Saturday, April 25, 2015

15 years of Economic Policy: What do we have to show for it?

In a recent article, David Stockman sets up the American Economic Scene since 2000 quickly:

Indeed, during that span we have encompassed several business cycles, two financial crises/meltdowns and nearly a non-stop blitz of “extraordinary” policy interventions. To wit, a $700 billion TARP, an $800 billion fiscal stimulus, upwards of $4.0 trillion of money printing and 165 months out of 180 months in which interests rates were being cut or held at rock bottom levels.

You’d think with all that help from Washington that American capitalism would be booming with prosperity. No it’s not. On the measures which count when it comes to sustainable growth and real wealth creation, the trends are slipping backwards—– not leaping higher.

The kinds of breadwinner jobs that we need the most -- those that provide the most productivity and output -- are slipping behind. He explains:

Moreover, within the 70 million breadwinner jobs category, the highest paying jobs which add the most to national productivity and growth——goods production—-have slipped backwards even more dramatically. As shown below, there were actually 21% fewer payroll jobs in manufacturing, construction and mining/energy production reported last Friday than existed in early 2000.


  • Non financial business productivity has grown 1.1 percent annually since the 2007 peak. 
  • This is only half of the productivity from 1953 until 2000.
  • So despite 15 years of stimulus there is little to show for it.
  • During the Eisenhower years, which saw balanced budgets, this growth rate was two and one half times what it is now.
  • The number breadwinners jobs in the economy is still 2 million lower than it was in 2000.
  • Breadwinner jobs are defined as "construction, white collar, manufacturing, FIRE, transport, information, trade."
  • Breadwinner jobs are jobs that pay around $50K. 
  • There are about 70 million of these breadwinner jobs.
  • $50K is enough to support a household without government assistance.
  • Editor's Commentary: I make much less than $50K. While I am not on government assistance, I am on parental assistance.
  • The part-time economy -- $14/hour or $20K/year jobs -- is booming.
  • This is the second part-time job boom of this century.
  • This means that all of the job growth that occurred in the first boom -- the Bush II years -- were also part-time jobs. 
  • The top 10% of income earners account for 40% of the spending in an economy.
  • We are in the middle of the third financial bubble of this century.
  • This bubble will pop too.
  • The part-time jobs that were created as a result of wealthy people spending more will vanish in the next bust.
  • As Stockman puts it, "On a net basis, the only jobs created during this entire century are in the HES Complex (health, education and social services)."
  • But why? Well, again, as Stockman puts it, "they are a function of the entitlement state and the massive $200 billion per year of tax subsidies which support employer-funded health benefits."
There's more information that I did not summarize. See the rest by clicking the link below.

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