Last Friday marked the third-year anniversary of President Obama’s $787-billion economic "stimulus" law — and it scored a rather grim milestone: The unemployment rate held steady above eight percent for 36 months, the longest period since World War II. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current 8.3-percent unemployment rate is precisely where it stood three years ago when the legislation, called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), was signed into law. The previous record for above-8-percent unemployment was 27 months, which transpired in the early 1980s.
The deadline for comments on the proposed Volcker Rule was Monday night and hundreds, if not thousands, of letters arrived at the last minute to rail against the rule, mostly from Wall Street. The Volcker Rule — which would prohibit banks from trading with their own money — was proposed last summer by former chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker, who said in a letter to President Obama that they shouldn’t be gambling with money guaranteed by the taxpayers. Big losses by government-backed banks that were trading in risky securities such as mortgage-backed assets precipitated the financial crisis in 2008 and set up the need for federal bailouts of those banks.
The numbers posted at Investors Business Daily over the weekend by John Merline were impressive: U.S. manufacturing profits last year exceeded $600 billion, almost tripling since the bottom of the recession, while jobs in manufacturing have increased by 400,000 in the past two years. Unemployment in manufacturing has been below the national average for eight straight months, and the industry itself has been growing at three times the rate of the overall economy.
American dependence on government has soared to an all-time high under the Obama administration, growing 23 percent in just two years, according to a new study by the Heritage Foundation. The conservative research group’s 2012 "Index of Dependence on Government" revealed that 67 million Americans are now banking on some federal program, including programs related to healthcare, housing, welfare, education subsidies, and other government programs that were "traditionally provided to needy people by local organizations and families."
The latest report from the Calgary (Alberta, Canada) Herald was nothing but good news: The steadily declining production of light oil from 2002 to late 2010 has reversed itself completely and is now not only proving the power and principles of a free market but “will change the way we think about oil, with many weighty consequences…” says blogger Peter Tertzakian. The graph he provided here shows Alberta’s production declining by about 16,000 barrels per day (B/d) every year since 2002, dropping to just over 300,000 B/d in late 2010. Now, thanks to new capital, new technology, and new enthusiasm, production is close to 400,000 B/d. It also “could heighten the blood pressure of a few peak oil theorists,” said Tertzakian.
The long-awaited announcement of another bout of money printing in England on this Thursday will prove once again that experience doesn’t modify behavior on the other side of the pond either. The initial round of money expansion, called Quantitative Easing (QE) in the States, of some $320 billion last year in the United Kingdom had little measurable effect.
The news released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Friday appeared to be all good: The unemployment rate was down by 0.2 percent to 8.3 percent, the lowest since the month after President Obama was inaugurated. November and December estimates were revised upward. Most private industries showed growth, including 70,000 new business services jobs, 50,000 new manufacturing jobs, and a remarkable 21,000 new jobs in the construction industry. The labor force expanded by 500,000 which appeared to indicate that more people are coming back into the market looking for work.
Just when CoreLogic, the California-based mortgage data provider, began to wax optimistic about the housing market, the Census Bureau and the S&P/Case-Shiller index doused their enthusiasm with some cold facts and daunting data.
In the summary of its “Budget and Economic Outlook” published on Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) noted the supportability of deficit spending even under its “alternative” analysis. Noted the CBO: “Even if the fiscal policies specified by current law come to pass, budgetary challenges over the longer term remain — and the challenges will be much more acute if those policies do not remain in place.” It added: