and my disagreement with it, got hijacked by Henry Farrell and turned into an analysis of the limits of neoliberalism. (I also stand corrected that Yglesias hasn’t written in favor of a jobs program in the past—apparently he has, though there was no evidence of it in the piece I responded to.) I like what Farrell has to say, and agree with him: there’s a kind of liberal, or neoliberal technocratic approach to politics that boils down to, as Adolph Reed once put it,… Read More

StimPak still stimulating

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is out with its latest estimates of the effects of the stimulus package—officially the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA)—on employment and incomes. For the fourth quarter of 2010, the CBO estimates that ARRA: raised real GDP by 1.1–3.5% lowered the unemployment rate by 0.7–1.9 points increased the number of people employed by 1.3–3.5 million increased the number of full-time equivalent jobs by 1.8–5.0 million above what would have happened without ARRA These are substantial numbers. Take GDP. The midpoint of the estimate is 2.3%. Real GDP is… Read More

Radio commentary, August 8, 2009

[WBAI is fundraising this week and next. My fundraiser is next week—be sure to pledge during my slot, details to follow!—and I was pre-empted on August 6. My KPFA show for August 8 is mostly a rerun, but it did contain this fresh commentary.] If you’re an American taxpayer, you’re an owner of AIG, the failed insurance company. According to a piece in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal (which did the research itself—God, I’m going to miss newspapers), AIG and the Federal Reserve, a branch of the U.S. government, will be paying Wall Street… Read More

MinnPost interview

Steve Perry interviews me about the green shoots of recovery, EFCA, liberal austerity, grading the stimulus/bailout, contrasts with the New Deal, etc.: “Stabilization is a good thing, but it doesn’t equal recovery.”

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, January 15, 2009

Audio: January 15, 2009 Re: the economic news, not only does the news remain bad, I’m tempted to say that it will continue to get worse. Some listeners have heard me say this already, but the home audience on WBAI hasn’t yet. The U.S. employment report for December was a horror. Total employment fell by 524,000, with almost every sector showing losses. Almost half the loss came in goods production, mainly construction and manufacturing. But it wasn’t just the goods sector either. Private services got hammered too. The losses in services are among… Read More

Radio commentary, January 10, 2009

The Prop 8 vote: not a black thing. Divining the economic future from the record of past banking crises: it’s ugly. Why is Obama conceding on tax cuts? December employment: a horror.

Radio commentary, December 20, 2008

Fed cuts to 0%, tries kitchen sink. The Obama stimulus plan.

Radio commentary, December 11, 2008

How long a recession? Summers talks nonsense. A rebirth of worker militance?

Radio commentary, November 27, 2008

No recovery til 2010? Obama rewards failure. Daewoo gets some free land.