Economic Growth

The Last Economic Recovery Sightings of 2011


At Slate, Matt Yglesias stands against the "conventional wisdom" (i.e., a headline in the fake-earthquake-retweeting New York Times) that the economy's "relatively strong growth in the fourth quarter was a false dawn." Instead, Yglesias, who takes meetings with Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner, draws on 19th century economist Knut Wicksell to argue that the economy is already rebounding in this year of the Mayan apocalypse. In a related piece, he says the glutted and deflating real estate market just needs more houses. 

When this house is asking less than a million dollars, policymakers need to do solve the problem.

I'm a fan of Slate's contrarian habit, and I appreciate the chutzpah required to tell a nation of people holding nothing but shards of piggy banks that the recovery is here. 

I'm less sure of the proof, the only hard evidence for which seems to be the rapid fall in official unemployment. That decline does appear to be legitimate in the sense that it is no longer coupled with an increase in marginal attachment to the workforce or a decline in labor force participation (which would indicate jobless claims are declining not because unemployed people have returned to work but because they have used up their benefits and withdrawn from the productive economy entirely). The marginal attachment figure has been declining along with unemployment.  

But there's a reason the Obama Administration and the Federal Reserve have not been bragging about the unemployment decline more aggressively. Most of the one-year decline in unemployment (from 9.8 percent in November 2010 to 8.6 percent in November 2011) took place through March 2011 – since which time unemployment has moved sideways. (I should also put that phrase "rapid fall in official unemployment" into perspective: The job recovery period from the 2007-2009 recession long ago set the postwar record for slowness. Only the aftermath of the 2001 recession comes close.) 

There also seem to be some serious flaws in Slate's reasoning: 

Wicksell argued that there is a "natural rate of interest," at which desired savings is balanced by desired investment and the economy suffers from neither inflation nor massive excess capacity. A recession occurs when the natural rate of interest falls below the actual interest rate. Instead of savings being channeled into investment and driving the economy forward, firms and households start merely hoarding and the economy stalls, leaving workers and equipment idle.

I think Matt is mixing up "investment" with "spending." (Easy enough to do when you live in DC.) Investment is putting capital into an asset or venture in hope of profit – through income, interest or appreciation in value. Yet a few paragraphs later (during one of those this-good-thing-will-happen-and-cause-that-good-thing-to-happen scenarios interventionists like to lay out), we find the following: 

That will make it easier for Americans to buy new cars and reverse the four years of growth in the average age of America's passenger vehicles. Families will also invest in other kinds of durable goods—refrigerators, washing machines, etc.

Now all these purchases may be good for GM and Maytag, but they are not by any definition "investment." This is not just a semantic quibble. The current recession has provided a striking lesson in asset depreciation. Real estate, which for many years was dubiously promoted as a source of future value, now looks less like an investment than like an asset comprising two parts: land, which may or may not appreciate; and building materials, which depreciate immediately. 

Slate's understanding of what would be a market-clearing rate of interest is even more strange: 

Unfortunately, the financial crisis we've been suffering through pushed the natural rate very low—below zero. The Fed can't set the nominal interest below zero, and has steadfastly refused to engage in the variety of "unorthodox" measures that would push real rates lower, thus ensuring a long and painful recovery process.

This is not true. Since 2008 the Fed has been engaged in a novel practice of paying banks interest on reserves (IOR) – both required reserves and reserves in excess of requirements. The scale and nature of the effects of this new authority are subject to intense debate, but IOR is definitely exotic, allowing the Fed to create money while also keeping that money out of circulation. If that's not unorthodox it's only because the orthodoxy has changed. 

Saying the Fed can't set the nominal rate below zero is also misleading. At the beginning of 2009 I persuaded my eldest child to put $100 into a savings account, so that she might learn something about savings. In the three years since, that account has earned exactly ten cents. The lesson – don't save – has certainly taken hold, but that 0.1 percent rate over three years is in fact negative: According to the BLS inflation calculator, she would have had to make $5.45 just to keep pace with inflation. 

Mortgage interest rates are also being suppressed. Right now a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage can be had (presuming you can get anybody to lend to you without outside coercion) for less than 4 percent – well below where the rate was at the height of the boom. This is after a period during which one in every ten mortgage borrowers has defaulted. I'm just a simple caveman, but it seems to me when the risk profile of lenders has increased more rapidly than at any time in postwar history, interest rates should logically go up to reflect that risk. They have instead gone down because the Fed, the Treasury and HUD are all exerting downward pressure on interest rates. 

It's hard to imagine any more compelling pressure from policymakers to get people to spend. And it's worth repeating that these policies have had the intended effect: Consumer spending is well above where it was at the peak. The St. Louis Fed informs us that consumer debt is rising steadily and almost back to its pre-crash high. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis [pdf], the personal savings rate, which reached almost 6 percent at the beginning of 2011, had collapsed to 3.5 percent by November. And the BLS calculator shows that inflation is in fact occurring. About the only evidence that Americans are using available dollars to repair personal balance sheets (which Yglesias defines as "hoarding") is a negligible increase in the equity portion of real estate. 

The problem is that the American consumer has no blood left to give. Inflationists have failed to cause an economic recovery, but not because they haven't had a chance to put their ideas into practice. The ideas have been put into practice, and they have failed. To claim now that pushing on a string has finally started to pay off, on as little evidence as Slate presents here, goes beyond contrarianism and into Cloud Cuckoo Land – where it's always the right time to buy a house

Speaking of which, Yglesias does have one deflationary proposal. He believes the country needs a policy of starting new housing construction. Despite all the REO For Sale signs still going up in my neighborhood (and probably yours), Yglesias says we're facing a housing shortage

Again, I think we may be seeing some geographical confirmation bias: As we noted recently, the District of Columbia is the only major real estate market that has been appreciating since 2009. I have spent plenty of time explaining why real estate remains overpriced, but unless all the data we've been hearing about non-performing loans, redefaults and the shadow inventory are really off-base, the claim that we're not facing a durable supply glut in the real estate market is just silly. 

At the risk of sounding like the economics professor with the $100 on the ground, sometimes the market really does send accurate signals without the need for costly public policy initiatives. If there is a housing shortage, all those idled contractors, laid-off construction workers and big developers have plenty of incentive to solve the problem. They are not doing so because there is no housing shortage.

Whether there's a more general economic recovery in the offing, well, best wishes for a Happy New Year. 


NEXT: Happy 2012: New Year's Day Open Thread

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  1. Housing prices have not been allowed to fall to a level at which potential buyers can afford them. Technically this is not a shortage but it has the same effect.

    1. In related news there is a shortage of Feraris. It appears that many people would like to have a Ferrari but cannot or have not purchased one. Top men at Slate have concluded that if we simply produced many more Ferraris, this problem will disappear, as supply would finally meeet demand. Idled factories can be out to use making these Ferraris, and with all the hiring we’d have to do to make them, we’ll be at full employment in no time.

      1. Soon Slate will have an article on the hording of factories that keeps Ferraris off the market.

      2. I agree that Slate’s prescriptions are flawed, but I was just noting that the current situation has some things in common with a gousing shortage.

      3. I have been told by men claiming to be wiser than me, that the shortage of ferraris is proof that ferraris are rationed.

      4. Since capital is fungible, may I suggest, given the excess demand for Ferraris and the deficiency of demand for housing, that the cement mills, sawmills, and drywall plants be retrofitted to manufacture Ferraris and that their workers be retrained. There, problem solved, but it will require a strong industrial policy on the part of government to accomplish this.

        1. That’s fine, as long as they are electric Ferraris.

    2. So we should build more houses so that the housing crisis will get worse, so that housing prices will fall to where people can afford them?

  2. You’re as believable on economics as the the late editor of the Daily Worker, you fucking right-wing hack.

    1. But I’m not a right-winger.

      1. And you’re only half the hack I am!

        1. What am I, chopped liver?

          1. Just parts of you.

            1. Be cautious my dear,
              He eats dark meat

          2. Let’s not forget who’s king around here, now.

              1. I can print as much of you as I need.

                1. I can call bullshit on that.

                1. Be quiet you flax wannabee.

                  1. I can smoke as much of you as I need.

    2. I am a totally believable left-wing economist, if you just give me a pass on that whole employment/stimulus thingy.

      1. Why would Max rag on the Daily Worker? It’s his main source of masturbation material.

        1. How would you know; unless you’re cleaning up after him? 😉

          1. The impression of his member is clearly visible in your x-rays.

            1. Simple deductive logic. My member goes nowhere near any mans’ mouth, thank you very much.

  3. Families will also invest in other kinds of durable goods?refrigerators, washing machines, etc.

    Now all these purchases may be good for GM and Maytag, but they are not by any definition “investment.”

    Technically, these can be investments, though usually they are mostly “spending”.

    For example, if you are currently handwashing your clothes in the bathtub and then hanging them up to air dry using clothes pins, and you calculate that by buying a washer / dryer you can reduce your time spent washing clothes by X hours per week, and apply those X hours per week working more hours and earning enough money after taxes to pay off the purchase price of these appliances plus the cost of electricity to run them — then that would be an “investment”.

    If, however, you toss out a functional washer and dryer combo to buy a prettier looking washer and dryer simply because you value the aesthetic improvement — then that is mostly “spending”, with an investment component for the gain in the expected lifespan of the washer / dryer over the current used appliances.

    1. Same for a refrigerator — if you allow a refrigerator to age to the point where it dies, and you do not buy a new replacement refrigerator, then this will impose costs upon you in terms of having to, for each meal, go to the store to buy perishable goods, and throw out the leftovers, or to eat out every meal at restaurants. It is possible that those expenses (driving a car, losing out on hours worked) per day will be greater than the cost per day of buying a new refrigerator. If so, than a refrigerator can be an investment.

      1. Very interesting theoretical points but Yglesias is calling ALL such purchases “investments,” which is ridiculous.

        1. Well, yes, I will stipulate Yglesias is an idiot about economics. Stopped clock, twice a day, and all that.

          1. Yglesias is an idiot about economics.

            There … fixed it.

      1. Great! except for the global warming BS

    2. A fridge is also an investment if you’re running a restaurant or sperm bank. But in the context here he’s only talking about consumers/end users.

      1. You forgot mortuary in your list, Tim.

        1. He also forgot a brothel that caters to necrophiliacs.

        2. He also forgot a brothel that caters to necrophiliacs.

      2. I find it odd that you chose to use sperm bank as an example rather than blood bank. I think that says something about you, Tim. I have absolutely no idea what, but it says something.

        1. it says “libertarian”

          1. What the fuck are you babbling about?

            1. Blood banks are charitable (where I live); you give out of care for your fellow man

              1. I would imagine they still have to purchase their refrigerators. Just because it’s donated doesn’t mean it keeps itself cold out of kindness.

              2. There are both charitable blood/plasma banks in addition to ones where you get paid.

                It should be obvious which one deals with shortages all the time.

                1. The one that pays cash. The person who sells come from an interesting demographic, and their samples don’t pass the clean test

                  1. Wrong. Without pay-for blood banks, there would be blood shortages all the time.

                    You get tested and can’t continue to donate if you fail a test when donating blood for money. It’s a good way to get $20 if you really need it and you haven’t donated in the past few weeks. (Plus it motivates people to stay clean of drugs/AIDS/etc.)

                    I’ve never understood why it’s okay for the Red Cross to charge $500/pint for blood they got for free, but horribly immoral if poor people sell THEIR OWN BLOOD for a price they think is fair.

                    1. where is your source?

                    2. There are “shortages” at blood banks around here all the time, along with pleas to come and donate blood for free.

                      The fact that some blood banks pay $20 means there’s no shortage; there’s just a shortage of people willing to give away something valuable for free.

                      All blood supplies are nonprofits; the Red Cross just expects you to donate for free while more honest and just blood banks actually give you some money for your time and effort. And my $500/pint number was a bit off, it’s closer to $220/unit (whatever that is).

                    3. You don’t give blood
                      When you give to a non-profit you can designate it to be credited to the account of_______

                      They don’t specifically get your donation but I have rare blood, and it is quite easy to know who gets mine

                    4. What’s wrong with getting credited on the spot with cold hard cash?

                    5. Also, it’s a crime in most states to store your own blood at home for personal use.

                    6. Even if it’s a woman storing her own blood?

                      My body, my choice, and all that crap?

                    7. Is that why you moved out West?

                    8. I’m trying to imagine personal use of vats of your own blood. Human blood sausage? Kinky vampire parties?

                    9. I’m trying to imagine personal use of vats of your own blood.

                      I don’t know about whole vats worth, but one typical use is blood doping.

                    10. I’m not against it but when I volunteer, or help others, it is never for the money.
                      rather|1.1.12 @ 9:32PM|#
                      it says not “libertarian”

                    11. whereas when I have sex, it’s always for the money

                    12. whereas when I have sex, it’s always for the money

                      but never for the pleasure of the partner.

                    13. unfortunately it’s not possible for someone as unattractive as I to provide pleasure to my partner

                    14. Damn right it is for my pleasure

                    15. actually I haven’t had pleasure from sex since I haven’t had sex other than from various battery powered devices in years

                    16. Which I plan to use on you my little spoof; I think a prostrate massage would really relax you

                    17. I am intrigued with your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter

                    18. Sure baby, give me your real email address 🙂

                    19. 1 unit = 450 mL

              3. I thought you donated to the blood bank to afford another hit on the crack pipe?

      3. sperm bank

        When I grow up, I want to be one of those!

      4. A fridge is also an investment if you’re running a restaurant or sperm bank. But in the context here he’s only talking about consumers/end users.

        Like I said, home appliances can be investments if they save time or money, and the value of those savings is greater than the cost per use of the appliances.

        My clothes dryer died a few months ago. Suddenly I had to spend a lot of time and gasoline and money running to the local laundromat to dry clothes. I got a replacement dryer tout suite, since it was cheaper than continuing to use the laundromat.

        Now, buying a flat screen TV so you can watch football is unambiguously spending, not investment. But household appliances and other labor-saving consumer appliances, can, under some circumstances, actually be investments that save money over time. Not always, but sometimes.

        1. Why don’t you just have your maid do your laundry?

          1. Those monocles aren’t going to polish themselves…

        2. You could just wear the same clothes every day, like people who lived in deserts did long ago.

          Washing clothes is a luxury and it’s silly to call it an “investment”.

        3. We just dry the clothes on a hanger in the house, as is quite common in Europe. They actually last a lot longer that way.

          1. There is also this fancy new-fangled invention called a “clothes line”.

        4. Look, I’m going to watch football on a flatscreen. I can either do it in my living room with 60 cent beer or I can do it a bar for $5 beer.

      5. A fridge in your house is an investment that you lease back to yourself.

  4. When Obama was running for president against Hilarycare (which would become Obamacare), he once quipped “That’s like solving the homeless problem by forcing everyone to buy a house”

    I would not be surprised to see something like that implemented…

    1. Brilliant!

    2. Thank you for remembering. So few have. Right and Left alike want to forget that Romney and Hillary both went down flaming in 2008 as the candidates who championed the individual mandate.

      But Obama changed his tune the moment he won and faced reality.

      Question: what do you think Romney will do when he faces the cold hard morning after inaugaration? Place your bets…

      1. He won’t have a hot coffee, he’s Mormon.

        1. What about a blow job from the fat chick who brings in the mail?

          1. No, but maybe a few more first Ladies.

            1. He’ll mandate Mormom undies?

              1. The magical ones!?

          2. id be glad to give him one

            1. holy shit, fix your grammar, jackass.
              I’m starting to think my spoofer writes for Reason

              1. I apologize; I was doing my best to emulate your “dunphy” style of avoiding the use of initial caps.

      2. Romney never championed the federal individual mandate.

        1. Not ever after it became toxic in 09.

          Before that he was a big supporter of a federal mandate.

          1. “an April 2010 clip of Mitt Romney saying, “I hope we’re ultimately able to eliminate some of the differences [between Romneycare and Obamacare], and repeal the bad [of Obamacare] and keep the good.””

            It was signed into law March 23, 2010

    3. We could solve the “problem” in the energy market (which consists of there not being enough of a market for solar panels), by forcing everyone to buy solar panels.

  5. The economy has winners and losers. Generally, there are more losers than winners (compare bankrupt restauranteurs to the executives of the Bertucci’s chain) in a competitive sense, but most all of us get some reflected benefit from the winners. (Look, I have an iPad! Thanks, Steve Jobs!)

    The government wants to take some from the winners and give some to the losers. The Cato Cowboys are forever aghast, but maybe this is deeply-ingrained enough that we should take it for granted, and do the forced sharing in a way that does the least extrinsic harm, eh? (Or would you rather see the $$$ spent on another missile cruiser or another SuperMax — because that’s were it’s going friend; it’s never going back into your pocket. That just ain’t the way the world works.)

    Just give poor people cash, already. A straight transfer from one pocket to the other, with as few transaction costs as possible. Stop running around, hither and thither, trying to save Pittsburgh steel one day, Iowa corn the next, people with trailers in flood plains the next, people with bad kidneys the next, people with another disease-of-the-week the next, the people who went underwater on a mortgage the next.

    If you’re broke-assed poor, you get some money, and then we’re done. No interviews, no waiting rooms, no seminars on how to comb your hair and tie your shoes before you go to work. Take the f-ing money so that you’re five bucks above the ‘poverty level,’ we’ll chalk it up to a cost of doing business, and we can move on and let the market decide everything else.

    1. “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.” — James Madison …

      1. “Little black slave boy, go fetch my shoes right now.”

        — James Madison

        Anyway, this is about public welfare, not charity.

        The proposal is a guaranteed income, not a grant to the city ballet or art museum, or a scholarship at the university, or a donation to an order of monks. “Charity” is “charity,” and public welfare is something else.

        1. I just make up shit!

        2. “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.”

          James Madison, letter to Edmund Pendleton, January 21, 1792

        3. Tell me, how do you guarantee an income without skyrocketing inflation?

          You do realize that guaranteeing everyone an income simply raises the cost of -all- goods and services, right?

          1. Solving the problem is not the goal. It’s all about the taking. Skyrocketing inflation is part of the plan because it ensures that poor people, despite having more money, will still be equally as poor and the taking can continue ad infinitum.

          2. It can be done – its the negative income tax. Friedman was pushing it the 1970s. Nixon considered it.

            Its a bad idea, but its better than the current system.

            And, re the Madisonian part, it would be constitutional if done by the states.

    2. If you’re broke-assed poor, you get some money, and then we’re done. No interviews, no waiting rooms, no seminars on how to comb your hair and tie your shoes before you go to work. Take the f-ing money so that you’re five bucks above the ‘poverty level,’ we’ll chalk it up to a cost of doing business, and we can move on and let the market decide everything else.

      Are you referring to a Milton Friedman-type negative income tax?

      1. More-or-less exactly. Yes.

      2. If you’re broke-assed poor, go get a job.

        Without a minimum wage, I’d guarantee there’d be someone willing to hire you for a dollar a day, or five cents a day, or a penny a day. The cost of housing and food would adjust to match the incomes of poor people as well, so they could actually afford to live.

        Instead the poor get crammed into unsafe public housing and eat McDonald’s since the government makes sure healthy food is priced too high for them to afford.

        1. Shit, I’d pay someone $5 an hour to answer the phone for me at work.

          That is, $5 an hour, not the typical $10/hr after taxes for hiring someone.

          1. I’m avoiding hiring anyone for a number of reasons, but one of them is that our 200 sq. ft break room would need to be plastered with labour law posters for two states + federal which will cost me a few hundred bucks.

            The government really likes to make it hard for you to give anyone a job.

            1. Sorry, can’t, it’s illegal.

              1. I don’t need the money; It sounds fun.

                “Is Anon there?

                “How the fuck would I know?”

                BTW, I need to spend at least an hour a day looking at art in a noteworthy museum, my lunch delivered (white line service only), my coffee refilled all day, and you better look nice naked too

                1. and you better look nice naked too

                  why? you don’t.

            2. It’s against the law to work for someone in an employee-employer relationship for $5/hr.

              We get around this by only bringing in new people as partners (who can then choose to pay themselves whatever they want). But it’s a lot harder to find someone ready to be an investment partner than to find someone who just needs a job.

              1. As if I’d let rather be a partner.

                Maybe if they develop a cure for schizophrenia.

                1. what part of free don’t you get? Hmm, sounds like you need my help desperately!

        2. Yeah, but once those low-paid naifs get some work experience they might compete with union workers for jobs.

    3. we’ll chalk it up to a cost of doing business

      Except the government doesn’t do any business, and doesn’t have any profits to throw away and “chalk up” in that manner. They have to take that money by force.

      Not to mention that when you guarantee a poverty level income for doing absolutely nothing, the ranks of the poor are going to swell with lazy fucks. You can get by pretty decently at the poverty level in most of the country if you don’t have to work.

    4. “If you’re broke-assed poor, you get some money, and then we’re done. No interviews, no waiting rooms, no seminars on how to comb your hair and tie your shoes before you go to work.”

      Yeah, that should increase the number of US citizens who are “broke-assed poor” by some exponent or other.
      Great idea! That way all the lefties and government agencies will be able to claim ‘three quarters of the US population is “broke-assed poor”‘. And need MORE help.

      1. Last census already went there…

    5. Re: There is no “brain,”

      The economy has winners and losers.

      A statement that tells anybody in no uncertain terms that you have NO idea what the term “the economy” means or entails.

      Generally, there are more losers than winners (compare bankrupt restauranteurs to the executives of the Bertucci’s chain) in a competitive sense,

      That doesn’t mean that there are winners/losers in the economy, only that bad and wasteful investments end up being liquidated, released to be used more efficiently by someone else. There are no losers there except the loser that claims there are winners/losers in the economy.

      The government wants to take some from the winners and give some to the losers.

      You mean the government steals.

  6. What an ass kicking by Tim.

  7. This sounds recycled.

  8. Again, I think we may be seeing some geographical confirmation bias

    Countdown to some Gen-X/Y/Z whinging about not being able to live in the cool part of DC. Which if there was justice in this world would be grounds for summary execution.

  9. Matt Yglesias columns serve the same function for the Left as pacifiers do for anxious infants.

    1. Substituting for your momma’s titty?

      1. Yes, just with nothing useful ever coming from it.

  10. err the participation rate and employment to population ratio are dropping as well as the Not In Labor Force is rising rapidly.……..NU05000000

    1. Success!

    2. Strictly speaking you could also disagree with the claim that “It’s hard to imagine any more compelling pressure from policymakers to get people to spend.” It’s actually dismayingly easy to imagine: A few years back somebody ? who I think was Greg Mankiw ? proposed having the Treasury announce that as of some date they would no longer honor bills whose serial numbers ended in a particular digit, in order to create a literal spend-or-lose situation.

      It’s true workforce participation is down slightly from the beginning of the year, but it’s bounced around the low-64 percent range all year and doesn’t seem to correlate positively or negatively with the unemployment decline this autumn. And unless I’m misreading the STL Fed chart in my original post (always a possibility), it looks like marginal attachment has declined slightly at the same time unemployment has been declining. Again, I don’t see evidence that the unemployment loss is explained by a roughly equivalent number of people leaving the workforce.

      My gut (guided by the total lack of anecdotal evidence that there’s substantial hiring going on) still tells me the fall in unemployment will turn out to be another bogus statistic in this crazy hill of beans world where you can’t even trust in the totally disinterested objectivity of Realtor?s, but I can’t just make assertions based on my gut. For that I’d need to be an intellectual gargantua like Pauly Krugnuts.

      1. Hi Tim,

        There is plenty of anecdotal hiring I’m aware of, but (a) not much in California and (b) it tends to be for employees who are either highly skilled, or who will be trained to work difficult jobs (think 80-hour work weeks in oilfields in Nebraska).

        There is zero hiring going on for the types of jobs that used to exist for white, lower-middle-class males where little to no skills and training were needed and which provided wages that could afford the employee a lower middle class lifestyle.

      2. Meh, the employment rate is pretty much irrelevant anyways. Capital has been depleted, and can not be regained until the bubble(s) are allowed to deflate.

        Without capital, there can not be any real growth.

        1. You can have some growth if labour output significantly exceeds the cost paid for that labour.

          Which, of course, is basically a criminal act in the U.S.

        2. “Without capital, there can not be any real growth.”
          Allowing for A-A’s possibility, most of productivity gains are a result of capital investment.
          And capital is on the sidelines; no one knows what to do with it, given (at least) Obamacare. How do you invest if you have no idea how to predict?

  11. So let’s offshore more jobs while basing our economics around the charity of the “job creators” doing the offshoring. That will make things better.

    And let’s listen to people whose politics consist solely of the idea that Obama is teh devil to provide solutions. Just because they have a strong personal interest in the economy sucking doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to them.

    1. Cause the government’s done such a great job at creating jobs the past 4 years. Really.

    2. Or was 7.7 trillion just simply not enough, Tony?

    3. Offshoring is evil. Non-white, non-Americans might be getting jobs. We can’t have any of that.

      In the Tony bizarro universe, a Chinese or Indian person getting a job is an injustice that must be corrected?doubly so if that Chinaman or Indian commits the crime of selling goods to an American.

      1. It’s only xenophobia when they do it.

    4. Tony is just following in the mold of his Progressive forebearers:

      Tony in 1890: Women, Chinese and Coloreds are taking all of the jobs! The only solution is minimum wage laws to prevent them from undercutting honest, hardworking American workers!

      Tony in 2012: Women, Chinese and Coloreds are taking all of the jobs overseas! The only solution is nationalization and tariffs to prevent them from undercutting honest, hardworking American workers!

      1. You forgot about the need for strong unions to keep women, Chinese, and Coloreds out of the workforce, both in 1890 and 2012.

    5. Tony|1.1.12 @ 8:45PM|#
      “So let’s offshore more jobs while basing our economics around the charity of the “job creators” doing the offshoring. That will make things better.”

      Shithead, would you care to *try* to put that collection of contradictions into English?
      Or simply admit you haven’t a clue?

    6. Hey Tony, Chris Hedges is one of your guys isn’t he? Smart guy with a lot of insight, though is misguided in some way. You ought to maybe read him about Obama.

  12. Sex Is Cheap:
    Why young men have the upper hand in bed, even when they’re failing in life.

    To better understand what’s going on, it’s worth a crash course in “sexual economics,” an approach best articulated by social psychologists Roy Baumeister and Kathleen Vohs.

    If women were … in charge … we’d be seeing … more impressive wooing efforts, longer relationships, fewer premarital sexual partners, shorter cohabitations, and more marrying going on.

    When did Slate get taken over by social conservatives?

    1. Marriage promotes a form of eugenics. Of course liberals support it.

      1. I believe a leader in Europe around 70-90 years ago was very interested in promoting marriage amongst his people.

        1. The fight against syphilis demands a fight against prostitution, against prejudices, old habits, against previous conceptions, general views among them not least the false prudery of certain circles. The first prerequisite for even the moral right to combat these things is the facilitation of earlier marriage for the coming generation. In late marriage alone lies the compulsion to retain an institution which, twist and turn as you like, is and remains a disgrace to humanity, an institution which is damned ill-suited to a being who with his usual modesty likes to regard himself as the ‘image’ of God.

          – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 10

          Yeah, I wasn’t kidding.

    2. Or maybe women just like casual sex?

      1. This too. Everybody likes casual sex, it’s just a bad long-term strategy for females to have long happy lives.

        Of course, our urges are not adapted for happiness, they’re adapted for reproduction, and fucking early and often is the winning strategy there.

        1. Bad for males, too, since casual sex (of the kind adapted to reproduction) results in males picking up HIV and herpes.

          1. I’d say child support is the greater danger here. Just ask sloopy.

            1. Based on my disease-free junk and the effect child support has had on my net worth, I’m thinking SIV pretty much nailed this one.

    3. If you’re concerned about “who’s in charge” in the bedroom, you’re already in a seriously fucked up situation.

      Speaking of which, Girl With the Dragon Tatoo is the most overrated film of the year.

      1. Watched Euro version, was not impressed. I can’t bring myself to paying for the book.

        1. What really pissed me off, in addition to the formulaic “mystery” that managed to be simultaneously implausible and obvious, was Fincher’s decision to dwell on those two scenes. (you know which ones I trust) I know it’s part of the plot but it could have been done a lot quicker and less uncomfortably.

          1. Trying not to spoil scenes, I don’t even like -regular- sex scenes that much. That’s what porn’s for.

        2. Book is worse than the movies in some ways. I saw both the Swedish and US versions. In the book, there is so much emphasis on all the swedish roads, places, and names that it is distracting. And what I thought would be a really cool mystery degenerated into a bunch of hollywood and leftist cliches.

          The movies actually don’t focus on that as much so both the original and the US version were pretty good. 3.5 out of 5 stars from me.

          1. If only Reason still had an Editor who was some sort of authority on all things Swedish. Those Kochs sure are cheap motherfuckers so we’re stuck with Riggs.

          2. 0/2 Plot Significance
            1/2 Plot Coherence
            0/2 Emotional Impact
            1/2 Characterization
            2/2 Sound/Visual Atmo

            so 4/10 on the Tulpa scale.

            1. Interesting that you don’t have a T&A rating. Says a little something about you that we all suspected but can’t confirm. NTTAWWT.

              1. You know who else didn’t have a T&A rating…

                1. Gene Shallit?

                2. Jay sherman?

                3. Robin Wood?

                4. Gene Siskel?

                5. Burns Mantle?

                  1. spoof, I do have a T&A rating; all women do.

                    So I know you’re male, and likely never gets laid, you follow all my posts, visit my blog
                    …hell, you could be anyone here

                    1. my t&a rating is “0/10”

          3. I thought the book was a bunch of leftist clich?s. Wasn’t the author an unreconstructed Marxist?

      2. What the fuck do people want from movies anyway??? Almost all movies suck ass. I thought this one was very entertaining and cool and I thought that Mara girl was an amazing heroine. Some people are just too cool for anything.

    4. If women were … in charge … we’d be seeing … more impressive wooing efforts, longer relationships, fewer premarital sexual partners, shorter cohabitations, and more marrying going on.

      Or you could get those things if women rewarded men for doing those instead of banging the players. Pavlovian training, how does it work?

  13. So, now that the Broncos have backed into the playoffs, whjat will be the name of the Tebow themed gay porn?

    1. Tebow is out, Bengals in.

      1. My bad. But will enjoy Tebow meeting Polamalu.

    2. Well, he’s up against Big Ben and the shampoo spokesmodel next week, so we could probably find a good one.

    3. At this point Im not counting on winning my bet with BakedPenguin this year. However, it is the Steelers and the Broncos are at home.

      1. Just heard Mendenhall is out, and the backup probably won’t make the trip, because last time he went to Denver, he had some sickle-cell issue that caused him to lose his gallbladdar, spleen and 30 lbs.

        With Ben’s gimpy ankle and no run game to speak of, it could be more interesting that any of us expect.

  14. So far, “Surging Santorum” is the funniest phrase of 2012.

    1. I don’t know. “Jets lose to Dolphins: Miss Playoffs” is pretty fucking funny.

      1. Right up there with “Raiders lose to Chargers (at home) – Denver becomes AFC West sacrificial lamb”.

        1. 8-8 hosts 12-4. Perfect.

          1. Isn’t that what happened last year when the Seahawks hosted the Saints? And we all know how that game turned out.

            But the mighty Steelers will not lose to the lowly Broncos.

            1. The Steelers are pretty banged up, but I have to agree. It’s a good year to be an AFC wild card team with a zombie Texans team in the 3 seed and Touched By An Angel in the 4 seed.

      2. ^^THIS^^

        Holy shit, THIS!!!

        Shutting Jaba the Rex the fuck up makes up for a whole lot of things that sucked about this season.

        1. I thought the other Ryan was the more obscenely fat one. And neither one will be on a sideline next week. 2012 is starting off pretty well.

          1. In the modern NFL, defensive genius amounts to nothing.

  15. The mouseover on the picture has a typo.

  16. The EEOC goes full retard. Says requiring high school diplomas for hiring purposes is against protections for retards by way of the ADA, if they can perform the job with a reasonable accommodation for his/her diminished mental capacity. By that logic, a retard could be a rocket scientist if you made a reasonable accommodation by hiring another rocket scientist to do their job.

    Fucking retarded.

    1. Look at it as an incremental step in ending credentialism. They ought to extend this to college degrees as well, and end educational discrimination in compensation for people doing the same job. How about a nice little public sector pay cut for the parasite class with unnecessary advanced degrees.

      (SLD: Employers should be free to discriminate anyway they like in the private sector.)

      1. I’d love to look at it that way if it wasn’t being done as an ever greater intrusion into the private sector. And there should be no such thing as an automatic raise in pubsec jobs for a higher level of education. If a job requires a certain degree, fine, but going to college further than that is an investment in our future job prospects.

        You know what? I’m not gonna talk about pubsec employees anymore. It’s bad enough that I’m doing this while driving. I don’t need to go into a rage while behind the wheel.

    2. Isn’t it the state education system’s job to make sure MR/DD students still graduate with a diploma?

      1. MR/DD students

        I’m not trying to be a dick, but is this some kind of government-speak for retarded kids?

        1. mentally retarded/developmentally disabled

        2. And just cause you’re HFA doesn’t give you the right to be a dick.

          1. Jesus wept. I first thought you were saying I was part of the Humane Farming Association.* Then I realized what you were talking about, and am not bothered by it unless you’re trying to label me as an Asspie.

            *Seriously deranged people whose sole existence is based on subsidies from the state of California. And their impact on the environment and disease rate of their animals is considerably worse than factory farms.

            1. I bet that diseased meat costs more than the clean factory-farmed stuff too.

              1. They were instrumental in getting “organic” designations established, so that should tell you whether or not it costs more. As far as the diseased meat, they have to destroy it, meaning their level of productivity (feed costs per salable pound, fuel costs per salable pound, etc) are drastically higher that that of factory farms.

                Not to mention, their ability to maintain equipment (my area of true expertise) is awful compared to their factory counterparts, meaning they have a much greater NOx and Particulate Discharge rate per pound of salable livestock.

                Basically, they do everything wrong and think they should get a medal (and large government subsidy) for it. The fucks!

                1. At least they’re trying. It’s easy for you to swoop in and crap all over them for not meeting your uninformed standards when you don’t have to do the work they do.

                  1. And what exactly are they trying to do? They glom off of the taxpayers so they can grow food in an unproductive and unprofitable manner. They don’t take care of their equipment, causing more damage to the environment they propose to protect. They don’t use scientifically proven farming methods (that are also humane) that keep their livestock in better health. They don’t understand the basic concepts of animal husbandry that lead to stronger and more durable breeds.

                    Yeah, they’re trying. But they’re failing miserably. And there’s nothing in the world more pathetic than somebody failing because they refuse to use established methods.

                    You probably think Christian Scientists ought to be applauded when they “try” to pray illnesses away and their children die.

                    1. I’ve long been convinced that the organic food movement, and all of its various manifestations, were just modern day Lysenkoism. Your post confirms my bias.

          2. Jezebel/feministing/et al tie themselves in knots over whether or not they should let guys who make creepy/”rapey” comments to them should get a free pass because they might be HFA.

            It’s terribly entertaining to watch the self-contradictions of liberalism.

              1. The general consensus is that if you’re “disabled” by being HFA or whatever, it’s okay for you to constantly violate social norms. And everyone else should be expected to accommodate your creepy weirdness, like going up and talking to strangers on the subway.

    3. Peggy Mastroianni, legal counsel for the EEOC [said] “People are aware that they need all the education they can get.”

      It gets better:

      Under Ms. Mastroianni’s leadership, the EEOC’s Office of Legal Counsel also developed … the meaning of the terms “disability” and “qualified.”

    4. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Asperger’s Syndrome was classified as a disability?

  17. The recover isn’t dead; it’s stunned.

    1. I think we need to cut more pines from the fjords.

    2. It’s feet are nailed to the perch!

    3. I thought it was just smelling the flowers…

  18. Progressive “harm reduction” sets back libertarian case for ending drug prohibition.

    From Canada, the taxpayer-funded crack pipe:

    Handing out a medical device, like a crack pipe, is simply considered to be primary care and does not require federal government approval, said Outhouse.

    1. So what? Canucks eat round bacon.

    2. Outhouse is full of shit.

  19. Tim C, rare full marks for readability and content.

  20. Okay, so far I have seen more promotion for NBC’s new “Whitney/Chelsea” Wednesday block and “30 rock/Parks/Office/Up All Night” Thursdays in a few hours than I saw in the last 2 years for Community.

    It is making me so Changry!

  21. So, why is Pepsi trying to associate themselves with the Jets at this point in time?

    Whatever the Jets drank at halftime the past two games should be illegal, it makes you suck so bad.

    1. Also, can the Giants just put away the Cowboys so I can watch them lose to Detroit next week?

      I got anime and beer to get to.

      1. Detroit ended up with the 6 seed and have to go to New Orleans. The winner of this snoozefest gets the Dirty Birds.

        God, I hate Collinsworth. I hated him when I lived in Cincy, and I hate him today. He’s like the Tim McCarver of football.

        1. Gus Johnson should call every game ever.

        2. I really want to like him because he seems like a nice and knowledgeable guy, but he bores me to death. Not sure if that’s what you’re talking about.

          1. “I really want to like him because he seems like a nice and knowledgeable guy, but he bores me to death.”

            Talk about projection….

        3. I use to hate him when he was just doing pre-game commentary, but then he started doing play by play a few years ago during the play offs, and then it occurred to me he really does know what he is talking about. So I got over it. Voice still grates a bit but not nearly as much as Phil Simms. No one says more shit to fill the void than he does. Any damn thing, including repeating what Nantz just said but stuttering for several seconds to say it slightly differently. He is also the worst abuser of the replay by repeating the shit while the next play is in action.

          1. And I want to blame him for bringing ‘weapons’ into modern NFL lingo. I have no proof, but it sounds doubly trite when uses it.

          2. Simms sucks.

            But the absolute worst color commentator in all of football is Dan Dierdorf. He’s fucking horrible.

            1. Dierdorf’s slurping sounds are way too loud when he is sucking Q-back cock. Mute button was invented for that kind of noise.

      2. You mean Atlanta?

        Detroit @ New Orleans next week.

        1. Well, excuse me pointdexter!

          God… I had something way better for this.

        2. I saw Atlanta’s score over Tampa going into the second quarter and I couldn’t believe it. How do you score 24 points in one quarter!?!

  22. Is it just me, or does it look like, facially, Jason Garret could be related to Jerry Jones?

    1. So does Troy Aikman

  23. Nearly an hour and nobody has commented on my “Outhouse is full of shit” comment? Tough room when everybody has a hangover.

    1. It’s Canada; when up there, you take at face value that people will have last names like “Outhouse” or men will have first names like “Michelle”.


      2. I’m sure you mean Michel, which is french for Michael.

        1. Probably so, it was just pronounced “Michelle”.

    2. We were being polite.

  24. I needs attention!

    1. Is she the hideously ugly androgynous one?

      Sorry if that doesn’t narrow it down enough.

  25. Yes, that’s the one. (Article linked to is a good one where she talks about she faked her way to earning her English “degree” and then blames it all on ADHD.)

    1. No, she’s butt-ass ugly, but there’s one named “Jos” or something equally fucked-up that is 10x more disgusting.

      This is when we need NutraSweet or Epi. They’ve got those pics on their hard drive.

      1. Jos Truitt

        In Jos’ defense, he wasn’t born a chick.

        1. Goldwater, you soulless cocksucker. At least give us a warning if you plan on posting a picture of that…that…that thing.

        2. Good heavens.

          One of the few men that didn’t decide to become a woman (and then post long screeds about how awful men are) in the feministing circuit is Hugo Schwyzer, who has, for example, discussed how his marriages always ended up being either with lesbians or with women with masculine features.

        3. Dude looks like a lady. Only in reverse.

        4. Shit. Just got up to take a piss. Should have stayed away from the computer. That’s gonna give me nightmares.

          1. Why do guys make that announcement?

            1. I ain’t no friggin’ bedwetter!

    2. She looks like a young Janet Napalitano…

      1. She looks like a young Janet Napalitano…

        Sooooo, she looks like Elena Kagan?

  26. Saying the Fed can’t set the nominal rate below zero is also misleading. At the beginning of 2009 I persuaded my eldest child to put $100 into a savings account, so that she might learn something about savings. In the three years since, that account has earned exactly ten cents. The lesson ? don’t save ? has certainly taken hold, but that 0.1 percent rate over three years is in fact negative: According to the BLS inflation calculator, she would have had to make $5.45 just to keep pace with inflation.”

    Jesus. This paragraph suggests you don’t know what nominal means.

    1. At about the same time, I persuaded my kids to buy a few silver coins. Their investment performance was much better, and they learned that they couldn’t trust government fiat money. Later, when they wanted to redeem their silver coins, they got to learn about how transaction costs affect investment performance.

    2. I should have said “…misleading because inflation means a nominal rate of 0.1 percent is negative in the sense that your savings are consistently losing value. Here’s an example from my own experience…” I was hoping this would be understood. As you can see, the post is already long.

  27. Be it resolved that Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne/Batman is the same character as Billy Caufield in “The Dream Team”.
    Do you argue for or against this position?

  28. I missed that movie. Worth checking out?

    1. Weren’t arms sales to various banana republics bent on destroying each other a major part of the USSR’s exports?

    2. Should have booked that room on the Mayflower when we had the chance.

  29. A mentee of mine has a boyfriend who uses porn regularly and plays video games for hours. “Sometimes he’ll just forget to call or text because he’s gaming”, she says. “I’m lucky to get a few minutes alone with him a week when we’re not doing something sexual. But this is the way boys are ? unless you’re like freakin’ Megan Fox, you can’t expect a guy’s complete attention.”

    Another girl told me that she doesn’t feel like she can have a boyfriend ? because she’s not pretty enough. She has a lot of hook-ups instead. “I’m the girl you get with for a blowjob”, she said; “I’m not the hot girl you hold hands with in public.

    Where, exactly, does one meet these women?

    1. My guess is either a mental institution or a Womyn’s Studies faculty lounge.

      1. I’ll take my chances with the BPDs.

    2. Where, exactly, does one meet these women?

      It’s like the author of that piece is completely oblivious to the way a scarcity model would actually get started.

      It doesn’t occur to them that 80% of the men who read the piece ask that question. Since that doesn’t occur to them, the entire basis for the scarcity model is a mystery to them…something imposed by some incomprehensible external force.

  30. PPP Poll results:

    Paul 20%
    Mittens 19%
    El Santo 18%
    Grinch 14%
    Baba Yaga 10%
    Perrier 10%


    1. Santorum and Romney in dead heat to win Iowa?

      1. Burnishing your MSM chops?

    2. Does this take into consideration the number of independents and Democrats that will caucus for Paul on Tuesday? Because polling “likely GOP voters” in an open caucus is pretty stupid.

      I’m praying Paul wins big just so I can see the talking heads at Fox and CNN squirm as they try to explain away why it doesn’t matter.

      1. They have an easy out for that. What Republican won Iowa in 2008?

        1. Okay, but if Ron Paul wins Iowa without the support of Evangelical Christians by uniting libertarians, independents, sane Republicans, and disaffected Democrats, that would surely qualify as a big story, right? I mean surely the media can’t possibly resist expositing on the most astounding political development in the past 30 years.

          I’m being sarcastic because of course they will.

          1. Paul should fuck with them if he wins.

            “Oh, of course Iowa was irrelevant. And New Hampshire will be similarly irrelevant. And every other caucus I win. It’ll all just be totally, completely irrelevant.

            And on the day of my inauguration, you can wrap your arms around your knees, slide into a corner, and tell yourself it’s all irrelevant and matters not as I’m sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.”

            1. *Maddow/Schultz/whoever shits bricks on the air*

              1. *Maddow/Schultz/whoever Hannity/Limbaugh/whoever shits bricks on the air*


                1. You would think Limbaugh would do backflips since if the War on Drugs ends he can pop all the pills he can get his chubby little hands on.

                  1. They’d ALL shit bricks, sloopy.

    3. It’s a forgone conclusion that Paul won’t get the nomination. But if he wins Iowa it’ll be fun to hear the neo-cons scream as if they’d been kicked in the nuts.

      1. As we have been saying all along, and as everybody knows, Iowa does not have a real primary. It’s a caucus, not a real primary, and it’s no more significant than the straw polls were in 2011.

  31. When Mitt wins the nomination, who will you vote for to stop Obama?


    1. If it’s a two-way race between Mittens and Obama, who cares? It’s like a race between Mussolini and Stalin.

      1. what if you could vote for W again?

        1. I never voted for George Walker Bush.

        2. Stop reminding me one of my worst mistakes (2000 NOT 2004).

          1. *hangs head in shame*

            Mine too, but I was only 18 at the time. I didn’t know any better!

            1. I count as one of my blessings that I didn’t turn 18 until shortly after the 2000 election.

              (I would, of course, have been a U.S. Taxpayers Party voter at the time.)

              1. I was 19 when I voted for George HW Bush. I was old enough to know better. That was my last presidential vote for a R or D.

            2. I fucked up delivery of my absentee ballot at college. Saved me from a terrible, terrible fate.

      2. When viewed with a Telescope from the Mountains of Mars, all the world’s Cities look close together. Nevertheless, we who live on this Planet know they are separated by a great Distance.

        So it is with the libertarian Viewpoint on the divers Candidates.

        1. The only issue on which there is any meaningful difference between Obama and Mittens is abortion…

          …and I think Mittens is lying about abortion.

          …and because he’s lying, that means they’re both on my side.

          So explain the difference to me because I don’t see it.

    2. I think this requires an obligatory “Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos.”

      1. Like Kodos would not have fit comfortably between Bush and Obama, puhlease.

  32. The more popular move these days is refinancing to get interest rates in the low 3-percent range for a 30-year fixed mortgage and in the low 2 percent range for a 15-year loan i strongly recommend the 123 Refinance

    1. You know what really fucking pisses me off? When I post with my email address “Karadeawesome” from my home computer, the spam filter blocks me (for some reason it is ok from my work computer). But this fucktard somehow gets through?

  33. I live in North Dakota where we must constantly put up with the local media’s regurgitation of the state government’s propaganda that “everything is just ducky here.” Having been unemployed for a year (as of next week), you’ll understand if I too am a bit skeptical…

    1. I would be interested in hearing more from someone on the ground in North Dakota.

      All the anecdotes I read say that there’s such an acute labor shortage in ND that people are being actively recruited and brought in to earn big bucks living in temporary work camps.

      Is this all false?

      1. As I noted below, in the last year, my office manager’s nephew and a colleague’s son have moved to ND.

        How many people have you known who have picked up stakes and moved to the Dakotas from New England?

        1. My grandmother, but that was 1941.

      2. North Dakota is fake anyway……

      3. I know 5 people from Utah that are working in ND on Oil projects. 3 weeks on 2 weeks off. All 5 are keeping their houses in Utah for the time being.

    2. Hey Jim, sorry about your sit. I’m sort of screwed myself, but am lucky my boss, I mean my wife is well employed for the time being. I realize it’s a different state, but my grandparents were homesteaders in South Dakota for a number of years. I always wanted to live in one of those rough, desolate, abandoned states, although Ohio ain’t a whole hell of a lot better in terms of desolation.

  34. Wicksell argued that there is a “natural rate of interest,” at which desired savings is balanced by desired investment and the economy suffers from neither inflation nor massive excess capacity. A recession occurs when the natural rate of interest falls below the actual interest rate. Instead of savings being channeled into investment and driving the economy forward, firms and households start merely hoarding and the economy stalls, leaving workers and equipment idle.

    Maybe it’s just early, but I can make neither head nor tail of this.

  35. Yes, Fluffy, there is a boom in North Dakota. Anecdotally, at any rate.

    To be honest, I have not heard any trustworthy explanation of just what it is those people are *doing* however. I’m pretty sure they are not digging coal with picks and shovels.

    1. My office manager’s nephew and a colleague’s son are now living and working in North Dakota.

      There are no other people I have ever known who have upped and moved to the Dakotas from New England.

  36. Anyone posted Krugabe’s latest contender for “Most Ironic Title” yet? Enjoy, the title alone had me in stitches…….._LO_MST_FB

    1. Incoherent is more like it. He begins by saying that no one “understands” debt, but concludes by changing to debt as a matter of priorities — yes it may matter in the way everyone says it does (i.e., they do undersstand it), but I think it’s more important to keep borrowing and spending. Interestingly, he doesn’t address the matter of interest payments comprising an ever-growing portion of discretionary spending. No big deal, I guess.

      Also, this is ridiculous:

      The debt from World War II was never repaid; it just became increasingly irrelevant as the U.S. economy grew, and with it the income subject to taxation.

      Is he saying that a Treasury note sold in 1945 remains outstanding? That we defaulted on the debts incurred during the war? Of course we paid that debt back, and we cut spending tremendously after the war.

  37. That actually does make a lot of sense dude.

  38. Really great. I came across while in search for brand info on bing and it has lots of related information on it. Will be sure to come back again and bookmark. Keep up the great work.


  39. Yeah best wishes to our new year .No matter what we have got through last year.

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