Economics

U.S. Unemployment Jumps to 7.2 percent

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Worse than expected.

How does that compare from miseries past? The national rate was 7.2 percent or higher between December 1974 and April 1977 (peaking at an even 9.0), according to the aptly named Misery Index website; and again 7.2 percent or higher between May 1980 and August 1985, with a late-'82 peak of 10.8 percent unemployment. There was also a brief 7.2+ period between December '91 and January '93, peaking at 7.8.

Are we as bad off now as we were during the Carter-Reagan recession? If not, will we soon lap that and graduate direcly to the 1930s? Vote in the comments.

And read Reason's prescient roundtable on "The Coming Recession" from our June 2008 issue.

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  1. I’m still employed…why am I posting at H&R?

  2. The Frank-Dodd Depression is only getting started.. Wait ’til Obama has the Fed presses running round the clock to print up all new money he needs for the “stimulus” packages.

  3. Unemployment will peak around mid-Feb after which, the windmill and solar panel industries will take up the slack.

    With Pelosi and Reid, we have nothing to fear. Hope you didn’t miss the amazing Chris Matthews on Hardball, just before the game.

  4. It’s a good thing for me that Obama is likely to pass a full employment act for my profession (environmental engineering), especially as I’m graduating in December, but…fuck.

  5. Keep making fun of the greatest president ever elected. When the government jobs programme kicks in we will have a job surplus.

  6. These numbers are probably overly rosy in terms of comparisons to past periods of high unemployment, owing to changes in how it is measured, and changes in the work force.

    Unemployment will inevitably be higer in January than December, as temporary holiday work ends.

  7. Does spelling it “programme” make you smarter, LurkerBold?

  8. And read Reason’s prescient roundtable on “The Coming Recession” from our June 2008

    Calling a June ’08 prediction of a recession “prescient” is stretching it a lil, don’t you think?

  9. joe,

    Excellent point. Someone yesterday showed how we are really experiencing around 20% unemployment but the Bush/Cheney number cooking programme is making it look lower.

  10. Unemployment will inevitably be higer in January than December, as temporary holiday work ends.

    Yes, but isn’t that the very reason why these figures are seasonally adjusted?

  11. One more tenth of a point increase and I’m cashing out, stocking up on canned goods, guns and ammo, and a saw and hammer and going out to squat on some Federal lands. I’ll make a little hut, then later maybe a rudimentary log cabin.

    Damn that law school! Why didn’t they teach us any real survival skills?

  12. Calling a June ’08 prediction of a recession “prescient” is stretching it a lil, don’t you think?

    Especially since we have been in the greatest depression in our history for almost 8 years.

  13. Nigel,

    That’s an awful lot to ask from a lower case “m” and “e.”

  14. …20%? Maybe of the potential workforce, but that’s counting people like my mom, who is 59 and hasn’t had a “job” since 1975.

    (Scare quotes because my sisters and I have been plenty of work for her up until I left for college two years ago.)

  15. The Extispicator,

    Well as long as your guns are registered and you are a good cop.

    If we had an advanced economic system here all housing would be Federal.

  16. Stop saying bad things about the economy, everyone. You’re upsetting the troll.

    Especially since we have been in the greatest depression in our history for almost 8 years.

    LEAVE GEORGE BUSH ALONE!! HE DOES EVERYTHING FOR YOU PEOPLE!!!

  17. ugh, Christ, you suck at trolling, LurkerBold. Go to LGF; you know, somewhere on your skill level.

  18. Unemployment will inevitably be higer in January than December, as temporary holiday work ends.

    Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.

    Put me in for 8% by February by current measurements, and higher than that in reality.

  19. Angry Optomist, what is LGF? Is it a Progressive site? Why do you think Progressives should only keep with other progressives? Intellectual Apartide perhaps?

  20. joe,

    Refering to yourself in third person is not a good sign.

  21. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!

    gasp gasp

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA Ohmygod that’s so awesome!!!

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA….

    Uh…

    I don’t get it.

  22. joe,

    8% is hysterically low. That gave me a chuckle too.

  23. Economists and other experts say this recession is a year old. I would argue that for many people there has been a severe economic slump since at least 2000, since the technology bubble burst.

    It’s been at such a low boil that many just haven’t recognized it. Over the course of eight years I went from someone in the upper middle class to lower middle class. That doesn’t sound like much but it has had an impact on our lives.

    Both my wife and I work full time, but have not seen a substantial raise in pay for eight years or longer. Sure, we can afford food and shelter. We’re thankful for that but all the extras we used to be able to afford are gone. Vacations – a thing of the past. A better car — forget it. Children – who can afford them?

    From my perspective the recession has lasted for the entire Bush administration. I also think a case could be made that the economy has been slowly going downhill since the 1970’s.

  24. Chris,

    Watch out. Joe will get upset with you for agreeing with him.

  25. Calling a June ’08 prediction of a recession “prescient” is stretching it a lil, don’t you think?

    QFT. Especially when they spent the first eight months of that recession insisting that there wasn’t one.

    But I’m sure their predictions about the direction of the economy during the next presidential term are beyond reproach.

  26. Unemployment in 2009 will rise above 10%. The longer it takes inflation to show up the worse it will be when it hits. Look for that to be above 10% too.

    Everything the government has done, and especially everything Obama wants to to will make both numbers worse.

    Here’s another 10% for you. I put a 10% chance that the US defaults on it’s debt in the next year (or else inflates the dollar to zero).

  27. Warren, the United States will never, ever default. And I really do not know what you mean when you say “inflating the dollar to zero”. Do you mean that they’ll inflate it 100%? That’s still a nonzero number.

  28. TAO, I think he means that its value will be less than that of the material it’s printed on, which I doubt.

  29. Inflation?

    We’ll be lucky if we don’t see deflation.

  30. 10% inflation will not be a problem if Federal jobs are indexed for inflation. Same thing with aid for oppressed persons.

  31. The economy lost 524,000 jobs in December. I was so born in the wrong year.

  32. If the government would use it’s powers more eisely they will set prices at a sensible level and we will not get deflation.

  33. TAO,
    Not 100%, 10,000%. You know, a wheelbarrow full of bills to buy an apple, the Weimar scenario.

    Where do you get your confidence that “the United States will never, ever default”? You think some magic protects us from the laws of supply and demand? That it’s “different this time”?

  34. DEMAND KURV!

  35. Not 100%, 10,000%. You know, a wheelbarrow full of bills to buy an apple, the Weimar scenario

    Um, OK. I don’t believe that is going to happen either.

    You know I don’t have some “magical thinking” that the United States is somehow immune to default, but think about it: income tax rates are low, Social Security can be readjusted, on and on. The United States is carrying a large debt load right now, but there is still a lot of budgetary room.

    I don’t see default happening in my lifetime.

  36. Warren,

    I think the Nazi influences on the Federal government are in check. You do not have to worry about the Corporatists making the government print more money than we need.

  37. Time to break up the tired, old big businesses and get some real competition going. Free markets, free minds after all. Deconsolidation time is here. Down with cartels. Go Obama’s DoJ.

  38. Angry Optomist,

    So you agree that a short term solution is to tax the rich more?

  39. Nigel:

    Tell me about it. If I was born a few years earlier I might have been able to get in on the champagne, caviar, and cocaine-filled festivities of the mortgage industry. The scary thing is that there are more than a few idiots in that industry that managed to not save a single penny of their million dollar commissions.

  40. Chris Howell, please regale us with more anectodal evidence about your stagnant career. I can’t imagine anything more fascinating.

  41. I don’t see default happening in my lifetime.

    Good job, genius. Now a precondition for defaulting is your death. BART cop hit-squads are on their way. 😉

  42. matt2,

    Why do you feed on the misfortune of others?

  43. Unemployment will inevitably be higer in January than December, as temporary holiday work ends.

    Isnt the unemp number seasonally adjusted? If so, that shouldnt make a difference. I also expect January to be higher but just in general.

  44. SugarFree – dammit all, I knew I was overreaching. Oh well, I smoke, if that makes you feel any better.

  45. We’ll be lucky if we don’t see deflation.

    We are already seeing deflation. That is why they are trying so hard to pump more money in. Im, personally, pro-deflation. I wouldnt mind -2% for a year or so.

  46. I understood the seasonal adjustments to be tailored to actual seasons – eg, construction slows way down in the north during the winter and picks up in the summer – rather than month by month.

    I don’t really know if the Santa Clause employment bump is factored in.

  47. think about it: income tax rates are low, Social Security can be readjusted, on and on. The United States is carrying a large debt load right now, but there is still a lot of budgetary room.

    Granted. That’s why I think the chances are low in the next year. But the ~10×10^12$ we’ve already flushed away in just the past year is a pretty good start don’t you think? And so far I’m not hearing a peep out of ANY corner of the discussion suggesting that what we need to do is stop printing money, and raise taxes, and let senior citizens starve, etc. We have a lot of tools in our bag, but so far the ONLY thing we’re doing to stop the flooding is drilling more holes in the dike.

  48. Tell me about it. If I was born a few years earlier I might have been able to get in on the champagne, caviar, and cocaine-filled festivities of the mortgage industry. The scary thing is that there are more than a few idiots in that industry that managed to not save a single penny of their million dollar commissions.

    You’re seeing college graduation coming up in the next few years too, I take it?

  49. Whoops, I have actually turned off my seance energy coordinators.

  50. In 1984, someone built a new Mac Donald’s a block away from my house. When they starting taking applications, they got 300+ applications on the first day. When they opened they were staffed entirely with middle-aged people willing to work for minimum wage.

    We’re not at that point now.

  51. LurkerBold-

    Good morning.

    I must confess I am somewhat puzzled. I know that you have a tremendous amount of admiration for FDR. So, why are you proclaiming Obama as the greatest president ever elected when he has not proven, yet, that he can save the economy, and the country for that matter, as FDR did? Enlighten me.

  52. Santa Clause employment bump is factored in.

    I just found that phrasing really funny.

    Is there any liberal/progressive sites that offer a relatively high level of intellectual and factual commentary like H&R that I could go to to discuss things much like Joe does here?

  53. TAO-

    I knew that you had more libertine in you than you let on! I would die to defend your right to inhale.

  54. At the same time, people were climbing over each others backs to take a job a MacD’s, mortgage rates were tipping about 15% for a 30 year fixed loan.

  55. Nigel Watt channeling joe

    Actually, what I said was “I could go for a donut.”

    libertarian democrat,

    Matthew Yglesias’s blog at the CAP is good, but it doesn’t get the traffic that H&R gets.

  56. kinnath,

    My parents bought a house in 1979.

    A few years later, my father was getting telemarketing calls: “We’ll give you ten thousand dollars in cash if you refinance with us.”

    I imagine more than a few suckers bit.

  57. You’re seeing college graduation coming up in the next few years too, I take it?

    Nah, I was supposed to graduate a few years ago. Dot-com crash killed my college savings the first go and I had to drop out, mortgage bust killed my chances of getting a student loan for the second attempt at higher education.

    If you hear that I’m planning on attending school, pull your money out of the market immediately!

  58. This is at least as bad as the U-3 unemployment numbers cited in the blog post:

    In December, the number of persons who worked part time for economic reasons (some-times referred to as involuntary part-time workers) continued to increase, reaching 8.0 million. The number of such workers rose by 3.4 million over the past 12 months. This category includes persons who would like to work full time but were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time jobs.

    A 74% increase in the number of people working part time who can’t find full-time work.

  59. I don’t really know if the Santa Clause employment bump is factored in.

    Im pretty sure it is. I dont know the details about unemployment adjustments, but I know other statistical adjustments adjust for that. It would be a standard december adjustment.

  60. I was married with 2 kids when I lost my job in 1982. I lived in one of the largest metropolitan areas in Iowa (a whopping 150,000 people). The want ads in the Sunday paper had less than half a dozen employment ads. Pretty much every part of the local economy was collapsing. Manufactoring was going off shore. Meat packing plants were shutting down. The half the stores in the local mall closed. It was really grim. Today’s problems don’t even come close.

  61. joe,

    You wanna see deflation? Look around. It’s not your lucky day.

    High inflation would be a major bailout for everyone underwater in debt. For someone like me, who has been prudent and thrifty, avoiding debt, living within, if not below my means in order to build real savings?

    Like robc, I’m pro deflation.

  62. Yes, the headline number is always seasonally adjusted.

    The not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.1

  63. kinnath,

    By 1982, we were farther into the recession. What you’re describing is the bottom.

    Let’s hope what we’re seeing now turns out to be the bottom.

  64. libertarian democrat:
    Ezra Klein has a good comments section; lower traffic than here but insightful posts.

  65. I love how people who have debt are treated as immoral bastards. Like we’re not “prudent and thrifty” either? It’s called “investment”.

  66. kinnath,

    By 1982, we were farther into the recession. What you’re describing is the bottom.

    Iowa didn’t bottom out until 86 or 87.

  67. Ezra Klein Good call.

    Glenn Greenwald, too, if you like reeeeeeeally long, but substantive, posts.

  68. This may be a temporary bottom, but given that Obama’s giving every indication that he will accelerate the programs of Bush (much like FDR did with Hoover), we can expect this to go on much longer.

  69. Seasonal adjustment, I’m reasonably sure, is done using ARIMA (auto-regressive something or other–it’s done through statistical regressions).

    This means seasonal adjustments are created for each month (though the survey is conducted over a single week around the 12th) based on that month in past years, with more weight given to more recent years.

    This means seasonal adjustments get revised a little bit each year. For instance, June through November seasonally adjusted number for this year all got bumped up .1%.

  70. Fair enough, kinnath. Farm country took a beating in the 80s, even during the good times. In a state like Iowa, that’s going to suck in the rest of the economy, too.

    Sort of like the industrial midwest in the 90s.

  71. Like robc, I’m pro deflation.

    Im not really pro deflation as much as Im anti-intentional-inflation-to-avoid-deflation-at-all-costs.

  72. This may be a temporary bottom, but given that Obama’s giving every indication that he will accelerate the programs of Bush (much like FDR did with Hoover), we can expect this to go on much longer.

    I see a lot of people on this site taking this position – that Obama’s recovery program is going to deepen and lengthen the recession.

    I want a number.

    “If Barack Obama’s stimulus plan goes through, and a recovery begins within _____ years, it will demonstrate that I was wrong.”

    Anyone care to step up to the plate?

  73. After losing my job, I said fuck it and went to school. Lived in poverty for three years until I graduated in summer 1985.

    During practice from commencement, we were split up into groups based upon school and major. I was in a group of about 30 people graduating with CompSci or related majors. Our faculty chaperon asked how many people had jobs lined up. Three quarters of the hands went up. Then he asked how many were in Iowa. All the hands went down.

    Things didn’t really turn around in Iowa until the early 90’s.

  74. “If Barack Obama’s stimulus plan goes through, and a recovery begins within _____ years, it will demonstrate that I was wrong.”

    A “recovery” may easily begin within the year. If it does not fail within 5 years, returning us to a situation at least as bad as we’re in today, I will admit that I was wrong.

    Happy?

  75. libertymike,

    Because Obama is picking up where FDR left off and is not going to be hobbled by a do-nothing Republican Congress.

  76. I want a number.

    Me too! I knew you had some good stuff in you joe. Hope it was not anything serious setting you back recently.

  77. TAO,

    debt != investment

    Investment is using your wealth to buy something that (hopefully) generates income (now or in the future).

    It is possible to use debt in order to make investments. That is leveraging. Leveraging leads to greater profit, but also higher risk. As people found out with their houses, when you only have 5% equity, its real easy to lose it all. The margin calls are a bitch.

  78. Directly to the 30’s. The credit runup of the last 15 years was larger than the credit runup in the 1920’s.

  79. ha, well, I have a debt load because I am in school…and thanks to the wisdom of the great state of Ohio, post-undergrad tuition rates are through the roof (this is what happens when you cap undergrad rates by statute).

    Fuckers, fuckers…anecdotally, a friend of mine started Law School in 2002 and the tuition was 12K; in 2008 it was 20K. I know inflation is a bitch, but come on now…

  80. Actually, I meant a song and dance number.

    If you’re blue and you don’t know where to go to…

  81. Oh, and to whomever is sockpuppeting LurkerBold:

    1. Please stop. It’s not funny and you’re not doing a very good job of lampooning anyone or anything.

    2. Out of respect for this little community, again, you’ve been asked to stop, so please stop already.

    It’s a respectful request.

  82. Oh relax, Obama and his government are going to fix everything. Go ahead, quit your current job and apply for one of the 600,000 new government jobs being created. Get rid of your health insurance and start putting 40% of your paycheck into a 401K that Obama will eventually create a department to take care of for you. When everyone works for the government, things will settle down just fine. No worries.

  83. “I love how people who have debt are treated as immoral bastards.”

    some of them have just been plain fucking stupid. i’ve watched friends of mine whom i love dearly do incredibly dumb things. (like cashing in a 401k, including penalties, to buy a house in a flood zone with an ARM)

    is stupidity immoral? dunno.

  84. Angry Optimist,

    I have not seen the impersonator on this thread yet.

    Is part of the reason that you are so angry because of the Fascists who raised your tuition rates just to like the pockets of the Capitalists? I would be angry too, but please stop being angry with me. I want a better world for you too.

  85. joe,

    I cant give you a number because Im not sure how much Obama’s plan matters anymore, one way or the other. Pre-bailout, I said if they let everyone that needs to fail fail, then we would have 2 really, really bad years followed by the teens being one of the greatest growth decades in US history. With the bailout, I predicted Japan in the 90s.

    Obama wants to continue the “imitate Japan” plan, it seems.

    I think the bailouts MAY cause us to avoid the really, really bad years, but 2010-2020 will be weak growth at best.

    Feel free to convert all that to some sort of measurable metric as you see fit.

  86. OK, so you don’t want to fucking quit, eh?

    As Daffy Duck said “As you know, this means war.”

  87. We’ll need to wait and see on this. There have been a number of layoffs in a short time frame, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who got laid off won’t be able to find work. I think the Chicken Little approach that’s so in vogue in Washington right now has scared a lot of executives who should know better into hunkering down and laying off people a little prematurely.

    We’ll see, of course. Until we have high unemployment, high interest rates, and either prolonged deflation or high inflation, it won’t hurt like the 70s did.

  88. Angry Optimist,

    You do not sound like you are part of the Republican Bush Cheney War Machine. Can’t we live in peace?

    I answer your questions, how come you do not answer mine?

  89. joe,

    I want a number.

    It really depends on just how stupid the government is over the next few years. Say the incoming Obama administrations tries to do something like the AAA or the NRA, that is cartelization, price controls, etc., that will lengthen the economic downturn for as long as those policies remain in place.

  90. As Daffy Duck said “As you know, this means war.”

    Metherthmiths!

    A whole meth of Metherthmiths!

  91. My wife took a 5% pay cut and laid off an assistant manager this week. Retailers are hurting bad. We’re celebrating by getting new flooring and a surveillance system. What’s the point in retiring with money if they are just going to take it and give it to the guy who blew all his on blow and whores?

  92. If McCain had been elected we would just see this Great Depression worsen, like Matt Welch warned us about.

    McKinney would have fixed this right away, before being sworn in. We just have to give Obama some time.

  93. I taught that monkey how to pee in its own mouth!

  94. Racist Seward (see the Friday Funnies thread), price controls are one of the things that would work wonders but have not been mentioned by the new administration. I am thinking that it is something being planned behind the scenes and will not be revealed until it is ready.

  95. The imposter finally finishes assaulting the poor at 10:40 to come here and be a pest.

  96. LurkerBold, you really really fucking boring.

    There are many rational arguments to be made for a larger government intervention into the enconomy, why don’t you actually try to make one of them like joe does.

  97. Prediction:
    Unemployment continues to get worse over the next 6 months topping out over the summer at little over 8% for headline, 15% for U6 (currently at 13.5%).
    Then in the second half of the year it stabilizes and moves downward. (and there will be much rejoicing)
    However, by the end of the first quarter ’10, it will be go higher again. And by this time, the spectre of inflation, or perhaps it’s full effects will be back, as over 2 trillion in new debt (since Sept 2008) is floating around the US and world economy. Welcome back to stagflation. (and we will eat Robin’s minstrels)

  98. Joe — I’ll take you up on that. My number is two years, a little longer than the 1981-1982 recession.

    Our best rough point of comparison is the early 80’s recession, I think. Serious stock market crash, bank failures, excessive risk exposure (then, S&L’s). The major difference was policy — contractionary monetary and fiscal policy, exactly the opposite of what we have today. It’s not a perfect analogue of our current crisis, but it is the most recent severe recession. If this one lasts much longer, it might suggest that Obama’s policies are ineffective.

  99. Incidentally, if you compare the way Obama (and, to be fair, the current president) is handling this with the way that Reagan did during the early 80s’ crisis (granting Reagan’s many flaws), it shows what’s wrong with today’s breed of “leader”. Reagan understood that consumer confidence and optimism were important factors to consumers and to business leaders. Acknowledging the problem is appropriate, but acting like we’re all doomed if some bill doesn’t get passed or if some policy isn’t adopted isn’t leadership, and it isn’t acting presidential. Fail.

    And McCain would’ve done the same thing. As would Frau Clinton. Maybe Romney would’ve known better, given his better understanding of economics, but this type of gloomy, national malaise kind of talk highlights just how weak our leadership really is today. For the Democrats who don’t want to think about Reagan, would Kennedy have made a speech like Bush or Obama have made? No way.

  100. kinnath,

    LurkerBold doesn’t make actual arguments for leftist positions, because his shtick is to impersonate a leftist while sounding like an idiot, to make them look bad.

    It would be as if I posted as “Libertarian” and wrote “Tax cuts will cure my baldness” over and over.

  101. Oh, and Joe, I do appreciate your mastery of the American Songbook.

    come let’s mix where Rockefellers walk with sticks and umb-er-ellas…

    If we’ve got to have a Depression, where’s my fedora?

  102. in this instance of troll-infestation sock puppeting is exacerbating the problem. the puppets and or trolls just get off on the attention and the argument has no content whatsoever. trolls are just braindead attention whores who offer nothing (unless they are VERY funny)

    With so many people claiming unemployment in the following months my question is this. Who pays for it? How much is unemployment usually worth? Am I paying for it? Can I make my unemployment check-collecting roommate do chores for me because I’m paying for it?

    Can I ride him around like a pony? He always refuses, but I say “Your ass is mine! Get a job!”

    But seriously, who pays for it?

  103. joe,

    You act like i am supposed to be exactly like you. Well, I am not. I am more Progressive than you, but I do agree with many of your ideas.

    Stop being such a spoiled sport and figure out that others have ideas too.

  104. Thanks Rose and Joe. Business at work is cyclical, so sometimes I need more things to do while I essentially just answer the phone, and I love discussing politics (or just reading others, I learn alot, especially from those I disagree with).

  105. If we’ve got to have a Depression, where’s my fedora??

    I like the cut of your jib, kid. You’ve got guts! Moxie! Grit!

    And great gams!

  106. I want a number.

    What’s Obama’s number? What’s his criteria for success? Because it doesn’t matter what I predict if he can just say at the end of four years, “Mission Accomplished!”

  107. LurkerBold is neither a zealous advocate for left/progressive ideals or a performance artist that provides some level of entertainment. I could live with either one of those.

  108. I think the Chicken Little approach that’s so in vogue in Washington right now has scared a lot of executives who should know better into hunkering down and laying off people a little prematurely.

    I think that’s a big part of it, but I also think some people have learned from the past, and are trying to stay ahead of the curve. From the business owner’s perspective, anyway. It actually cheers me up when I hear somebody say they are going to trade market share for margins.

  109. Man, Jane Fonda was so effing hot in Umber-ella.

  110. What’s Obama’s number?

    666 perhaps.

  111. Some fed,

    I haven’t heard Obama make any predictions.

    I have, however, seen quite a few people on these here threadz make predictions.

  112. P Brooks,

    Maybe, but I think you give too much credit. Executive management at publicly traded companies these days focus on quarterly or even monthly results. . .and not much else. They don’t want to look like they didn’t prepare for a downturn and don’t want to defend their actions on earning calls. So they just rush to “do something”. Sound familiar?

    Whatever your politics, we should all be distressed at the unthinking, Disney lemming-like behavior.

  113. I am thankful that I am not nor have I ever been LurkerBold.

  114. joe,

    Are you a BC guy? My boss is, and I was wondering whether the BC coach was going to get fired.

  115. My wife took a 5% pay cut and laid off an assistant manager this week. Retailers are hurting bad.

    Yep. The shopping malls look like ghost towns (even more so than post-Christmas usually does), and even the venerable Macy’s is having to close down stores.

    I wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see unemployment at 10% or more within the next month or two.

  116. I always hear the “it’s psychological, the politicians are talking down the economy” excuse trotted out when recessions start. I remember hearing it in 1992, and again in 2001, and now I’m seeing it again.

    Several trillion dollars in wealth just evaporated. We’ve officially been in a recession for over a year now. Employment has been falling the whole time. Consumer spending and construction are both in the toilet. There’s probably a more plausible explanation for why unemployment rose steeply in December than employers’ psychology.

  117. Pro Lib-

    I try to be optimistic. Cynical, but optimistic.

  118. I was wondering whether the BC coach was going to get fired.

    He already has been.

  119. joe
    That shit with the BC coach was totally unfair. “Oh you got us to a bowl and winning our part of the ACC, but you talked to someone else so there you go.” That kind of shit gets you playing at Duke’s level (in football of course :)).

    And thanks for the Barbarella reference. Fonda was perhaps the hottest woman on the planet at that time, but that movie infuriates me with its stubborn refusal to show a little nudity.

    Pan down! Pan down!

  120. Unemployment benefits, and who qualifies for them, varies from state to state.

    Some states are offering extended benefits beyond the normal length of elegibility, as has the federal government, in light of current unemployment rates.

    When states run out of money (supposed to be stocked up by states from employer and employee contributions to Unemployment Insurance during non-recessions), the Federal Government will bail them out from general revenues. This will happen first to those states that have given the most generous benefits–or spent all their money on hookers.

  121. Pro Lib,

    Big BC guy. I remembe watching The Pass live as a kid. My dad went there, and GW didn’t have a football team, so that’s my rooting interest.

    Coach Jags was fired yesterday. Don’t lie to a Catholic school!

  122. joe,

    Obama has made numerous predictions. For example, the number of new green jobs that will supposedly be created by his policies. What’s the figure? 2.5 million? Of course, I don’t think predictions like that are very meaningful, and its the sort of thing that every President predicts. Most politicians are going to avoid anything more specific than that.

  123. I haven’t heard Obama make any predictions.

    I think all policies and laws should come with predictions. That way we can measure a programs success or failure rate.

    Ex: For $10B this welfare program will reduce the US poverty rate by 20% within 6 years.

  124. Seward,

    I meant, predictions about the timing of the economic recovery.

  125. Notre Dame would have been better off if they had just accepted O’Liar.

  126. joe,

    Psychology is a very important factor in the business cycle.

  127. Several trillion dollars in wealth just evaporated. We’ve officially been in a recession for over a year now. Employment has been falling the whole time. Consumer spending and construction are both in the toilet. There’s probably a more plausible explanation for why unemployment rose steeply in December than employers’ psychology.

    You are much more optomistic and generous with your numbers than I.

    We have been in a depression for quite some time except the Republican sound machine keeps trying to convince us that we are not.

  128. joe,

    Obama would be quite foolish to make any sort of prediction like that.

    robc,

    But government policies lack the either the price mechanism or the fear of going out of business. How good could a prediction be in that dismal of an information environment?

  129. Seward,

    Oh, it wouldnt work, it would just give us something to make fun of them for.

  130. I see, so I shouldn’t razz my roommate for collecting unemployment. After all, if he didn’t collect it then he couldn’t pay his share of rent and *somebody* would have to pay it. Which would be me and that would be shitty.

  131. Hate to ride my hobby horse here (but I’m busy right now and this is egregiously pressing), but if you think 7% unemployment and two quarters of no growth are bad, try living where 87% of the population lives below the poverty line and 75% of factories have been shit down all because of direct government force (guns). Oh, and over 700 of your neighbors blown to hell.

    Such a focus on an (admittedly imo, I just want a tax cut) wrong headed government stimulus plan while this is going on is redunkulous for anyone who gives a shit about liberty and rights. Sorry.

    http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/category,COI,HRW,ANNUALREPORT,ISR,47a87c07c,0.html

  132. robc,

    You know, if government agencies could actually fail (like businesses used to be able to), that could go a long way towards making government far efficient, useful, etc.

  133. Whoops, should have been “shut down” but “shit down” works too.

  134. Psychology is a very the important factor in the business cycle.

    The lemmings drive bubbles up and troughs down.

  135. Economics is just a branch of psychology.

  136. MNG,

    Very good points.

  137. Fools, if Cynthia McKinney was elected we wouldn’t have all these problems.

    http://www.cracked.com/article_16748_6-most-insane-people-ever-run-president.html

  138. joe/robc,

    I missed the news–I had other college football activities on my mind yesterday.

    joe,

    I actually agree that politicians and others can get too caught up in the psychological elements of the economy, but the fact remains that overreacting and not demonstrating calm optimism is not a leadership trait. Bush/Obama have both looked weak on this matter. But Obama has time to learn from his mistakes–Bush has failed utterly, capping off his bad presidency with one of his worst moments.

  139. I haven’t heard Obama make any predictions.

    I have, however, seen quite a few people on these here threadz make predictions.

    Of course, the only prediction that truly matters is George Webb’s

    Another famous George Webb tradition that continues today is his famous baseball prediction. Starting in the 1940’s with the Brewer teams of the American Association, and through the Braves’ stay in Milwaukee, George Webb predicted our team would win 12 straight games. It was speculated for many years that if the team would achieve the lucky streak, George Webb would give away free hamburgers. The prediction continued in the 1970’s and 1980’s with the major league Brewers, and on April 19, 1987, the Brewers won 12 straight games. Three days and 168,194 hamburgers later, the payoff was fulfilled to thrilled George Webb customers and Brewer fans alike. Although the team has not repeated this feat since 1987, they have come close several times, while Wisconsinites continue to support the team toward making the prediction come true.

  140. If by the end of the year we don’t have…

    significant bank failures (where people start publishing %-of-banks figures)
    stagflation,
    price controls/rationing,
    banking nationalization,
    riots/furloughs preventing the regular publishing of statistics,
    or Treasury pulling something Argentine with the national debt…

    I will go back to assuming I don’t know anything about macroeconomics.

    Oh, as an economist, I’d argue Economics is more likely a branch of sociology than psychology, which is probably worse. It used to be part of political science, for what that’s worth.

  141. Shrug. What did you expect when you elected Democrats? The markets gave up on being allowed to make a profit back around September.

    I assume the media are already working on some kind of new statistic based on how sensitive and eco-friendly the country is that will prove things are wonderful.

  142. MNG-

    Ditto.

    Joe-

    How about a little balance with the BC story? Have we forgotten about the athletic director’s (Deflipflop) sordid conduct a couple of years ago relative to BC’s jump from the Big East to the ACC?

  143. some fed,

    I would be with you if that Republican got elected, but one of the good guys won.

  144. Sweet Jesus! Lefiti AND LurkerBold? I fear some sort of troll vortex that may just suck us into some sort of troll dimension.

  145. somefed,

    I would agree with you, because I find most of the important aspects of sociology to be a combination of social psychology and history.

  146. TallDave,

    Yea, go cry that your goons did not get elected and now we do not have to live in fear of our doors being broken down or phones tapped and all of our property being handed over to the corporations.

  147. Joe is essentially right in that the actual unemployment is higher due to the Feds cooking the numbers since the time of Clinton.

    What we will see with Obama is creation of jobs through more deficit spending rather than through viable economic activity generated by the private sector.

  148. Pro Lib-

    The coach Jags story has been a sports talk radio melodrama here all this week. Most of the hosts and callers on WEEI 850 AM have hit the coach hard. A couple of callers, however, have provided some balance by pointing out that, to the extent that the matter turns on the credibility of the principals, we should not forget that BC’s AD did not exactly conduct himself with honor in BC’s jump from the the Big East to the ACC.

  149. Only the teachings of Mao can get us out of this depression.

  150. demonstrating calm optimism

    I am, much of the time, so calmly optimistic as to appear comatose to the untrained eye. Put me in, Coach!

  151. Fair enough on the AD, libertymike.

  152. The markets gave up on being allowed to make a profit back around September.

    Uh, yeah, the stock market sure was booming from December through September. Obama recession, Obama recession!

    Oh, wait, the stock market hit bottom then, and has been coming back.

    “And then, when he saw my Fidelity statement, he carved this B on my face!”

  153. Yes, let’s not blame the recession on Obama. If it’s 2010, and the government has continued to “do something” that seems to be prolonging the problem, then we can rise in revolt and tar and feather him. Until then, it’s the federal government’s enhanced recession (we were due for the market variety recession, anyway, but Bush/Congress have helped make it so much more special).

  154. Meant to say, the stock market fell off a cliff in early October, hit bottom in early November, and has been slowly coming back since then.

  155. “Only the teachings of Mao can get us out of this depression.”

    Well I guess killing 6 million plus people and thus taking them out of the workforce would change those unemployment numbers. Yep Mao’s way COULD work I guess.

  156. Yes, let’s not blame the recession on Obama. If it’s 2010, and the government has continued to “do something” that seems to be prolonging the problem, then we can rise in revolt and tar and feather him.

    I can’t agree Pro Lib. I think part of the reason we’re in this mess, is because we waited too long to start bashing Bush. We should start insisting Obama provide every little girl with a pony before he takes office. That will put things on a better footing.

  157. I bashed Bush early, rolling my eyes at the idea the lug even got nominated. But he got a honeymoon because of 9/11. Even Reagan got an extended one because of the assassination attempt. I hope Obama has to contend with neither, of course, so maybe he’ll be dogged from Day One. Like he (and any other president) should be.

  158. “Yes, let’s not blame the recession on Obama”

    OK – we can blame it on his Congressional pals such as Barney Frank and Chris Dodd instead.

  159. Just Hanging Out,

    You were responding to an imitator of me. You did it with Capitalist scare words and lies, but you were not responding to me.

    I do not limit insight to just one great thinker.

  160. Reaching in pocket for troll food:

    LurkerBold,

    Sorry but I just HAVE to know exactly what scare words and lies were used. It’s Friday, it’s slow, I need some entertainment.

  161. You can’t tell the difference between LurkerBold and imitators writing idiotic things to make him look bad, because LurkerBold himself is purposely writing idiotic things to make his adopted persona look bad.

  162. Now you are just being a pest. You know what you did and you did it on purpose.

  163. How long can Obama blame the Frank-Dodd affirmative action recession on Bush? By the way exactly how much is my middle class tax cut? And why are people who pay no income taxes getting rebates?

  164. Joe,

    I know this but it is kind of like playing with a magic eight ball. You know it is bullshit but you still like shaking it up to see what it comes up with.

  165. Only the teachings of Mao can get us out of this depression.

    I prefer the teachings of Miaow

  166. Ha. Well put.

    How long can Obama blame the Frank-Dodd affirmative action recession on Bush? For as long as the amount of lending going towards lower income neighborhoods remains too small to explain the financial meltdown, while the majority of toxic debt came in the form of unregulated derivatives from mortgages and refinances and HELOCs on expensive homes in the suburbs.

    Which is to say, eternally, because those truths about the lending explosion in the early 00s will not be undone.

  167. Governments are the best way to achieve full employment. One must only look at Germany 1933-1945, the USSR 1917-1990, China under Mao, and Cambodia under Pol Pot.

    Unfortunately the capitalists have been spreading lies about these people with the help of the Freemason and Zionist run media.

  168. I see a lot of people on this site taking this position – that Obama’s recovery program is going to deepen and lengthen the recession.

    I want a number.

    Everybody knows it’s 42.

    Seriously, FDR’s (Hoover gets some credit too) programs gave us a depression that lasted from ’30 – ’39. I expect it won’t be that bad this time around but if the borrow (or print) a shitload of money to spend on who the hell knows Obama plan happens (it will) this could be a real tough half decade (2008-2013).

    My proposed prescription was shot out of the water by Bush, the retarded special* son, long ago.

    * I can be PC too.

  169. We have a saying in my country – the coyote of the desert likes to eat the heart of the young and the blood drips down to his children for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  170. LukerBold, you’re the worst troll ever. Go get some lessons from Lefiti or OLS.

  171. Wow the spoofs are awesome today guys. Keep them coming!!

  172. The “LurkerBold” at 1:14 will probably come up as joe pretty soon too.

    Don’t people around here have anything more intellectual to do than online forgery?

  173. I admit it, this is in fact part of a conspiracy brought on by the illuminati which is intent of perpetrating the myth that Mao was a mass murderer. The reality is that Mao actually created a utopia, where the children played with gumdrop smiles under the rainbow, free love reigned, and everyone was happy.

  174. It looks like joe will never let TallDave forget the Ashely Todd incident.

  175. Seriously, FDR’s (Hoover gets some credit too) programs gave us a depression that lasted from ’30 – ’39.

    Actually, FDR’s programs (ones focused on public spending) gave us a recovery that lasted from 1933-1937. Then, a different FDR program (fiscal austerity, the end of the public spending) gave us another deep recession in 1937. The another round of big public spending beginning in 1940 gave us another recovery.

    The whole “FDR prolonged the Depression” argument is refuted by the recovery and reversal from 33-38. If this theory was correct, there could not have been a period of dramatically falling unemployment and rising GDP growth followed by a reversal, followed by another robust recovery, but rather, a steady 10 year period of stagnant growth.

    Lots of predictions about what a big recovery/stimulus package will do. Here’s mine: recession ends around the end of 2009, weak growth in 2010, picking up in 2011 and thereafter. My only worry is that the government won’t commit the necessary resources to paying down this enormous debt during the good times in the mid-to-late teens.

  176. PS – that’s where youze guyz come in.

    When there is a national debt of $16 or $18 trillion dollars in, say, 2017, and the government runs a surplus, there are going to be lots of Laffer-Curving Dick Cheney types saying “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter,” and arguing for big tax cuts instead of debt reduction. Just like in 1998-1999.

    It would be awfully nice if some of the people howling about public debt and the paper-chasing profits it fosters spoke up this time.

  177. I doubt the government will run a surplus ever again. There were a lot of very specific conditions in the 1990s that won’t be replicated again in our lifetimes (more or less world peace so less defense spending, divided government, a new technology that fueled a boom).

    I especially don’t expect the first to happen for the next 60 years at least.

  178. joe – although I catch your point, the Laffer Curve and the “Deficits Don’t Matter” viewpoints, while they run together with certain people, are distinct ideas. It is a little unfair to put them both together just because some people see them as the same.

  179. But regardless, I will be a deficit hawk my entire life, so I’ve got your back.

  180. Actually, FDR’s programs (ones focused on public spending) gave us a recovery that lasted from 1933-1937. Then, a different FDR program (fiscal austerity, the end of the public spending) gave us another deep recession in 1937. The another round of big public spending beginning in 1940 gave us another recovery.

    At the worst point of the Great Depression, in 1933, one in four Americans who wanted to work was unable to find a job. Further, it was not until 1941, when World War II was underway, that the official unemployment rate finally fell below 10%. [italics added]

    Yeah, the economy was improving at a very slow rate and then dipped again circa 1937.

    As the kids say, Meh.

  181. J sub D,

    If the Bushes had not started WW-II then FDR would not have gotten to spend so much money. Gonna credit them with the recovery now?

  182. TAO,

    Fair enough. I was a bit glib there.

    J sub D,

    The fact that unemployment was at a ridiculous level when FDR took office does not demonstrate that the recovery between 33 and 37 was “meh.” Unemployment dropped nine points! Imagine every single unemployed person in America in December 08 finding a job: the fall in unemployment between 33 and 37 was significantly larger than that.

  183. joe,

    Weren’t there something like 31 million people unemployed in the 33 – 37 depression period? That would make the 9 point drop if my number is right around 3 million getting new jobs. There are a lot more people unemployed now than that a LOT more.

  184. joe,

    It would be awfully nice if some of the people howling about public debt and the paper-chasing profits it fosters spoke up this time.

    Ive favored both giant tax cuts and massive paying down of the debt EVERY time. I expect the next time things get good to be no different.

    I see no reason we cant do both at the same time. We have to cut out 90+% of the federal government, but Im okay with that.

  185. Adding on to my 2:33 post, I favor massive tax cuts and paying down the debt even during bad times like right now.

    The state of the economy has no effect on my being a deficit hawk and an anti-taxer.

  186. robc,

    Can we start with the Impearilist War Machine on the cuts part? We could do a lot more good with that moeny.

  187. I’m the most boring, un-funny troll ever.

  188. robc,

    If you are not going to bother answering at least spare us the fake postings.

  189. “Yeah, the economy was improving at a very slow rate and then dipped again circa 1937.

    As the kids say, Meh.”

    Meh, indeed.

    And, of course, there is absolutely no proof whatsoever that anything FDR did in that peroid had anything to do with that interim, slow improvement to begin with.

  190. And, of course, there is absolutely no proof whatsoever that anything FDR did in that peroid had anything to do with that interim, slow improvement to begin with.

    There is plenty of proof that it did, just read a history book.

    Do you have any proof that it didn’t?

  191. The best jobs program would be to start a war with Iran. There would be plenty of jobs in the military then.

  192. Plus there would be more dead people, and therefore fewer workers. The demand for labor would go up then.

    We should start now.

  193. robc,

    Let’s call cutting 90% of the federal government Plan A. Now, on the off chance that doesn’t happen, you’re going to have a choice to make.

    Saying you really love shrinking the debt, right up until it might cost you something else you want, means you’re not really a deficit hawk.

  194. “Do you have any proof that it didn’t?”

    I don’t have to prove a negative, Lurkboy.

    The burden of proof is on those arguing the affirmative.

    And just as is the case with the man-made global warming theory – anything that cannot be proven with ABSOLUTE definitiveness isn’t proven at all.

  195. If it wasn’t for Bill Clinton and gay people buying homes, we wouldn’t have a recession.

  196. And, of course, there is absolutely no proof whatsoever that anything FDR did in that peroid had anything to do with that interim, slow improvement to begin with.

    Mind you, Gilbert finds nothing whatsoever to argue with in the oft-posted argument that the ten years of stagnant growth between 33 and 43 demonstrates definitively that FDR prolonged the depression.

    Even that whole “ten years of stagnant growth” thing didn’t actually happen.

  197. joe, I know the argument. It would have been worse had FDR not hired a bunch of photographers and writers, CCC, TVA etc. blah, blah, blah.

    You know the counter-argument as well. FDR’s new deal only prolonged the misery by directing money into unproductive sections of the economy, hiring useless bureaucrats, wage and price controls, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    Fact – ’32-’40 unemplayoment was greater than 10%. Look at the title of this post, the number were all decrying. It’s 7.2%.

  198. Our modern Churchill, George W. Bush, would have ended the depression with his sheer brilliance!

  199. J sub D,

    TVA brought electricity to the rural people. You cannot possibly find fault with that.

  200. Only Cosmotarians “need” electricity!

  201. The stock market hit its bottom in november.

    Employment is always a lagging indicator

    Real estate nation wide probably has not hit bottom yet but it is getting close and it is a regional market so some have hit already.

    Sometime next fall the end of the recession will be claimed to have ended in the proceeding spring.

  202. J sub D,

    Are you steadfastly refusing to acknowledge that change in policy and economic fortunes in 1937, and talking about decade-long averages, for any particular reason?

  203. The stock market hit its bottom in november.

    Maybe, but I think it’s still too early to make this as a definitive proclamation.

  204. joe,

    Now, on the off chance that doesn’t happen, you’re going to have a choice to make.

    You know me. I always vote for Plan A. I havent voted for a presidential winner (or 2nd place finisher ever, or 3rd place for a long while too) since 1988. Ive got 20 years of sticking with Plan A when B and C are the only options. I usually dont care for D E or F either.

    I dont vote for Kang or Kodos.

    To answer your more specific question, Im perfectly willing to split any spending cuts between deficit reduction and tax cuts. Im willing to go all the way to 67:33 until we eliminate the deficit and then 50:50 until the debt is payed off. Of course, since I am also sure we are above the peak of the laffer curve, tax cuts will increase tax revenue (although federal tax cuts may just fill the coffers of the states and cities) so that only helps the deficit out a little more.

  205. TAO,

    Sorry I couldn’t reply sooner, Ive been tied up all day. I posted my comment this morning shortly after waking up, and I was pretty grumpy. I certainly didn’t mean to imply anything immoral about taking on debt. I apologize. I also regret saying I’m “pro deflation.” I’m not. I just appose Uncle Sam interfering in the market.

  206. Also, it sounds like your debt is in student loans for law school. I recommend focusing on bankruptcy law. You’ll get the best return on your investment that way. Of course, your an angry optimist, and I’m a complacent pessimist. In any case, what you choose to do will be at worst, morally neutral.

  207. Joshua Corning says:

    The stock market hit its bottom in november.

    Prediction: S&P begins a decent to 650 or lower in Q1 2009.

    Employment is always a lagging indicator

    Duh!

    Real estate nation wide probably has not hit bottom yet Gee, ya think? but it is getting close and it is a regional market so some have hit already not likely, but maybe.

    (Bold = my comments)

    Prediction: housing market bottoms in late 2011 or early 2012 (optimistic)

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