Most people — except possibly the American political class — know that one of the prime causes of the current economic crisis was government policies that resulted in countless people taking out mortgages that they couldn’t possibly pay back. Then financial firms who had made the bad mortgages issued securities backed by these shaky loans. When the borrowers defaulted, the whole house of cards came tumbling down — or at least it would have come tumbling down if the federal government hadn’t bailed out so many firms, delaying the day of reckoning.
The continuing implosion of the U.S. economy in the aftermath of unprecedented federal bailouts and unemployment programs has now brought forth a stunning loss of 484,000 jobs in a single week. What remains uncertain is when this news will penetrate the consciousness of policy makers in the White House and on Capitol Hill.
According to a new study by the Cato Institute, the gap between the haves and the have-nots in the United States continues to widen. This isn’t much of a surprise; we’ve all become accustomed to the dire warnings, mostly from anti-business liberals within the government, about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. The irony is that those rich, over-privileged classes include – indeed, are dominated by – government employees.
Buried in Friday’s employment report from the Department of Labor Statistics were two key numbers that reflected the slowdown in the economy so long denied by the administration: “private sector employment edged up over the month (+71,000). Thus far this year, [such] employment has increased by 630,000, with about two-thirds of the gain occurring in March and April.” (Emphasis added.) The other appeared in the final paragraph of that report: “The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for May was revised from +433,000 to +432,000, and the change for June was revised [downward] from -125,000 to -221,000." (Emphasis added.)
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s assurance that the Great Recession is over will undoubtedly convince many Americans that relief is on the way and that they can loosen their belts and get back to business.
Item: Speaking in Canada where he was attending the Group of 20 summit, “President Barack Obama said on Sunday he would follow through on a pledge to rein in soaring U.S. budget deficits and said that would involve presenting Americans with ‘some very difficult choices’ next year,” reported Reuters for June 27. The President, continued the wire service, “has said the deficits are a legacy of the Bush administration.”
Federal Reserve boss Ben Bernanke told Congress this week that despite not having any imminent plans to further “support” the economy, the central bank was “considering all options” to fight unemployment and could “step into new areas” because the alleged recovery remains “unusually uncertain.”
Earlier this year, it looked as if columnist Paul Craig Roberts had hung up his word processor in disgust, having just published his book How the Economy Was Lost (mostly a collection of his best columns of the past decade) and a swansong article “Truth Has Fallen and Taken Liberty With It.” Recently, however, he has returned with a few new columns, e.g., this one — and a revealing interview with the Swiss-based free-market webzine The Daily Bell.
A triumphant and triumphalist President Obama signed the financial overhaul bill into law July 21, promising as he did that “the American people will never be asked again to foot the bill for Wall Street's mistakes.”